Queen of Shadows Chapter 40 Read Online

Full Read the Online Chapter 40 of Queen of Shadows novel by Sarah J. Maas for free

Chapter 40 Part 1 Lady of Shadows of Queen of Shadows: Elide spent two days on voluntary kitchen duty, learning where and when the laundresses ate and who brought their food. By that point, the head cook trusted her enough that when she volunteered to bring the bread up to the dining hall, he didn’t think twice.

No one noticed when she sprinkled the poison onto a few rolls of bread. The Wing Leader had sworn it wouldn’t kill—just make the laundress sick for a few days. And maybe it made her selfish for placing her own survival first, but Elide didn’t hesitate as she dumped the pale powder onto some of the rolls, blending it into the flour that dusted them.

Elide marked one roll in particular to make sure she gave it to the laundress she’d noted days before, but the others would be given out at random to the other laundresses.

Hell—she was likely going to burn in Hellas’s realm forever for this.

But she could think about her damnation when she had escaped and was far, far away, beyond the Southern Continent.

Elide limped into the raucous dining hall, a quiet cripple with yet another platter of food. She made her way down the long table, trying to keep the weight off her leg as she leaned in again and again to deposit rolls onto plates. The laundress didn’t even bother to thank her.

The next day, the Keep was abuzz with the news that a third of the laundresses were sick. It must have been the chicken at dinner, they said. Or the mutton. Or the soup, since only some of them had had it. The cook apologized—and Elide had tried not to apologize to him when she saw the terror in his eyes.

The head laundress actually looked relieved when Elide limped in and volunteered to help. She told her to pick any station and get to work.


But guilt pushed down on her shoulders as she went right to that woman’s station.

She worked all day, and waited for the bloodied clothes to arrive.

When they finally did, there was not as much blood as before, but more of a substance that looked like vomit.

Elide almost vomited herself as she washed them all. And squeezed them dry. then let them dry. and exerted pressure. It required hours.

Night was falling when she folded the last of them, trying to keep her fingers from shaking. But she went up to the head laundress and said softly, no more than a nervous girl, “Should—should I bring them back?”

The woman smirked. Elide wondered if the other laundress had been sent down there as a punishment.

“There’s a stairwell over that way that will take you to the subterranean levels. Tell the guards you’re Misty’s replacement. Bring the clothes to the second door on the left and drop them outside.” The woman looked at Elide’s chains. “Try to run out, if you can.”

Elide’s bowels had turned to water by the time she reached the guards.

But they didn’t so much as question her as she recited what the head laundress had said.

Down, down, down she walked, into the gloom of the spiral stairwell.

The temperature plummeted the farther she descended.

And then she heard the moaning. Moans of pain, of terror, of despair.

She held the basket of clothes to her chest. A torch flickered ahead. Gods, it was so cold here.

The stairs widened toward the bottom, flaring out into a straight descent and revealing a broad hallway, lit with torches and lined with countless iron doors.

The moans were coming from behind them.

Second door on the left. It was gouged with what looked like claw marks, pushing out from within.

There were guards down here—guards and strange men, patrolling up and down, opening and closing the doors. Elide’s knees wobbled. No one stopped her.

She set the basket of laundry in front of the second door and rapped quietly. The iron was so cold that it burned. “Clean clothes,” she said against the metal. It was absurd. In this place, with these people, they still insisted on clean clothes.

Three of the guards had paused to watch. She pretended not to notice— pretended to back away slowly, a scared little rabbit.

Pretended to catch her mangled foot on something and slip.

But it was real pain that roared through her leg as she went down, her chains snapping and tugging at her. The floor was as cold as the iron door.

None of the guards made to help her up.

She hissed, clutching her ankle, buying as much time as she could, her heart thundering-thundering-thundering.

And then the door cracked open.

Manon watched Elide vomit again. And again.

A Blackbeak sentinel had found her curled in a ball in a corner of a random hallway, shaking, a puddle of piss beneath her. Having heard that the servant was now Manon’s property, the sentinel had dragged her up here.

Asterin and Sorrel stood stone-faced behind Manon as the girl puked into the bucket again—only bile and spittle this time—and at last raised her head.

“Report,” Manon said.

“I saw the chamber,” Elide rasped. They all went still.

Something opened the door to take the laundry, and I saw the chamber beyond.”

With those keen eyes of hers, she’d likely seen too much.

“Out with it,” Manon said, leaning against the bedpost. Asterin and Sorrel lingered by the door, monitoring for eavesdroppers.

Elide stayed on the floor, her leg twisted out to the side. But the eyes that met Manon’s sparked with a fiery temper that the girl rarely revealed.

“The thing that opened the door was a beautiful man—a man with golden hair and a collar around his neck. But he was not a man. There was nothing human in his eyes.” One of the princes—it had to be. “I—I’d pretended to fall so I could buy myself more time to see who opened the door. When he saw me on the ground, he smiled at me—and this darkness leaked out of him …” She lurched toward the bucket and leaned over it, but didn’t vomit. After another moment, she said, “I managed to look past him into the room behind.”

She stared at Manon, then at Asterin and Sorrel. “You said they were to be … implanted.”

“Yes,” Manon said.

“Did you know how many times?” “What?” Asterin breathed.

“Did you know,” Elide said, her voice uneven with rage or fear, “how many times they were each to be implanted with offspring before they were let go?”

Everything went quiet in Manon’s head. “Go on.”

Elide’s face was white as death, making her freckles look like dried, splattered blood. “From what I saw, they’ve delivered at least one baby each. And are already about to give birth to another.”

“That’s impossible,” Sorrel said. “The witchlings?” Asterin breathed. Elide really did vomit again this time.

When she was done, Manon mastered herself enough to say, “Tell me about the witchlings.”

“These aren’t sorcerers. Elide clenched her fists around her face, threatening to rip out her eyes, and spat, “They are not babies.” “Those are animals.” These are

demons. Their skin is like black diamond, and they—they have these snouts, with teeth. Fangs. Already, they have fangs. And not like yours.” She lowered her hands. “They have teeth of black stone. There is nothing of you in them.”

If Sorrel and Asterin were horrified, they showed nothing. “What of the Yellowlegs?” Manon demanded.

“They have them chained to tables. Altars. And they were sobbing. They were begging the man to let them go. But they’re … they’re so close to giving birth. And then I ran. I ran from there as fast as I could, and … oh, gods. Oh, gods.” Elide began weeping.

Slowly, slowly Manon turned to her Second and Third. Sorrel was pale, her eyes raging.

But Asterin met Manon’s gaze—met it with a fury that Manon had never seen directed at her. “You let them do this.”

Manon’s nails flicked out. “These are my orders. This is our task.” “It is an abomination!” Asterin shouted.

Elide paused her weeping. And backed away to the safety of the fireplace.

Then there were tears—tears—in Asterin’s eyes.

Manon snarled. “Has your heart softened?” The voice might as well have been her grandmother’s. “Do you have no stomach for—”

You let them do this!” Asterin bellowed.

Sorrel got right into Asterin’s face. “Stand down.”

Asterin shoved Sorrel away so violently that Manon’s Second went crashing into the dresser. Before Sorrel could recover, Asterin was inches from Manon.

“You gave him those witches. You gave him witches!”

Manon lashed out, her hand wrapping around Asterin’s throat. But Asterin gripped her arm, digging in her iron nails so hard that blood ran.

For a moment, Manon’s blood dripping on the floor was the only sound. Asterin’s life should have been forfeited for drawing blood from the heir. Light glinted off Sorrel’s dagger as she approached, ready to tear it into

Asterin’s spine if Manon gave the order. Manon could have sworn Sorrel’s hand wobbled slightly.

Manon met Asterin’s gold-flecked black eyes. “You do not inquire. You don’t make requests. It has ceased for you to be Third. Vesta will take your place. You—”

A harsh, broken laugh.”Are you saying that you won’t take any action? They won’t be set free by you. You won’t put up a fight for them.For us. Because what would Grandmother say? Why hasn’t she answered your letters, Manon? How many have you sent now?” Asterin’s iron nails dug in harder, shredding flesh. Manon embraced the pain.

“Tomorrow morning at breakfast, you will receive your punishment,” Manon hissed, and shoved her Third away, sending Asterin staggering toward the door. Manon let her bloodied arm hang at her side. She’d need to bind it up soon. The blood—on her palm, on her fingers—felt so familiar … “If you try to free them, if you do anything stupid, Asterin Blackbeak,”

Manon went on, “the next punishment you’ll receive will be your own execution.”

Asterin let out another joyless laugh. “You would not have disobeyed even if it had been Blackbeaks down there, would you? Loyalty, obedience, brutality—that is what you are.”

“Leave while you can still walk,” Sorrel said softly.

Asterin whirled toward the Second, and something like hurt flashed across her face.

Manon blinked. Those feelings

Asterin turned on her heel and left, slamming the door behind her.

Elide had managed to clear her head by the time she offered to clean and bandage Manon’s arm.

What she’d seen today, both in this room and in that chamber below …

You let them do this. She didn’t blame Asterin for it, even if it had shocked her to see the witch lose control so completely. She had never seen any of them react with anything but cool amusement, indifference, or raging bloodlust.

Manon hadn’t said a word since she’d ordered Sorrel away, to follow Asterin and keep her from doing something profoundly stupid.

As if saving those Yellowlegs witches might be foolish. As if that sort of mercy was reckless.

Manon was staring at nothing as Elide finished applying the salve and reached for the bandages. The puncture wounds were deep, but not bad

enough to warrant stiches. “Is your broken kingdom worth it?” Elide dared to ask.

Those burnt-gold eyes shifted toward the darkened window.

“I do not expect a human to understand what it is like to be an immortal with no homeland. To be cursed with eternal exile.” Cold, distant words.

Elide said, “My kingdom was conquered by the King of Adarlan, and everyone I loved was executed. My father’s lands and my title were stolen from me by my uncle, and my best chance of safety now lies in sailing to the other end of the world. I understand what it is like to wish—to hope.”

“It is not hope. It is survival.”

Elide gently rolled a bandage around the witch’s forearm. “It is hope for your homeland that guides you, that makes you obey.”

“And what of your future? For all your talk of hope, you seem resigned to fleeing. Why not return to your kingdom—to fight?”

Perhaps the horror she’d witnessed today gave her the courage to say, “Ten years ago, my parents were murdered. My father was executed on a butchering block in front of thousands. But my mother … My mother died defending Aelin Galathynius, the heir to the throne of Terrasen. She bought Aelin time to run. They followed Aelin’s tracks to the frozen river, where they said she must have fallen in and drowned.

“But you see, Aelin had fire magic. She could have survived the cold. And Aelin … Aelin never really liked me or played with me because I was so shy, but … I never believed them when they said she was dead. Every day since then, I’ve told myself that she got away, and that she’s still out there, biding her time. Growing up, growing strong, so that she might one day come to save Terrasen. And you are my enemy—because if she returns, she will fight you.

“But for ten years, until I came here, I endured Vernon because of her. Because of the hope that she got away, and my mother’s sacrifice wasn’t in vain. I thought that one day, Aelin would come to save me—would remember I existed and rescue me from that tower.” There it was, her great secret, which she had never dared tell anyone, even her nursemaid. “Even though … even though she never came, even though I’m here now, I can’t let go of that. And I think that is why you obey. Because you have been hoping every day of your miserable, hideous life that you’ll get to go home.”

Elide finished wrapping the bandage and stepped back. Manon was staring at her now.

“If this Aelin Galathynius were indeed alive, would you try to run to her?

Fight with her?”

“I would fight with tooth and claw to get to her. But there are lines I would not cross. Because I don’t think I could face her if … if I couldn’t face myself for what I’d done.”

Manon said nothing. Elide stepped away, heading to the bathing room to wash her hands.

The Wing Leader said from behind her, “Do you believe monsters are born, or made?”

From what she’d seen today, she would say some creatures were very much born evil. But what Manon was asking … “I’m not the one who needs to answer that question,” Elide said.

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