Queen of Shadows Chapter 49 Read Online

Full Read the Online Chapter 49 of Queen of Shadows novel by Sarah J. Maas for free.

Chapter 49 Part 2 (Queen Of Light) of Queen of Shadows: By midafternoon, Aelin had signed all the documents the Master of the Bank brought over, abandoned the Keep to its horrible new owners, and Aedion still hadn’t wrapped his mind around everything that she had done.

Their carriage deposited them at the edge of the slums, and they kept to the shadows as they made their way home, silent and unseen. Yet when they reached the warehouse, Aelin kept walking toward the river several blocks away without so much as a word. Rowan took a step to follow, but Aedion cut him off.

He must have had a death wish, because Aedion even raised his brows a bit at the Fae Prince before he sauntered down the street after her. He’d heard their little fight on the roof last night thanks to his open bedroom window. Even now, he honestly couldn’t decide if he was amused or enraged by Rowan’s words—Don’t touch me like that—when it was obvious the warrior-prince felt quite the opposite. But Aelin—gods above, Aelin was still figuring it out.

She was stomping down the street with delightful temper as she said, “If you’ve come along to reprimand—oh.” She sighed. “I don’t suppose I can convince you to turn around.”

“Not a chance in hell, sweetheart.”

She rolled her eyes and continued on. They walked silently for block after block until they reached the glimmering brown river. A decrepit, filthy

length of cobblestone walkway ran along the water’s edge. Below, abandoned and crumbling posts were all that was left of an ancient dock.

She stared out across the muddy water, crossing her arms. The afternoon light was nearly blinding as it reflected off the calm surface. “Out with it,” she said.

“Today—who you were today … that wasn’t entirely a mask.” “That bothers you? You saw me cut down the king’s men.”

“It bothers me that the people we met today didn’t bat an eye at that person. It bothers me that you were that person for a time.”

“What do you want me to tell you? Do you want me to apologize for it?” “No—gods, no. I just …” The words were coming out all wrong. “You

know that when I went to those war camps, when I became general … I let the lines blur, too. But I was still in the North, still home, among our people. You came here instead, and had to grow up with those piece-of-shit men, and … I wish I’d been here. I wish Arobynn had somehow found me, too, and raised us together.”

“You were older. You never would have let Arobynn take us. The moment he looked away, you would have grabbed me and run.”

True—very true, but … “The person you were today, and a few years ago

—that person had no joy, or love.”

“Gods, I had some, Aedion. I wasn’t a complete monster.” “Still, I just wanted you to know all that.”

“That you feel guilty that I became an assassin while you endured the war camps and battlefields?”

“That I wasn’t there. That you had to face those people alone.” He added, “You came up with that whole plan by yourself and didn’t trust any of us with it. You took on the burden of getting that money. I could have found a way—gods, I would have married whatever wealthy princess or empress you asked me to, if they promised men and money.”

“I’m never going to sell you off like chattel,” she snapped. “And we have enough now to pay for an army, don’t we?”

“Yes.” And then some. “But that’s beside the point, Aelin.” He took a breath. “The point is—I should have been there then, but I am here now. I’m healed. Let me share this burden.”

She tipped her head back, savoring the breeze off the river. “And what could I ever ask of you that I couldn’t do myself?”

“That’s the problem. Yes, you can do most things on your own. That doesn’t mean you have to.”

“Why should I risk your life?” The words were clipped. Ah. Ah. “Because I’m still more expendable than you are.” “Not to me.” The words were barely more than a whisper.

Aedion put a hand on her back, his own reply clogged in his throat. Even with the world going to hell around them, just hearing her say that, standing here beside her—it was a dream.

She stayed silent, so he mastered himself enough to say, “What, exactly, are we going to do now?”

She glanced at him. “I’m going to free magic, take down the king, and kill Dorian. The order of the last two items on that list could be flipped, depending on how it all goes.”

His heart stopped. “What?”

“Was something about that not clear?”

All of it. Every damn part of it. He had no doubt she would do it—even the part about killing her friend. If Aedion objected, she’d only lie and cheat and trick him.

“What and when and how?” he asked. “Rowan’s working on the first leg of it.”

“That sounds a lot like, ‘I have more secrets that I’m going to spring on you whenever I feel like stopping your heart dead in your chest.’”

But her answering smile told him he would get nowhere with her. He couldn’t decide if it charmed or disappointed him.

Rowan was half-asleep in bed by the time Aelin returned hours later, murmuring good night to Aedion before slipping into her room. She didn’t so much as glance in his direction as she began unbuckling her weapons and piling them on the table before the unlit hearth.

Efficient, quick, quiet. Not a sound from her.

“I went hunting for Lorcan,” he said. “I tracked his scent around the city, but didn’t see him.”

“Is he dead, then?” Another dagger clattered onto the table.

“The scent was fresh. Unless he died an hour ago, he’s still very much alive.”

“Good,” she said simply as she walked into the open closet to change. Or just to avoid looking at him some more.

She emerged moments later in one of those flimsy little nightgowns, and all the thoughts went right out of his damn head. Well, apparently she’d been mortified by their earlier encounter—but not enough to wear something more matronly to bed.

The pink silk clung to her waist and slid over her hips as she approached the bed, revealing the glorious length of her bare legs, still lean and tan from all the time they’d spent outdoors this spring. A strip of pale yellow lace graced the plunging neckline, and he tried—gods damn him, he honestly tried—not to look at the smooth curve of her breasts as she bent to climb into bed.

He supposed any lick of self-consciousness had been flayed from her under the whips of Endovier. Even though he’d tattooed over the bulk of the scars on her back, their ridges remained. The nightmares, too—when she’d still startle awake and light a candle to drive away the blackness they’d shoved her into, the memory of the lightless pits they’d used for punishment. His Fireheart, shut in the dark.

He owed the overseers of Endovier a visit.

Aelin might have an inclination to punish anyone who’d hurt him, but she didn’t seem to realize that he—and Aedion, too—might also have scores to settle on her behalf. And as an immortal, he had infinite patience where those monsters were concerned.

Her scent hit him as she unbound her hair and nestled into the pile of pillows. That scent had always struck him, had always been a call and a challenge. It had shaken him so thoroughly from centuries encased in ice that he’d hated her at first. And now … now that scent drove him out of his mind.

They were both really damn lucky that she currently couldn’t shift into her Fae form and smell what was pounding through his blood. It had been hard enough to conceal it from her until now. Aedion’s knowing looks told him enough about what her cousin had detected.

He’d seen her naked before—a few times. And gods, yes, there had been moments when he’d considered it, but he’d mastered himself. He’d learned

to keep those useless thoughts on a short, short leash. Like that time she’d moaned at the breeze he sent her way on Beltane—the arch of her neck, the parting of that mouth of hers, the sound that came out of her—

She was now lying on her side, her back to him. “About last night,” he said through his teeth. “It’s fine. It was a mistake.”

Look at me. Turn over and look at me.

But she remained with her back to him, the moonlight caressing the silk bunched over the dip of her waist, the slope of her hip.

His blood heated. “I didn’t mean to—snap at you,” he tried.

“I know you didn’t.” She tugged the blanket up as if she could feel the weight of his gaze lingering on that soft, inviting place between her neck and shoulder—one of the few places on her body that wasn’t marked with scars or ink. “I don’t even know what happened, but it’s been a strange few days, so let’s just chalk it up to that, all right? I need to sleep.”

He debated telling her that it was not all right, but he said, “Fine.” Moments later, she was indeed asleep.

He rolled onto his back and stared up at the ceiling, tucking a hand beneath his head.

He needed to sort this out—needed to get her to just look at him again, so he could try to explain that he hadn’t been prepared. Having her touch the tattoo that told the story of what he’d done and how he’d lost Lyria … He hadn’t been ready for what he felt in that moment. The desire hadn’t been what shook him at all. It was just … Aelin had driven him insane these past few weeks, and yet he hadn’t considered what it would be like to have her look at him with interest.

It wasn’t at all the way it had been with the lovers he’d taken in the past: even when he’d cared for them, he hadn’t really cared. Being with them had never made him think of that flower market. Never made him remember that he was alive and touching another woman while Lyria—Lyria was dead. Slaughtered.

And Aelin … If he went down that road, and if something happened to her … His chest seized at the thought.

So he needed to sort it out—needed to sort himself out, too, no matter what he wanted from her.

Even if it was agony.

“This wig is horrible,” Lysandra hissed, patting her head as she and Aelin elbowed their way into the packed bakery alongside a nicer stretch of the docks. “It won’t stop itching.”

“Quiet,” Aelin hissed back. “You only have to wear it for another few minutes, not your whole damn life.”

Lysandra opened her mouth to complain some more, but two gentlemen approached, boxes of baked goods in hand, and gave them appreciative nods. Both Lysandra and Aelin had dressed in their finest, frilliest dresses, no more than two wealthy women on an afternoon stroll through the city, monitored by two bodyguards each.

Rowan, Aedion, Nesryn, and Chaol were leaning against the wooden dock posts outside, discreetly watching them through the large glass window of the shop. They were clothed and hooded in black, wearing two separate coats of arms—both fake, acquired from Lysandra’s stash for when she met with secretive clients.

“That one,” Aelin said under her breath as they pushed through the lunchtime crowd, fixing her attention on the most harried-looking woman behind the counter. The best time to come here, Nesryn had said, was when the workers were too busy to really note their clientele and would want them out of the way as quickly as possible. A few gentlemen parted to let them pass, and Lysandra cooed her thanks.

Aelin caught the eye of the woman behind the counter.

“What can I get you, miss?” Polite, but already sizing up the customers clustering behind Lysandra.

“I want to talk to Nelly,” Aelin said. “She was to make me a brambleberry pie.”

The woman narrowed her eyes. Aelin flashed a winning smile.

The woman sighed and hustled through the wooden door, allowing a glimpse of the chaos of the bakery behind it. A moment later she came back out, giving Aelin a She’ll be out in a minute look and going right to another customer.


Aelin leaned against one of the walls and crossed her arms. Then she lowered them. A lady didn’t loiter.

“So Clarisse has no idea?” Aelin said under her breath, watching the bakery door.

“None,” Lysandra said. “And any tears she shed were for her own losses. You should have seen her raging when we got into the carriage with those few coins. You’re not frightened of having a target on your back?”

“I’ve had a target on my back since the day I was born,” Aelin said. “But I’ll be gone soon enough, and I’ll never be Celaena again, anyway.”

Lysandra let out a little hum. “You know I could have done this for you on my own.”

“Yes, but two ladies asking questions are less suspicious than one.” Lysandra gave her a knowing look. Aelin sighed. “It’s hard,” she admitted. “To let go of the control.”

“I wouldn’t know.”

“Well, you’re close to paying off your debts, aren’t you? You’ll be free soon.”

A casual shrug. “Not likely. Clarisse increased all of our debts since she got shut out of Arobynn’s will. It seems she made some advance purchases and now has to pay for them.”

Gods—she hadn’t even considered that. Hadn’t even thought about what it might mean for Lysandra and the other girls. “I’m sorry for any extra burden it’s caused you.”

“To have seen the look on Clarisse’s face when the will was read, I’ll gladly endure another few years of this.”

A lie, and they both knew it. “I’m sorry,” Aelin said again. And because it was all she could offer, she added, “Evangeline looked well and happy just now. I could see if there was a way to take her when we go—”

“And drag an eleven-year-old girl across kingdoms and into a potential war? I think not. Evangeline will remain with me. You don’t need to make me promises.”

“How are you feeling?” Aelin asked. “After the other night.”

Lysandra watched three young women giggle to one another as they passed a handsome young man. “Fine. I can’t quite believe I got away with it, but … We both pulled it off, I suppose.”

“Do you regret doing it?”

“No. I regret … I regret that I didn’t get to tell him what I really thought of him. I regret that I didn’t tell him what I’d done with you—to see the

betrayal and shock in his eyes. I did it so fast, and had to go for the throat, and after I did, I just rolled over and listened—until it was done, but …” Her green eyes were shadowed. “Do you wish you had been the one to do it?”


And that was that.

She glanced at her friend’s saffron-and-emerald gown. “That dress suits you.” She jerked her chin toward Lysandra’s chest. “And does wonders for them, too. The poor men in here can’t stop looking.”

“Trust me, having larger ones isn’t a blessing. My back hurts all the time.” Lysandra frowned down at her full breasts. “As soon as I get my powers back, these things will be the first to go.”

Aelin chuckled. Lysandra would get her powers back—once that clock tower was gone. She tried not to let the thought sink in. “Really?”

“If it wasn’t for Evangeline, I think I’d just turn into something with claws and fangs and live in the wilderness forever.”

“No more luxury for you?”

Lysandra pulled a bit of lint off Aelin’s sleeve. “Of course I like luxury— you think I don’t love these gowns and jewels? But in the end … they’re replaceable. I’ve come to value the people in my life more.”

“Evangeline is lucky to have you.”

“I wasn’t just talking about her,” Lysandra said, and she chewed on her full lip. “You—I’m grateful for you.”

Aelin might have said something back, something to adequately convey the flicker of warmth in her heart, had a slim, brown-haired woman not emerged from the kitchen door. Nelly.

Aelin pushed off the wall and flounced up to the counter, Lysandra in tow. Nelly said, “You came to see me about a pie?”

Lysandra smiled prettily, leaning close. “Our supplier of pies, it seems, vanished with the Shadow Market.” She spoke so softly that even Aelin could barely hear. “Rumor has it you know where he is.”

Nelly’s blue eyes shuttered. “Don’t know anything about that.”

Aelin delicately placed her purse on the counter, leaning in so that the other customers and workers couldn’t see as she slid it toward Nelly, making sure the coins clinked. Heavy coins. “We are very, very hungry for

… pie,” Aelin said, letting some desperation show. “Just tell us where he went.”

“No one escaped the Shadow Market alive.”

Good. Just as Nesryn had assured them, Nelly didn’t talk easily. It would be too suspicious for Nesryn to ask Nelly about the opium dealer, but two vapid, spoiled rich women? No one would think twice.

Lysandra set another coin purse on the counter. One of the other workers glanced their way, and the courtesan said, “We’d like to place an order.” The worker focused on her customer again, unfazed. Lysandra’s smile turned feline. “So tell us where to pick it up, Nelly.”

Someone barked Nelly’s name from the back, and Nelly glanced between them, sighing. She leaned forward and whispered, “They got out through the sewers.”

“We heard guards were down there, too,” Aelin said.

“Not down far enough. A few went to the catacombs beneath. Still hiding out down there. Bring your guards, but don’t let ’em wear their sigils. Not a place for rich folk.”

Catacombs. Aelin had never heard of catacombs beneath the sewers.


Nelly withdrew, striding back into the bakery. Aelin looked down at the counter.

Both bags of coins were gone.

They slipped out of the bakery unnoticed and fell into step with their four bodyguards.

“Well?” Nesryn murmured. “Was I right?”

“Your father should fire Nelly,” Aelin said. “Opium addicts are piss-poor employees.”

“She makes good bread,” Nesryn said, and then fell back to where Chaol was walking behind them.

“What’d you learn?” Aedion demanded. “And do you care to explain

why you needed to know about the Shadow Market?”

“Patience,” Aelin said. She turned to Lysandra. “You know, I bet the men around here would cut out their snarling if you turned into a ghost leopard and snarled back at them.”

Lysandra’s brows rose. “Ghost leopard?”

Aedion swore. “Do me a favor and never turn into one of those.”

“What are they?” Lysandra said. Rowan chuckled under his breath and stepped a bit closer to Aelin. She tried to ignore it. They’d barely spoken all morning.

Aedion shook his head. “Devils cloaked in fur. They live up in the Staghorns, and during the winter they creep down to prey on livestock. As big as bears, some of them. Meaner. And when the livestock runs out, they prey on us.”

Aelin patted Lysandra’s shoulder. “Sounds like your kind of creature.”

Aedion went on, “They’re white and gray, so you can barely make them out against the snow and rock. You can’t really tell they’re on you until you’re staring right into their pale green eyes …” His smile faltered as Lysandra fixed her green eyes on him and cocked her head.

Despite herself, Aelin laughed.

“Tell us why we’re here,” Chaol said as Aelin climbed over a fallen wooden beam in the abandoned Shadow Market. Beside her, Rowan held a torch high, illuminating the ruins—and the charred bodies. Lysandra had gone back to the brothel, escorted by Nesryn; Aelin had swiftly changed into her suit in an alley, and stashed her gown behind a discarded crate, praying no one snatched it before she could return.

“Just be quiet for a moment,” Aelin said, tracing the tunnels by memory. Rowan shot her a glance, and she lifted a brow. What?

“You’ve come here before,” Rowan said. “You came to search the ruins.”

That’s why you smelled of ash, too.

Aedion said, “Really, Aelin? Don’t you ever sleep?”

Chaol was watching her now, too, though maybe that was to avoid looking at the bodies littered around the halls. “What were you doing here the night you interrupted my meeting with Brullo and Ress?”

Aelin studied the cinders of the oldest stalls, the soot stains, the smells. She paused before one shop whose wares were now nothing but ash and twisted bits of metal. “Here we are,” she trilled, and strode into the hewn- rock stall, its stones burned black.

“It still smells like opium,” Rowan said, frowning. Aelin brushed her foot over the ashy ground, kicking away cinders and debris. It had to be


She swept away more and more, the ash staining her black boots and suit. At last a large, misshapen stone appeared beneath her feet, a worn hole near its edge.

She said casually, “Did you know that in addition to dealing opium, this man was rumored to sell hellfire?”

Rowan whipped his gaze to her.

Hellfire—nearly impossible to attain or make, mostly because it was so lethal. Just a vat of it could take out half of a castle’s retainer wall.

“He would never talk to me about it, of course,” Aelin went on, “no matter how many times I came here. He claimed he didn’t have it, yet he had some of the ingredients around the shop—all very rare—so … There must have been a supply of it here.”

She hauled open the stone trapdoor to reveal a ladder descending into the gloom. None of the males spoke as the reek of the sewers unfurled.

She crouched, sliding onto the first rung, and Aedion tensed, but he wisely said nothing about her going first.

Smoke-scented darkness enveloped her as she climbed down, down, down, until her feet hit smooth rock. The air was dry, despite their proximity to the river. Rowan came next, dropping his torch onto the ancient stones to reveal a cavernous tunnel—and bodies.

Several bodies, some of them nothing but dark mounds in the distance, cut down by the Valg. There were fewer to the right, toward the Avery. They’d probably anticipated an ambush at the river mouth and gone the other way—to their doom.

Not waiting for Aedion or Chaol to climb down, Aelin began following the tunnel, Rowan silent as a shadow at her side—looking, listening. After the stone door groaned closed above, she said into the darkness, “When the king’s men set this place alight, if the fire had hit that supply … Rifthold probably wouldn’t be here anymore. At least not the slums, and probably more.”

“Gods above,” Chaol murmured from a few paces behind.

Aelin paused at what looked like an ordinary grate in the sewer floor. But no water ran beneath, and only dusty air floated up to meet her.

“That’s how you’re planning to blow up the clock tower—with hellfire,” Rowan said, crouching at her side. He made to grab her elbow as she

reached for the grate, but she sidled out of range. “Aelin—I’ve seen it used, seen it wreck cities. It can literally melt people.”

“Good. So we know it works, then.”

Aedion snorted, peering down into the gloom beyond the grate. “So what? You think he kept his supply down there?” If he had a professional opinion about hellfire, he kept it to himself.

“These sewers were too public, but he had to keep it near the market,” Aelin said, yanking on the grate. It gave a little, and Rowan’s scent caressed her as he leaned to help haul it off the opening.

“It smells like bones and dust down there,” Rowan said. His mouth quirked to the side. “But you suspected that already.”

Chaol said from a few feet behind, “That’s what you wanted to know from Nelly—where he was hiding. So he can sell it to you.”

Aelin lit a bit of wood from Rowan’s torch. She carefully poised it just beneath the lip of the hole before her, the flame lighting a drop of about ten feet, with cobblestones beneath.

A wind pushed from behind, toward the hole. Into it.

She set aside the flame and sat on the lip of the hole, her legs swinging in the dimness beneath. “What Nelly doesn’t know yet is that the opium monger was actually caught two days ago. Killed on sight by the king’s men. You know, I do think Arobynn sometimes had no idea whether he really wanted to help me or not.” It had been his casual mention of it at dinner that had set her thinking, planning.

Rowan murmured, “So his supply in the catacombs is now unguarded.” She peered into the gloom below. “Finders keepers,” she said, and jumped.

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