فصل 40

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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دانلود اپلیکیشن «زیبوک»

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CHAPTER

40

I had no bone to bring with me. And though every step up that hillside and then down into the dark ripped and weighed on me, I kept moving. Kept planting one foot in front of the other.

I had the feeling Rhys did the same.

Standing before the Bone Carver two hours later, the ancient death-god still wearing my would-be son’s skin, I said, “Find another object that you desire.”

The Carver’s violet eyes flared. “Why does the High Lord linger in the hall?”

“He has little interest in seeing you.”

Partially true. Rhys had wondered if the blow to his pride would work in our favor.

“You reek of blood—and death.” The Carver breathed in a great lungful of air. Of my scent.

“Pick another object than the Ouroboros,” was all I said.

Hybern knew about our histories, our would-be allies. There remained a shred of hope that he would not see the Carver coming.

“I desire nothing else than my window to the world.”

I avoided the urge to clench my hands into fists.

“I could offer you so many other things.” My voice turned low, honeyed.

“You are afraid to claim the mirror.” The Bone Carver angled his head. “Why?”

“You are not afraid of it?”

“No.” A little smile. He leaned to the side. “Are you frightened of it, too, Rhysand?”

My mate didn’t bother to answer from the hall, though he did come to lean against the threshold, crossing his arms. The Carver sighed at the sight of him—the dirt and blood and wrinkled clothes, and said, “Oh, I much prefer you bloodied up.”

“Pick something else,” I replied. And not a fool’s errand this time.

“What would you give me? Riches do me no good down here. Power holds no sway over the stone.” He chuckled. “What about your firstborn?” A secret smile as he gestured with that small boy’s hand to himself.

Rhys’s attention slid to me, surprise—surprise and something deeper, more tender—flickering on his face. Not just any boy, then.

My cheeks heated. No. Not just any boy.

“It is rude, Majesties, to speak when no one can hear you.”

I sliced a glare toward the Carver. “There is nothing else, then.” Nothing else that won’t break me if I so much as look upon it?

“Bring me the Ouroboros and I am yours. You have my word.”

I weighed the beatific expression on the Carver’s face before I strode out.

“Where is my bone?” The demand cracked through the gloom.

I kept walking. But Rhys chucked something at him. “From lunch.”

The Carver’s hiss of outrage as a chicken bone skittered over the floor followed us out.

In silence, we began the trek up through the Prison. The mirror—I’d have to find some way to get it. After the meeting. Just in case it did indeed … destroy me.

What does he look like?

The question was soft—tentative. I knew who he meant.

I interlaced my fingers through Rhysand’s and squeezed tightly. Let me show you.

And as we walked through the darkness, toward that distant, still-hidden light, I did.

We were starving by the time we returned to the town house. And since neither of us felt like waiting for food to be prepared, Rhys and I headed right for the kitchen, passing by Amren and Nesta with little more than a wave.

My mouth was already watering as Rhys shouldered open the swinging door into the kitchen.

But we beheld what was within and halted.

Elain stood between Nuala and Cerridwen at the long worktable. All three of them covered in flour. Some sort of doughy mess on the surface before them.

The two handmaiden-spies instantly bowed to Rhys, and Elain—

There was a slight sparkle in her brown eyes.

As if she’d been enjoying herself with them.

Nuala swallowed hard. “The lady said she was hungry, so we went to make her something. But—she said she wanted to learn how, so …” Hands wreathed in shadows lifted in a helpless gesture, flour drifting off them like veils of snow. “We’re making bread.”

Elain was glancing between all of us, and as her eyes began to shutter, I gave her a broad smile and said, “I hope it’ll be done soon—I’m starved.”

Elain offered a faint smile in return and nodded.

She was hungry. She was … doing something. Learning something.

“We’re going to bathe,” I announced, even as my stomach grumbled. “We’ll leave you to your baking.”

I tugged Rhys into the hall before they’d finished saying good-bye, the kitchen door swinging shut behind us.

I put a hand on my chest, leaning against the wood panels of the stair wall. Rhys’s hand covered my own a heartbeat later.

“That was what I felt,” he said, “when I saw you smile that night we dined along the Sidra.”

I leaned forward, resting my brow against his chest, right over his heart. “She still has a long way to go.”

“We all do.”

He stroked a hand over my back. I leaned into the touch, savoring his warmth and strength.

For long minutes, we stood there. Until I said, “Let’s go find somewhere to eat—outside.”

“Hmmm.” He showed no sign of letting go.

I looked up at last. Found his eyes shining with that familiar, wicked light. “I think I’m hungry for something else,” he purred.

My toes curled in my boots, but I lifted my brows and said coolly, “Oh?”

Rhys nipped at my earlobe, then whispered in my ear as he winnowed us up to our bedroom, where two plates of food now waited on the desk. “I owe you for last night, mate.”

He gave me the courtesy, at least, of letting me pick what he consumed first: me or the food.

I picked wisely.

Nesta was waiting at the breakfast table the next morning.

Not for me, I realized as her gaze slipped over me as if I were no more than a servant. But for someone else.

I kept my mouth shut, not bothering to tell her Cassian was still up at the war-camps. If she wouldn’t ask … I wasn’t getting in the middle of it.

Not when Amren claimed that my sister was close—so close—to grasping whatever skill was involved in potentially patching up the wall. If she would only unleash herself, Amren said. I didn’t dare suggest that perhaps the world wasn’t quite ready for that.

I ate my breakfast in silence, my fork scraping across the plate. Amren said she was close to finding what we needed in the Book, too—whatever spell my sister would wield. How Amren knew, I had no idea. It didn’t seem wise to ask.

Nesta only spoke when I rose to my feet. “You’re going to that meeting in two days.”

“Yes.”

I braced myself for whatever she intended to say.

Nesta glanced toward the front windows, as if still waiting, still watching.

“You went off into battle. Without a second thought. Why?”

“Because I had to. Because people needed help.”

Her blue-gray eyes were near-silver in the trickle of morning light. But Nesta said nothing else, and after waiting for another moment, I left, winnowing up to the House for my flying lesson with Azriel.

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