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متن انگلیسی فصل
Nesta sat with her head in her hands inside my tent. She did not speak, did not move. Coiled in on herself, clinging to stay whole—that’s how she looked. How I felt.
Elain—taken to Hybern’s army.
Nesta had stolen something vital from the Cauldron. And in those moments Nesta had hunted it down for us … The Cauldron had learned what was vital to her.
So the Cauldron had stolen something in return.
“We’ll get her back,” Cassian rasped from where he perched on the rolled arm of the chaise longue across the small sitting area, watching her carefully. Rhys, Amren, and Mor were meeting with the other High Lords, informing them what had been done. Seeing if they knew anything. Had any way of helping.
Nesta lowered her hands, lifting her head. Her eyes were red-rimmed, lips thin. “No, you will not.” She pointed to the map on the table. “I saw that army. Its size, who is in it. I saw it, and there is no chance of any of you getting into its heart. Even you,” she added when Cassian opened his mouth again. “Especially not when you’re injured.”
And what Hybern would do to Elain, might already be doing—
From the shadows near the entrance to the tent, Azriel said, as if in answer to some unspoken debate, “I’m getting her back.”
Nesta slid her gaze to the shadowsinger. Azriel’s hazel eyes glowed golden in the shadows.
Nesta said, “Then you will die.”
Azriel only repeated, rage glazing that stare, “I’m getting her back.”
With the shadows, he might stand a chance of slipping in. But there were wards to consider, and ancient magic, and the king with those spells and the Cauldron …
For a moment, I saw that set of paints Elain had once bought me with the extra money she’d saved. The red, yellow, and blue I’d savored, used to paint that dresser in our cottage. I had not painted in years at that point, had not dared spend the money on myself … But Elain had.
I stood. Met Azriel’s wrathful stare.
“I’m going with you,” I said.
Azriel only nodded.
“You’ll never get far enough into the camp,” Cassian warned.
“I’m going to walk right in.”
And as they narrowed their brows, I shifted myself. Not a glamour, but a true changing of features.
“Shit,” Cassian breathed when I was done.
Nesta rose to her feet. “They might already know she’s dead.”
For it was Ianthe’s face, her hair, that I now possessed. It nearly drained what was left of my depleted magic. Anything more … I might not have enough left to keep her features in place. But there were other ways. Routes. For the rest of what I needed.
“I need one of your Siphons,” I said to Azriel. The blue was slightly deeper, but at night … they might not notice the difference.
He held out his palm, a round, flat blue stone appearing in it, and chucked it to me. I wrapped my fingers around the warm stone, its power throbbing in my veins like an unearthly heartbeat as I looked to Cassian. “Where is the blacksmith.”
The camp blacksmith did not ask any questions when I handed over the silver candlesticks from my tent and Azriel’s Siphon. When I asked him to craft that circlet. Immediately.
A mortal blacksmith might have taken a while—days. But a Fae one …
By the time he finished, Azriel had gone to the camp priestess and retrieved a spare set of her robes. Perhaps not identical to Ianthe’s, but close enough. As High Priestess, none would dare look too closely at her. Ask questions.
I had just set the circlet atop my hood when Rhys prowled into our tent. Azriel was honing Truth-Teller with relentless focus, Cassian sharpening the weapons I was to fasten beneath the robe—atop the Illyrian leathers.
“He’ll sense your power,” I said to Rhys before he could speak.
“I know,” Rhys said hoarsely. And I realized—realized the other High Lords had come up empty.
My hands began shaking. I knew the odds. Knew what I’d face in there. I’d seen it in Nesta’s mind hours ago.
Rhys closed the distance between us, clutching my hands. Gazing at me, and not Ianthe’s face, as if he could see the soul beneath. “There are wards around the camp. You can’t winnow. You have to walk in—and out. Then you can make the jump back here.”
He brushed a kiss to my brow. “Ianthe sold out your sisters,” he said, his voice turning sharp and hard. “It’s only fitting that you use her to get Elain back.”
He gripped the sides of my face, bringing us nose to nose.
“Do not get distracted. Do not linger. You are a warrior, and warriors know when to pick their fights.”
I nodded, our breath mingling.
Rhys growled. “They took what is ours. And we do not allow those crimes to go unpunished.”
His power rippled and swirled around me.
“You do not fear,” Rhys breathed. “You do not falter. You do not yield. You go in, you get her, and you come out again.”
I nodded again, holding his stare.
“Remember that you are a wolf. And you cannot be caged.”
He kissed my brow one more time, my blood thrumming and boiling in me, howling to draw blood.
I began to buckle on the weapons Cassian had lined up in neat rows on the table, Rhys helping me with the straps and loops, positioning them so that they wouldn’t be visible beneath my robe. The only one I couldn’t fit was the Illyrian blade—no way to hide it and be able to easily draw it. Cassian gave me an extra dagger to make up for its absence.
“You get them in and out again, shadowsinger,” Rhys said to Azriel as I walked to the spymaster’s side, getting a feel for the weight of the weapons and the flow of the heavy robe. “I don’t care how many of them you have to kill to do it. They both come out.”
Azriel gave a grave, steady nod. “I swear it, High Lord.”
Formal words, formal titles.
I gripped Azriel’s scarred hand, the weight of his Siphon pressing on my brow through the hood. We looked to Rhys, to Cassian and Nesta, to Mor—right as she appeared, breathless, between the tent flaps. Her eyes went to me, then the shadowsinger, and flared with shock and fear—
But we were gone.
Azriel’s dark breeze was different from Rhys’s. Colder. Sharper. It cut through the world like a blade, spearing us toward that army camp.
Night was still overhead, dawn perhaps two hours away, when he landed us in a thick forest on a hilltop that overlooked the outskirts of the mighty camp.
The king had used the same spells that Rhys had put around Velaris and our own forces. Spells to hide it from sight, and dispel people who got too close.
We’d landed inside of them, thanks to Nesta’s specifics. With a perfect view of the city of soldiers that sprawled away into the night.
Campfires burned, as numerous as the stars. Beasts snapped and snarled, yanking on leashes and chains. On and on and on that army went, a squatting terror drinking the life from the earth.
Azriel silently faded into blackness—until he was my own shadow and nothing more.
I fluffed out the priestess’s pale robe, adjusted the circlet atop my head, and began to pick my way down the hill.
Into the heart of Hybern’s army.
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