To Love Herself - Chapter 3: Hello
Synopsis: Following ACOSF until Nesta’s confrontation with Amren. Rather than going to hike and soul search with Cassian in the wild, Nesta uses her powers to disappear.
Chapter 3: Hello
Nesta - After Disappear
“Who the hell are you?”
Nesta jumped to her feet and whirled around.
A woman stood a couple yards away. No, not a woman, a High Fae. The female had dark skin and her tightly braided hair was pulled back, revealing her pointed ears. Despite her ears marking her as High Fae, Nesta couldn’t help comparing her to the Illyarians. She wore fighting leathers somewhat similar to theirs, and they were form fitting around the muscles of her torso and arms. A bow and quiver were slung over her back, with a sword sheathed at her side.
Nesta froze as she silently cursed herself for not having any weapons of her own. She had no idea how she had used her magic before and had very little faith in it if the female decided to attack. She however, had her arms crossed and one eyebrow raised at Nesta as she slowly looked her over.
“Do you speak? I asked who you are and what you are doing here.”
The arrogance in the female’s voice made Nesta grind her teeth but also stand straight and lift her chin.
“You didn’t actually.”
“You didn’t ask what I was doing here before. You only asked who I was.”
The female tilted her head and narrowed her eyes at Nesta. “You know I don’t think you are in a position to have so much attitude.”
Despite Nesta’s rapidly beating heart, she forced her face to be impassive as she gave a dry smile. “Funny, I was about to tell you the same thing.”
Nesta wasn’t sure how she expected the female to react, but to burst out laughing wasn’t it. Her laugh was high pitched and infectiously jovial. At least it would have been if it wasn’t at Nesta’s expense. Nesta felt heat rush to her face but retained her still exterior as the female leaned over her knees while attempting to catch her breath.
When she finally calmed down enough to wipe tears from her eyes she took in Nesta again, her face softer than before.
“I don’t know what I was expecting, but you’ve surprised me.”
Nesta had no idea what that meant, but she bit back, “You haven’t surprised me.”
The female snorted. “Nevertheless, if you want to live you should probably come with me.”
Taken aback, it took Nesta a moment to respond, “I don’t need your help nor will I go anywhere with you. Turn around and go back to wherever you came from.”
The female rolled her eyes. “Mother, you are a piece of work, aren’t you? We both know that you didn’t intend to come here or even know where here is. If you want food and shelter and help you will come with me, Nesta.”
Nesta stepped back at her name, trying to call to magic for help but it was silent. “How do you know my name?”
The female’s lips curved it into a tight smile, but she simply shrugged and turned away. “Welcome to the Forest of the Lost,” she said over her shoulder before heading to disappear between the trees.
Part of Nesta told her to let the female go, but another part screamed at her to get answers.
“Wait!” The female stopped. “Tell me your name if you want me to follow.”
The female turned back slowly, a mischievous look in her eyes.
“I’m Thalia. Now keep up.”
Cassian - After Appear
The Obsidian Isles were named so for the smooth rocks that made up the beaches instead of sand. Flying towards them from above, they looked like dark slashes dividing the rough sea and dense evergreen forests of the Isles.
Cassian glanced at Feyre flying to his right, trying to be calm as he flew towards his heaven and his hell. It had been decided that only Cassian, Feyre, Rhys, and Azriel would go to meet Nesta. Elain had made her feelings clear, and no one explicitly had said it, but it was understood that it is probably better to keep Mor and Amren far away from Nesta.
They had sent Azriel to scout ahead as usual, but the Northern Island and the rest of the Isles were all free of Fae. Azriel could find no evidence that anyone had even visited recently, or where exactly they were expected to meet Nesta.
So now they flew towards the dark beaches, all four of them on high alert.
They landed in the center and examined the tree line. “Anything?” Rhys asked Azriel.
Az shook his head. “Place seems as abandoned and cursed as usual.”
Besides from their location in the cold and gray north, the soil of the Isles were fertile, and the surrounding waters prime fishing. Despite that, no Fae settlement had ever lasted. Stories of tragedies befalling any settlement were plentiful, from lighting burning down a half built cabin to an entire colony disappearing. This fact had been pointed out repeatedly by Mor as she argued with him and Feyre to not be stupid by coming here.
Cassian wasn’t worried, as there had never been any tragedy for someone visiting the islands. Even if there was a curse, Cassian would settle down to stay here if Nesta asked him too.
Stupid. Cassian’s logical voice chided him. He couldn’t let his emotions influence him right now. He was still angry with his family for their mistrust of Nesta, but he also needed to think as the General he was. Nesta had managed to get into Velaris without anyone knowing, at least twice. How many times had she gone there besides the two times they knew about? Cassian didn’t want to consider she had been so close without him knowing while he worried about her, but he knew now not to make assumptions.
“Should we go into the trees and look for her?” Feyre asked as the beach remained empty.
“No,” Rhys replied. “We shouldn’t risk an ambush hidden among the trees.”
Feyre shot her Mate a dark look. “Nesta is not going to ambush us.”
Rhys and Feyre fell silent, speaking mind to mind. Knowing better than to get involved, Cassian turned to the trees again.
Cold winds swept off the sea, making Cassian shiver. As he looked at the trees, his gaze snagged on a boulder about 60 yards away, just slightly beyond the tree line. There was nothing special about it, besides it’s massive size probably being a foot higher than Cassian’s height, and just as wide. But as he stared at it, Cassian suddenly felt a tug in his gut.
“There.” He said, before moving toward it without waiting for a response.
Cassian walked around it, examining the smooth surface for any signs. He met Azriel at the back, as he had gone around the other side.
“Do you see something in this bolder we don’t, Cass?” Feyre asked as she and Rhy joined them.
“I…” Cassian frowned. “No, I thought something was telling me this was it.”
“This was what?” Rhys asked.
“A giant boulder of obsidian, of course.”
The voice that spoke those words did not belong to any of them.
In an instant Rhys had thrown Feyre behind him, his dark power surrounding them. Cassian and Azriel both drew their swords and siphoned up shields around them, jumping back.
However, they all froze upon seeing the figure now perched atop the rock.
Emerie sat there cross legged, an amused look on her face as she looked down on them.
“It really is just a rock,” Emerie said as she hopped down to stand in front of them.
Emerie turned to Rhys and Feyre to bow. “Good to see you again my Lord and Lady.” She straightened to look at Cassian and Azriel, smiling. “You two as well.”
Cassian thought back to the last time he had seen Emerie. After Nesta had disappeared, Cassian had stopped training the priestesses and Emerie. Had stopped doing a lot of things. His last conversation with Emerie had been a couple days after Nesta had gone, when it had become clear to him that neither Emerie or Gwyn had any idea how or where Nesta went.
Azriel had tried to continue to train them all for a while, but between looking for Nesta, Feyre’s pregnancy, the threat of the human queens, Koschei, and the talks with Vallahan, Cassian later learned training had been put on hold. That was another thing for Cassian to feel guilty about after they were also gone.
“Emerie,” Rhys said, looking her up and down. She wore leathers like the ones Feyre had described Nesta wearing, her wavy hair braided with feathers down her back. And the missing sword was hanging from her belt. “What are you doing here?”
She opened her mouth to respond, but before she could Cassian felt the world shift. Every molecule of his being was suddenly pulled to the right as time seemed to slow down and he turned.
“She is helping me show you all what I told Feyre was the truth.”
Nesta said this from 10 feet away, standing between two trees where she had certainly not been a moment before. She looked as Feyre had described. Wearing well worn fighting leathers, molded to show off the sleek muscles of her arms, stomach, and thighs. Her golden streaked hair shone in the sunlight, with a silver feather braided into it. Her smooth skin now had a warm tan, making her glow. Cassian had never been able to take his eyes off her, but now there was no denying how devastatingly beautiful she was.
She stood straight, her arms crossed with the Great Sword at her belt. Her stormy grey eyes were bright like a thunderstorm as dusk as she surveyed them all. Except for Cassian. She seemed to be dutifully ignoring his stare.
“The reason I asked you all here is because this is the meeting point of those within the Night Court who are working with the Rising to steal the Night Court's power.”
“Hello Nesta,” Rhys said, his voice cold. “It’s been a while.”
Nesta took in Rhys with an equal level of disdain as he gave her. After a moment she simply said “Yes,” before turning to Azriel and continuing.
“The fact that your shadows have not picked up this group's activities tells me that they are probably already well established in Prythian.”
“Nesta,” Feyre said, stepping forward. “If you want us to believe you, why not start with how you left eight years ago and what you have been doing since them.”
Nesta sighed. “I ended up on the continent and met some people who… helped me. They also were interested in helping the priestess. Something I understand you lost interest in once I was gone.” Nesta still didn’t look at Cassian but he felt as if she punched him in the gut. “The group consists primarily of lesser Fae who want to upset the hierarchy of power between them and High Fae. Actually they really just want to flip it, and subject the High Fae to the same treatment they revived. They call themselves The Rising,” Nesta rolled her eyes. “So to answer your inevitable question as to how we know this, the former priestesses have been tracking this group's movement on the continent. We intercepted one of their correspondences to a contact here.”
“How do you know they have a source within the Illyrians?” Azreil asked, the only one of them not completely taken aback by Nesta’s explanation.
Nesta nodded to Emerie, who removed a parchment from her pocket. “This is the last message we intercepted,” She explained as she handed it over to Azreil.
Az brow furrowed slightly as he read the paper before handing it to Rhys.
“What is it?” Cassian asked as Rhys got the same look.
“The top part is Illyrian but the bottom part is in a language I don’t recognize,” Rhys explained as Cassian took a look for himself.
The part in Illyrian read: PEAK SUNRISE DROUGHT CEILING
“What is that supposed to mean?” Feyre asked after they translated the Illyrian for her.
“We aren’t sure either,” Nesta said. “We think it refers to another meeting place. And we were hoping one of you knew what the other language was.”
“Amren might know,” Azreil said.
Nesta stiffened at the female's name. “That would be helpful,” She said.
Cassian blinked in surprise. Nesta wasn’t one to appreciate someone else helping, especially Amren.
“And how exactly does the Rising think they can steal Prythian’s High Lords’ powers?” Rhys asked.
“Like I told Feyre before, by finding the physical manifestation of it in Prythian.” Nesta leveled Rhys a glare. “If you know, you might want to check it, and the Illyarians. And look out for Riding members infiltrating the courts.”
Rhys examined Neata with the High Lord stare that regularly brought Fae to their knees. “And what will you be doing, Nesta?”
Nesta held her chin high, weathering the power rolling of Rhys. “My friends and I will be handling them on the Continent.”
Cassian couldn’t take it anymore. “Oh, that’s all?” He growled.
Nesta finally looked to Cassian, her face impassive. That look made his blood boil, in conjunction with how it felt like she was ripping out his heart.
“We have been trying to stop this group from spreading on the Continent for years now. I have no interest in seeing Prythian become subject to their misguided revolution.”
“You sure you and your friends can handle it?” Cassian spit out. “Sounds like you have been failing for years.”
Out of the corner of his eye Cassian sensed Emerie step back. Silver flames danced in Nesta’s eyes.
“We’ve done a lot in the past eight years.” She said in a deadly quiet. “I’ve done a lot of things. I’m doing this to save the lives of innocents. I’m not interested in another war or anything else.”
Cassian fell silent.
In all the times he had imagined seeing her again, it wasn’t like this. He knew she was the queen of pushing people away, but even at her worst he knew what to expect from her. He could take her yelling and cursing at him. He hadn’t really believed Feyre before about Nesta looking good. Hadn’t truly believed she could be happy without him when not a day had gone by where he hadn’t missed her. But Cassian didn’t know how to handle her standing tall, strong, confident, and beautiful, telling him what to do. All without him.
Probably sensing Cassian’s coming breakdown, Feyre stepped forward.
“I’m sorry Nesta, I’m still very confused. How did you get into Velaris, and who are your friends besides the priestesses?”
“You are the one who wanted me to master my powers Feyre. I did.”
Feyre blinked. “Okay but who—“
Feyre was cut off by an ash arrow flying out of the trees to lodge in the middle of her chest.
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