started rereading queen of shadows just now and I just love nesryn so much 🥰 she‘s such an amazing woman and already knowing that she‘s gonna wrap a literal prince around her little finger ... it‘s what she deserves
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One Step Ahead Ch 10
Read from the beginning here!
“You’re in?” Aelin stared at him suspiciously. “Just like that?”
Rowan nodded, not trusting himself yet to speak.
Aelin opened her mouth, then closed it quickly. She looked like she wanted to push him further, learn what his motives were. But, deciding not to look a gift horse in the mouth, instead she said, “Well then. Let’s get to work.”
Rowan and Aelin re-entered the manor side by side. He was relieved by her lack of questions, unsure how he’d handle any more scrutiny tonight.
When they returned, it looked like no one had moved an inch. There were no open seats left in the room—and even if there were, Rowan would never put himself in such a compromising position—so he leaned against a wall instead. Looking around at the rag tag force Aelin had managed to muster together, he pursed his lips and asked, “So what’s the plan?”
Clearing his throat, Athril leaned forward. “The only way we’ll even have a shot at putting Maeve away is if we have hard evidence putting her in the house the night of the murder.”
Looking over at Aelin, Rowan raised a brow. Sounds easy enough to me, he told her. You’d just have to testify.
Noticing their exchange, Arthil shook his head. “I can’t put Aelin on the stand. For starters she was only a child when it happened. Any good lawyer will argue she misremembered Maeve being there that night, or thought it was Maeve when it was someone else. And then of course there’s the fact that Aelin Galathynius is still considered a missing person.” He rubbed the back of his neck and grimaced. “The only form of identification she has is as Celaena Sardothian.”
“So we’d just have to prove she’s Aelin,” Rowan shrugged. “That can’t be too hard. We’d just have to match her DNA to a sample of her parents.”
“Or to mine,” Aedion shrugged. “Your mom was an Ashryver, so that’d work, right?”
“Look,” Athril snapped, “I’m not putting Adarlan’s Assassin on the stand. I’m taking a big enough gamble as it is. If someone leaks your identity as a wanted killer then we’ll be laughed out of court.” Looking around the room, daring anyone to object, he said, “We need to do this without Aelin.”
“Then tell us what we should do,” the old man in the chair said calmly, though the young man behind him looked like he was ready to start throwing punches.
Aelin stepped forward, her eyes zoned in on Rowan’s, “We need someone on the inside. Someone who can gather intel and evidence.”
Rowan lifted his chin, and Aelin nodded.
“No one is perfect,” Athril continued. “Maeve may have an army of killers and cleaners at her disposal, but there’s got to be a misstep somewhere.”
Westfall raised his hand, as if he were in class about to ask a question, “I’ll keep reviewing the old case files and see if any of the neighbors or staff have anything new to add.”
“This was personal, too,” Faliq added quietly. To the untrained eye, she looked bored as she stared blankly ahead of her. But Rowan could see the intensity behind her eyes. She was planning something. “Maeve might have kept a memento, or a keepsake.”
Aelin walked over to where Rowan stood, looked into his green eyes for a long moment, then reached out for his hand. His fist was clenched, but it wasn’t until Aelin’s fingers pushed his apart that he realized how tightly he’d been holding onto the ring. “I know this is a lot to ask,” Aelin said quietly, too quietly for anyone else to hear. “But you’re the only person who Maeve trusts enough. If I give this to you, if I trust you to take it to her,” the golden ring in her eyes flashed, “can I trust you to help us?”
Heart stuttering in his chest, Rowan couldn’t tear his gaze away no matter how hard he tried. She was trusting him. This girl who had been betrayed so many times—by her family, by Arobynn, by her friends—and she was trusting him. Suddenly the ring in his hand felt much too heavy.
Curling his hand around hers, the ring locked between their grasp, Rowan nodded. You can trust me.
Aelin’s eyes softened. Good, they said.
“Good job, cuz,” Aedion said, standing up suddenly and coming to sling an arm around Aelin, “Sounds like you’ve got everything covered.”
“Not everything,” Havilliard chimed in. Everyone looked back at him. “How do you plan on regaining your family’s fortunes once this is all over?”
Grinning slyly, Aelin said, “You don’t have to worry about that.”
More than mildly concerned, Rowan narrowed his eyes at the young assassin, but didn’t ask. This wasn’t the time or the place.
Rolling his eyes, Havilliard pressed, “Fine, but then what about back up? If Maeve finds out what we’re up to before we get to trial, or tries to off us during trial, we need to be ready, and like Athril said, she has an army of killers.”
“The police will protect us,” Westfall said, so confident and sincere.
Faliq snorted, drawing Westfall’s glare. She raised her hands to signal peace. “Look, the police might protect some of us but definitely not all of us.”
“And some of us don’t need protection,” Aedion grinned, his face almost identical to the one Aelin made earlier but with a touch more teeth. “Besides, we’ve got the Bane to back us.”
Havilliard hummed. Then, ever so delicately, he pulled out his phone and began to type. “If you say so.”
“Hey,” Aedion frowned, “who’re you texting?”
Looking over his shoulder, Westfall sighed and shook his head, “He’s just on Tindr.”
Faliq slapped a hand over her eyes and Aelin laughed.
“What is Tindr?” The old man asked.
Shaking his head, the young man behind him patted him on his shoulder, “I’ll tell you tomorrow, grandpa. It’s late though, let’s get you to bed.” He looked up at Aelin, “We’re done for tonight, right?”
“Yeah, Ren,” Aelin nodded. “Thanks for letting us crash here.”
Rolling his eyes, his responded blithely, “Anytime.”
Once Ren and the old man, Rowan looked around the room. There were only a couple of couches and he didn’t see any blankets or pillow. Holding back a grimace, he resigned himself to a night on the hard floor. “So who’s taking first shift?”
“No one,” Aelin answered him, opening a closet door and pulling out some blankets and pillows. “This house may look like its about to fall over, but Ren’s done a good job with the security system.”
Havilliard got up and stretched. “Besides,” he yawned, “I need my eight hours or else I’m useless come morning.”
Rowan had to wonder if the mayor’s son was truly ever useful.
“Come on, Chaol,” the dark-haired man called over his shoulder as he headed for the door.
“I’ll come up in a few minutes,” Westfall went to follow, pulling out his phone, “I just need to call Yrene first.”
Faliq snorted, “A few minutes—yeah, right.” She went to follow them out. “You two have never had a conversation shorter than two hours.”
Sputtering, the police officer blushed a ruddy red, “That’s just—we have a lot to catch up on, okay?”
And then Rowan was alone with the cousins.
Aelin pulled the cushions off one of the couches, throwing them all about the room without a care. Looking at Aedion, Rowan raised a brow.
Aedion sneered back. “What she we do with the Cleaner? Everywhere’s full.” And you’re not bunking with me, his eyes practically screamed.
Crossing his arms, Rowan silently replied, I’m heartbroken.
“He’ll sleep down here with me,” Aelin said simply.
Rowan blinked, looking back at the young assassin and watching her pull on a handle to bring out a pull-out bed.
“What?” Aedion barked, his brows raised. “But he could—”
“What?” Aelin repeated, standing straight to look at her cousin. Placing a hand on her hip, she continued, “Try to kill me? If he’s going to try anything like that then it’s best he’s near me.” Her blue eyes locked onto his green ones. Try anything buzzard and I’ll end you.
Rowan’s eyes narrowed, I’d expect nothing less.
“Now go on,” Aelin shooed Aedion out of the room. “You still have to check in on the Bane.”
Obviously unhappy with the situation, Aedion gave Rowan once last glare before heading out.
When Aelin turned back to him, he cleared his throat, “I’ll sleep on the floor.”
“Yeah, you will,” she tossed him a couple blankets.
They spent the rest of the time preparing their beds in silence. Aelin kept trying to fluff up her pillow with no luck.
Laying down on his back, Rowan made sure both Aelin and the room’s entrance were within his eyeline. He didn’t really think Aelin would try to slit his throat in his sleep—she could have done that easily in the car—but there were too many people underneath this roof for him to let his guard down even an inch.
Sighing, Aelin gave up on her pillow and flopped onto her back. “What do you say, buzzard?” She asked, “Light on or off?”
“On,” he replied easily.
Aelin snorted but then rolled over, facing away from him. Staring up at the ceiling, Rowan thought of what tomorrow would bring. He and Aelin would return to the city and part ways. She’d return to her shadows and he would return to Maeve with her ring. He wondered how she’d react. Would she be happy? Would she celebrate him and praise him?
Lorcan would be furious. Connall too, probably. Vaughan wouldn’t care, fully expecting Rowan’s return. Fenrys would make a joke, most likely calling Rowan an errand boy or something equally trivial. Gavriel though, he’d smile kindly and raise a glass in Rowan’s honor.
Chest tightening, Rowan thought of how they’d react once they learned of his betrayal. The six of them had been together for years now. They’d fought together, killed together, helped each other survive. They were a cadre. And even though Gavriel was the only one Rowan could safely call his friend, he would miss them.
He’d been relieved, earlier, when Aelin hadn’t pushed him for a motive. If she had, Rowan didn’t know what he’d say. That he knew what it was like to lose someone you loved? That if he could he’d tear the people responsible apart with his bare hands? No, he shook his head, dispelling the thoughts of a soft smile turned bloody, of dark eyes looking vacantly up at him. Swallowing thickly, Rowan took a deep breath.
“Rowan?” Aelin’s voice, so soft and quiet, called out to him. Rowan blinked, having thought she’d fallen asleep already. “I,” she paused. Then, “Thank you.”
Brows furrowing, he asked, “For what?”
Aelin turned over but didn’t look him in the eyes. “For believing me. For helping me.” Finally, her blue and gold eyes met his, and something inside Rowan’s chest loosened. “Thank you.”
Rowan held her gaze for a few moments longer, then he nodded.
Turning over again, Aelin’s breathing soon evened out. Rowan wasn’t sure if she were truly asleep or if she were just pretending to be and found himself not caring. Closing his eyes, Rowan listened to the rhythmic beating of his heart and let it lull him into a light sleep.
He woke up a few times in the night. First because Westfall was trying to find his way in the dark to what Rowan could only guess was the kitchen for some water. Then around midnight Aedion snuck in to check in on him. The third time was just as the sun was cresting over the horizon, and it was because Aelin rolled over to get out of bed and the mattress creaked.
Looking over at him with a wince, Aelin whispered, “Sorry.”
Dragging a hand down his face, Rowan shook his head, “It’s fine.” He should get up anyway. They had a long day ahead of them. “Any chance I can take a hot shower?”
Aelin nodded, “Yeah,” she stretched, showing a bit of skin along her belly. “The bathroom upstairs works fine.”
Pursing his lips, Rowan was more than a little suspicious at Aelin’s words but left the room all the same. In the light of day, the house looked even worse. Rowan could see scorch marks along the stairs and was pretty sure there was mold growing in the hallway. To his surprise, though, the bathroom was completed rehabilitated with white tile, stainless steel faucets, and even a glass shower. Frowning around at the room, he tried to figure out why this one room was perfectly up to date and untouched by the decay that plagued the rest of the house. Knowing there really wasn’t time to dive into that mystery, Rowan quickly disrobed and jumped into the shower, thanking whatever gods existed for the scalding hot water that came from the pipes.
After finishing, Rowan put his clothes back on and then found some mouthwash to swish in his mouth. Feeling more like a human, he headed back downstairs and found Aelin, Havilliard, and Aedion in the kitchen.
It was surprising to find the mayor’s son up and awake so early. According to his sources, the modern-day prince liked to live a life of luxury and rarely got out of bed before ten.
“Still alive, huh?” Aedion grunted around a mouth full of toast.
Ignoring the pup, Rowan asked Aelin, “What time are we leaving?”
Buttering her own slice of toast, Aelin shrugged, “Once everyone’s up and ready. Before noon. I want to make sure we have on last check in.”
Nodding, Rowan grabbed what he hoped was a clean mug from a cabinet and filled it with coffee. He was just about to sit down when a knock came at the front door.
The room snapped to attention.
“What the hell?” Aedion snarled.
The person knocked again. Louder this time. Footsteps were heavy and frantic overhead.
Havilliard, looking much too relaxed, took a sip of his coffee and asked, “Should someone answer that?”
“That’s not our knock,” Aelin answered, pulling a pair steak knife out from a drawer and handing one to Rowan. “Bane?” She asked her cousin.
Shaking his head, Aedion looked at his phone. “No one could’ve gotten past them.”
Barreling down the stairs, Westfall ran into the room with wide eyes and a gun in his hand. “What’s happening? Are we being attacked?”
The knock turned into a slam, the person on the other side obviously not happy about being left waiting.
“Oh fine,” Havilliard sighed. And then, with a surprising burst of speed, he slipped past the four of them and bee lined it for the door. “I’ll see who it is.”
“Dorian!” Westfall hissed. He reached for his friend but was too late.
Opening the door without a care in the world, Havilliard greeted the stranger. “You’re just in time!”
“What,” Chaol took in a deep breath before continuing, “the fuck, Dorian?”
Rowan stepped forward to see a young woman standing across from Dorian. Her hair was whiter than snow and she barred her teeth at them in an iron-like smile.
“Rutting hell,” Aedion swore, looking pale.
Aelin stepped forward, a glare on her face, and said, “Manon.”
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But you cannot tell me that the scene of Nesryn flying a ruk for the first time doesn’t remind you of Buckbeak’s flight
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no, because Nesryn & Sartaq are a SERVE and they’re so criminally underrated
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Borte and Yeran have one of my Favorite relationships.
We haven’t heard a lot about them but passing in conversation (at least where I am at currently),but they are fan-fu*king-tastic
They give me Manon and Dorian or Aelin and Rowan at Mistward vibes
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This was a mistake. She thought it wouldn't be. She thought she'd be fine but this was all nothing a mistake. And Pearl thought she could last here. Stupid. She started losing her mind after a week. And its been fifteen years since her mother had her locked up in this tower in a completely different world to make it worse. Befire that she had her locked up in her room at home, so qurded she couldn't even look out the bathroom window without seeing twenty guards up on alert.
She wondered what must be done to then if they weren't on alert. The only thing that kept her sane, even now, was tinkering. Using whatever she could find and making whatever she could. It kept her mind off other things. Being locked in a tower was bad as it was.
And the river right outside was nothing but a taunt. A way to show her she had no way out of this. Especially with these Eilosa bands on my wrists, keeping her powers asleep. If she had her powers at the moment, she would open a portal and walk right through to one of the many worlds she knows about. And has been too many times before. When she was learning about them in secret.
But the person wearing the bands could not take them off. Ever. Thats why Estelle couldn't......
No. No use thinking about that. She had one task right now. Call Malcolm. Tell hm everything. It was all she could do. And she thanked Estelle for the millioneth time that she sent their phones and lockets last year. However she found them. The phones atleast were magic operated.
Pearl didn't waste a moment before calling her mate.
I put my phone down and sighed. I ran a hand through my purple hair, messy from sleep. I was too lazy to bother to fix it.
I got up and out of the room I was using in this town house. We had decided to stay here. Because constantly being on the run was too much. We dealt with all the bullshit my mother sent our way, but we needed a proper place to stay after. We decided to get this house for the nights and to stay here in general.
I made my way to the kitchen where Ava was cooking, Sam was at the table drinking his coffee, reading a book. We left the cooking to Ava since she is the only one who is guaranteed not to burn the place down.
Sam moved his brown eyes towards me as I walked in. Brown. Not the dark amethyst eyes Ava and Horren had. But Sam and Horren shared the same dark red hair. And Ava...she had a mix of colours. Pink and red and pinkish orange. And she kept it short. Always. Never let it fall more than 2 inches past her shoulders.
One thing about the girls in the group. They were born with multicoloured hair. No one knew how but they were. And they were all breath-takingly beautiful.
"Good morning, you lazy ass," Ava said as she slid a plate and a cup of coffee my way. Then another plate at Sam. Then sat down with her own breakfast. "Should I be thankful you both woke up on your own today?" she said, fixing her glasses.
"We didn't want to wake up with a whole bucket of freezing water today," Sam said as he bit into his pancakes. She only rolled her eyes.
She looked over at me and cocked her head, "What's wrong?"
I focused on my breakfast as I said, "What do you mean?"
She narrowed her eyes at me and said, "Don't play dumb Malcolm. You were never good at hiding things."
I sighed. It was true. Sometimes I feel like Estelle got all the ways to hide things and left me with nothing. "Pearl called."
"So? She calls often. What did she say this time to have you all bothered?"
"She-her mother kept her locked up since that day and now she left her in a completely different world all alone, locked in a tower."
They both looked at me, eyes wide. Sam set down his fork and leaned back. "This is a problem."
"Especially if your mother is about to start pulling cards out for real now." I nodded absently.
After a moment Ava asked, "Any idea where she is? We've been to a lot of places, so maybe we know which one she's in."
"She doesn't know. I think I may have to ask Estelle. She'll be able to track her location At least."
"You are going to talk to your twin for the first time in who knows how long and the first thing you're going to tell her is that one of her best friends is locked up in a tower with no way out," Sam said.
"Seems that way, yeah."
Ava snorted. "Amazing. Best little brother ever."
"I know I am. Thank you." I glanced at Sam. "Better than him that's for sure." Ava grunted in agreement casting her little brother's look that sent most males running. Ever since his ever so lovely surprise after the war, we've been sure to keep an eye on him. Being the youngest of everyone, he automatically everyone's little brother in a way.
Sam went back to his breakfast, ignoring the looks he dealt with to many times as he said, "Well do it quick. The sooner the better."
"Like it's easy."
"I thought it was easy for you to make your sister worry."
"It's different this time and you know it."
"Stop acting like a baby and call her," Ava interjected.
"Fine," I groaned.
I pulled out my phone and pulled out her contact. I hesitated. Enough that Ava snatched the phone from my hand and called her. Then turned on the speaker and set the phone in the centre of the table. We watched as it ringed. Just when I thought she wasn't going to pick up, a voice, a sweet angel like voice came,
"Should I be worried?"
I woke up the next morning just as a knock sounded at the door.
I got up as Hestia walked in with two plates in hand.
"Thought we'd eat together since you barely come here anyway."
I smiled, "Is there any other reason?"
"Nothing you need to be worried about."
"Please let it be that way." She laughed.
She talked to me over breakfast, about all the things that happened while I was gone. Nothing special then. She left right after to do some work of sorts. I didn't ask.
I got up and got ready to go see Echo and Caius. No doubt to discuss things over with them. I changed into a simple sweater and black jeans and a fit and flare coat.
I went out without anyone bothering me. Thank goodness. I did not need any kind of disturbance now. Or anything to worry about. I needed to stay ready for whatever was about to be thrown my way.
I was about to start the car, on my way to get some coffee when my phone rang. I saw the caller ID. Malcolm.
Ah. Well so much for nothing to worry about. First call in ages. I hardly believe it's good.
I picked up, turned the speaker on as I set the phone in the cup holder so I could drive. I said, "Should I be worried?"
I heard a soft feminine laugh in the back. Ava. "You should, my friend. That's all he ever does to you."
I chuckled. "Right. Who else is there? Sam?"
"I swear this girl isn't normal. Was that a guess?" Sam said.
"Of some sorts, yes."
"Are we done?" said another voice. Malcolm. There we are.
"If you want it to be done, little brother, then it is."
"10 minutes. Not that little."
Ava said, "Still little." Sam snorted.
I huffed a laugh, "Well, before you freak me the hell out, you guys ok?"
"As good as we can be running around."
"Explain 'running around' please."
Sam answered, "It means we go around travelling to different worlds and rest in this one place where we are now." Relatable. Really relatable. Though it made me wonder how we hadn't run into each other yet.
"Ah. So you decided to call now, why?"
"Well we-" Malcolm started.
"Wait hold on a second," I interrupted as I pulled into the drive thru and ordered my coffee. As I waited I told them to continue.
"Right, so Pearl called and she decided to tell me now that her mother has kept her locked up and she had enough. She wants to get out but she's alone and has no idea where she is in general."
Well shit. I'd be more surprised if she wasn't crazy. We all couldn't survive more than a month of being in the same place. She had been locked up for that long?
"You have no idea where she is?"
Ava said, "If he did, he would have dragged us there already."
"Can't argue with that."
I thought for a moment before answering. "I can find out where she is, but you can't go on your own. Knowing her mother, she would've put up more security than a palace needs."
"You got that right," Sam mumbled. It wasn't that Pearl's mom was a bad person, no. She just worried. A lot. Way too much than necessary.
"I- I can send the location but you don't know how to figure out the place properly do you?"
"Nope. As far as I knew, that kind of stuff is what you and Manon excel at."
"So what if I send Manon the location. She can help you figure it out."
Malcolm asked, "Then where is Manon?"
"Please tell me on your travelling spree, you came across a place called Erilea."
Ava said, "We did."
"We did?" the two asked.
"You two really are eggheads aren't you." I laughed. "We did. About three hundred years ago. We went to Wendlyn too."
"Don't remember," Sam said.
"Estelle why am I stuck with these two?"
"Sis, you asking me?"
"I just want an answer."
"Can't give you one. Sorry. Anyway, back to the point. As far as I know Manon is with Aelin and Mal and...a few of the others, you'll see them there. Go there. I'll talk to Manon and she'll help you out. As well as the others."
"They really gonna help?" Sam asked.
"We're talking about Pearl, right?"
"Point taken." I smiled. Pearl and Sam. The group's sweethearts everyone loves. No arguments.
Malcolm said, "So we go to Manon. She tells us where Pearl is after you tell her to find the place. And then we all go against her mother's unnecessary security and get her out."
"Seems like it. And for heaven's sake, please be careful."
"Can't guarantee anything. Besides, if anyone gets hurt, we have Ava. So we're good."
"If you get hurt on purpose so Pearl falls over you, I'm not healing you."
"I love you Ava, you know that?"
"Of course you do. Now. How long will it take?"
"Give me until tomorrow. I'll tell Manon now and then I'll find Pearl. Then you can go save your princess, brother."
"Let's hope so," he mumbled. I chuckled.
"Well, as fun as that was, I gotta go."
"Do you need anything? Any way we can help?" Malcolm asked.
I said quietly, "One of your hugs would be nice right now." I said it in greek so only he could understand.
"Any idea when we'll all meet again?" Sam asked.
I tried to ignore the ache in my chest as I said, "Soon. Later dreamers."
"Later dreamer," they said before ending the call.
Manon had no idea rather to be relieved or worried. It wasn't that anything was wrong in the kingdom or anywhere else. No the Witch kingdom was thriving well enough. Especially after the little surprise on Winter slostice after the war, when someone restored the city. Rebuilt it with a wave of magic. The entire continent.
And she knew exactly who that was. Even then she had no idea rather to be escatic or pissed off when she could have helped sooner in so many other ways. Preferably stopped everything before it began. Then again, thats Estelle for you. Not that she didnt have a valid excuse for it. But Manon appreciated it, since they didnt have to reuild the city. Because that had been acomplished.
What bothered her right now was that two years later, Estelle had to give her the call that set her feeling like....who knows what. Even Manon didn't know what this was but it was really something if she spent two days locked in her room trying to do as she was told.
No easy finding someone in a wholly different world when they're warded so well against anything.
Find Pearl. Malcolm'll come by in a few days. Of course he will come by. She was the only one who could track down people. Now matter how warded it was even if it took time.
Atleast Ava was coming along. And Sam..Oh Sam. She was going to kill him outright for all the shit he pulled. But later. After they got Pearl. The girl who had had the audacity to not tell us her mother had her locked up for years. Good job Pearl.
A knock on her door had Manon looking up from her screen. She was done finding Pearl. She was just looking at the layout of the tower she was locked up in before she got up and answered the door.
"You really must stop. You'll kill your eyes at some point," Glennis complained, looking over Manon's shoulder to cast a useless glare at the various screens set up on her table. As if she could blast them apart.
Manon smirked, "I think I already have, no need to worry," she said, gesturing to her rose gold rimmed glasses. Only in the Witch Kingdom did she wear them. Along with her white hair that faded down to a pale frost blue with streaks of that rose gold in between. Her natural hair. The one she was born with and not the plain white she's been going along with for the past century in Erilea. Manon, Aelin, Lysandra (who's name is actually Mal but she can't tell anyone), Elide, Ansel and Nesryn had this lengthy talk last year in Terrasen solely about living with one colour in their hair when they were used to more than that. An unnecessarily long talk that lasted hours.
Of course they were. They spent every second like that for what nearly seventeen thousand years. Erilea messed it up but Manon and Nesryn had purely given up trying to hide it at this point and switched back to the natural colour. Manon because no on cared her and Nesryn because the Khagan knew about them. Who they were and where they were from because he was from the same place before landing her too. The others....they were still pissed.
Glennis sighed. "I am well aware of that. Anyway, I suppose this," she gestured to the screens, "means you won't be going to Terrasen this Solstice."
She shook her head, "They might come today and then we'll need to leave and sort it out. If I get it done before hand, then I might." A wicked amile grew on her face as she said, "Maybe even drag the four of them along and surprise them."
Glennis chuckled, "You're going back to being yourself I see." She was. Finally she was slowly dropping the mask she had worn when she was around the Matron. The cold witch she never was. And even though it had surprised the witches before two years ago, they seemed to have gotten used to her now.
"Seems like a good time to do so," she said and cocked her head, "Was there anything you needed?"
Glennis sighed, "Yes, well if you're quiet done, dinner is served."
Manon raised a brow, "You came here to tell me just that? I highly doubt it." She crossed her arms leaning against the door frame of her chambers. More of an apartment though than a chamber.
Glennis smiled and held out a small box, long box. "Your father sent this a while ago." Father. Her throat closed up as she nodded taking the box wrapped in red, a note with her fathers writing atop. She placed it in her room for the time being. Later. She liked having a moment for dad's gifts. He's rarely able to send them and when he does....Stop. Stop thinking about home, Manon.
As if knowing where her thoughts had wondered to Glennis said soflty, "You will go back one day Manon. All of you will."
"The past eleven thousand years in exile definetly told me that," she replied just as softly. Exiled from our home. All twenty six of us banished from our home for no real reason than the hate of two queens. Who were long supposed to be off the throne. It wasn't even a proper exile. They didn't go by the rules that applied when banishing anyone from their world. Bitches.
She nodded, "Someday," she repeated and headed outside to the dining hall, her dress flowing freely around her. Not the corset laden monstrosities the gossip ladies in Adarlan wore. A free flowing dress so we don't break our ribs and struggle to breath. She had tried those once, back home with her mother when she was fifteen. And ripped the gown apart not two minutes later. No one had dared show her such a dress again. Even though her mother laughed and said the same.
What she wouldn't give to see her parents again. To see her father atleast. To go with him to the frost fields on the outskirts of the city, the frost flowers blooming in the cold mountains they lived in, the colours going from snow white to blue and in between. Those rose like flowers that glittered in the sunlight as they watched from above on the cliff. That was what she missed the most. And her father's endless teasing of her being a frost flower becuase of her hair and her ability to hid in between them before sneaking up on him.
That had been it. And when she started living in Evolete when she was older, she took every spare moment she could with him. Sometimes mom when she could. And Khris. But her and dad had always had that bond. it would never severe.
She didn't miss Khris. If only because comes along every now and then. And they barely talk now. The sole reason Glennis figured out something happened becuase they both had a bond too. Once. Before he blew it. Blew it in the worst way and at the worst time and he didn't give crap about her since. And though Manon said she didn't, she did. She missed him even if she was still raging at him.
Especially when Glennis pointed it out and sent them in a room to talk. They didn't. They yelled. It was only Manon's shield around the room that kept the entire continent from hearing them scream. And in the end, Manon had asked for just one thing from him. Even though she felt like bursting into tears from his words, words that broke her faith in him even more, she said,
"I get you don't care about me anymore. Fine. Do as you wish. But do one favour. one damned favour, Khris. Take care of Sofia. Keep her safe and don't, please don't, do the same with her like you did with me. She doesn't deserve it. And never will."
"Believe me that kid won't do anything like you did, so she won't have to deal with this. She's not like you in any way, despite blood." Those had been his words. She didn't say anthing. She just left the room. That was the last time they talked. Last summer. Other than a few words in front of Sofia, they never acted like anthing was wrong. And she didn't question or seem to realize anything amiss. It was a given since Khris brought her over more often than not for the last two years, stay for a week and leave. Leaving Sofia with us for weeks. No one minded. Who would mind the little four year roaming around the castle causing mischief. Sometimes even sneaking into the city unnoticed and playing with the other witchlings.
It left everyone worried, panicked at first when they found her in the streets, playing on the cobblestone paths lined outside the cottages of the witches. Manon had laughed, kneeling infront of the girl to straighten her hair saying, "You're exactly like me when I was a witchling."
And speaking of Sofia....
"Khris may come in a week or two to drop Sofia off," Bronwen said, joining us as we walked down the halls to the dining hall. At the mention of Sofia, Bronwens eyes lit up. Sofia had won their hearts the first day. A two year old can do a lot without intending to. No one could even stay mad at her bacause she made that sweet little face, those sea green eyes that see to bore into your soul till you let her get away with it.
"Lets hope it's two. I have a feeling I'll be gone for a week atleast," Manon replied.
Bronwen cocked her head, "You won't go to Terrasen then? What of your princling?" she teased. Manon sighed in frustration while Glennis chuckled.
"He's a king first off all. And I visit hom often enough. It's fine. I want to get Pearl back anyway." She'd told Bronwen and Petrah. Not Glennis because the crone already knew. As for Dorian....She goes to Adarlan once every now and then so it won't be anything that big. She sent word she wasn't coming anyway. Manon would rather get her friend out of basically a prison than spend weeks trying to cure a hungover Aelin causes. And those hungovers are bad. Too bad.
"So these friends of yours.."Bronwen went on as we entered the hall. She continued as Manon took her seat at the head even if she hated it. Petrah sat to her right while Bronwen took the left. "We may need to know a little about them before hand you know."
"Such as when they're coming," Petrah added. "And how many."
Manon thought for a moment as she served herself. Finally she said, "Two males, one female if I'm supposed to believe either of their words." She had to bit her lip to keep from smiling. "All royalty for one. Ava's a healer, Sam's more scholary than anything. And Malcolm...I don't even know what he is. I'll leave it to you." They nodded.
"She's...." She looked at Glennis, "How do I describe her?"
"The innocent one?"
Manon snorted a laugh. "Innocent! Please. That girl may act innocent but she's exactly like the rest of us."
"She's a good girl for as many times I've met her."
"Goods girls," Manon pointed at the crone with her fork, "are bads girls. They are yet to be caught. And you barely met her."
"She makes a point," Petrah muttured.
I smirked. Tomorrow, I'll have fun for sure.
(I deeply apologize for the random change in POV's )
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Ren: did you guys know there's a knife that gets so hot it instantly turns your bread into toast when you cut it?
Aelin: imagine stabbing somebody with that
Aedion: well if it was that hot it would instantly cauterize the wound so it wouldn't be very effective
Rowan: it's effective if you want information
Ren: why would you be stabbing people when you can have toast?!
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Parveen Kaur as Nesryn Faliq
(map ©️ 2015 Kelly de Groot)
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Tower of Dawn - Spoilers
FALKAN IS A SHAPESHIFTER!! Baby here we go again with the crazy! (Though let be honest when did it stop)
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Dorian: do you love me?
Manon: yeah, but it's kind of ruining my whole cold and ruthless exterior so i don't know
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Stories told around campfires, he would say
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One Step Ahead Ch 9: Family Matters
“Now it’s your turn to listen,” Aelin told him, her eyes burning into him like blue fire. “Come with me and I’ll explain everything.”
Rowan stared down at the ring in his hands, trying to determine if she was telling the truth. He couldn’t detect a trace of a lie in her voice, but she’d be good at lying. She’d have to be, in their line of work. The ring felt cool against his skin. Clean too. If there was a poison on this ring, it had rubbed off long ago or was near untraceable.
None of this made sense to him. His mistress was many things, but kin killer? And those tears she had cried for him earlier . . . those had seemed so real to him. Still believing Arobynn of someone similar to be behind all of this, Rowan resolved himself to see it through. If He could gain more information then he’d figure out who was responsible. And if he could do that, if he could reunite Maeve with her long lost great niece—the only family she had left—then he’d be Maeve’s champion, a hero.
Something inside Rowan’s chest fluttered at the prospect. A hero, just like she always thought him to be . . .
“Okay,” Rowan nodded, his green eyes trained onto her blue. “I’ll hear you out.”
Tension unfolded from Aelin’s shoulders like ice breaking off a glacier. Flexing her hands, breaking them out of their curled form, the assassin nodded and said, “Let’s go.”
Silently, the two packed up their camp and returned to the car. Aelin drove her way through a dark and narrow path with only the towering trees of Oakwald to accompany them. After several minutes where not a word was spoken between them, the forest opened up and a great manor came into view. The manor was grand, to be sure, but time had taken its toll on the building. In some parts the roof was coming apart, showing holes into the interior, and in others the glass of the windows looked so unclean they were pitch black. All the foliage which must have at one point in time been beautiful and cared for had overgrown and begun to creep up the brick walls, swallowing the manor one leaf at a time.
“Where are we?” Rowan asked when Aelin turned off the car.
“Somewhere safe. Now come on. They’re waiting for us.”
The inside of the manor wasn’t much better off than the outside. The entry hall and rooms beside it were dark and cold. Cobwebs grew a plenty and Rowan knows he heard some critter moving down the hall. But as they walked further into the home, Aelin led him to a door outlined with a warm light.
Adarlan’s Assassin gave the door a series of knocks, a code signaling to those on the other side that they were in safe company. A double knock returned Aelin’s and then it opened to reveal a young man with dark hair and piercing brown eyes and a scar tearing through his eyebrows and running down his cheek. His eyes flashed from Aelin to Rowan. His distrust of the Cleaner was obviously apparent in the way his eyes narrowed and his lips pursed, but he still moved aside to let them in.
Inside the room was much better kept than the rest of the house. There was a fire burning in a grand fireplace, an expensive, but worn, rug on the floor, and several comfortable looking couches and chairs. Most of which were already filled. Carefully taking in his surroundings, Rowan was surprised to find, once again, Dorian Havilliard and Chaol Westfall. He blinked at them slowly, trying—and failing—to think of some way to link the two of them and Aelin together.
Unsurprisingly, Aedion was lounging across the room. He was so slumped down in his seat it almost looked like he could slide off at any moment. Rowan wouldn’t be fooled though. If necessary, Aedion was ready to spring into action the microsecond he was needed. The white haired man wondered where the rest of his gang were. Since he didn’t see their bikes on his way in, he assumed they were guarding the manor and keeping watch for any unwanted visitors. Prowling in the dark like a pack of rabid wolves.
Next to the leader of The Bane sat the Faliq girl, which was curious. Her sharp eyes were trained on him, watching his every move. Remembering what she said earlier, about never missing her mark, he made himself a mental note not to keep his back towards her.
There were three other people in the room. The first was the young man who opened the door for them. He stood by the fire, behind a winged back chair which seated a frail old man. Rowan assumed this was the owner of the house.
And finally, sitting across from the fire on a sad looking fainting couch, a pillow clutched in his arms, was Athril Dearst.
Shooting Aelin a look, one that said—what the actual fuck are you playing at—Rowan found himself standing so close to her that he could easily spot the ring of gold within the blue of her eyes.
Staring right back at him, her determined gaze answered him, What I have to.
Explain, Rowan demanded, not looking away even when he heard Athril stand.
Sighing, Aelin nodded. She looked over Rowan’s shoulder at Athril and said, “You start—you’re the one that set this all into motion, after all.”
Athril nodded. He looked at Rowan, then away, and then, as if he’d found a bit of courage deep within himself, locked eyes with Rowan and began, “Right. Well, I’m not sure if you know this, but it’s an election year.”
He waited for the Cleaner to nod.
“The polls weren’t looking great. There wasn’t a lot of public interest and when that happens it could go either way come Election Day. My campaign manager and I thought it’d be best to find something, a cause, to bring the people together and catch their attention.” The Wendlyn District Attorney cleared his throat, “So I decided to look into cold cases, and there was one that caught my eye. It was out of my district, but Terrasen’s D.A., welcomed me in with open arms and agreed we could share in any of the spoils closing such a notorious case would bring.”
Rowan caught Aelin’s eye and she nodded, confirming he meant her family’s murder.
“So I put pressure on the police to reopen the case, which led to,” Athril trailed off, looking towards Westfall to pick up the story.
Sitting up straighter, Chaol looked at the room with wide eyes. He looked alarmed by the prospect that he’d have to address the room. “I found it,” he got out, “the ring. It,” he looked towards Faliq who nodded encouragingly to him which was . . . interesting, “had fallen into a vent beside his night table.” Westfall shrugged, “I guess no one looked there the first time around.”
Aelin snorted, “More like they were bribed not to.”
Rowan nodded at that, though who had bribed the police all those years ago, he was still unsure.
“That’s how we got involved,” Havilliard spoke up, clapping his friend on his shoulder. Westfall sighed quietly before relaxing back into his seat. “Chaol brought the ring to light and the news traveled up the channels and into my ears so we,” the prince of Rifthold’s lips split into a sly grin, one that hinted at something deeper, something hidden beneath the surface, “began exchanging conspiracy theories.”
“We thought for sure the ring belonged to Adarlan’s Assassin,” Westfall sat up again, his confidence growing, it seemed, now that he’d had time to think about what he wanted to say. “We thought this was the missing piece needed to finally pin it on her, but we quickly realized we were wrong.”
“How?” Rowan asked. The only way he’d been able to rule out the possibility of it being Aelin was because he knew her age and that the time line couldn’t match up. For anyone who didn’t know the famed assassin wasn’t even twenty, it’d be a natural assumption to make.
Both Westfall and Havilliard turned to look at Faliq. The young woman shrugged, “They were talking about it in my bakery, so I set them straight.”
A beat passed, and when Rowan kept his green eyes locked on the dark haired woman, she continued, “I’d already met Aelin at that point—knew her as Celeana, I mean—and knew she couldn’t have made that kill.”
Rowan nodded, though he had a few more questions, like why would Westfall and Havilliard take a random baker for her word, and how did she prove it to them? He still didn’t know how the sons of two powerful men had become friends with such a notorious member of the Underworld, but he had a feeling that information would come to light soon enough.
“Once Nesryn told me about the ring, I knew I had to act fast,” Aelin told him, her hip cocked and her hand resting on it as if she hadn’t a care in the world. “If I knew, that mean Maeve knew too, or would know soon enough.”
Following her train of thought, the white haired male said, “So you stole it before she could.” Aelin gave him a wide smile, one that showed off an awful lot of teeth and was surely meant to set him on edge. However, all it did for him was send a spark down his spine.
Still, this didn’t explain everything. Cocking his head at her, he silently asked, And this group? How’d this all happen?
For once, Aelin answered him aloud, “After our meetup in the bakery, I got Dorian, Chaol, and Nesryn to convince Athril to come here.”
Which was smart, considering Maeve would more than likely take him out to ensure no one kept sniffing around the Galathynius case. But no, Rowan reminded himself. Maeve wasn’t responsible for this. Nothing anyone had said had properly condemned his mistress. He needed more information if he was going to convince Aelin properly.
“I have to say,” Athril sat back down on the couch, grabbing for the pillow, “having these two,” he jerked his thumb at Havilliard and Westfall, “pick me up was a wise choice. I thought she,” know his thumb was aimed at Faliq, “had come to carve out my lungs.”
“That’s just her face,” Westfall said quietly, earning him a pillow to the face courtesy of Faliq. “What? It’s true!”
“Anyway,” Aelin said pointedly, giving Westfall a very tired look, “once we had the ring, we sent it out for testing.”
Rowan hummed, pulling the ring out from his pocket. “You said it was poisoned.”
“The interior, to be specific,” Athril pulled a briefcase out from underneath the couch and took some papers out. “There were only trace amounts left by the time we found it. The rest was absorbed into Orlon’s skin. Based on what Dr. Towers said, it wouldn’t have taken long for the poison to do its job.”
“What’s the name of the poison?” Rowan looked back over to Aelin, “If we know the name and the ingredients that could help us find the real killer.”
Aelin raised a delicate brow. Really buzzard? Her expression asked. Still trying to defend your mistress?
“It doesn’t have a name yet,” Westfall, of all people, told him. Rowan would have thought his participation in this conversation had ended, and yet he continued on as if he himself was the expert on the poison. “It’s an unknown. We have a breakdown of the ingredients though,” he nodded at Athril, who stood and handed Rowan several pages worth of data. “They’re very rare, which is good, and should help us narrow down the suspects. In fact, it already has.”
“Have you ever been to Valg, Rowan?” Aelin asked, moving over to stand before the fire and warm her hands. The hairs on the back of Rowan’s neck stood up, knowing that Aelin ever acted nonchalantly like this when she was at her most dangerous, when she had something up her sleeve.
Rowan hadn’t ever been to Valg. There was no reason for him to, considering what a crap hole the place was. It was full of empty buildings, the hollowed out husks of addict-addled bodies, and rusted over pipes. There was only one reason people ever went there and that was to die.
With her back to him, Aelin continued, “It’s a horrible place, run by three brothers who care nothing for it besides whatever money the junkyards and desperate bring in. But it does have an interesting collection of foliage that are renowned for their toxicity.” Turning around to face him again, Aelin’s face looked like it had been cut from marble, betraying none of the emotions Rowan was sure were raging through her.
“Why are you telling me this?” It was nothing new to the Cleaner. The King brothers, Orcus, Mantyx, and Erawan, were well known by the world for their brutal business practices and known in the Underworld for their vast supply of drugs and poisons.
“I’m telling you this,” Aelin said slowly, taking in a deep, slow breath, “because all of the ingredients in the poison originate from Valg and because of Maeve’s connection with it.”
Rowan frowned, trying to connect the dots and finding he couldn’t. There was no connection between Maeve and Valg. Silently, Rowan told her so.
Shoulders dropping back, Aelin stood up straighter. Rowan felt as if a stone dropped into his stomach, knowing he was about to be proven wrong.
“Maeve was married before, did you know?” Aelin cocked her head to the side, almost inquisitively. “It was only for a year or so, but it was legal. Apparently it ended in fire and brimstone, but I’m sure Maeve wouldn’t call it a complete loss.”
Athril handed him another piece of paper. It was a copy of a marriage certificate.
“Look at the names, Rowan.”
He did, and what he found there took the air right out of his lungs. Orcus King. Maeve had been married to Orcus King. Orcus King, the mastermind behind all the poisons produced in Valg. If Maeve had been married to him, had gained knowledge of his formulas and ingredients, then it’d be easy for her to . . .
“I need some air,” Rowan shoved the papers back into Athril’s hands and stormed out of the manor. There was a chill to the night, a welcomed sensation to combat his burning skin. He was going to be sick. Maeve was vicious, he always knew that—she didn’t become a mob boss by being nice, he knew that—but this was her family. Family was everything and she just—if Aelin was right then she just threw that all away.
Rowan closed his eyes and found a pair of chestnut eyes staring back at him. The wind carried the sound of a laugh, warm and infectious and familiar. Bile rose up Rowan’s throat. He’d give anything to just—and Maeve had thrown—he was going to be sick.
“Rowan,” Aelin’s voice broke through Rowan’s thoughts, through the laughter and the bile, and brought him back down into himself.
Dragging a hand down his face, Rowan turned to look at Adarlan’s Assassin. Standing before him now, Aelin looked so small and vulnerable, but she was looking at him as if he looked the same.
Opening her mouth, Aelin was about to say something else but Rowan cut her off, “I’m in. Whatever you need me to do.” He swallowed down the last remnants of the bile and resolved himself, “I’m in.”
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Can we get the Throne of Glass series adapted to an anime? I’m almost done with the series and I feel like it’s perfectly suited to an anime. Incredible world, amazing magic, epic battles & beautiful creatures.
(I know it’s supposedly being adapted for a TV show but I think it would do waaaaaay better as an anime)
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Rowan: i am a centuries old warrior with excellent self control. i've got this
Aelin: *turns up in a golden nightgown*
Rowan: upon further reflection, it is clear that i do not, in fact, got this
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Remember That IOU?
Here it is, part two for the Halloween Party Hosted by the Thirteen! Remember: the characters are not romantically linked!
Prompt: “Remember that ‘IOU’ you gave me? Well this is it. You are wearing this couples’ costume.”
Characters: Manon and Nesryn
Manon practically growled at her boyfriend as he walked through her bedroom door, eyes narrowing to slits as she caught sight of the outfit in his hand. “Don’t fucking say it. You can forget it.” Nesryn, who’d been upstairs getting ready with the girls since she’d had to rush right over after work, turned just in time to see one of her closest friends roll his eyes.
“M, we’ve been over this,” Dorian laughed. “I wanna wear matching costumes this year.”
“Mm, no,” she replied, motioning to the outfit already laid out on her bed - Nesryn wasn’t sure, but she thought Manon was going for a knight/warrior sort of look, since she saw a chainmail-style tank top and one of her many replica swords on the bed. “It’s the one time of year I have a valid excuse to break out my swords. Not gonna happen.”
“Babe, you use your swords for costumes every year. Can’t you take a break?”
Nesryn nodded, taking in Dorian in the costume he’d already put on - he’d gone for a medieval king, and she had to admit that the costume suited him. She could only imagine that the medieval queen costume he was holding out to Manon would be just as stunning. “He’s right. You should change it up.”
Shooting her a death glare, Manon just crossed her arms. “Absolutely not. I don’t care how good you look in that crown,” she added, pointing at her boyfriend, “there’s nothing that you can say or do that can change my mind.”
“I really didn’t want to have to do this, but…” he trailed off, and Nesryn swore she saw him hide a smirk. “Remember that ‘IOU’ you gave me? Well this is it. You are wearing this couples’ costume.”
“I was drunk!” Manon screeched, grabbing a pillow from her bed and tossing it at him. “I gave you that ‘IOU’ when I was drunk and crying because you gave me your hoodie when I spilled water on my tank top and got all cold!”
“You were,” he agreed, slinging an arm around her shoulders. “And I tried to get you to take the ‘IOU’ back the next day, but you insisted.”
Giving him a dark glare, she shook her head and took the costume from him. “You’re lucky I like you. Now get out and let me get dressed.” She shooed him out of the room, and then she turned her fiery gaze back to Nesryn. “How dare you let him talk me into this?”
“Because you’ll look beautiful in it and it’ll make Dorian so happy,” Nesryn replied, making Manon snort in derision.
“Easy for you to say! You’re dressed as a huntress - you get to have your bow! And your arrows!”
Nesryn just smirked at her. “You didn’t let me finish - I’ve got a plan that I think you’ll approve of.”
Eyeing the smile on her lips, Manon nodded, taking the crown from the costume bag and placing it atop her moon-white hair. “Well, I also happen to look fantastic in a crown. What’s your idea?”
Nesryn had taken a place between Dorian and Chaol as they waited for the Thirteen to make their grand entrance, smirking and laughing quietly to herself as she waited for Dorian’s reaction. Sartaq stood behind her, holding her hands in both of his as she leaned against his chest, and he was the only one who’d noticed her expression. “What’s with you?” her boyfriend had asked.
“Just wait and see, “ she’d replied.
When Manon finally descended the stairs, she cheered with everyone else. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Dorian laughing, even as he shook his head and gave her a knowing look. Nesryn merely shrugged and watched him go back to staring at his girlfriend - her idea had paid off. The dress he’d given Manon had actually been a two-piece, so she’d swapped the skirt for the pants - tight and black - that she’d planned to wear with her original costume. She’d strapped just one sword around her waist, and she’d kept the crown on her head.
Manon weaved through the crowd, leaning up to kiss Dorian as he folded her into his side. “Thanks for the help,” she laughed, reaching out to high five Nesryn.
“I suppose a queen ready for battle is more your style anyway,” Dorian informed her, kissing her again. “Nice work, Nes.”
She just nodded. “She gets a sword, you get a queen - now everyone’s happy.”
And they really were - Nesryn could see the happiness practically radiating from the two of them as they turned to pose for a picture. Manon looked at her quickly, mouthing a quick “thank you” before facing the camera again.
This was already shaping up to be her favorite party yet.
Stay tuned for the third one tomorrow!
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i can go anywhere i want just not home
A fic based on My Tears Ricochet!! Highly recommend listening to the song while reading. Very angsty, it's if something happened and Aelin was forced out of Terrasen and had to fake her death. So yeah. I'm working on my Illicit Affairs one so that should be soon? No promises
**Not beta-read or anything we die like men here and I think I'm allergic to editing after 8pm so I can't be blamed if it's really bad
“Do it,” She spat, staring up at him - at all of them. Rowan was the only one who met her eyes, he didn’t flinch away from her, he never flinched away from her. Until recently, at least. There was a sort of comfort in knowing that she was horrible enough that Rowan Whitethorn had finally flinched.
She felt that achingly familiar lick of flame, starting at the base of her spine slowly curling up, lighting the hollows in her spine and bones, in her soul.
Something must be smoldering in her eyes because Rowan shifted, almost imperceptibly. Only being his mate and carranam did she recognize it for what it was. He’d shifted enough to have placed himself between them. Between her, Chaol, and Dorian.
With a bitter laugh, she spat again, “It’s come to this? You’re protecting them from me!” Her voice got shrill.
“Fireheart,” Rowan started but she cut him off.
“No. No. Don’t. You. Dare. Call me that.” It took all her years of training in hiding herself, of becoming other people, that allowed her to keep her voice steady.
She wanted to cry. She wanted to curl up in her massive bed, half sprawled against the comforting warmth of her husband, with Fleetfoot resting in her lap and a good book in one hand, the delicious chocolate hazelnut cake an elderly woman in town had learned to make just for her in the other. She wanted to go home.
But home was a long way from here.
Dorian shoved forward, elbowing past Rowan, ignoring Chaol’s muttered warning, and stopped once he and Aelin were nose-to-nose.
“We didn’t want to do this.”
She just hummed, not backing away from him.
Those flames still curled, ready for her to wield.
“This is better than the alternative,” Chaol spoke up and she and Dorian both moved to look at him.
She arched a brow and schooled her face into that indifferent arrogance she knew made nearly everyone see red. “The alternative? What was the alternative to forcing me to flee my kingdom I have fought so hard to keep and fake my own death with only,” She jabbed a finger at each of them, “You three knowing the details of what happened.”
“The alternative was taking away the fake part,” Dorian said, cold water to match her own burning flame.
She started, and against her better judgment, looked at Rowan. “You were going to,” She swallowed and tried very hard to ignore the agony in his gorgeous eyes. “Kill me?”
“If it makes you feel better, I don’t think anybody voted for that.” Dorian offered.
“Voted?” Her voice went shrill again and she saw Rowan twitch. “You all voted on what to do with me?”
“You couldn’t stay in Terrasen anymore, not after what you did, so yes. We voted.”
“And you three are the lucky bastards who have to force me out.”
“Force is only needed if you decide to fight us, Aelin,” Chaol said.
She ignored how pointed the words were, how they angered those festering embers.
“So Lorcan didn’t volunteer? I was sure he’d be the first to want to force me out of my own home and fake my death.”
“Nobody volunteered, Aelin. Nobody wanted this to be the way it went.”
“Hmm, well it seems someone did. Since we’re here, and all.” Her voice dropped low and she was suddenly talking only to Rowan. “Was what I did so unforgivable that you don’t love me anymore?”
He couldn’t look at her, this man, who used to look at her like the stars were born in her eyes, now couldn’t look her in the face. “I’ll always love you, Fi-” He cleared his throat, “Aelin. Don’t ever think I stopped but-” He looked like words had become too hard and merely stared at whatever his eyes were fixed on, somewhere behind her left ear.
Chaol and Dorian were both looking anywhere but at the two of them.
Looking at him in the dying sunlight filtering through the web of branches formed from ancient oak trees, the way his eyes glittered, the hard lines of him all highlighted, and his hair ruffled from the autumn wind, her resolve broke. She took a step, then another, then she was running. He caught her, swept her up, and buried his face in the crook of her neck.
It was oddly reminiscent of a time long ago, in Adarlan. That, however, was a reunion. This was a goodbye.
Tears streaked down her face and he held her closer; as if trying to further commit all of her to memory. “I’m sorry, Rowan.” She whispered.
“I know. I am too.”
She pulled away first. He wiped her tears away with painstaking gentleness and kissed her forehead, “This may not be the end.” From his tone and the way he was looking at her, he believed it as much as she did. Which is to say, this is the end. “Promise me you’ll stay alive.”
She nodded but didn’t say anything.
“Take care of Terrasen for me. They need you.”
He nodded, his hands still resting on her face, making no move to leave. “Where will you go?”
She shrugged helplessly, “Maybe I’ll bring Lillian back. I don’t know. I’ll just stay in the shadows for a few centuries, try and build a life where nobody knows me, nobody knows Terrasen.”
He nodded again and slowly dragged his hands from her face. She was the one that was ‘dying’ but he looked ready to keel over himself. He took a few unsteady steps backward and stooped to pick up a backpack they’d brought. He tossed it to her and she caught it easily, slinging it along her back.
She turned and looked at Dorian and Chaol, biting her lip. She wanted them to hurt, she wanted them to feel the betrayal she felt. Not a sting, no, she felt like she’d been stabbed. And as someone who had been stabbed many times before, she felt confident in her analogy. But they were her friends, once.
Make them hurt a voice whispered deep from inside her. She clenched her fists and felt the flames bubbling up.
Aelin. Rowan. In her head.
She breathed in deeply and nodded to them once, they nodded back. She acknowledged the pain in their eyes with not a small amount of satisfaction.
She took off sprinting into the forest and didn’t look back.
They were walking back to Terrasen, they’d let Aelin off at the border.
“Rowan,” Dorian laid a hand on his arm, “Are you-”
He shrugged the young king off and shifted, taking to the skies, as far from them, from anyone, as he could get.
“We made the right decision, right?” Dorian’s voice was so strained it cut at Chaol’s heart.
“Yeah, yes. This was the right choice. The only choice.”
He nodded, but Chaol could tell the doubts lingered. As long as Aelin was out there, on her own, free but never allowed to return home, the doubts would always linger.
Her knees buckled not far from where she’d taken off running from the three of them. She flew forward, throwing her hands out and scraping her palms along the rocks as slid to a stop. She tried to breathe, ragged, shaking breaths, as she tried to calm her mind. The world blacked-out around the edges and a whimper fell from her mouth. She couldn’t do this. She couldn’t fucking do this.
A weak scream ripped from her throat and she dug her hands harder into the rocks, they sliced her palms open, warm blood trickling into the grass.
She tried to wrangle the fire, she tried to use the tactics Rowan had taught her what felt like lifetimes ago, but just like it had which led to her being here, she couldn’t control it.
It didn’t explode like she thought it would, it bubbled. Like lava in a volcano, it bubbled out of her, hot smoldering fire, trickling down her face like tears, tracing lines along her body like blood. It covered the grass around her and spread, her cry was futile. It burnt straight through some of the ancient oak trees, bringing them down and melting them entirely into the earth.
Despite the chaos around her, despite that first anguished cry, she knelt in the dirt. Wind ripped her hair away from her face as she burned the world around her, nobody could say Aelin Ashryver Whitethorn Galathynius went out gracefully.
Despite the initial burning at the border, no sign of Aelin had surfaced. He had to give her credit, the woman knew how to disappear. The thought sent an ache through him, intensifying what was already there.
He’d been like some kind of ghoul, Lorcan and Fenrys traded shifts watching over him, making sure he bathed and ate. Someone always sat at his bedside with him, waking him when the nightmares took him. Nightmares that Aelin was still held captive by Maeve. When they resurfaced, the first night his hand had shot out, seeking a warm body that wasn’t there. He’d flown into a fit of panic until someone had brought someone in. One of the women, Elide, maybe? They had calmed him enough to tell him Aelin wasn’t with Maeve. They weren’t in the war anymore. He remembered where Aelin was. That he didn’t know where Aelin was, only that he had sent her away. In some ways, that hurt worse.
Most of them had moved into the castle and would stay until most of Terrasen, until Rowan, settled enough to be left. Most of them were Lords and Ladies, however, so they alternated. One week Elide would stay at the castle, the next week Lorcan would. The same went for Aedion and Lysandra. He knew it hurt them, being separated like that, but they never once complained. Rowan hadn’t entirely been paying attention when they had decided how Aelin’s ‘death’ had happened, but they’d fabricated a story and spread it. Today was her funeral, nearly a month after she had left - since they’d made her leave - and Terrasen’s people had been in mourning ever since. They would be for a long while, but not nearly as long as Rowan would be.
He wasn’t sure what woke up, it wasn’t even dawn, but his eyes fluttered open. He oriented himself with what - who - surrounded him. Fleetfoot, that damned dog, was at his feet. She hadn’t taken Aelin’s spot, as if hoping she would be back. There was another animal asleep near the foot of the bed, on the floor, Lysandra or Fenrys, and he watched their chest slowly rise and fall and matched his own to it. His heart had been racing. Maybe that’s what woke him, an unseen nightmare.
He crept past the sleeping figure, probably Lysandra then, not as attuned to his every move like he knew Fenrys was.
He slipped out onto the balcony and was struck with the memory of the time Aelin had woken him and he had found her staring with tear-filled eyes at the Kingsflame blooming across those rolling hills.
He surveyed those same hills, the sleeping town below, and leaned forward, bracing his hands on the railing until he was close to tumbling off the edge and stayed there in silence for a long while before speaking. “Damn it Aelin!” He was nearly sobbing, he had no idea when the tears had started. “Why didn’t you stay? Why didn’t you fight harder? Gods,” He broke off and slumped down, unable to speak thanks to the sobs wracking through him. “Please stay,” He nearly whimpered. “I know it’s too late but please, Fireheart, I need you. I need you.”
He fell asleep there, on the balcony, soothed by the beat of his heart. A beat that sounded suspiciously like an echo of Aelin’s fingers dancing along the pianoforte, drawing out a sound she commanded while quietly singing a lullaby she had told him her mother sang to her when she couldn’t sleep.
His eyes closed and he could’ve sworn her voice carried on the wind, that lullaby, followed by a nearly inaudible, “I love you, Rowan. I love you.”
Half the time she slept in the forest like some kind of wild animal, the other half of the time she disguised herself and found some disgusting tavern to sleep in. She had no idea where she was anymore, she was just wandering aimlessly. She was currently sitting on the roof of one of said taverns. It reminded her painfully of her days as an assassin. She stared up at the stars, unblinking, the night wind was cold and stung her face but she was past caring. Up here, she took off the glamour, becoming Aelin again.
“Do you miss me, buzzard?” She asked the stars. “I hope you miss me as much as I miss you.” She shook her head and laughed angrily. “You became everything you didn’t want to, didn’t you? You bastard.” Her voice was getting louder with each word. “To whatever end? Right.” Angry tears streaked her face for what was definitely not the first time. “I’ve listened around enough that I learned my funeral is tomorrow.” She didn’t even know what she was doing anymore, besides pacing on a roof and shrieking at the sky. “Maybe I’ll stop in, I’ve always wanted to see my own funeral.” She jabbed an angry finger at a star she had deemed was Rowan’s stand-in. “I hope you make it worthy of me, you bastard. Gods, I hope you know me enough to make it as me as you can.” She blew a kiss at that star and something in her cracked, “I love you, Rowan Whitethorn. I shouldn’t, not anymore, but I do.”
She pulled her glamor back on and jumped down from the roof, landing on her feet with practiced ease. “Let’s see if I can make my own funeral, hmm?”
It was as outrageous as Aelin would have wanted. Everyone was miserable, even those within the inner circle who knew what had really happened. Most everyone was here, except for all the royals within Erilea, and every other land Aelin had touched.
Music flourished from every corner, musicians from all over had come to play pieces for her, in honor of her. It was like some kind of twisted wedding, the way everyone turned when the royals entered. The leaders that Aelin had not known as personally entered first, stopping individually to give impersonal speeches about her. Then Galan entered. He knelt before the basically-shrine honoring her. “You were one of the greatest Queens this world has ever seen, cousin.” He cleared his throat, “You were so much more than all your titles give you credit for, and that’s saying a lot. You were so full of life and energy and,” A broken laugh. “Fire. You burned bright, Aelin. And now that you’re ash, we’re ash too.” He cleared his throat again and stayed kneeling next to the other leaders, murmuring words meant only for him and his cousin.
Manon entered next, she knew the truth but despite that, her eyes were rimmed an angry red. She stood next to Galan, “Aelin Ashryver Whitethorn Galathynius.” She went silent for a moment before sinking to her knees. Everyone gasped. Family knelt, but other than that no leader, especially not a witch, knelt. “You-” She broke off and bowed her head, curling her hands into fists at her side.
When it was clear Manon wasn’t going to finish, Dorian entered. He knelt beside Manon (cue another gasp) his mouth moved, but it was only for him and Aelin. The goodbye he hadn’t had the chance to say in that forest.
Nesryn and Sartaq strode in, Sartaq didn’t speak, but Nesryn did. Her voice carried, unwavering. “No King or Queen is perfect, but Aelin was pretty damn close. She and I were never the closest but,” She hesitated and Sartaq reached for her hand, “She believed in me. She never looked down on me because I was human, and wasn’t in any huge position of power, and that faith in me never changed even when I became,” She gestured at her and Sartaq, at her dress, “Aelin mattered in a way that not many people have ever mattered. She will be remembered, for her fire and power, for what she’s done, but also how she has a soft spot for dogs and chocolate,” A few wet laughs, “How she loves music and theater, how kind she is to everyone.” The crowd nodded their agreement, there wasn’t a soul that wasn’t crying. “You did it. You made your mark.” She bowed her head and it was clear she was done.
Rowan was last, Goldryn in his hands. He laid in with pain-staking gentleness at her shrine. He stepped back and opened his mouth as if about to speak. His fingers fiddled with the ring on one finger. The ring Aelin had given him that he hadn’t taken off. That he would never take off. “Damn you,” He said finally. “Damn you, Aelin.” He bowed his head to hide from the crowd and someone moved, Elide. She came up to him, murmured a few quiet words, and led him to kneel next to Sartaq. She waited a few moments before returning to her spot.
The music rose as everyone knelt, heads bowed, before their dead Queen. It was ghostly, the way they knelt in total silence, besides their tears. Aelin was going to haunt everyone, for a very, very long time.
If anyone had been looking, they would have seen a female figure in the trees, slipping away as quietly and quickly as she could, tears flowing freely at the love everyone held for her.
“Goodbye,” She whispered. Well, looks like she could make a graceful disappearance after all.
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Nesryn Falliq is South Asian and should be depicted as South Asian and nothing else. The surnames Sartaq,Hasar,Kashin are South Asian Muslim names. Nesryn,Sayed(her father's) the surname Falliq too are South Asian names.
We brown people rarely get representation in Sarah's books. So please do not misrepresent us in fanarts and cosplays. It's like you're walking all over us really.
Misrepresenting anyone's descent is like ignoring their ethnicity. Please research something before you draw it or act it out.
IF YOU NEED PROOF JUST GO TO NESRYN'S FANDOMWIKI PAGE AND YOU'LL SEE THE REAL DEPICTION.
Misrepresentation is a form of racism too.
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Wind-seeker, her mother had once called her. Unable to keep still, always wandering where the wind calls you. Where shall it becon you to journey one day, my rose?
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