A Court of Wings and Ruin Page 137

Now. I had to go now—quickly. I took a step away from the outlook.

My sister narrowed her brows at me. “You’re leaving?”

“I’ll be back soon,” was all I said. I didn’t dare wonder how much of our army would be left when I did.

By the time I strode away, Nesta had already faced the battle once more, rain plastering her hair to her head. Resuming her unending vigil of the general battling on the valley floor below.

 

I had to track the Suriel.

And even though Elain could not see the Hybern host … It was worth a try.

Her tent was dim, and quiet—the sounds of slaughter far away, dreamlike.

She was awake, staring blankly at the canvas ceiling.

“I need you to find something for me,” I said, dripping water everywhere as I laid a map across her thighs. Perhaps not as gentle as I should have been, but she at least sat up at my tone. Blinked at the map of Prythian.

“It’s called the Suriel—it’s one of many who bear that name. But … but it looks like this,” I said, and reached for her hand to show her. I hesitated. “May I show it to you?”

My sister’s brown eyes were glazed.

“Plant the image in your mind,” I clarified. “So you know where to look.”

“I don’t know how to look,” Elain mumbled.

“You can try.” I should have asked Amren to train her, too.

But Elain studied me, the map, then nodded.

She had no mental shields, no barriers. The gates to her mind … Solid iron, covered in vines of flowers—or it would have been. The blossoms were all sealed, sleeping buds tucked into tangles of leaves and thorns.

I took a step beyond them, just into the antechamber of her mind, and planted the image of the Suriel there, trying to infuse it with safety—the truth that it looked terrifying, but had not harmed me.

Still, Elain shuddered when I pulled out. “Why?”

“It has answers I need. Immediately.” Or else we might not have much of an army left to fight that entire Hybern host once I located it.

Elain again glanced at the map. At me. Then closed her eyes.

Her eyes shifted beneath her lids, the skin so delicate and colorless that the blue veins beneath were like small streams. “It moves …,” she whispered. “It moves through the world like … like the breath of the western wind.”

“Where is it headed?”

Her finger lifted, hovering over the map, the courts.

Slowly, she set it down.

“There,” she breathed. “It is going there. Now.”

I looked at where she had laid her finger and felt the blood rush from my face.

The Middle.

The Suriel was headed to that ancient forest in the Middle. Just south—miles, perhaps …

From the Weaver of the Wood.

 

I winnowed in five leaps. I was breathless, my power nearly drained thanks to the glamouring I’d done yesterday, the summoned flame I’d used to dry myself off, and the winnowing that had taken me from the battle and right into the heart of that ancient wood.

The heavy, ripe air was as awful as I remembered, the forest thick with moss that choked the gnarled beeches and the gray stones scattered throughout. Then there was the silence.

I wondered if I should have indeed brought Mor with me as I listened. As I felt with my lingering magic for any sign of it.

The moss cushioned my steps as I eased into a walk. Scanning, listening. How far away, how small, that battle to the south felt.

My swallow was loud in my ears.

Things other than the Weaver prowled these woods. And the Weaver herself … Stryga, the Bone Carver had called her. His sister. Both siblings to an awful, male creature lurking in another part of the world.

I drew my Illyrian blade, the metal singing in the thick air.

But an ancient, rasping voice asked behind me, “Have you come to kill me, or to beg for my help once again, Feyre Archeron?”

 

 

CHAPTER

58

 

I turned, but did not sheath my blade across my back.

The Suriel was standing a few feet away, clad not in the cloak I had given it months ago, but a different one—heavier and darker, the fabric already torn and shredded. As if the wind it traveled on had ripped through it with invisible talons.

Only a few months since I had last seen it—when it had told me that Rhys was my mate. It might as well have been a lifetime ago.

Its over-large teeth clacked faintly. “Thrice now, we have met. Thrice now, you have hunted for me. This time, you sent the trembling fawn to find me. I did not expect to see those doe-eyes peering at me from across the world.”

“I’m sorry if it was a violation,” I said as steadily as I could. “But it’s an urgent matter.”

“You wish to know where Hybern is hiding its army.”

“Yes. And other things. But let’s start with that.”

A hideous, horrific smile. “Even I cannot see it.”

My stomach tightened. “You can see everything but that?”

The Suriel angled its head in a way that reminded me it was indeed a predator. And there was no snare this time to hold it back.

“He uses magic to cloak it—magic far older than I.”

“The Cauldron.”

Another awful smile. “Yes. That mighty, wicked thing. That bowl of death and life.” It shivered with what I could have sworn was delight. “You have one already who can find Hybern.”

“Elain says she cannot see it—see past his magic.”

“Then use the other to track it.”

“Nesta. Use Nesta to track the Cauldron?”

“Like calls to like. The King of Hybern does not travel without the Cauldron. So where it is, he and his army shall be. Tell the beautiful thief to find it.”

The hair on my arms rose. “How?”

It angled its head, as if listening. “If she is unskilled … bones will do the talking for her.”

“Scrying—you mean scrying with bones?”

“Yes.” Those tattered robes flitted in a phantom wind. “Bones and stones.”

I swallowed again. “Why did the Cauldron not react when I joined the Book and spoke the spell to nullify its power?”

“Because you did not hold on for long enough.”

“It was killing me.”

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