Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)(9)

“Don’t call me that. I’m not given the title of lord,” he said quietly.

“You have an older brother?”


“Then why don’t you bear the title?” Again, no response. She knew she should stop prying, but she couldn’t help it. “A scandal? A deprived birthright? In what sort of messy intrigue are you involved?”

His lips squeezed together so tightly they turned white.

She leaned toward him. “Do you find that—”

“Shall I gag you, or are you capable of being silent without my assistance?” He stared ahead at the Crown Prince, his face blank again.

She tried not to laugh when he grimaced as she began speaking again. “Are you married?”


She picked at her nails. “I’m not married, either.” His nostrils flared. “How old were you when you became Captain of the Guard?”

He gripped the reins of his horse. “Twenty.”

The party halted in a clearing and the soldiers dismounted. She faced Chaol, who swung a leg over his horse. “Why have we stopped?”

Chaol unhooked the chain from his saddle and gave it a firm yank, motioning for her to dismount. “Lunch,” he said.

Chapter 5

Celaena brushed a stray wisp of hair from her face and allowed herself to be led into the clearing. If she wanted to break free, she’d have to go through Chaol first. Had they been alone, she might have attempted it, though the chains would make it difficult; but with an entourage of royal guards trained to kill without hesitation . . .

Chaol remained close beside her while a fire was kindled and food prepared from the boxes and sacks of supplies. The soldiers rolled logs to make small circles, where they sat while their companions stirred and fried. The Crown Prince’s dogs, who had dutifully trotted alongside their master, approached the assassin with wagging tails and lay at her feet. At least someone was glad for her company.

Hungry by the time a plate was finally laid in her lap, Celaena became a bit more than irritated when the captain did not immediately remove her irons. After giving her a long warning look, he unlocked her chains and clamped them onto her ankles. She only rolled her eyes as she raised a small portion of meat to her lips. She chewed slowly. The last thing she needed was to be sick in front of them. While the soldiers talked amongst themselves, Celaena took in their surroundings. She and Chaol sat with five soldiers. The Crown Prince, of course, sat with Perrington on their own two logs, far from her. While Dorian had been all arrogance and amusement the previous night, his features were grave as he spoke to the duke. His entire body seemed tensed, and she didn’t fail to notice the way he clenched his jaw when Perrington spoke. Whatever their relationship was, it wasn’t cordial.

Midbite, Celaena tore her focus from the prince to study the trees. The forest had gone silent. The ebony hounds’ ears were erect, though they didn’t seem to be bothered by the stillness. Even the soldiers quieted. Her heart skipped a beat. The forest was different here.

The leaves dangled like jewels—tiny droplets of ruby, pearl, topaz, amethyst, emerald, and garnet; and a carpet of such riches coated the forest floor around them. Despite the ravages of conquest, this part of Oakwald Forest remained untouched. It still echoed with the remnants of the power that had once given these trees such unnatural beauty.

She’d been only eight when Arobynn Hamel, her mentor and the King of the Assassins, found her half-submerged on the banks of a frozen river and brought her to his keep on the border between Adarlan and Terrasen. While training her to be his finest and most loyal assassin, Arobynn had never allowed her to return home to Terrasen. But she still remembered the beauty of the world before the King of Adarlan had ordered so much of it burned. Now there was nothing left for her there, nor would there ever be. Arobynn had never said it aloud, but if she’d refused his offer to train her, he would have handed her to those who would have killed her. Or worse. She’d been newly orphaned, and even at eight, she knew that a life with Arobynn, with a new name that no one would recognize but someday everyone would fear, was a chance to start over. To escape the fate that led her to leap into the icy river that night ten years ago.

“Damned forest,” said an olive-skinned soldier in their circle. A soldier beside him chuckled. “The sooner it’s burned, the better, I say.” The other soldiers nodded, and Celaena stiffened. “It’s full of hate,” said another.

“Did you expect anything else?” she interrupted. Chaol’s hand darted to his sword as the soldiers turned to her, some of them sneering. “This isn’t just any forest.” She beckoned with her fork to the woods. “It’s Brannon’s forest.”

“My father used to tell me stories about it being full of faeries,” a soldier said. “They’re all gone now.” One took a bite from an apple, and said: “Along with those damned wretched Fae.” Another said: “We got rid of them, didn’t we?”

“I’d watch your tongues,” Celaena snapped. “King Brannon was Fae, and Oakwald is still his. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the trees remember him.”

The soldiers laughed. “They’d have to be two thousand years old, them trees!” said one.

“Fae are immortal,” she said.

“Trees ain’t.”

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