Home > House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2)(6)

House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2)(6)
Author: Sarah J. Maas

With a nod to a wolf, the Hind ordered that Sofie should be hauled to her feet. Sofie bit down her cry of pain. Behind her, another wolf opened the transom gate, exposing the small platform off the boat’s back. Sofie’s throat closed up.

“Since your brother has bestowed such a death upon a multitude of imperial soldiers, this will be an apt punishment for you,” the Hind said, stepping onto the platform, not seeming to care about the water splashing over her boots. She pulled a small white stone from her pocket, lifting it for Sofie to see, and then chucked it into the water. Observed it with her Vanir-sharp eyes as it dropped down, down, down into the inky blackness.

“At that depth, you’ll likely drown before you hit the seafloor,” the Hind observed, her golden hair shifting across her imperious face. She slid her hands into her pockets as the wolves knelt at Sofie’s feet and bound them together with chains weighted with lead blocks.

“I’ll ask you again,” the Hind said, angling her head, silver torque glinting at her neck. “With whom did you share the intelligence you collected before you went into Kavalla?”

Sofie felt the ache of her missing fingernails. Saw the faces in that camp. The people she’d left behind. Her cause had been Emile—yet Ophion was right in so many ways. And some small part of her had been glad to kill for Ophion, to fight for those people. Would keep fighting for them, for Emile, now. She gritted out, “I told you: no one.”

“Very well, then.” The Hind pointed to the water. “You know how this ends.”

Sofie kept her face blank to conceal her shock at her good luck, one last gift from Solas. Apparently, even the Hind was not as clever as she believed herself to be. She offered a swift, horrible death—but it was nothing compared to the endless torture Sofie had expected.

“Put her on the platform.”

A dreadwolf—a hulking, dark-haired male—objected, sneering, “We’ll get it out of her.” Mordoc, the Hind’s second in command. Almost as feared as his commander. Especially with his particular gifts.

The Hind didn’t so much as look at him. “I’m not wasting my time on this. She says she didn’t tell anyone, and I’m inclined to believe her.” A slow smile. “So the intel will die with her.”

It was all the Hind needed to say. The wolves hauled Sofie onto the platform. She swallowed a cry at the wave of agony that rippled through her thigh. Icy water sprayed, soaking through her clothes, burning and numbing.

Sofie couldn’t stop her shaking. Tried to remember the kiss of the air, the scent of the sea, the gray of the sky before dawn. She would not see the sunrise, only minutes away. She’d never see another one again.

She had taken the beauty and simplicity of living for granted. How she wished she’d savored it more. Every single moment.

The deer shifter prowled closer. “Any last words?”

Emile had gotten away. It was all that mattered. He’d be kept safe now.

Sofie smiled crookedly at the Hind. “Go to Hel.”

Mordoc’s clawed hands shoved her off the platform.

The frigid water hit Sofie like a bomb blast, and then the lead at her feet grabbed all that she was and might have been, and pulled her under.

The Hind stood, a phantom in the chilled mist of the Haldren Sea, and watched until Sofie Renast had been wrapped in Ogenas’s embrace.








For a Tuesday night at the Crescent City Ballet, the theater was unusually packed. The sight of the swarming masses in the lobby, drinking and chatting and mingling, filled Bryce Quinlan with a quiet sort of joy and pride.

There was only one reason why the theater was so packed tonight. With her Fae hearing, she could have sworn she heard the hundreds of voices all around her whispering, Juniper Andromeda. The star of tonight’s performance.

Yet even with the crowd, an air of quiet reverence and serenity filled the space. As if it were a temple.

Bryce had the creeping sensation that the various ancient statues of the gods flanking the long lobby watched her. Or maybe that was the well-dressed older shifter couple standing by a reclining statue of Cthona, the earth goddess, naked and awaiting the embrace of her lover, Solas. The shifters—some sort of big cats, from their scents, and rich ones, judging by their watches and jewelry—blatantly ogled her.

Bryce offered them a bland, close-lipped smile.

Some variation of this had happened nearly every single day since the attack this past spring. The first few times had been overwhelming, unnerving—people coming up to her and sobbing with gratitude. Now they just stared.

Bryce didn’t blame the people who wanted to speak to her, who needed to speak to her. The city had been healed—by her—but its people …

Scores had been dead by the time her firstlight erupted through Lunathion. Hunt had been lucky, had been taking his last breaths, when the firstlight saved him. Five thousand other people had not been so lucky.

Their families had not been so lucky.

So many dark boats had drifted across the Istros to the mists of the Bone Quarter that they had looked like a bevy of black swans. Hunt had carried her into the skies to see it. The quays along the river had teemed with people, their mourning cries rising to the low clouds where she and Hunt had glided.

Hunt had only held her tighter and flown them home.

“Take a picture,” Ember Quinlan called now to the shifters from where she stood next to a marble torso of Ogenas rising from the waves, the ocean goddess’s full breasts peaked and arms upraised. “Only ten gold marks. Fifteen, if you want to be in it.”

“For fuck’s sake, Mom,” Bryce muttered. Ember stood with her hands on her hips, gorgeous in a silky gray gown and pashmina. “Please don’t.”

Ember opened her mouth, as if she’d say something else to the chastised shifters now hurrying toward the east staircase, but her husband interrupted her. “I second Bryce’s request,” Randall said, dashing in his navy suit.

Ember turned outraged dark eyes on Bryce’s stepfather—her only father, as far as Bryce was concerned—but Randall pointed casually to a broad frieze behind them. “That one reminds me of Athalar.”

Bryce arched a brow, grateful for the change of subject, and twisted toward where he’d pointed. On it, a powerful Fae male stood poised above an anvil, hammer raised skyward in one fist, lightning cracking from the skies, filling the hammer, and flowing down toward the object of the hammer’s intended blow: a sword.

Its label read simply: Unknown sculptor. Palmira, circa 125 V.E.

Bryce lifted her mobile and snapped a photo, pulling up her messaging thread with Hunt Athalar Is Better at Sunball Than I Am.

She couldn’t deny that. They’d gone to the local sunball field one sunny afternoon last week to play, and Hunt had promptly wiped the floor with her. He’d changed his name in her phone on the way home.

With a few sweeps of her thumbs, the picture zoomed off into the ether, along with her note: Long-lost relative of yours?

She slid her phone into her clutch to find her mother watching. “What?” Bryce muttered.

But Ember only motioned toward the frieze. “Who does it depict?”

Bryce checked the sliver of writing in the lower right corner. “It just says The Making of the Sword.”

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