Authors: Sarah J. Maas
The petite female seemed to repeat Bryce’s words to the others. The female with the tattooed hands asked Bryce a question in their language. The petite one translated: “She wants to know what your name is.”
Bryce glanced from the tattooed female to the beautiful male at her side. They both possessed an air of quiet, gentle authority. The others all seemed to wait for their cues. So Bryce addressed the two of them as she lifted her chin. “My name is Bryce Quinlan.”
The male stepped forward, tucking in his wings. He smiled slightly and said in the Old Language, in a voice like glorious night, “Hello, Bryce Quinlan. My name is Rhysand.”
Ithan Holstrom crouched, a hulking wolf among the rain-lashed shadows outside the Astronomer’s building, monitoring the few people in the alley braving the storm.
No word had come from Pangera. Just a mention of an explosion at a lab outside the city, and that was it. He didn’t expect to hear anything from Bryce and the others at least until the next day.
But he couldn’t help the urge to pace, even as he guarded the doors across the alley. He’d seen no glimpse of the Astronomer. No patrons had entered. Had Mordoc dragged the wretch off for an interrogation about why Ithan and his friends had visited him? And left the mystics here—unguarded and alone?
He’d fucked up guard duty with Hypaxia. He wouldn’t make that mistake again. Not with the mystic caged beyond those doors.
Another Fendyr heir to the Prime. An Alpha to challenge Sabine.
Something moved in the shadows far down the alley, beyond the neon glow of the signs above the tattoo parlors and bars. Swift and hulking and— He sniffed the air. Even with the rain, he knew that scent. Knew the golden eyes that glowed in the rainy darkness.
Ithan’s growl rumbled over the slick cobblestones, his wet fur bristling.
Amelie Ravenscroft, his former Alpha, only snarled back, sending whatever patrons were on the streets scattering into the buildings, and melted into the dimness.
Ithan waited until her scent had faded before letting out a breath. He’d been right to come here, then. If he hadn’t been here … He glanced to the doors again.
He couldn’t stay here indefinitely. He’d need others to keep watch while he rested.
His phone rang from where he’d left it on the stoop of an alley doorway, and Ithan shifted into his humanoid body before answering. “Flynn. I was about to call you.” To beg for a massive favor. If Sabine came here, or Amelie returned, packs in tow …
The Fae lord didn’t reply immediately. Ithan could have sworn he heard the male swallow.
He stilled. “What is it?” Flynn’s breathing turned harsh. Jagged. “Flynn.”
“Shit went down.” The Fae lord seemed to be struggling for words. And to hold back tears.
“Is …” He couldn’t face this. Not again. Not—
“Ruhn and Athalar have been taken prisoner by the Asteri. Dec saw it on the palace feeds. Tharion called from the
pod to say Cormac’s dead.”
Ithan began shaking his head, even as he contemplated the risk of discussing this on the phone. Breathing was somehow impossible as he whispered, “Bryce?”
A long, long pause.
Ithan slid to the soaking ground.
“She disappeared. You … you gotta come hear it from Dec.”
“Is she alive?” Ithan’s snarl tore through the rain, bouncing off the bricks.
“The last we saw her in this world … she was.”
“What do you mean,
in this world
?” But he had a terrible feeling that he already knew.
“You have to see it for yourself,” Flynn croaked.
“I can’t,” Ithan bit out. “I’ve got something to do.”
“We need you,” Flynn said, and his voice was full of an authority
that people outside the Aux rarely heard. “We’re friends now, wolf. Get your furry ass over here.”
Ithan peered toward the towering doors. Felt himself being pulled apart by Urd herself.
“I’ll be there in fifteen,” Ithan said, and hung up. Slid his phone into his pocket. Stalked across the street.
A blow from his fist dented the metal doors. The second one broke the locks. The third sent them crumpling inward.
No sign of the Astronomer. Too bad. He was in the mood for blood tonight.
But Ithan stormed to the nearest tub. The wolf mystic floated in the murky, salt-laden water, hair spread around her, eyes closed. Breathing mask and tubes back in place.
“Wake up.” His words were a low growl. “We’re going.”
The mystic didn’t respond, lost to wherever her mind took her.
“I know you can hear me. I need to go somewhere, and I’m not leaving you behind. People are lurking out there who want you dead. So you can either get the fuck up right now or I can do it for you.”
Again, no response. His fingers flexed, claws sliding free, but he kept his hand at his side. It was only a matter of time until someone came to investigate why the doors had been ripped open, but to tear her from that dream state … she’d been so tormented the last time.
“Please,” he said softly, head bowing. “My friends need me. My … my pack needs me.”
That’s what they’d become.
He’d lost his brother, his brother’s pack—the pack that would have one day been his—but this one …
He wouldn’t lose it. Would fight until the bitter end to protect it.
“Please,” Ithan whispered, voice breaking. Her hand twitched, the water rippling. Ithan’s breath caught in his throat.
Her brow furrowed. The feeds on her tank began blaring and beeping, flashing red. The hair on Ithan’s arms rose.
And then, lids fluttering, like the Alpha fought for every inch toward awakening, the lost Fendyr heir opened her eyes.
To Robin Rue: How can I even convey my gratitude for all that you do as both an agent and a friend? (Dedicating this book to you is a feeble attempt at doing so!) Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your wisdom and encouragement, and for being there at the drop of a hat. And thank you, as always, for being a kindred spirit in all things fine food and wine!
To Noa Wheeler: I thank the universe every single day that our paths crossed. From your brilliant feedback to your unparalleled attention to detail, you are the most incredible editor I’ve ever worked with. (And the only person out there who truly understands my
crossword and Spelling Bee obsessions.) Here’s to many more books together!
To Erica Barmash: Working with you again is such a pleasure! Thank you for all the years spent championing my books and being such a great friend!
To Beth Miller, an all-around gem of a human being, and a fellow marine biology fangirl: Thank you for all your hard work and for being a constant ray of sunshine! (And for the amazing marine wildlife photos!)
To the global Bloomsbury team: Nigel Newton, Kathleen Farrar, Adrienne Vaughn, Ian Hudson, Rebecca McNally, Valentina
Rice, Nicola Hill, Amanda Shipp, Marie Coolman, Lauren Ollerhead, Angela Craft, Lucy Mackay-Sim, Emilie Chambeyron, Donna Mark, David Mann, Michal Kuzmierkiewicz, Emma Ewbank, John Candell, Donna Gauthier, Laura Phillips, Melissa Kavonic, Oona Patrick, Nick Sweeney, Claire Henry, Nicholas Church, Fabia Ma, Daniel O’Connor, Brigid Nelson, Sarah McLean, Sarah Knight, Liz Bray, Genevieve Nelsson, Adam Kirkman, Jennifer Gonzalez, Laura Pennock, Elizabeth Tzetzo, Valerie Esposito, Meenakshi Singh, and Chris Venkatesh. I can’t imagine working with a better group of people. Thank you for all your dedication and tremendous work! And tons of gratitude and love to Grace McNamee for jumping on board so quickly to help with this book! An especially big thank-you to Kaitlin Severini, copyeditor extraordinaire, and to Christine Ma, eagle-eyed proofer!
Cecilia de la Campa: You are one of the hardest-working and loveliest people I know. Thank you for all that you do! To the entire Writers House team: You guys are incredible, and I’m honored to work with you.
Thank you to the fierce and lovely Jill Gillett (and Noah Morse!), for making so many of my dreams come true and being an absolute delight to work with! To Maura Wogan and Victoria Cook: I’m so grateful to have you in my corner.
To Ron Moore and Maril Davis: working with you two rock stars has been the highlight of my
. And thank you so much to Ben McGinnis and Nick Hornung—you guys are amazing!
To my sister Jenn Kelly: What would I do without you? You bring such joy and light into my life. I love you.
I could write another thousand pages about the marvelous and talented women who keep me going, and who I am honored to call friends: Steph Brown, Katie Webber, Lynette Noni, and Jillian Stein. I adore you all!
Thank you, as always, to my family and in-laws for the unwavering love.
To Annie, faithful friend and writing companion: I love you forever, babypup.
To Josh and Taran: Thank you for always making me smile and laugh. I love you both more than there are stars in the sky.
, dear reader, for reading and supporting my books. None of this would be possible without you.
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BLOOMSBURY, BLOOMSBURY PUBLISHING and the Diana logo are trademarks of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
First published in Great Britain in 2022
Text copyright © Sarah J. Maas, 2022
Map by Virginia Allyn
Endpapers and interior art by Carlos Quevedo
Sarah J. Maas has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as Author of this work
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publishers
A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
ISBN: HB: 978-1-4088-8442-3; TPB: 978-1-5266-2547-2; eBook: 978-1-4088-8443-0; ePDF: 978-1-5266-4268-4; signed: 978-1-5266-4971-3; exclusive: 978-1-5266-4974-4; signed exclusive: 978-1-5266-4973-7; event edition: 978-1-5266-4972-0