Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5) - Sarah J. Maas Page 0,1
“My father’s power is failing. He is close—decades now—from the fading. Mala’s light dims inside him with every passing day. He cannot stand against Erawan and win.” Her father’s last words before she’d set out on this doomed quest months ago: My sun is setting, Elena. You must find a way to ensure yours still rises.
Gavin’s face leeched of color. “You choose now to tell me this?”
“I choose now, Gavin, because there is no hope for me, either—whether I flee tonight or fight tomorrow. The continent will fall.”
Gavin shifted toward the dozen tents on the outcropping. His friends.
“None of us are walking away tomorrow,” he said.
And it was the way his words broke, the way his eyes shone, that had her reaching for his hand once more. Never—not once in all their adventures, in all the horrors that they had endured together—had she seen him cry.
“Erawan will win and rule this land, and all others, for eternity,” Gavin whispered.
Soldiers stirred in their camp below. Men and women, murmuring, swearing, weeping. Elena tracked the source of their terror—all the way across the valley.
One by one, as if a great hand of darkness wiped them away, the fires of the dread-lord’s camp went out. The bone drums beat louder.
He had arrived at last.
Erawan himself had come to oversee the final stand of Gavin’s army.
“They are not going to wait until dawn,” Gavin said, a hand lurching to where Damaris was sheathed at his side.
But Elena gripped his arm, the hard muscle like granite beneath his leather armor.
Erawan had come.
Perhaps the gods were still listening. Perhaps her mother’s fiery soul had convinced them.
She took in Gavin’s harsh, wild face—the face that she had come to cherish above all others. And she said, “We are not going to win this battle. And we are not going to win this war.”
His body quivered with the restraint to keep from going to his war leaders, but he gave her the respect of listening. They’d both given each other that, had learned it the hard way.
With her free hand, Elena lifted her fingers in the air between them. The raw magic in her veins now danced, from flame to water to curling vine to cracking ice. Not an endless abyss like her father’s, but a versatile, nimble gift of magic. Granted by her mother. “We are not going to win this war,” Elena repeated, Gavin’s face aglow in the light of her uncut power. “But we can delay it a little while. I can get across that valley in an hour or two.” She curled her fingers into a fist, and snuffed out her magic.
Gavin’s brows furrowed. “What you speak of is madness, Elena. Suicide. His lieutenants will catch you before you can even slip through the lines.”
“Exactly. They’ll bring me right to him, now that he has come. They’ll consider me his prized prisoner—not his assassin.”
“No.” An order and a plea.
“Kill Erawan, and his beasts will panic. Long enough for my father’s forces to arrive, unite with whatever remains of ours, and crush the enemy legions.”
“You say ‘kill Erawan’ as if that is some easy task. He is a Valg king, Elena. Even if they bring you to him, he will leash you to his will before you can make a move.”
Her heart strained, but she forced the words out. “That is why…” She couldn’t stop her wobbling lips. “That is why I need you to come with me instead of fight with your men.”
Gavin only stared at her.
“Because I need…” Tears slid down her cheeks. “I need you as a distraction. I need you to buy me time to get past his inner defenses.” Just as the battle tomorrow would buy them time.
Because Erawan would go for Gavin first. The human warrior who had been a bastion against the Dark Lord’s forces for so long, who had fought him when no other would … Erawan’s hatred for the human prince was rivaled only by his hatred for her father.
Gavin studied her for a long moment, then reached to brush her tears away. “He cannot be killed, Elena. You heard what your father’s oracle whispered.”
She nodded. “I know.”
“And even if we manage to contain him—trap him…” Gavin considered her words. “You know that we are only pushing the war onto someone else—to whoever one day rules these lands.”
“This war,” she said quietly, “is but the second movement in a game that has been played since those ancient days across the sea.”
“We put it off for