Home > Incendiary (Hollow Crown #1)(2)

Incendiary (Hollow Crown #1)(2)
Author: Zoraida Cordova

“Life under your family’s rule is neither swift nor painless.” Celeste spoke slowly, her voice hoarse. She’d waited for the day to come when she would face him once again. “I would not trust the Lion’s Fury to honor his word.”

“After everything you’ve done, it is you who does not trust me?”

The kitchen seemed to shrink with the prince’s presence. She could taste his emotions in the air. His anger was a bitter tincture that would be her undoing. But she’d known that long ago. All she could do for the rebels was stall and take their secrets beyond the veil.

The soldier’s fingers dug into her windpipe, and as she struggled to breathe, she kicked out. Every muscle and bone in her body ached from hours of digging and sleepless nights since Rodrigue’s arrival. Her eyes flicked toward the Siriano family’s closed bedroom door. What had the prince and his men done to them?

Then a terrible thought surfaced.

Had the Sirianos, who’d hired and housed her, who’d believed in peace among all the peoples of Puerto Leones, betrayed her the moment she’d left? A twisting sensation wrenched her already strained heart. She desperately wanted—needed—to breathe.

She pushed thoughts of betrayal aside and concentrated on the alman stone that was still tucked into her pocket. She could not let it be found. She slapped at the guard’s hands, scratched at the exposed skin between sleeve and glove, her eyes straining to see beyond bursts of black splotches.

“Enough.” The prince held up his hand and the soldier relinquished his hold on her. “The dead can’t speak.”

“That shows how much you know of the dead,” Celeste rasped as she dropped to her knees. Pressing her hands to the cool stone floor for balance, she coughed. She needed time to think, but the prince was not famous for his patience. She stared at the fire in the hearth for focus. Before Rodrigue had succumbed to his injuries she’d promised to do whatever it took to get his alman stone to the Whispers. They should have been there. Unless the reason the prince was here was because they’d already been captured.

For the first time, the spymaster realized that perhaps rest would never come. At least not in this life. Her aging body was no good in a fight. All she had was the glass vial and her magics.

With eyes narrowed on the prince, she twisted the thick copper ring on her middle finger, immediately feeling the strength of her magics pulsing inside her veins as the metal charged her power of persuasion. A primordial buzz surged through every inch of her skin, bleeding into the air, thickening it enough to bring a sweat to the guard’s forehead. Her gift was as old as time—old as the trees, old as the minerals and metals that strengthened the power in her veins—and it wanted release. She sifted through the weakest emotions in the room. The guards. Their heightened fear of her was easy to latch on to. Their muscles and tendons seized and left them petrified in place. But the prince was just out of reach. She needed him closer. Close enough to touch.

“Thank the stars your dear mother isn’t alive to see what you’ve become,” Celeste said.

Just as she intended, the prince advanced. She pushed her magics harder. Sweat trickled down the prince’s fine cheekbone, where a crescent scar marred his sharp features. Only then did Celeste San Marina stare into Prince Castian’s eyes, blue like the sea he was named after, and confront her greatest nightmare.

“Don’t you dare speak of her.” He clamped a hand around Celeste’s mouth.

At his touch, Celeste acted quickly. Her magics traveled from her body to his, like a gust of wind cycling between them. Closing her eyes, she searched for an emotion to seize—pity, hate, anger. If only she could grab hold of the thing that made the young prince so cruel, she could draw it out and smother it.

With her Persuári gifts she could take a fraction of any emotion that existed within someone and bring it to life, amplifying it into action. She knew all the colors that made up a person’s soul—star-white hope, mud-green envy, pomegranate love. But when she focused on the prince, she could only see a faint, muted gray.

He jerked his hand off her jaw, and she gasped, trying to regain her breath. Her thoughts spun. Everyone’s emotions expressed themselves in colors. Gray was for those passing on from the worlds, fading into nothingness. Why was he different? She knew of nothing that could block the powers of the Moria. Her magics drew back, and she was forced to release her hold on the petrified guards. They crumpled to their knees, but with a single wave of their commander’s hand, the men pushed themselves back up at attention.

The prince’s smile was malevolent in his triumph. “Did you really think I’d face you again without taking precautions against your magics?”

“What have you done to yourself, Castian?” Celeste managed before rough hands grabbed her shoulders and dragged her to the small wooden table in front of the hearth. The soldier slammed her into a chair and held her in place.

“I am what you made me,” he said, low and just for her. She breathed in his rage. “I dreamed of finding you for so long.”

“You will not find us all. The kingdom of Memoria will rise once more.”

“Enough of your tricks and your lies!” He spoke each word like his own personal truth. “I know everything you did.”

“Surely you can’t know everything I’ve ever done, princeling.” She wanted to toy with him. To let him know that she did not fear him or death.

“What does a prince want with a lowly runaway? Or are the king’s armies so depleted he’d send out his only living child in the dead of the night? I thought you loved an audience for your executions.”

“I love nothing,” the prince shouted, his temper burning like a lit fuse. “Where is he?”

“Dead,” Celeste spat. “Rodrigue is dead.”

Castian growled his frustration and lowered his face to hers. “Not the spy. Dez. I want Dez.”

Celeste ground her teeth. Her magics could not help her anymore. She’d survived the rebellion eight years ago, prison, and decades of hiding and gathering information across Puerto Leones. But she knew she would not survive Prince Castian. So long as the alman stone was safe she could make peace with herself. “If you know everything I’ve ever done, my prince, you should know that I would never tell you.”

There was no room for regret in her heart. There was only the cause—and every terrible thing she’d ever done for the good of her people, she would do again and again.

Hot Books
» A Court of Wings and Ruin (A Court of Thorn
» Anti-Stepbrother
» Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5)
» Twisted Palace (The Royals #3)
» Sugar Daddies
» Egomaniac
» Royally Screwed (Royally #1)
» The Hating Game
» Salvatore: a Dark Mafia Romance (Standalone
» Ruthless People (Ruthless People #1)
» To Hate Adam Connor
» Wait for It
» How to Date a Douchebag: The Studying Hours
» Managed (VIP #2)
» The Protector