The Assassin and the Healer

Meet the Assassin: beautiful, defiant, destined for greatness. Celaena Sardothien has challenged her master. Now she must pay the price. Her journey to the Red Desert will be an arduous one, but it may change the fate of her cursed world for ever...

A prequel to the international bestseller Throne of Glass, sold in 13 languages pre-publication.  

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6. Chapter Six


Yrene did as the girl said and changed into another gown and apron before going to the kitchens to wash the blood from her clothes. Her hands were shaking so badly that it took longer than it should to wash the clothing, and by the time she finished, the pale light of dawn was creeping through the kitchen window.


She had to be up in . . . well, now. Groaning, she trudged back to her room to hang the wet clothes to dry inside. If someone saw her laundry on a line, it would only raise suspicion. She supposed she’d have to pretend to be the one to find the bodies too. Gods, what a mess.


Wincing at the thought of the long, long day ahead of her, trying to make sense of the night she’d just had, Yrene entered her room and softly shut the door. Even if she told someone, they probably wouldn’t believe her.


It wasn’t until she was done hanging her clothes from the hooks embedded in the wall that she noticed the leather pouch on the bed and the note pinned beneath it.


She knew what was inside, could easily guess, based on the lumps and edges. Her breath caught in her throat as she pulled out the note.


There, in elegant, feminine handwriting, the girl had written:


For wherever you need to go – and then some. The world needs more healers.


No name, no date. Staring at the paper, she could almost picture the girl’s feral smile and the challenge in her eyes. This note, if anything, was a challenge – a dare.


Hands shaking anew, Yrene dumped out the contents of the pouch.


The pile of gold coins shimmered, and Yrene staggered back, collapsing into the rickety chair across from the bed. She blinked and blinked again.


Not just gold but also the brooch the girl had been wearing, its massive ruby smouldering in the candlelight.


A hand to her mouth, Yrene stared at the door, at the ceiling, then back at the small fortune sitting on her bed. Stared and stared and stared.


The gods had vanished, her mother had once claimed. But had they? Had it been some god who had visited tonight, clothed in the skin of a battered young woman? Or had it just been their distant whispers that prompted the stranger to walk down that alley? She would never know, she supposed. And maybe that was the whole point.


Wherever you need to go . . .


Gods or fate or just pure coincidence and kindness, it was a gift. This was a gift. The world was waiting – wide open and hers for the taking. She could go to Antica, attend the Torre Cesme, go anywhere she wished.


If she dared.


Yrene smiled.


An hour later, no one stopped Yrene Towers as she walked out of the White Pig and never looked back.




Washed and dressed in a new tunic, Celaena boarded the ship an hour before dawn. She felt hollow and light-headed after a night without rest, but it was her own damn fault. Never mind – she could sleep today – sleep the whole journey across the Gulf of Oro to the Deserted Land. She should sleep, because once she landed in Yurpa, she had a trek across blistering, deadly sands – a week at least, through the desert, before she reached the Mute Master and his fortress of Silent Assassins.


The captain didn’t ask questions when she pressed a piece of silver into his palm and went below decks, following his directions to find her stateroom. With the hood and blades, none of the sailors would bother her. And while she now had to be careful with the money she had left, she knew she’d hand over another silver piece or two before the voyage was done.


Sighing, Celaena entered her cabin. Small but clean, with a porthole that looked out on to the dawn-grey bay. She locked the door behind her and slumped on to the tiny bed. She’d seen enough of Innish – she didn’t need to bother watching the departure.


She’d been on her way out of the inn when she’d passed that horrifically small closet Yrene called a bedroom. While Yrene had tended to her arm, Celaena had been astounded by the cramped conditions, the rickety furniture, the too-thin blankets. She’d planned to leave some coins for Yrene anyway – if only because she was certain the innkeeper would make Yrene pay for those herbs and bandages.


But Celaena had just stood in front of that wooden door to the bedroom, listening to Yrene wash her clothes in the nearby kitchen. She found herself unable to turn away, unable to stop thinking about the would-be healer with the brown-gold hair and caramel eyes, of what Yrene had lost and how helpless she’d become. There were so many of them now – the children who had lost everything to Adarlan. Children who had now grown into assassins and barmaids, without a place to truly call home, their native kingdoms left in ruin and ash.


Magic had been gone all these years. And the gods were dead or just didn’t care any more. Yet there, deep in her gut, was a small but insistent tug. A tug on a strand of some invisible web. So Celaena decided to tug back, just to see how far and wide the reverberations would go.


It took a matter of moments to write the note and then stuff most of her gold pieces into the pouch. A heartbeat later, she’d set it on Yrene’s sagging cot.


She’d added Arobynn’s gold and ruby brooch as a parting thought. She wondered if a girl from ravaged Fenharrow wouldn’t mind a brooch in Adarlan’s royal colours. But Celaena was glad to be rid of the brooch and hoped Yrene would pawn the piece for the small fortune it was worth. Hoped that an assassin’s jewel would pay for a healer’s education.


So maybe it was the gods at work. Maybe it was some force beyond them, beyond mortal comprehension. Or maybe it was just for what and who Celaena would never be.


Yrene was still washing her bloodied clothes in the kitchen when Celaena slipped out of her room, then down the hall and left the White Pig behind.


As she stalked through the foggy streets to the ramshackle docks Celaena had prayed Yrene Towers wouldn’t be foolish enough to tell anyone – especially the innkeeper – about the money. Prayed Yrene Towers would seize her life with both hands and set out for the pale-stoned city of Antica. Prayed that somehow, years from now, Yrene Towers would return to this continent, and maybe, just maybe, heal their shattered world a little bit.


Smiling to herself in the confines of her cabin, Celaena nestled into the bed, pulled her hood low over her eyes and crossed her ankles. By the time the ship set sail across the jade-green gulf, the assassin was fast asleep.

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