Home > King's Cage (Red Queen #3)(17)

King's Cage (Red Queen #3)(17)
Author: Victoria Aveyard

But she isn’t looking at me. Her eyes, instead, are on something to my right.

I flinch when I follow her gaze.

Maven sits as I dreamed him. Still, focused, one hand on his temple. The other hand waves in silent order.

And then there really are manacles. The guards move quickly, fastening strange braided metal studded with smoothly polished orbs around my ankles and wrists. They lock each one with a single key. I try to follow the key’s path, but in my daze, it flickers in and out of focus. Only the manacles stand out. They feel heavy and cold. I expect one more, a new collar to mark my neck, but my neck is left blissfully bare. The jeweled thorns don’t come back.

To my eternal surprise, the healer and the guards take their leave of me, walking from the room. I watch them go in confusion, trying to hide the sudden leap of excitement sending my pulse into overdrive. Is everyone really this stupid? Will they leave me alone with Maven? Does he think I won’t try to kill him in a heartbeat?

I turn to him, trying to get out of bed, trying to move. But anything faster than sitting up feels impossible, as if my very blood has turned to lead. I quickly understand why.

“I’m quite aware of what you’d like to do to me,” he says, his voice barely a whisper.

My fists clench, fingers twitching. I reach for what still won’t respond. What can’t respond. “More Silent Stone,” I mumble, saying the words like a curse. The polished orbs of my wearable prison gleam. “You must be running low by now.”

“Thank you for your concern, but the supply is well in order.”

As I did in the cells beneath the Bowl of Bones, I spit in his direction. It lands harmlessly at his feet. He doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, he smiles.

“Get it out of your system now. The court will not take kindly to such behavior.”

“As if I— Court?” The last word sputters out.

His smile spreads. “I did not misspeak.”

My insides cringe at the sight of his grin. “Lovely,” I say. “You’re tired of keeping me caged up where you can’t see me.”

“Actually, I find it difficult being this close to you.” His eyes flicker over me with an emotion I don’t want to place.

“The feeling is mutual,” I snarl, if only to kill the strange softness in him. I would rather face his fire, his rage, than any quiet word.

He doesn’t rise to the bait. “I doubt that.”

“Where’s my leash, then? Do I get a new one?”

“No leash, no collar.” He angles his chin at my manacles. “Nothing but those now.”

What he’s getting at, I cannot begin to fathom. But I’ve long stopped trying to understand Maven Calore and the twists of his labyrinthine brain. So I let him keep talking. He always tells me what I need, in the end.

“Your interrogation was very fruitful. So much to learn about you, about the terrorists calling themselves the Scarlet Guard.” My breath catches in my throat. What did they find? What did I miss? I try to remember the most important pieces of my knowledge, to figure out which will be the most harmful to my friends. Tuck, the Montfort twins, the newblood abilities?

“Cruel people, aren’t they?” he continues. “Bent on destroying everything and everyone who is not like them.”

“What are you talking about?” The Colonel locked me up, yes, and fears me still, but we are allies now. What could that mean to Maven?

“Newbloods, of course.”

I still don’t understand. There’s no reason for him to care about Reds with abilities beyond what he must do to get rid of us. First he denied we existed, calling me a trick. Now we are freaks, threats. Things to be feared and eradicated.

“It’s such a shame, to know you were treated so badly you felt the need to run from that old man calling himself a colonel.” Maven enjoys this, explaining his plan in slivers, waiting for me to piece it together. My head is still foggy, my body weak, and I try my best to figure out what he means. “Worse still, that he debated shipping you off to the mountains, discarding you all like garbage.” Montfort. But that wasn’t what happened. That wasn’t what was offered to us. “And of course I was very upset to learn the true intentions of the Scarlet Guard. To make a Red world, a Red dawn, with room for nothing else. No one else.”

“Maven.” The word quivers with all the rage I have strength to call. If not for my manacles, I would explode. “You can’t—”

“Can’t what? Tell the truth? Tell my country the Scarlet Guard is luring newbloods to its side only to kill them? To make a genocide of them—of you—as well as us? That the infamous rebel Mare Barrow came back to me willingly, and that this was discovered during an interrogation where the truth is impossible to hide?” He leans forward, well within striking distance. But he knows I can barely lift a finger. “That you are on our side now, because you have seen what the Scarlet Guard truly is? Because you and your newbloods are feared as we are, blessed as we are, Silver as we are, in everything but the color of blood?”

My jaw works, opening and closing my mouth. But I can’t find the words to match my horror. All this done without Queen Elara’s whispers. All this with her dead and cold.

“You’re a monster” is all I can say. A monster, all on his own.

He draws back, still smiling. “Never tell me what I cannot do. And never underestimate what I will do—for my kingdom.”

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