Home > The Midnight Star (The Young Elites #3)(13)

The Midnight Star (The Young Elites #3)(13)
Author: Marie Lu

The rumors about him swirl around Hadenbury. Prince Tristan is mad. He attacked the queen, his own sister.

Maeve charges Augustine again with her wooden sword, and the clash rings out across the yard. She’d tried reaching out to the Underworld last night, searching for clues. But the energy there was too strong, even for her, the darkness of it scalding her fingers, leaving a coating of ice on her heart. She knows, by some instinct of survival, that if she tried to use her power, it would kill her.

“We will have four more ships completed in just a few weeks,” Maeve says, shifting subjects as she fends off Augustine’s parry. “Our navy will recover fully by the end of the year. Then we can think about Adelina again.”

“She doesn’t have Enzo at her disposal anymore,” Augustine reminds her. “He is with the Daggers in Tamoura. She’ll be weaker.”

There is a space between their words, where neither wants to mention the rumors of Adelina’s descent into madness. “She might be assassinated before we even reach her,” Maeve finally says. “One can hope.”

Both of them look up at the sound of a gate opening. At first, Maeve thinks it is a messenger coming to bring her a parchment from Raffaele—and her spirits lift immediately. She starts walking toward the figure. “Augustine,” she calls over her shoulder at her brother. “Fetch the torch on the fence. We have a message.”

Then the figure takes a step into the moonlight, and she hesitates. Several of the guards along the wall move toward him too, although none of their swords are drawn. Maeve squints, trying to recognize him.

“Tristan?” she whispers.

It seems like Tristan. She can feel the tug between them, the faint tether that binds their two energies. Maeve frowns. Something’s not right. His walk is strange and disjointed, and a sickening feeling rises in her stomach. Tristan has his own patrol of a dozen men that rotate around his cell, ensuring he stays safely where he can be watched. How did he get out?

As one guard reaches him, Tristan turns while one arm shoots out and grabs the man’s neck, squeezing. The guard stiffens, shocked at the attack. Choking, he grabs for the sword at his side, but Tristan is squeezing his neck too tightly. The guard struggles desperately against his grasp. Maeve barely notices that she has already dropped her wooden sword and drawn her real blade.

Behind Tristan appear two guards, running breathless out to the yard. Maeve knows what happened before they even shout it. Tristan has killed his guards. She points her sword at her youngest brother. “Stand down!” she calls out.

Beside her, Augustine hops to his feet and draws his real sword too. Tristan doesn’t make a sound—instead, he flings aside the man by the throat and then lunges at the next guard closest to him. He twists the man’s arm around his back so hard that it breaks.

“Tristan!” Maeve shouts, breaking into a run toward him. “Stop!” She reaches out through their tether, seeking to control him. But somehow, this time, he resists her. His eyes swivel to her in a way that sends chills down her spine. The darkness churning in him lashes out, shoving her power away, and Maeve feels the familiar touch of cold and death on her heart. The effect is so powerful that she freezes in place for a moment from the numbness. This is not right.

Maeve pushes forward and reaches Tristan before he can attack another guard. She hefts her sword, but the sight of his eyes frightens her. There is no white to be seen anywhere. Instead, his eyes are pools of blackness, completely devoid of life. She hesitates for a split second—and in that moment, Tristan bares his teeth as if they were fangs and lunges for her with hands outstretched.

Maeve manages to bring her sword up in time—the blade cuts deep into one of his hands. Tristan snarls and lunges at her again and again. He is shockingly strong. It is as if all the force of the Underworld has now crawled under his skin, aching to throw itself at her. The tether between them tugs painfully tight, and Maeve shudders.

When Tristan strikes again, Augustine appears between them and brings his sword up to protect his sister. Tristan growls—his arm moves in a blur of motion, grabbing the dagger tucked at Augustine’s belt—and he turns on his older brother. Despite the younger’s smaller frame, his attack knocks Augustine off balance. Both fall to the ground in a shower of dirt.

Maeve winces as the threads between her and Tristan pull taut again. The pain makes her light-headed. Through her blurry vision, she sees Augustine fighting desperately to keep away Tristan’s dagger. She reaches within, searching for the strings binding them that are hooked within her heart, the strings that keep Tristan alive and under her control. She hesitates again. A memory of Tristan, before his accident, before she brought him back, flashes in her mind—a smiling, laughing boy, the brother who could never seem to stop talking even when she would shove him lovingly away, the brother who liked to surprise her in the tall grasses and go on long hunts with her and Lucent.

This is not Tristan, she suddenly allows herself to think as she looks at the creature attacking Augustine.

Finally, Augustine manages to flip Tristan down to the ground. He takes his sword and aims it over his brother’s heart. Tristan spits at him, but even then, Augustine hesitates. His sword trembles in midair.

Taking advantage of the moment, Tristan stabs up with his blade.

No. Maeve moves before she can even think. She lunges forward, shoving Augustine out of danger’s way, and plunges her own sword straight into Tristan’s chest.

Tristan lets out a terrible gasp. The dark pools of his eyes shrink away in an instant, leaving a wide-eyed, confused boy. He blinks twice, looks down at the blade protruding from his chest, and then follows it up to where Maeve stands above him, his stare settling on her for the first time.

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