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.The winding, narrow streets that had been crammed with vendors were now empty, littered with errant palm fronds and piles of sand that slithered in the fierce winds from the sea.She bought passage on a ship that would sail to Amier, the port in Melisande across the Gulf of Oro.She’d hoped for a ship to Innish, another port, so she could inquire after a young healer she’d met on her journey here, but there were none.And with the embargo on ships from Xandria going to other parts of Adarlan’s empire, a distant, forgotten port like Amier would be her best bet.From there, she’d travel on Kasida back to Rifthold, hopefully catching another boat somewhere on the long arm of the Avery River that would take her the last leg to the capital.The ship didn’t leave until high tide that afternoon, which left Celaena with a few hours to wander the city.The Spidersilk merchant was long gone, along with the cobbler and the temple priestesses.Nervous the mare would be identified in the city, but more worried that someone would steal Kasida if she left her unguarded, Celaena led the horse through back alleys until she found a near-private trough for Kasida.Celaena leaned against a sandstone wall as her horse drank her fill.Had Lord Berick’s men reached the fortress yet? At the rate they were going, they would probably arrive this night or early tomorrow morning.She just hoped the Master was prepared—and that he had at least restocked the flaming wall after the last attack from Berick.Had he sent her away for her own safety, or was he about to be blindsided?She glanced up at the palace towering over the city.Berick hadn’t been with his men.Delivering the Mute Master’s head to the King of Adarlan would surely get the embargo lifted from his city.Was he doing it for the sake of his people, or for himself?But the Red Desert also needed the assassins—and the money and the trade the foreign emissaries brought in, too.Berick and the Master had certainly been communicating in the past few weeks.What had gone wrong? Ansel had made another trip a week ago to see him, and hadn’t mentioned trouble.She’d seemed quite jovial, actually.Celaena didn’t really know why a chill snaked down her spine in that moment.Or why she found herself suddenly digging through the saddlebags until she pulled out the Master’s letter of approval, along with the note Ansel had written her.If the Master had known about the attack, he would have been fortifying his defenses already; he wouldn’t have sent Celaena away.She was Adarlan’s greatest assassin, and if two hundred men were marching on his fortress, he’d need her.The Master wasn’t proud—not like Arobynn.He truly loved his disciples; he looked after and nurtured them.But he’d never trained Ansel.Why?And with so many of his loved ones in the fortress, why send only Celaena away? Why not send them all?Her heart beat so fast it stumbled, and Celaena tore open the letter of approval.It was blank.She flipped the paper over.The other side was also blank.Holding it up to the sun revealed no hidden ink, no watermark.But it had been sealed by him, hadn’t it? That was his seal on the—It was easy to steal a signet ring.She’d done it with Captain Rolfe.And she’d seen the white line around the Master’s finger—his ring had been missing.But if Ansel had drugged her, and given her a document sealed with the Master’s signet ring …No, it wasn’t possible.And it didn’t make sense.Why would Ansel send her away and pretend the Master had done it? Unless …Celaena looked up at Lord Berick’s palace.Unless Ansel hadn’t been visiting Lord Berick on behalf of the Master at all.Or maybe she had at first, long enough to gain the Master’s trust.But while the Master thought she was mending the relationships between them, Ansel was really doing quite the opposite.And that Spidersilk merchant had mentioned something about a spy among the assassins—a spy working for Berick.But why?Celaena didn’t have time to ponder it.Not with two hundred men so close to the fortress [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]