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When Sorrows Come by Seanan McGuire

When Sorrows Come by Seanan McGuire

Author:Seanan McGuire
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: DAW
Published: 2021-09-14T00:00:00+00:00


thirteen

“Sire!” I dropped my knife and rushed to kneel at the High King’s side, falling to my knees and reaching for his head, like that was going to help when he’d just been stabbed in the back. The remaining guard was standing next to Fiac, sword in hand, looking baffled. His position was probably why the second Doppelganger hadn’t killed them both.

“Is he alive?” asked Fiac, who had risen from the floor after a relatively short period of shocked unconsciousness.

“Yes, for now,” I said, already regretting the speed with which I’d dropped my knife. Approaching the fallen High King with a weapon in my hand hadn’t seemed like a good idea, in the half-second I’d been given to decide what was or wasn’t a good idea. And now here I was, with no reasonable means of making myself bleed.

“He doesn’t have long,” said Cassandra. “Aunt Birdie—”

“I know. I know.”

Aethlin was breathing, little hitches of his chest that sounded increasingly labored. The knife had been slotted between his ribs, probably piercing a kidney, and he could be bleeding out internally.

The knife. The Doppelganger’s knife was less than a foot from the High King’s body, as yet untouched by the spreading pool of ichor that was all that remained of the actual Doppelganger. They melt when killed, creating a horrible, caustic slime that never comes out of carpet.

Go on. Ask me how I know.

Suddenly realizing what I had to do, I lunged for the Doppelganger’s knife, only for the remaining guard to slam his sword into the carpet bare inches from my fingers.

“No, king-breaker,” he snarled. “You will not harm him farther.”

“She’s on his side!” cried Cassandra.

I did my best not to get distracted, focusing on the guard. “I’m not trying to harm him, he’s Daoine Sidhe, that makes him a blood-worker, I’m Dóchas Sidhe, I heal like it’s a contest, if I can make myself bleed, I can help him.” I was talking fast, all too aware that the High King’s time was limited. He was going to lose consciousness soon, if he hadn’t already, and then he wouldn’t be able to use the magic he got from my blood, no matter how useful it could have been. We were on a countdown, and I didn’t know how much time was left before we ran out of options.

The guard looked to Fiac hopelessly, clearly awaiting the Adhene’s answer before he made his final decision. Fiac looked briefly pained, looking between the two of us, then sighed and settled on a mild:

“She speaks truth. Let the girl try.”

The guard pulled back his sword, a mistrustful expression on his face, and I grabbed the knife, covered as it was with the High King’s blood.

In a mortal setting, at a mortal crime scene, interfering with the weapon would have been the worst thing we could do. But here—the Doppelganger wouldn’t have left any useful fingerprints behind. If it left any, they belonged to the missing guard, not to the dead monster. And we already knew the High King had been stabbed, so contaminating his blood wasn’t a concern.



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