Summary: Aelin Galathynius is one of the newest company members of the Rifthold Ballet Theatre, and she is eager to make all of her dreams a reality. She has the talent, the ambition, the walls no one can get past, and the thick skin that no one can get under. Except for new principal dancer Rowan Whitethorn. He’s arrogant, talented, and infuriating - and they just might have more in common than they think…
I had the idea for a Throne of Glass AU set in the world of a ballet company, and this is the result! Enjoy!
Aelin’s nimble, practiced fingers twisted the last section
of hair and pinned it up into place into the rest of her bun.
She looked at her handiwork in the mirror.
Except today was the farthest from “any other day.”
It was her first day as a full-fledged company member of the
Rifthold Ballet Theatre.
She had worked her entire life for today. All the hard work, excruciating pain, blood,
sweat, and blisters had earned her a place in the company.
Aelin look at her eyes in the mirror, turquoise-blue with an
inner ring of gold, expertly lined with black eyeliner. She spoke to her reflection the words that
had become a sort of lifeline for her, ever since –
“I will not be afraid,” she said, quietly but firmly. She slung her bag over her shoulder and
strode out of the dressing room toward the studio.
* * *
Aelin’s heart pounded when she entered the studio. She had used this studio for class and
rehearsals when she was with the apprentice company, but this time was so much
She scanned the room looking for a place at the barre. She had had her pick of spots when she was
with the apprentice company, but now…
There were principal
dancers here. Dancers she had
watched, studied, and idolized from a very young age. They always stood in the same spots together,
like a pack.
A pack of wolves,
Aelin thought with a nervous swallow. She was the rookie, the new girl; the one
to be looked down upon.
A totally different thought clanged through her.
I belong here.
If she had been chosen, then she had deserved it. And no one
could take that away from her, not even higher-ranking dancers.
And since today was her first day, she would be sure to make
She smiled when she saw Aedion get up from rolling out his
quads to head straight for her, lifting her in a bone-crushing hug. He was her cousin, and they had both been
brought up at the same studio. Aedion
was now in his second season as a soloist, and he always had a fantastic
attitude, matched by his work ethic.
“I’m so glad you’re here,” he said with a grin, setting her
down. “Took you long enough.”
“I think you mean, ‘took them
long enough’?” Aelin shot back.
Aedion held up his hands in a surrendering gesture. “Hey, if
it was my call, you’d have been here at least a year ago after that piece Chaol
choreographed for you guys. Seriously,
you were amazing in it.”
Aelin shifted her weight, feeling a bit uncomfortable. “It
was a great piece,” she said, hoping her cousin picked up on her hint to end
the conversation about Chaol.
Luckily, he did. “I saved you a spot, if you’re okay
standing over here,” he said, leading her to a barre near the piano. A lump formed in Aelin’s throat as a memory
rose to her chest, of a carefree smile that shone like the black wood of the
The elegant woman sitting beside it, smiling warmly as she
stood to greet her, banished the ghost of her memory.
“Nehemia!” Aelin exclaimed, rushing forward to hug her
friend. Nehemia was now in her third
year as a soloist, likely to be promoted to principal soon. She and Aelin had spent a few years in the
second company together, but Nehemia had always been a little bit ahead, a
little more mature. In contrast –
“That’s fine, don’t give me a hug.”
Aelin peered over Nehemia’s shoulder to see Lysandra
standing at the same barre, her beautiful features contorted into an
exaggerated pout. Nehemia laughed as
Aelin broke from her to hug Lysandra. It
was Lysandra’s first year as a company member as well, and Aelin was glad to
have a fellow rookie, a friend in the same boat.
Suddenly Aedion moved between them, taking over to hug
Lysandra. Lysandra threw her head back
and giggled. “Oh, I’m so sorry, I thought you meant me,” Aedion said, the
twinkle in his eye evident. He and
Lysandra had been dating for two years now, and Aelin was happy to see both of them so happy.
Lysandra smacked him playfully on the arm. “Behave
yourself,” she scolded, pointed to the black granite rolling pin that was lying
on the floor. “Go back to rolling out.
You were complaining about your quads all break.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Aedion saluted, giving Aelin a wink before
plopping back down onto the floor and resuming his roll-out.
Aelin set her bag at the end of the barre, taking the place behind
Aedion and across from Nehemia. She
looked at her phone to check the time, and there was a half-hour until
class. She looked over the large, airy
studio one more time before popping her headphones into her ears, beginning her
She laid flat on her back, doing some easy breathing
exercises to focus her breath. Then she
moved on to some crunches and planks to engage her core muscles. She flipped onto her stomach and stretched
into a cobra position, before lying on her stomach to do some turnout
work. She finished her routine with some
stretches, easing into her splits: right, left, and center. Shutting off her music and tucking her phone
back into her bag, Aelin stood up and did some leg swings.
She heard Nehemia’s voice break into her concentration.
“Wow, you’ve really gained some discipline in the past couple of years, haven’t
you?” She looked up to see Nehemia smiling at her with approval.
Aelin shrugged nonchalantly. “Well, when it’s all you have.
She trailed off as the studio door opened. Her head shot up, expecting the ballet
mistress to enter and start class. But it wasn’t the ballet mistress.
She recognized her old friend Dorian, who was starting his
first season as a principal dancer. But behind him was someone she definitely
did not know.
He was a couple of inches taller than Aedion, which made him
the tallest male dancer in the room. Yet
despite his height, there was power and strength radiating from him. His evident muscle was a bit bulkier in
comparison to Dorian’s lean gracefulness, but the new guy had a cool elegance
about him, as though he could coat the very room in frost if he wished it.
Cool elegance that looked very much like arrogance.
His short, silver hair gleamed in the morning sun that
streamed through the wall of the studio that was all windows. He had brilliant green eyes that seemed to be
frosted over, eyes with which he surveyed the studio. Lines of a tattoo were visible above the
collar of his warmup jacket.
Aelin found herself watching him, not even realizing she was
holding her breath as his eyes passed over her. They seemed to linger on her
for a split second before moving on.
Aelin seethed. He had looked through her as though she were
another window on the wall.
“Who is that?” Lysandra whispered to Nehemia as the three of
them leaned over their legs that were draped on the barre.
“I think his name is Rowan Whitethorn,” Nehemia answered
just as quietly. “He just joined this year as a principal from Doranelle’s
company. Rumor has it he wasn’t happy with the way things were being run.”
Aelin had never seen him dance, but he was the star male of
Doranelle Ballet. Something must have really been bad if he left the prestige
and renown behind. But something about
him rubbed her the wrong way. “So Lord Whitethorn decided to go slumming here
and grace us all with his presence?” Aelin muttered dryly. “What an honor.”
Nehemia shot her a look. “Aelin, please,” she said. Dorian and Rowan took up spots at the barre
right next to them. Nehemia turned
Aelin’s attention to doorway, where the ballet mistress and accompanist were
entering the room. “You’ve only got one chance to make a first impression.”
Remember how is EoS she’s feeling sick all of a sudden? She’s not pregnant, but she’s also not overwhelmed by finding out she will die.
She’s settling, becoming immortal. That’s a good thing probably, considering she’ll need some immortal strength. But it was also a long way coming.
She started training to be an assassin at - and although Arobynn would have tried to not permanently harm her, we all know that he made her break her own wrist in just one of his lessons. We know that she had some pretty inhumane training and therefore many wounds and injuries. But she healed perfectly. The only physical weakness is one of her knees being slightly less strong.
And then Endovier. What else of proof do we need? Average life span there is 1 month, and she lived a year. Even though she survived that, she even healed exceptionally well - scars and emotional trauma, naturally, don’t go away as easily.
Her mate, Rowan, is the most powerful Fae warrior there is. Who else could be her mate?
Aelin is immortal and blessed by two goddesses. Her fire powers don’t seem to have an end. Her water powers are slowly growing.
Aelin is immortal and she’ll need all the strength she has.
Why I want Dorian to find Gavin’s Confessional–if it is still there–in ToG7.
In Queen of Shadows, Aelin was looking for this chemical fire in order to burn the Clock Tower and ended up finding the Sin-Eater’s Temple. The temple of the already forgotten God of Truth, and right there: Gavin’s confessional.
That’s how they found out that Erawan wasn’t dead but sleeping-the main thing, the one that we tend to pay attention to- but there was more than that, details that might be as important as any of that, but we weren’t aware of it until Empire of Storms.
Gavin’s confessional was written back in one of the walls of the temple
Those wyrdmarks forming nothing less than the Eye of Elena, also known as The eye of the Three Faced Goddess.
Aelin was only able to decode the message after the marks moved places in the presence of Damaris. Damaris, Gavin’s sword, sword that was aimed for his heir(s). He wanted his heir to know the story. Who is his rightful heir, the current owner of Damaris? Dorian.
What did the confessional say? It talked about the battle with Erawan, as Aelin said, but there was more: Gavin chose to explain how Elena and him mated— it was something that he wanted his heir to know. Part that Aelin skipped COMPLETELY. She said NOTHING about that, just mentioned it and skipped all the information.
The message, was aimed to Dorian. He was meant to carry Damaris. It must be vital that he receives that information. In addition, I cannot stop thinking that the marks were forming the Three Faced Goddess’ symbol. I remind you that Elena was called a Witch.
So, I want Dorian to see Gavin’s confessional in the upcoming book, to find that place in Rifthold and–in some sort of way–be able to read it. [if he goes with Manon to the temple, even better]. I just hope it is not destroy by the explosion of the tower, really really hope.
Dorian needs to know what Gavin wanted to tell him.
Okay, so I chose not to do a reaction thread for TOG, because, let’s face it, it’s just precursor shit anyway…
However, now that I’m in the thick of it and cannot for the life of me stop reading until I know all the things, I’ve decided to start my reaction thread.
Already on p. 11 and rolling my eyes, btw. I’m not a Dorian fan…. Lol
(Thank you @nessiansmut for starting me off with Assassin’s Blade first. 😚)
Summary: Aelin Galathynius is one of the newest company members of the Rifthold Ballet Theatre, and she is eager to make all of her dreams a reality. She has the talent, the ambition, the walls no one can get past, and the thick skin that no one can get under. Except for new principal dancer Rowan Whitethorn. He’s arrogant, talented, and infuriating - and they just might have more in common than they think.
By the end of the hour and 45 minutes of class, Aelin was
happily tired. Her muscles were a little stiff after her days of traveling, but
the soreness was welcome. After the grand
allegro combination, the rest of the company’s eyes all went expectantly to
Madame Eudora, the ballet mistress, who now had a small smile on her face. She
was a small woman in her sixties who had been a celebrated principal dancer
with Rifthold Ballet Theatre for years, but she certainly still carried herself
like a dancer. She had black hair that was shot through with strands of silver
that brought out her silver eyes.
Lysandra was standing next to Aelin. “Should we be worried?”
There was a touch of wickedness in Eudora’s silver eyes.
“It’s a tradition here at RBT that all new company members perform a variation
for the rest of the company after their first class,” she explained. “It’s a
way for all of us to celebrate how far you have come in order to get here.”
Well, that was a
Aelin wracked her brain for a variation to perform. It had
to be her best –
“New members, raise
your hands, please,” Eudora said. Aelin raised her hand, as did Lysandra.
And, Aelin noticed, so did Rowan Whitethorn.
Aelin had watched Rowan a bit during class, and he was
definitely good. He knew how to make use of his tall, strong frame to create
elegant lines, and his turning was fantastic, she hated to admit. But there was
still an air of untouchability to him that was still off-putting, some kind of
pride that Aelin instantly disliked…
Eudora gestured to Lysandra. “Your name, dear?”
“Lysandra,” she answered, her voice snapping Aelin out of
“What variation would you like to perform? Don’t worry about
obscurity, Jasper here knows everything,” she said, flashing a smile at the
pianist, who shared an easy smile with her.
“Swanilda, Act One,” Lysandra replied without hesitation.
Aelin grinned at her; Swanilda was one of Lysandra’s favorites. It was simple
and flirtatious, yet it allowed for some well-placed flourishes and displays of
Eudora nodded. “Off you go, then.”
Lysandra took her starting place in the back corner of the
room as the entire company sat down in the front of the room, in front of the
long line of mirrors. Aelin flashed her friend a thumbs-up as the music began.
Lysandra danced well, holding every balance and hitting
every multiple turn. She was all smiles as the village maiden Swanilda, and
Aelin loved watching her.
When she finished, the company applauded, Aelin and Aedion
louder than everyone. Eudora gave her a warm smile. “Lovely, my dear. Swanilda
suits you.” Lysandra beamed, and Aelin felt Aedion swell a bit with pride as he
sat next to her.
Eudora’s silver eyes sought out the silver hair next. “You
are Rowan Whitethorn, yes?” Aelin couldn’t help her curiosity, leaning forward
so she could see him at the other end of the line of dancers against the
“Yes, I am,” he answered, standing up. There were still
drops of sweat on his forehead from class, but he stood tall and strong.
“Your variation of choice?” Eudora asked.
“Siegfried, Act Three.”
“Excellent. The ballroom.” Eudora gestured towards the
floor. “The floor is yours, Mr. Whitethorn.”
Rowan dipped his head and took his place. He nodded at
Jasper, who began to play.
Aelin knew the music, knew the variation.
But the way Rowan Whitethorn danced it…
Every jump hung in the air. Every beat of his legs was clean
and precise. The end of each pirouette lifted as though with a breath.
He was good.
And rutting hell, Aelin hated him for it even more.
He finished, and the company applauded enthusiastically,
with a couple of extra cheers from Dorian. Aelin applauded, too, trying not to
be too enthusiastic.
Rowan stood from his final position and took a graceful bow.
As he raised his head again, he looked right at her, the
tiniest bit of smugness creeping into his face.
And Aelin knew just what variation she would do.
She didn’t have much time to think about his look when
Madame Eudora approached her. “So that means you must be –”
“Aelin Galathynius,” Aelin finished for her, rising from her
Eudora studied her for a moment. “Your variation, Miss
The raised eyebrows and murmurs did not escape Aelin’s
notice. It was an incredibly difficult variation, even for a principal. And now
a lowly corps de ballet dancer was
going to do it?
Aelin kept the corners of her lips from twitching up.
Yes, she was.
A blink was all the surprise she got from Eudora. “Very
well,” she said. “Take your place.”
Aelin walked to the back corner of the room. She extended a
leg behind her in a tendu, raising
her right arm above her head and her left across her chest in the swan
She saw the faces of the company in front of her. Waiting.
She settled her shoulders and eased into the countenance of
Odile, the Black Swan.
Jasper began to play.
And Aelin danced.
Rowan had watched the golden-haired girl a bit during class,
the same way everyone was aware of new blood in the room. Sizing her up when
their body positions allowed it, judging her based on the quality of her
But ultimately, he hadn’t paid that much attention to her,
focusing on himself and his own dancing. After what he had gone through a
couple of years ago, ballet always kept him grounded.
The scream that always lived inside of him ever since a
couple of years ago was carefully, painstakingly channeled into every muscle of
his body, escaping through every movement, every toe and fingertip.
When the girl – Aelin, he remembered – had said she was
going to do the Black Swan, Rowan had disliked her instantly. So this was who she was: a first-year corps de ballet dancer who was too ambitious
for where she was at.
There were a thousand girls just like her. He’d known some
of them back in Doranelle.
She took her starting position in the corner and surveyed
the faces of everyone who was watching.
Her eyes met his for a brief moment, and something about her
whole demeanor shifted as she settled into her interpretation of Odile’s
She was not afraid, Rowan realized.
Far from it.
And as she started to dance, Rowan’s dislike burned even
She was good.
She nailed the first sequences of pirouettes and attitude
turns, finishing each with her arms out gracefully, yet with the command of
Odile. Going into the next phrase, she
placed accents on certain, individual notes in the music, catching him a bit
off-guard with her unpredictability.
Her sissonne jumps
reached full splits, her side extension nearly up to the side of her head,
showing off her long legs. Her double
stepovers were effortless. Her final piqué turns were quick and
sharp, each one carefully measured as she flew in her circle around the room. Aelin was Odile, and she was every bit as
confident and seductive as she was graceful.
She was better than good.
She was brilliant.
And he hated himself for thinking so.
When she hit her final position, the studio burst into
applause, the most enthusiastic coming from the friends of hers that Dorian had
pointed out to him. Even Eudora clapped, her smile mischievous.
“On that note, we will end there for today,” Eudora
announced. “Thank you, everyone.” The company clapped again, Aelin now included,
thanking their teacher for class and Jasper for his accompaniment. They all
picked up their bags and began to leave the studio.
Except Aelin, who was suddenly in front of him.
“Excuse me,” she said a bit irritably, her breathing still
uneven after her variation.
“I’m sorry?” Rowan asked, irritated by the tone in her
She gestured behind him, where her bag was on the floor.
“Sorry,” Rowan said again, willing his face into its mask of
She bent down to put her pointe shoes and lacrosse ball into
the bag. Rowan made his way over to his own bag, slinging it over his shoulder
and heading for the door.
“Rowan Whitethorn, right?”
Her voice stopped him. He turned slowly to look at her
again, only to find that she was making her way to the door, too. “That’s
right,” he replied, taking measure of the way she was studying him. “And you’re
“That’s right,” she echoed. She tilted her head ever so
slightly. “So, Rowan Whitethorn, what do you think?”
Rowan thought for a moment. He had to give her a correction.
There was no way he was going to tell this pretentious little corps girl his honest opinion. “Watch
your right shoulder in your stepovers. It likes to creep up a bit on your
second rotation. And I think your sissonnes
can be even bigger. Take advantage of the accented steps.” Which she pretty much had down, he thought to himself. But this was
fun – watching her bristle ever so slightly.
Aelin suddenly relaxed, a cool composure radiating from her.
“I meant about Rifthold as opposed to Doranelle,” she said with a half-smile,
“but I appreciate your advice.” She turned on her heel and headed to the door.
“What did you
think?” The words were out before he could stop them. Damn his curiosity.
Aelin paused with her hand on the doorknob. She turned her head
to him and gave him a sugary-sweet smile.
“I’ve seen better.”
Before Rowan could even process
the sudden anger that slashed through him, Aelin Galathynius had left the
Recently I was quite stuck in an art block, I didn’t drew anything except this plan of Celeana’s chambers in the Rifthold’s castle (‘cause I’ve been re-reading Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight at the same time )
First time I was doing plans, changed a lot from my usual style
I hoped she would learn to face her pain- that she’d learn to endure it.“ He smiled sadly at Celaena. "If you can learn to endure pain- you can survive anything. Some people learn to embrace it- to love it. Some endure it through drowning it in sorrow, or by making themselves forget. Others turn it into anger. But Ansel let her pain become hate, and let it consume her until she became something else entirely- a person I don’t think she ever wished to be.
Sarah J. Mass; The Assassin’s Blade (The Assassin and The Desert)
Did we ever stop to consider that since Rifthold has been destroyed by the Witches who are occupying it, that maybe Dorian will go rule with Manon if she reclaims the Witch Kingdom (assuming he doesn’t die)?
I’ve never been fond of Manorian myself but realistically, that’s a big city to rebuild and Erawan took all the money from the Royal coffers, and the witches are probably killing any human who haven’t already fled. Not that he would be the type of person to abandon his people but maybe he and Manon could create a Kingdom where humans and witches alike could live in peace.
Summary: Aelin Galathynius is one of the newest company members of the Rifthold Ballet Theatre, and she is eager to make all of her dreams a reality. She has the talent, the ambition, the walls no one can get past, and the thick skin that no one can get under. Except for new principal dancer Rowan Whitethorn. He’s arrogant, talented, and infuriating - and they just might have more in common than they think.
“Watch your right
shoulder, bigger sissonnes, accent your steps,” UGH.
And the way he keeps
watching me in class, like I’m a pebble in his slipper –
He’s good. Except I
don’t rutting care. Not with that attitude.
Balance the ends of
your pirouettes and land some tours en l’air and you think you’re hot sh –
“Gods above, Aelin, what did those shoes ever do to you?”
Aelin looked up from her work to see Lysandra walking over,
two grande iced coffees in her hands. The two of them had been roommates since
joining the second company, and when they had been promoted, they moved into
the apartment complex that was specifically for the Rifthold ballet dancers,
still as roommates. It was a fairly new complex, and Aelin liked it a lot. It
consisted of four buildings that formed a square, and a spacious courtyard
Aelin was currently situated in the archway of her building,
sitting on the covered concrete. She was in the process of breaking in some new
pointe shoes, and she was at the point where she was whacking the shoes on the
concrete so they wouldn’t make so much noise in the studio.
But in the archway, and outdoors between buildings, Aelin
was the one making a lot of noise at
She wiped a bead of sweat from her temple and put the shoes
in her bag, taking one of the cups from Lysandra’s outstretched hand.
Wordlessly, she took a long sip as she stood up, her bag over her shoulder.
Lysandra let out a low whistle. “It’s only been three weeks
and you already look like you’re ready to assassinate someone,” she observed as
the two started on their way back to their apartment. “And I’m guessing it’s
Aelin sighed as they trudged up the stairs. “Must you always
be so perceptive?”
“When it comes to my best friend, I have to be,” Lysandra
grinned before lowering her voice. “It’s Whitethorn, isn’t it?” she asked as
they approached their door – Aelin having already finished her coffee.
Aelin pulled out her key and unlocked the door. When they
were both inside, Aelin ungracefully dropped her bag and flopped face-first
onto the futon. She spent a moment planked on the cushion before she rolled
over onto her back. “I can’t stand
him,” she said finally. “The way he’s always studying everyone, the way he
always looks at me like a stuck-up prick, everything.”
Lysandra plopped into the cushy recliner that sat off the
corner of the futon. “But you’ve only talked to him that one time, right?”
“The time that ended with him giving me corrections.”
“The time that ended with you getting the last word, as you
told me. And the damn sassy last word, but I would expect nothing less.”
Aelin couldn’t help the satisfied smirk that tugged at the
corner of her lips at the memory. “The look on his face was priceless.” Her mood soured again. “I’d just love to know what
goes through that head during class.”
Lysandra tilted her head. “In general?” she asked. “Or when
he’s watching you?”
“You know, forget it.” Aelin pushed herself up into a
seating position, lightly hugging one knee to her chest. “It’s probably nothing
that I haven’t heard or been called before.”
“Your confidence really does amaze me sometimes.”
Aelin smiled at her friend, but she wasn’t about to admit
that even her walls had cracks.
“And you’re going to need it next week.”
Now she was puzzled. “What do you mean?”
“You looked at the schedule, didn’t you?” When Aelin didn’t
answer, Lysandra pulled out her phone, bringing up her email. She tapped on one
and passed the phone to Aelin.
Aelin had looked
at the schedule, but only briefly between classes. Now, she scanned the email
attachment more closely…
“Look at Monday,” Lysandra directed.
“Company class, break, pas
de deux, Pilates, rehearsal TBD,” Aelin read. What was the big deal? “I
don’t get it.”
“Pas de deux,”
Lysandra emphasized. “Partnering.”
Aelin was still confused. “Well, yeah, I know what pas de deux is –”
“Think about partnering class in the past. How does RBT
decide partners on the first day?”
“By height,” Aelin replied automatically. “Where are you
going with this?”
“Now that Rowan’s here, he’s the tallest guy, not Aedion,”
Lysandra said, looking down at her coffee and peeking at Aelin from underneath
her long lashes. “And from what I’ve observed in class… you’re the tallest
Aelin sat up and stared at her friend.
The music pounded in Rowan’s head with each thump of his feet against the pavement.
Not many of the dancers ran, he had noticed, but it was his preferred way to
build up and maintain his stamina. Dorian had gone with him once and kept up
fine, but he hadn’t joined Rowan again.
Rowan didn’t mind. He liked the solitude.
Running was actually really similar to ballet – just him,
his body, his breath, and his music.
It didn’t hurt that it also got her out of his head.
Even when his mind was completely focused on his dancing,
his traitorous eyes kept wandering to Aelin.
She just made it look so easy.
Of course, the rivulets of sweat that were rolling down her
face and trickling down her back by the end of class every day told him it was
She worked for it. She worked hard. Harder than most of the women in the Doranelle company.
But there was something else behind her dancing, something
He didn’t know what it was yet, but something in him had a
And if he was honest, it terrified him.
The interactions he had with her were short and usually
ended with a glare and a sharp comment, usually (but not always) from her. So
he did his best to keep a good distance away from Aelin Galathynius.
Rowan slowed his pace as he approached the entryway to his
apartment building. He had opted for a one-bedroom, one-person apartment, and
since he was coming in as a principal, he had gotten his wish.
But after three weeks, he had realized that his own
apartment was the one place where he couldn’t escape the pain.
With deep breaths, Rowan stretched out with some side lunges
and hamstring stretches, changing his music to something with a calmer beat.
Suddenly his text alert went off.
Rowan opened the text to see that it was from Dorian: New schedule’s out! Finally a change of
He went inside his building, up to the fourth floor and to
the end of the hall, pulling out his keys and heading into his apartment. He
made his way over to the kitchen, pulling a sports drink out of the fridge.
Taking a few swigs of it, he opened his email to check the new schedule.
A change of scenery,
Dorian said. Wonder what he meant?
Rowan scanned the schedule, and it didn’t take long for his
eyes to land on Monday’s pas de deux.
This would be the first time any of the artistic staff would
see his partnering skills, so this was a big deal for him. A chance to show
more facets of his dancing. He smiled to himself as he took a few more sips
before texting Dorian back.
Queen of Shadows Chapter 28 from Rowan’s Point of View
Rowan snuck off the ship and onto the docks of Rifthold with barely the finesse of a rookie spy. He was tired from two weeks crouched in the bowels of the boat with very little to eat and weak from the retching that accompanied his magic being ripped from him. Unfortunately—or fortunately—the spell that stifled his powers did very little nothing to hinder his Fae senses. And Rowan smelled just as bad as the filthy streets of Adarlan’s capital.
He didn’t dare ask for directions to the slum districts. In his black cloak with his immense size, he was already an imposing figure prowling the alleys, he didn’t need any extra attention on him. Or any curious followers for that matter. Because he was going to find his queen, and he’d be damned if he led any unsavory creatures to her.
The reek of piss and refuse made his eyes water and, Rowan realized with a start, some of it was coming from him. He had half a thought to douse himself with the water in a nearby trough or slip an innkeeper a copper to use her washroom. No, too many people would notice him, get a good look at his face, perhaps notice the pointed ears beneath the dark cloak. No, Aelin would just have to deal with his scent. Gods know he dealt with hers.
Aelin is just 19 goddamn years old and she’s been through so an incredible amount of shit already it drives me insane:
as a child, she had the King of Adarlan try to use her as a way to commit suicide
her crown was ripped from her, her parents killed, her whole court scattered or dead, and essentially died herself
had her power ripped from her and now made to hide and stay protected while her home went to shit and there was nothing she could do about it
put through horrendous training by a sleazy instructor who made her his beloved pet and made her do everything to earn his “affection” and approval
had her first love destroyed and tortured beyond imagination by said master- she could do nothing about it but lay with his dead body and seek vengeance
sent to fucking prison camps where people were raped, killed and brutalized on a daily basis. It was so horrible that she tried to kill herself and she was very close to succeeding
broken down and beaten and passed on from one new overlord to another like just another weapon that could be wielded to their advantage- first Arobynn and now Dorian and the King
simultaneously had to deal with winning the competition to be the Kings Champion, figure out what the hell Elena and Nehemia were trying to tell her, guessing what the fuck is happening with those horrible stone gargoyals, the thing in the basement, the strange marks, her complicated love life with Dorian and then Chaol, hiding Dorian’s power while living with the knowledge that Chaol (who she then loved) would hate her if he knew the truth about her own power and heritage
saw the dead body of her best friend and knew she was dead because she couldn’t bring herself to do something sooner and the fact that her boyfriend knew she was in danger but still didn’t do shit
sent (because of said boyfriend) to go kill her own blood and hand their heads over
and this is only the first few books without even going into the countless people that have tried to break her, kill her, rip her apart, her seperation from Aedion, wondering if he was dead, Maeve doing everything to make her life go to shit, her battle with depression, trying to master her power that she knew was deadly to anyone around her, finding her mate but not being able to act on it, having everyone from her life in Rifthold not trust her and constantly doubt her, having all of her own people not know who she was or that she was fighting so desperately, being taken over by a rutting goddess jut for the lols, living with the knowledge that despite everything she did to survive, she’s going to die. She is, after all, the Queen Who Was Promised. she has to leave everything behind- let her friends, her family, use the Wrydkeys and defeat Erawan and Maeve and every other bastard in between because the sacrifice she so willingly made when she sacrificed herself to the iron coffin.
there’s so much more I know I’m missing- add them on if you remember anything else
For the wonderful @delaneyjanuzzi ! She asked for the Rowaelin reunion in Queen of Shadows. I hope you like it!
This is my first time writing in first person point of view, so please bare with me if it’s a bit iffy. Thank you @acowar for beta reading my stuff :D
Characters and dialogue are not mine. All copyright of Sarah J. Maas.
After much consideration, I have come to the conclusion that I absolutely hate ships.
Well, specifically cargo ships.
It was only a few days ago that I had stowed myself away in the hold of a vessel bound for Adarlan. It was easier than I had thought, considering my size. Although it did come with much frustration. After half an hour of shifting around and repositioning myself in the confined space of the cargo area, I finally settled as the ship made its way towards Adarlan, more importantly, towards Aelin.
Time slowly became a figment of my imagination on this blasted ship. The only thing keeping me sane as a stowaway was the thought of Aelin, how she would react upon seeing me- upon realising I had disobeyed her first command to me and come to her, and what she would do if she knew that her absence had been a weight on my heart since I had last seen her. Whatever I did she always found a way to occupy my thoughts once more. This was unsurprising, of course, considering that there were absolutely no windows or entertainment in the cargo area. The only thing feeding me light were the small holes from the deck above. A senseless decision on my part to stow myself away, but what can a Fae do when he knows he would be unwelcomed at the destination.
The ringing of bells from above suddenly resonated through the cramped space, pulling me away from my thoughts. Thank the Gods. That meant the ship was finally docking into Adarlan.
Finally. Finally. Finally.
While unfurling my legs as much as possible into the tiny space in front of me, I debated what my next move should be upon leaving this damned ship. Aelin had mentioned multiple times that there was no magic in Adarlan, therefore my steps had to be formed properly, with no defence mechanism other than the weapons I had strapped to my body.
It was the loud clamouring from above that pulled me away from my thoughts this time as I realised that I had to leave before someone found me. That means I would just have to make my plan as I go. Crawling through the narrow space between the bulky shipments scattered around the lower deck, I unlatched the hook of the trap door that I used to first enter the lower deck back in Wendlyn and pulled myself out swiftly. The shouting of the men assaulted my ears further as they move frantically from one side to another, trying to arrange where everything should go. Taking this as an opportunity, I quickly made work of shifting into my other form, only for my breathe to be taken away from me and my vision to blur. Only then did I remember once more the one thing that made Adarlan stand out amongst other continents.
Adarlan had no magic.
My limbs suddenly felt lighter as I stumbled through my steps before finding my balance. Everything was still blurry around me as my sharp vision was turned dull. It took me a few seconds, or was it minutes, to finally reorientate my eyes to the area around me. The men were still running around on deck, unknowing of my presence.
Get out. Get out. Get out!
Taking in my surroundings once more, I made quick work to leave this damned ship as I leaped off the front edge and onto the planks that made up the dock. Walking as fast as I could away from the ship, I tugged my pale grey hood over my face, looking down at my boots as I neared the edge of the dock where it merged with the city.
The dock led to a market which I hurriedly pushed myself into, shouldering the people that were going the opposite direction. Only when I thought there was enough distance between the dock and myself did I relax- slightly. This was a new area after all, a continent I barely know about. There was only so much I can relax without caution.
The lack of magic within my body was something I knew would take me awhile to get use to. My body was lighter, my vision and hearing duller than it has ever been, and my shifting abilities taken away from me. All these things I have grown to live with since I was young was stripped away from me in a matter of seconds.
For Aelin. You’re doing this for Aelin.
The thought that it was all for her put me easily at ease. For Aelin, I’d be willing to do almost anything; even if we didn’t have the blood oath between us.
The market area was just as loud as the docks, even louder if I could say so myself. My hood remained over my face, concealing me from the public’s eyes and, more importantly, my ears. If anyone here were to know I was Fae, they’d send me right to the King of Adarlan before I could find Aelin.
Gods, please let Aelin be safe. Please let me survive her wrath upon disobeying her orders.
Setting down the path in front of me, I continued to push through the crowd of the Adarlan market and towards the slums. Aelin had proudly mentioned back in Wendlyn that she had- has, a home in the slums. One she used often when she was still Celaena Sardothien.
It was ridiculous to think how long ago that was.
Asking for directions was already out of the question. It was best to keep to myself as much as possible. The less people know, the better. I’d just have to rely on my senses now, no matter how dull, on picking up the scents of the slums.
Finally breaking through the crowd and into a more secluded area, I rushed my steps further before it became too dark to travel. It wouldn’t be such a complicated feat for me to travel in the dark, but after being confined in that blasted ship for so long in the partial dark I’d like to see something brighter for once. Inhaling the air around me, I noticed how the once sweet smell of pastries from the market was turning more and more putrid by the second.
Good. I’m closer to the slums.
The slums weren’t exactly like one would imagine once I entered the area. It still had buildings like the rest of Adarlan, it was just simply more degraded; and more filthy, to be honest. Pleasure houses littered the streets, the bright lights outside the building flickering on and off from overuse. Taverns and gambling houses were next placed in between the pleasure houses like they’ve been there for far longer. The previously rancid smell of the slums was replace almost immediately with opium upon going deeper within the area. They seemed to be coming from the taverns. Opium dens underground, I’m guessing then. A loud ruckus came from the buildings as doors open and closed while people enter and leave. Shouting and cheers combined together as one resonated through the night air of the slums, either from winning or losing their bets in the gamble houses. Men and women stumbled around the streets, either dressed in expensive garb or in cheap clothing. But they were all looking for the same thing in the slums: a release.
Pulling my hood farther down my face, I tried to catch Aelin’s scent as I walk. Of course, this took longer than it would’ve been if magic was permitted in Adarlan. My senses were duller than ever and the smell of opium seemed to overtake any other scents lingering around.
Damned opium dens.
For once in my life, I felt more exhausted than I ever was. Being crammed on the lower deck of a cargo ship then being stripped of my magic was something that was bound to take a toll on me at one point. I just wanted to find Aelin, to make sure she was alright, to help her in whatever she needed here in Adarlan despite her anger at me for disobeying her.
I hope she doesn’t get too angry.
You’re over a century years old, Rowan. And you’re afraid of a mortal girl? My mind seemed to mock me for my thoughts.
While trying to pick up a scent, I thought of the many ways Aelin might react. Of course I came to Adarlan for a reason, but it was more on my part wanting to see her above everything. I just hoped she would listen to me before lashing out. But at the same time, her anger would be reasonable as I did directly disobey her orders.
After an hour of wandering between the streets and alleyways, trying to form what I was going to say once I found her, a familiar scent finally hit me- Aelin’s scent. It was something I could never mistake: jasmine, and lemon verbena, and crackling embers. A scent that fit her so well in so many ways. Rushing my steps, I followed the sweet smell as it led me towards a more secluded area of the slums. The streets were finally quiet as less and less people were present as Aelin’s scent strengthened with each step.
Fog from the, now, starless night air grew all around me as I slinked through alleyways and shortcuts. Nonetheless, I kept my hood over my face, determined to pull through without having to expose my face. Aelin’s scent grew as I walked through an alley near a tattered apartment building.
I paused. Faintly, I could hear her voice approaching, closer and closer towards the alley I was hidden in. It was mixed with another voice- two voices to be specific: a male and a female. The fog concealed my view of what’s in front of me so I couldn’t see who she was with. I was relying entirely on my hearing.
Then, suddenly, silence. The scrape of their boots stopped and the sounds of their voices disappeared.
Did she notice? Did she scent me?
Did she scent herself on me? She had to.
Even with my dull senses, I could hear one of them, probably the male, pull out a knife from his pockets. A male. The Fae inside of me growled at the thought that there was an unknown male with Aelin. From my sense, he seemed to be a demi-Fae. A warrior, maybe. That only eased eased my frustration slightly.
Go to her.
Go to her.
Straightening myself, I walked out of the fog that concealed me while my hood remained over my face. My steps were confident, assured as I tried to upstage the male with Aelin, but cautious at the same time. I prepared the dialogue of what I was going to say in my head, making sure that I had all my reasons in check to explain to my queen.
But, apparently, I didn’t need to.
Before I could utter a single word, a small sob sounded through the night before a familiar body crashed against me, her arms wrapping themselves around my neck as tears ran down my surcoat. My arms wrapped themselves around her automatically, missing the feeling of her against me. I buried my hooded face in her neck, breathing in her sweet, sweet, scent that I had missed so much in Wendlyn.
It could’ve been minutes, or it could’ve been days, but I stood there in the slums, holding her up as she cried quietly against me. I revelled in the feeling of her, finally having Aelin near me once more- being able to hold her at night, tease her, train her, worship her.
Aelin was shaking, her arms only tightening around me rather than loosening. I didn’t let her go either, I didn’t want to let her go.
“How did you get here? How did you find me?” Aelin pulled away farther enough to face me, her face tear streaked but her expression, Gods her expression.
She was happy. She was happy.
I gave her a smile, the ones that I reserved only for her and no one else.
“You made it clear my kind wouldn’t be welcome on your continent. So I stowed away on a ship. You’d mentioned a home in the slums, so when I arrived this evening, I wandered until I picked up your scent.”
I’ve missed you so much, I wanted to tell her, I should have gone with you from the start. You should have let me stayed with you.
Every day without you was agony for me.
But I didn’t voice any of my thoughts. Instead, I glanced around the area as my smile slowly turned into a frown.
“You have a lot to tell me.”
Aelin only nodded, her grip on my shoulders tightening as more tears left her eyes. Reaching up, I brushed a loose strand of her red hair that escaped her hood before gently cupping her cheek and caressing it with my thumb. She had a lot of explaining to do, first and foremost as to why her hair was red, but I couldn’t be bothered to ask her for specifics now. My queen was in my arms, and happy to see me.
“But you’re not hurt?” I asked softly, my eyes wandering over her face to check for anything different, “You’re safe?”
She nodded once more, burying her face in my chest as her arms went around me. My heart thudded faster as I wrapped my arms around her just like before. I gently buried my face on the top of her hood, breathing in her scent like it was a drug.
“I thought I gave you an order to stay in Wendlyn.”
My heart stopped for a second before I realised she was teasing me.
“I had my reasons, best spoken somewhere secure,” I mumbled against the fabric of her surcoat, “Your friends at the fortress say hello, by the way. I think they miss having an extra scullery maid. Especially Luca—especially in the mornings.”
She laughed. Oh, her laugh. I’d sail across every continent and kill everyone in the way if I could keep her this happy every single day. Aelin squeezed me tighter with her arms, crying once again.
“Why are you crying?” I tried to push her away, to see what was wrong, only for her to tighten her arms further.
Gods. This woman is strong.
“I’m crying,” she sniffled, “because you smell so rutting bad my eyes are watering.”
I let out a loud laugh, a real one that I haven’t had ever since she left. Finally, Aelin pulled away from my chest, flashing her grin at me.
“Bathing isn’t an option as a stowaway,” I muttered, releasing her only to flick her nose. She shoved me, although I knew it was a joke from the grin that was still on her face. Glancing down the alleyway, I finally noticed the male and female behind Aelin as they waited for us. My eyes immediately assessed the male, realizing that he must have been monitoring my interaction with Aelin. Probably to see if I was deemed safe to her or a threat.
“Are you just going to make them stand there all night?” I asked Aelin.
“Since when were you a stickler for manners?” Aelin slung an arm around my waist, her grip on me unusually tight. But I wasn’t complaining. Why would I? Instead, I slung my own arm around her shoulder, pulling her close against my body.
I’ve missed you. I’ve missed you so much, I wanted to say but decided that it would be better said later when we were alone.
The closer we got to her two companions, the harder my stare became to the male as his stare became equivalent to mine. It looked as if he was challenging me to a duel. For once, I was in doubt which of us would win considering his build and size. But then again, my skills may be better than his so I may just win. I like to think I would.
Stopping in front of them, I continued to give the male a hard stare as we both refused to look away. I could practically feel Aelin rolling her eyes beside me.
Suddenly, I was forced out of the stare as Aelin squeezed my side. Hard. I hissed, pinching her shoulder right back for what she did.
“Let’s get inside,” she broke the silence, leading me away towards her apartment, I’m guessing. I vaguely remember the female saying her goodbyes and the male following us but my mind only thought of the woman beside me.
Aye so one of the reasons ToG gets so much shit, especially on GR, is that “Celaena doesn’t kill anyone” and “I would rather read about an actual badass assassin than a teenager.”
Which like, cool, cool, do you.
The point of the story, if you started with the prequels, is that SHE’S FORCED TO BE AN ASSASSIN.
She describes her first kill as “the first time Arobyn made her take a life.” made. her. As in forced.
She and Sam discuss with horror how Arobyn made them torture murderers and rapists.
She talks about how when her and Sam get out of Rifthold, they will start a new life somewhere and eventually stop killing. She is 17 and she dreams of more than just being skilled at death.
The prequels were released PRIOR to ToG. They were always the place we were meant to start at. SJM has never presented these stories as “remorseless badass bloodthirsty assassin.” If they are marketed that way, fine. But the stories themselves are pretty clear that she didn’t and doesn’t want to only be good at murder, that she wants more for herself, and that it wasn’t her choice to begin with.
When we meet Celaena in ToG, again she is presented with violence and murder as a way to a better life. As her only means of escape. Both the King and Arobyn force her into violence as her only choice. She reminisces at times that if she hadn’t been found by Arobyn, she would have likely ended up as a prostitute. Being an assassin, or a prostitute. Those were her options as an orphan in Rifthold.
The point of the books is not that taking lives is cool or glorious or hot. It’s not that Celaena is some hot shit assassin.
The point is that she had her childhood robbed from her by two sick, twisted, abusive men. The point is that she shouldn’t have had to be an assassin in the first place.
So while you’re all annoyed that she “doesn’t kill enough people” think about it like this: the Celaena we get in ToG, who loves chocolate and dances and Chaol, who makes friends with the prince and princess, who relishes fine dresses and flirting, is the 18 year old who she should get to be all the time. She shouldn’t have to kill others just to survive.
She was never meant to be an assassin in the first place. The fact that she was, is just fucking sad. Yes, it helps her fight and gather her armies. Yes, everything in her past has shaped her into who she is today. But the books aren’t and never were just about Celaena being an assassin. They were and always will be about an abused teenager finding her way out of a life marred by death and pain.
-Rowan found Aelin in start of Heir of Fire when Meave sent him to her to Doranelle to Maeve.
-Rowan found Aelin in Heir if Fire when she got angry and Skinwalkers tried to kill her.
-He found her in Queen of Shadows when he arrived to Rifthold.
He has found her many times and he will find her again.
“I’d walk into the burning heart of hell itself to find you.”
I can just imagine Dorian happily ruling Adarlan and then one day he sees a wildfire in the distance and Chaol comes to him like “half of Rifthold burnt down in a spontaneous fire!!” and Dorian will just shake his head and send a letter to the Terrasen court like “tell your horny Queen and King to stop burning down my cities”.
But Aelin would just send him a cheque in the mail with a set of hand cuffs like “build Manon a red room”