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Home > The Rose Society (The Young Elites #2)(12)

The Rose Society (The Young Elites #2)(12)
Author: Marie Lu

He resembles Maeve, as well as his brothers. But while the others seem natural and whole, this prince is not—the eerie energy about him remains, haunting Raffaele.

“My youngest brother, Prince Tristan,” Maeve says.

It is Lucent who finally breaks the silence. “You said in your letters that he had managed to pull through,” she chokes out. “You told me he never died.”

“He did.” Maeve’s expression turns harder. “But I brought him back.”

Lucent goes pale. “That’s impossible. You said—he almost drowned—and your mother—the Queen Mother—banished me for the near death of her son. This is impossible. You—” She turns to Maeve. “You never told me. I heard nothing about this in your letters.”

“I couldn’t tell you,” Maeve answers sharply. Then she continues, in a quieter voice, “My mother screened every letter that left the palace, particularly those I meant for you. I could not risk her finding out about my power. She, like you, like everyone, assumed that Tristan never died, because I brought him back on the same night she banished you.”

Raffaele only stares, hardly able to believe what he is witnessing. Threads of energy that do not belong in the land of the living. He understands it now, the unsettling, unnatural bond. He also understands immediately why Maeve is telling them this.

“Enzo,” he whispers. “You want—”

“I want to bring back your prince,” Maeve finishes for him. “Tristan, as you can see, is able to enjoy life again. Even more than that, though, he has brought some part of the Underworld with him. He has gained the strength of a dozen men.”

The thought of Enzo alive again leaves Raffaele short of breath. The world spins for a moment. No. Wait. There is something else about Prince Tristan that the queen isn’t telling him. “And what of Elites who are revived?” he asks.

Maeve smiles again. “Bringing an Elite back from the dead must amplify his powers too. And someone as powerful as Enzo was may prove nearly invincible once revived. I want his power at our side when we attack Kenettra. It will be a test, my creation of an Elite among Elites.” She leans toward Raffaele. “Think of the possibilities—of the other deceased Elites I could revive, of the unbridled power on our side.”

Raffaele shakes his head. He should be overjoyed at the thought of seeing the prince again. But he senses the stain of the Underworld hovering over Tristan’s energy.

“You doubt that it works,” Maeve says after a moment. “Those I bring back must always be tied to someone from the living world. They need living threads to hold them away from the Underworld’s constant pull. Tristan is tied to me, giving me a certain level of control—protection—over him. Enzo will need to be tethered to someone too.”

Tethered to me. Raffaele’s eyes narrow as he looks at her. That is what she means to do. “I cannot be a part of this,” he finally says. His voice is firm, even in its hoarseness. “This violates the order of the gods.”

Maeve’s voice hardens now. “I am a child of the gods,” she snaps. “I was gifted with this power. The gods bless it—it violates no order.”

Raffaele bows his head. His hands are shaking. “I cannot agree to this, Your Majesty,” he says again. “Enzo’s soul has gone to rest in the Underworld. Pulling him back, away from the side of Holy Moritas, and into the real world again … he does not belong here anymore. Let him rest.”

“I am not asking your permission, consort,” Maeve replies firmly. When Raffaele looks up at her again, she lifts her chin. “Remember, Raffaele, that Enzo was the Crown Prince of Kenettra. A malfetto, an Elite, your former leader. He did not deserve to die. He deserves to return, to see his country’s malfettos safe. I will rule Kenettra, but I will reinstate him in my absence.” Her eyes are hard as stone. “Is this not what you and your Daggers have long fought for?”

Raffaele is silent. He is seventeen again, standing before a sea of nobility at the Fortunata Court, sensing Enzo’s energy in the crowd for the first time. He is in the underground training cavern of the Daggers’ former home, watching the prince duel with others. Raffaele looks at Michel, then Gemma, then Lucent. They look back, grave and silent. This should be what they all want.

But Enzo died. They grieved, and made their peace with it. And now …

“I will bring him back,” Maeve continues, “and I will tether him to anyone I please.” Then, her voice turns gentler. “But I’d rather tie him to those who care the most for him. The bond with the living is strongest that way.”

Still, Raffaele doesn’t reply. He closes his eyes, willing himself to silence his mind. To force away the churning sensation of wrongness in this idea. Finally, he opens his eyes and meets the queen’s gaze. “Will he be the same?”

“We won’t know,” Maeve says slowly, “until I try.”

SCENE VII

(Exeunt all but Boy.)

BOY. Are you an ogre?

(Enter Ogre.)

OGRE. Are you a knight?

BOY. I am not a knight! Nor am I a king, scout, or priest.

Therefore, you can be sure I am not here to steal the jewel.

—Original translation of The Temptation of the Jewel, by Tristan Chirsley

Adelina Amouteru

The Little Baths of Bethesda turn out to be a set of ruins at the edge of Merroutas.

Early the next morning, as the sun crests the horizon and fishing boats set out into the bay, Violetta and I make our way down the dirt path leading out of the city-state’s main gates and to a smaller cluster of abandoned domed houses, all situated beneath the stone arches of a former aqueduct.

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