Chapter 1 - The Night Court

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Nyx

My wings ache as I soar through the mountains, the glittering lights of Velaris an expanse of dreams below me. I pause to watch the citizens flood the streets, their numbers increasing as the night progresses—so small from my view in the sky. The late winter wind is relentless, whipping against my short black hair, my back, and carrying my cousins laugh to my ears from behind and below me.

He rises to my side and stops, a grin splitting across his face in a way that resembles his father so closely. "You might have won this lap, oh mighty son of the High Lord, but don't be mistaken—I let you win." He pushes his straight brown hair out of his face, his wings spread wide around his broad shoulders.

I shove against him with my shoulder, rolling in the sky and laughing. "I have a whole extra year of Uncle Cassian's training under my belt. I'd be doing him a disservice by ever letting you win."

Atlas flies above me, forcing me to look up at him. "I'm his blood, flesh and bones, that means more than any training he could ever give you." He turns with a smirk and shoots forward.

I laugh again, shaking my head, and follow him against the wind. The night grows still, the deep violet of the sky leading into a relentless darkness that the glow of Velaris steadies throughout the night. I shift, adjusting my wings against a sharp pain under my shoulder blades. The ache is gone as quickly as it appears, but it forces me to work my wings harder to keep in stride with my cousin.

He calls from ahead of me. "If you can't keep up, I'll have to tell our High Lord just how slow his son really is."

At the mention of my father, I halt. His voice rings through my mind, speaking to me from home, slowing the beating of my wings. Nyx. Home. Now.

I curse and Atlas flies back to see what's stopped me, looking smug. "If you don't even try, Nyx, then beating you means nothing."

"I have to go back, dad knows I'm out," I say with a nervous sigh and start flying towards the Court of Nightmares at a faster pace. "You better get back too, before Aunt Nesta finds you've been out with me."

Atlas follows along at my side. "They didn't used to be so tense about us flying at night—why are you going towards the court?"

"The High Lords meeting—I have to be present in the morning."

"The High Lords meeting? So soon?"

I only shrug my shoulders in response. The court lights grow closer.

Atlas breaks away, heading in the other direction, still speaking before he's too far to hear. "Is she going to be there?"

"Is who going to be there?" I call back, feigning indifference.

I can see Atlas smirking, regardless of the distance. "You know who."

"Do you like her that much? Shall I put in a good word?" I snap.

He turns to leave, letting out a short laugh. "Oh Nyx, you know I would never betray you like that."

——————

My hopes of arriving home unnoticed disappear when I land. My father leans against the entranceway, his face tense and his arms crossed. Rhysand, High Lord of the Night Court. The way he says my name is short and clipped.

I start apologizing before he can get a word in. "I'm sorry. I just needed to clear my head. I promise, I wasn't that far away. It's not—"

"Was Atlas with you?"

I shake my head, avoiding his eyes. "No, no I was alone." He knows I'm lying.

He hangs his arms at his sides, letting his wings stretch behind him. "If I have to tell you again not to fly at night—"

I stride past him, walking inside. "This is the Night Court dad, we were meant to fly at night."

He follows behind me, frustrated. "Not now, not during—"

"He's right, Nyx. Things are...different, right now." My mother, Feyre Archeron, High Lady of the Night Court. They exchange wary looks.

I turn around, throwing my arms out in defeat. "You told mom?" She runs a hand through my hair and I push her arm aside. "I'm going to bed."

Dad is smirking when mom walks saunters towards him. I leave before I have to see more.

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