Nothing will stop Poppy from freeing her King and destroying everything the Blood Crown stands for.
The War of Two Queens, the stunning continuation in the Blood and Ash series from New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout is available now!
War is only the beginning…
From #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout comes book four in her Blood and Ash series.
From the desperation of golden crowns…
Casteel Da’Neer knows all too well that very few are as cunning or vicious as the Blood Queen, but no one, not even him, could’ve prepared for the staggering revelations. The magnitude of what the Blood Queen has done is almost unthinkable.
And born of mortal flesh…
Nothing will stop Poppy from freeing her King and destroying everything the Blood Crown stands for. With the strength of the Primal of Life’s guards behind her, and the support of the wolven, Poppy must convince the Atlantian generals to make war her way—because there can be no retreat this time. Not if she has any hope of building a future where both kingdoms can reside in peace.
A great primal power rises…
Together, Poppy and Casteel must embrace traditions old and new to safeguard those they hold dear—to protect those who cannot defend themselves. But war is only the beginning. Ancient primal powers have already stirred, revealing the horror of what began eons ago. To end what the Blood Queen has begun, Poppy might have to become what she has been prophesied to be—what she fears the most.
As the Harbinger of Death and Destruction.
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The click and drag of claws drew closer as the weak flame above the lone candle sputtered and then went out, pitching the cell into darkness.
A thicker mass of shadows appeared in the open archway—a misshapen form on its hands and knees. It halted, sniffing as loudly as a godsdamn barrat, scenting blood. My blood.
The smooth bands of shadowstone tightened around my throat and ankles as I shifted, bracing myself. The damn stone was unbreakable, but it did come in handy. A low-pitched wail came from the creature.
“Mother—” The thing exploded out of the archway, scurrying forward, its keening moan becoming an ear-piercing screech. “—fucker.”
I waited until its stench of decay reached me and then pressed my back against the wall, lifting my legs. The length of the chain between my ankles was only about half a foot, and the shackles wouldn’t give an inch, but it was enough. Planting my bare feet into the creature’s shoulders, I got a good, most unfortunate look at the thing as its foul breath blasted me in the face.
Man, the Craven was not a fresh one.
Patches of gray flesh clung to its hairless skull, and half of its nose was gone. One entire cheekbone was exposed, eyes burning like hot coals. Lips torn and mangled— The Craven twisted its head down, sinking its fangs into my calf. Its teeth tore through the breeches and into flesh and muscle. Air hissed between my gritted teeth as fiery pain burned its way up my leg.
The pain was more than worth it.
I would spend an eternity taking these bites if that meant she was safe. That it wasn’t her in this cell. That she wasn’t the one in pain.
Shaking the Craven free, I dragged the short chain over the thing’s neck as I crossed my feet. I twisted at the waist, pulling the dull bone chain tight across its throat, ending the Craven’s screams. The shackle clamped down on my throat as I kept turning, cutting off my air as the chain dug into the Craven’s neck. Its arms flailed on the floor as I jerked my legs in the opposite direction, snapping the creature’s spine. The spasming became more of a twitching as I hauled it within reach of my bound hands. The chain between my wrists, connected to the shackle at my throat, was much shorter—but long enough.
I grasped the Craven’s cold, clammy jowls and brought its head down hard, slamming it against the stone floor by my knees. Flesh gave way, spraying rotting blood over my stomach
and chest. Bone split open with a wet-sounding crack. The Craven went limp. I knew it wouldn’t stay down, but it bought me some time.
Lungs burning, I unwound the chain and kicked the creature away from me. It landed by the archway in a tangled mess of limbs as I relaxed my muscles. The band around my neck was slow to loosen, eventually allowing air into my burning lungs.
I stared at the Craven’s body. At any other time, I would’ve kicked the bastard into the hall like usual, but I was weakening.
I was losing too much blood.
Not a good sign.
Breathing heavily, I looked down. Just below the shadowstone bands, shallow slices ran up the insides of my arms, past both elbows and over the veins. I counted them. Again. Just to be sure.
Thirteen days had passed since the first time the Handmaidens swarmed this cell, dressed in black and as quiet as a tomb. They came once a day to cut into my flesh, siphoning my blood as if I were a damn barrel of fine wine.
A tight, savage smile twisted my mouth. I’d managed to take out three of them in the beginning. Ripped their throats out when they got too close, which was why they’d shortened the chain between my wrists. Only one of them actually stayed dead, though. The damn throats of the other two had stitched themselves closed within minutes—impressive and also infuriating to witness.
Learned something valuable, though.
Not all of the Blood Queen’s Handmaidens were Revenants.
I wasn’t sure how I could use that information yet, but I guessed they were using my blood to make brand-spanking-new Revs. Or using it as a dessert for the lucky.
Tipping back my head against the wall, I tried not to breathe too deeply. If the stench of the downed Craven didn’t choke me, the damn shadowstone around my throat would. I closed my eyes. There had been more days before the Handmaidens showed the first time. How many? I wasn’t exactly sure. Two days? A week? Or—?
I stopped myself there. Shut it the fuck down.
I couldn’t go down that road. I wouldn’t. I’d done that the last time, trying to clock the days and weeks until there came a point when time simply ceased to move. Hours became days. Weeks became years. And my mind became as rotten as the blood seeping from the Craven’s ruined head.
But things were different in the here and now.
The cell was larger, with no barred entrance. Not that there needed to be one with the shadowstone and the chains. They were a mix of iron and deity bone, connected to a hook in the wall and then to a pulley system to lengthen or shorten them. I could sit up and move a little, but that was about it. However, the cell was windowless like before, and the dank, musty smell told me they once again held me underground. The freely roaming Craven were also a new addition.
My eyes opened to thin slits. The fuck by the archway had to be the sixth or seventh one that had found its way into the cell, drawn by the scent of blood. Their appearance made me think there was one hell of a Craven problem aboveground.
I’d heard of Craven attacks inside the Rise surrounding Carsodonia before. Something the Blood Crown blamed on Atlantia and angry gods. I’d always assumed it was due to an Ascended
getting greedy and leaving mortals they’d fed on to turn. Now, I was beginning to think the Craven were possibly being kept down here. Wherever here was. And if that were the case, and they could get out and get aboveground, so could I.
If only I could get these damn chains to loosen. I’d spent an ungodly amount of time pulling on the hook. In all those attempts, it may have slipped a half-inch from the wall—if that. But that wasn’t the only thing different about this time. Other than the Craven, I’d only seen the Handmaidens. I didn’t know what to think about that. I’d figured it’d be like the last time. Too-frequent visits from the Blood Crown and their cronies, where they spent their time taunting and inflicting pain, feeding, and doing whatever they wanted.
Of course, my last go-around with this captivity bullshit hadn’t started that way. The Blood Queen had tried to open my eyes first, coax me to her side. Turn me against my family and my kingdom. When that hadn’t worked, the real fun had begun.
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About Jennifer L. Armentrout
#1 New York Times and #1 International Bestselling author Jennifer lives in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. All the rumors you’ve heard about her state aren’t true. When she’s not hard at work writing. She spends her time reading, watching really bad zombie movies, pretending to write, hanging out with her husband and her Border Jack Apollo. In early 2015, Jennifer was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a group of rare genetic disorders that involve a breakdown and death of cells in the retina, eventually resulting in loss of vision, among other complications. Due to this diagnosis, educating people on the varying degrees of blindness has become of passion of hers, right alongside writing, which she plans to do as long as she can.
Her dreams of becoming an author started in algebra class, where she spent most of her time writing short stories….which explains her dismal grades in math. Jennifer writes young adult paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance. She is published with Tor, HarperCollins Avon and William Morrow, Entangled Teen and Brazen, Disney/Hyperion and Harlequin Teen. Her Wicked Series has been optioned by PassionFlix. Jennifer has won numerous awards, including the 2013 Reviewers Choice Award for Wait for You, the 2015 Editor’s Pick for Fall With Me, and the 2014/2015 Moerser-Jugendbuch- Jury award for Obsidian. Her young adult romantic suspense novel DON’T LOOK BACK was a 2014 nominated Best in Young Adult Fiction by YALSA. Her adult romantic suspense novel TILL DEATH was an Amazon Editor’s Pick and iBook Book of the Month. Her young adult contemporary THE PROBLEM WITH FOREVER is a 2017 RITA Award Winner in Young Adult Fiction. She also writes Adult and New Adult contemporary and paranormal romance under the name J. Lynn. She is published by Entangled Brazen and HarperCollins.
She is the owner of ApollyCon and The Origin Event, the successful annual events that features over a hundred bestselling authors in Young Adult, New Adult, and Adult Fiction, panels, parties, and more.
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