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Celaena Sardothien is her kingdom’s most feared assassin. Though she works for the powerful and ruthless Assassin’s Guild, Celaena yields to no one and trusts only her fellow killer for hire, Sam.

When Celaena's scheming master, Arobynn Hamel, dispatches her on missions that take her from remote islands to hostile deserts, she finds herself acting independently of his wishes—and questioning her own allegiance. Along the way, she makes friends and enemies alike, and discovers that she feels far more for Sam than just friendship. But by defying Arobynn’s orders, Celaena risks unimaginable punishment, and with Sam by her side, he is in danger, too. They will have to risk it all if they hope to escape Arobynn’s clutches—and if they fail, they’ll lose not just a chance at freedom, but their lives . . .

A prequel to Throne of Glass, this collection of five novellas offers readers a deeper look into the history of this cunning assassin and her enthralling—and deadly—world.

Chapter 1

    Celaena has been led through the Red Desert for the last two weeks by a nomad.  It was a long, difficult journey, not just because of the heat, but because some of the areas of the desert were very dangerous to cross.  Eventually, the nomad stops, points to the westward horizon, and tells her that the Sessiz Suikast is two miles that way, and that he would go no further.

    Hours later, Celaena makes it to the fortress.  She stays aware of her surroundings as she is led to the Mute Master.  She is surprised by how noisy the fortress is, with the clatter of weapons, buzzing of insects, the birds and the gurgle of water that flows in every room.

    When she gets to the Mute Master, she is shocked, because she was sure he would be ancient.  He is middle-aged, with brown skin and green eyes, and wears white robes. Celaena notes that her escort bows, so she does so as well.  The Mute Master looks her up and down and nods.  Her escort elbows her to her her to say something.

    Celaena introduces herself and explains that Arobynn Hamel sends her to him, beseeching him to train her.  Celaena silently fumes at this, because she doesn't think she needs the training, and it's insulting.  The Mute Master comes forward and places his finger on Celaena's chin, tilting her head up.  Celaena knows that this is a test - that he can snap her neck in seconds and she is trusting him not to.  He pushes back her hair and looks over her still bruised face, and seems displeased.  He releases her and steps back.  He motions for her to rise and gives her a crooked smile, before snapping his fingers, which signals for 4 assassin's to charge at her.

Chapter 2

    Celaena fights all four men, and while she is exhausted from her journey and dehydrated, she manages to take all four men down.  She knows she has to, as this is another test from the Mute Master to accept her into the fortress.  Assassin's that were hidden in the shadows step out, and they do not nod at her when she acknowledges them.

    Her skills bring a smile to the master's face, but also to a young woman who has made herself visible.  Celaena describes her as the most beautiful woman she has ever seen.  She had wine-red hair, red-brown eyes, and is wearing intricate, ornate armor. 

    The Mute Master claps a hand over Celaena shoulder and waves over the young woman.  After a few hand gestures, the woman introduces herself as Ansel of Briarcliff, and they are to be roommates.  She tells Celaena that the master is allowing her to start training the next day at dawn.  She offers to show Celaena to the baths so she can get cleaned up.

    As Celaena follows Ansel through the halls of the fortress, she studies her movements, but they are hard to read because of the armor.  She feels awkward, as she isn't used to being around other girls that aren't courtesans that Aro invites over the the guild.  While Celaena studies Ansel, Ansel does the same with her.  She says she thought that Celaena Sardothien would be more dramatic, and Celaena apologizes for disappointing her.

    When Ansel see's Celaena watching the children run from room to room with brooms and clothes, Ansel explains that the children ages 8-12 clean up after the older acolytes, to teach them "responsibility and humility."  Celaena asks how old Ansel was when she came to the fortress, and she tells her she was barely thirteen, and she is now eighteen.  Celaena asks what its like to train with the Mute Master, and Ansel admits bitterly that he has never personally trained her.

    Celaena asks Ansel where she is from, and she says she is from Briarcliff, located in the Flatlands.  Celaena tells her she has never heard of the Flatlands, and Ansel explains it was formerly called the Witch Kingdom - that Celaena does know.  Ansel than tells Celaena that she is at the fortress because her father - Lord Briarcliff - sent her there to make herself useful.  

    Celaena asks Ansel if she gets hot in all the armor, and Ansel admits that she does, but its striking and makes her stand out from the rest of the acolytes.  When Celaena inquires where she got it, Ansel explains that she had it made before arriving at the fortress, and that the sword is her fathers.      When Ansel asks Celaena how many people she has killed, Celaena is bothered by the question, as she doesn't feel like its something to brag about.  She tells Ansel it's not her concern, but Ansel says it would be easy to find out, because every time someone turned up dead that she was contracted to kill, word got around.  Celaena knows this is because while she didn't spread that information around, Arobynn used his connections to get the word out, which is why she is so infamous.  

    Ansel drops Celaena off at the baths, and tells her that when she is done, to grab another acolyte to show her to their room, where she can rest.  She will come get her for dinner and show her where to go.  Celaena sinks into the cold bath, but takes care to hide the bruises on her body.  Thinking of how she got the bruises, she simmers in anger and sorrow, and wonders about Sam.

                                                                           *****

    Celaena and Ansel's room is tiny.  Her things were unpacked for her, which she doesn't love.  She notes that Ansel's side of the room is very sparse, despite being there for over five years.  All she has is a small iron wolf figurine on the bedside table, and a human size dummy she figured help Ansel's armor when she wasn't wearing it.  In Ansel's drawers, all there were was burgundy and white tunics and pants, and plain white underwear.  She thinks of her own wardrobe in Rifthold.  Her closet is enormous, and exploding with color. 

    While thinking of Rifthold, she starts thinking about that night.

                                                                           *****

    Celaena had never seen Arobynn so angry.  He didn't yell or curse.  He went still and quiet.  His rage showed in his eyes.  She was terrified, and didn't speak because she didn't want Arobynn to heard the trembling in her voice.  When Arobynn got up from his desk, she hearts Sam suck in a breath.

    Arobynn asks Celaena if she knows how much money she just cost him.  Her hands start to sweat, but when she thinks about what she did, she knows it was worth it.

    Sam starts to say it wasn't just her fault.  That both of them thought it was wrong, but Arobynn interrupts him, and tells Sam not to lie to him.  He says he only got hooked in because she was the one who planned it, and it was either help her or let her die.  When Sam goes to object when Arobynn whistles. 

    Wesley pokes his head in, and Arobynn tells him to get Tern, Mullin and Harding.  Celaena knew that wasn't a good sign, but she keeps her face neutral.  When the men come in, Aro tells Harding to close the door, then tells Tern and Mullin to hold Sam.  Sam is dragged from the chair, hands behind his back, and Harding stood in front of him with his fists flexing.  Celaena says no while staring into Sam's wide eyes.

    Celaena held her head high as Arobynn tells her that she won't enjoy what is coming, and she won't forget it.  That he doesn't want her to forget.  Celaena looks at Sam and is about to beg Harding not to hurt Sam when Arobynn hits her so hard she falls out of her chair.  Arobynn grabs her collar and hits her again.

    Sam screams at Arobynn as he continues to punch her.  She can taste the blood in her mouth, but she doesn't dare fight back.  She can see Sam struggling to get free, but he can't.  Arobynn continues his punching, being careful to inflict injuries that caused the most pain without scarring her.  She can hear Sam still screaming, but she can't focus enough on what he is saying.

    Before she passes out, she feels a stab of guilt over her blood staining the carpet, and then feels relieved that at least she won't have to watch Sam get hurt.

    

Chapter 3

    Celaena dresses in her nicest tunic, and puts on some cosmetics to her eyes, but not much because she knows the heat will melt it off.  Ansel picks her up not too long after to take her to dinner.  On the walk there, she asks Celaena questions about her journey.  She kept her answers brief because she didn't know where in the fortress she wasn't allowed to talk.

    When they enter the dining hall, Celaena takes note of all the entrances and exits.  Ansel sits at a table and pats the spot next to her.  When Celaena sits down, Ansel introduces Celaena to those sitting there, including Mikhail.  Ansel starts filling Celaena's plate, and tells her to eat - that it's good, and not poisoned.  Celaena didn't eat, wanting to wait to make sure it wasn't poisoned.  

    They start talking, and Lord Berick is brought up.  When Celaena asks who he is, Ansel explains that he is the ruler of Xandria, and that he claims the part of the Red Desert that the Fortress sits on.  Lord Berick wants the Mute Master dead and the rest of the assassins dead, but they are too smart to be taken out by poison.  Ansel explains that every couple of months Lord Berick sends men to the fortress and tries to stage an attack, and it never works.

    Mikhail and Ansel soon start bantering with one another while eating, but Ansel takes a moment to dump more food on Celaena's plate.

    Mikhail tells Celaena that Ansel knows Lord Berick better than most, as she is the one the Mute Master sends to meet with him every so often to negotiate peace.  

    Celaena starts to eat after feeling like enough time passed and the others hadn't died yet.  She observes the other acolytes in the dining hall, and can't believe how many people are here from different places in the world.  She couldn't get over that the room was filled with trained killers, yet everyone had this aura of peace and joy.  As Celaena looks over the people, she settles on the foreign dignitaries and asks about them.  Ansel explains that they are there to bid on assassins.  Mikhail further explains that every assassin has the choice to come and go from the fortress, and what jobs they take.  Celaena asks if they are willing to leave.  Ansel says no, as her father would beat her if she aligned with another court, and Mikhail says maybe one day, but right now he has a reason to stay, while looking at Ansel.  

    Celaena feels someone watching her, and when she looks up, she see's a handsome young man sitting farther down the table stealing glances of her.  When their eyes meet, he smiles at her.  It makes her think of Sam, and this is the first time she thinks of Sam as desirable.  Ansel tells Celaena that his name is Ilias, and he is the Mute Master's son.  She is surprised that he is taking notice of Celaena, since he is mostly focused on training and meditation, but since Celaena is pretty, she shouldn't be surprised.  She assumes that Celaena has a lot of suitors in Rifthold and Celaena tells her that is not the case.

    

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