Setting: The Spring Court
Summary: An unexpected attack on the manor leaves Lucien questioning matters of honor.
Word Count: 2,333
A/N: This fic is relevant parts of ACOWAR from Lucien’s perspective. I may not do every single scene, but beware of spoilers if you haven’t finished ACOWAR! The following is Chapter 8 of ACOWAR. Trigger warning for violence and trauma.
CHAPTER SEVEN – DISHONORED
“Sound the alarm!” The voices shouted down the corridor and
roused me from a shallow sleep. I was dressed and snatching daggers before the
call could be heard a second time. I raced down the stairs and encountered
Tamlin in the foyer.
“Naga,” he said through gritted teeth. I cursed in response.
Tamlin shifted into his beast form and bounded out the doors. I followed right
behind him, falling in with a group of sentries who were on duty. The nasty
creatures were loping through the gardens, destroying property and getting ever
nearer to the manor.
I almost halted in my tracks. “Feyre!” I exclaimed, looking
back over my shoulder.
“We already have guards stationed there,” another sentry,
Rohan, assured me. I nodded tersely and drew my sword, throwing myself into the
nearest cluster of naga that were assaulting the guards. They cackled and
squealed in delight as they spilled blood, and the sounds clanged through my
body as I remembered hearing them Under the Mountain. My muscles stretched in
tension and it took all my training to keep the panic from drawing away my
We were a well-trained unit, and it was easy to route the
naga with Tamlin leading the charge. But by the time we had stopped the threat
and found the biggest of the group clinging to the keys that had disappeared
from the barracks, we were all stressed and exhausted.
Tamlin raged about the lost keys—the ones he’d been informed
about but hadn’t taken the time to have found again. He swore to us all that
someone would pay dearly for it, and I saw the terror lighting the eyes of the
remaining sentries. Despite the fact that Tamlin knew I wasn’t responsible, I
couldn’t help but feel myself aligned with the sentries. I served with them, I
loved them like found family … and I hated to see what dawn would bring.
Instead of going back to my room, I returned to the barracks with the sentries,
listening to their fears, watching them try and sort through what had happened.
And I had been there when one of the younger sentries, Gareth, realized that
the set of keys that had gone missing had been his. He slumped down in his
chair, staring wide-eyed at nothing, and did not respond when the others tried
to snap him out of it.
“What have I done?” he murmured. “What have I done?”
Over and over again.
I didn’t leave his side all night.
I returned to the manor early enough that Tamlin didn’t
realize I’d spent the night in the barracks. He didn’t remark on the bags under
my eyes, but I didn’t expect him to. They were more common than not these days.
I couldn’t remember the last time I’d gotten a full night’s sleep.
When ordered, I followed him and Feyre, along with Ianthe
and the delegation from Hybern, out to the barracks, where the other sentries
had already bound Gareth to the whipping post. He had accepted his fate—I knew
he hadn’t struggled against them. But now, as he saw Tamlin prowling toward
him, I saw fear light his face again.
There was little preamble as Tamlin began the proceedings.
“You were entrusted with guarding this estate and its people,” Tamlin said.
“You were found not only asleep at the gate last night, but it was your set of keys that originally went
missing. Do you deny this?”
“I—I never fall
asleep. It’s never happened until now. I must have just nodded off for a minute
or two,” Gareth said. He had said as much last night, and I had asked the
others if he spoke the truth. They all told me that they’d never seen him shirk
“You jeopardized the
lives of everyone in this manor.” Tamlin’s voice was cold and imperious. Bron
placed the whip into his waiting hand, stonefaced.
Beside me, Feyre
gripped my hand. I couldn’t look at her—my eyes had fixed on the whip in
Tamlin’s hand, and I was suddenly in another place and time. Under my shirt,
the lines across my back, bestowed by Tamlin himself, back to ache as though
they remembered. My throat was dried and my sleepless eyes burned.
I was drawn out of it
somewhat by Ianthe’s insipid voice. “Twenty lashes. And one more, for the
Cauldron’s forgiveness.” My stomach clenched—that could very well be enough to
kill him, with Tamlin’s strength. The other sentries shifted; they knew it,
“It was her,” Gareth suddenly said, his maple-brown eyes
turning to the priestess. “She took the keys.”
I stared at Ianthe, wanting to rage—but there was not enough
evidence. I could believe Gareth all I wanted to, and I knew the other sentries
were likely to believe him. But Tamlin? Unlikely, especially given that she
hardly batted an eye at the claim. “Why should I take the keys? I warned you of
“You were at the barracks—I saw you that night,” Gareth
said. His voice was thin and pleading, and my heart ached for him. It would be
all too easy for me to believe that Ianthe had orchestrated this. I wanted to
tell Gareth that he was doing well, that this would pass, but … I couldn’t
promise that. My scars still lingered, after all.
“I would have thought one of your sentries, Tamlin, would
have more dignity than to spread lies to spare himself from some fleeting
I wanted to bare my teeth at her. Fleeting pain? Had she ever laid beneath the sting of a whip
wielded by a High Lord? Twenty-one lashes were not fleeting. It would be enough to rip open his back raw and bloody.
It might even bare his spine if the whip cut deep enough—and judging from
Gareth’s thin frame, it was a very real possibility. I opened my mouth to
demand if Ianthe knew what in the Cauldron’s name she was talking about, when
Feyre said, “I will hear his story.”
I closed my eyes in silent relief, but I forced them open
again before I would be unable to. Feyre released my hand and stepped forward.
Some of the sentries regarded her with gratefulness. None of them wanted to see
their brother-at-arms dishonored.
“With all due respect, milady, it is not your judgment to
make,” Ianthe said, and Rohan cast her a glare. She was Feyre Cursebreaker,
Cauldron-Blessed. She was not merely some pretty thing on Tamlin’s arm. The sentries,
who had been trapped Under the Mountain with us, had not forgotten.
Feyre simply repeated, “I will hear your story.”
“You’ll take the word of a sentry over that of a High
Priestess?” Ianthe blurted, showing a slight break in her composure. Looking at
Rohan, Bron, and Hart, I knew it was enough for them. Enough to prove that she
had framed their brother.
I reluctantly looked at Tamlin, and I saw the realization in
his face, too. Would it be enough?
Feyre approached him with upturned palms. “Perhaps it was a
mistake. Don’t take it from his hide—or his honor. Let’s hear him out.”
Then another voice joined the tense air of the barracks.
“Pathetic,” Princess Brannagh scoffed. I could hazard a guess that in Hybern,
Gareth would be dead already.
I cursed silently as I saw the resolution settle onto Tamlin’s
face. He would not be proved weak in front of the royals, in front of Jurian.
“There are laws to be obeyed,” Ianthe told Feyre in a tone
that could be called soothing. “Traditions. He has broken our trust, has let
our blood be spilled for his carelessness. Now he seeks to accuse a High
Priestess of his failings. It cannot go unpunished.” As she spoke, the decision
set more firmly on Tamlin’s features. “Twenty-one lashes, High Lord.”
My heart stopped for a moment. How dare she? How dare she gives orders to a High Lord of Prythian? I
wanted to throw her out of this coat on her pert ass, and I could tell the
other sentries felt the same.
Feyre, also, seemed appalled. “Please. Just listen to him.”
There was an awful moment of silence as her request hung in
the air. But then Tamlin turned once more to Bron. “Put the bit in.”
I stiffened as I watched Bron shove the strip of leather
between Gareth’s teeth. My body remembered it so keenly it was as though he was
shoving it between my teeth again, like I was the one strung up between those
poles. From the look in Bron’s eyes, I knew he’d be begging Gareth’s
forgiveness for years to come.
I was startled when I suddenly felt Feyre back into my
chest. I didn’t look at her. My eyes were fixed solely on Tamlin, lost in the
horror of the past and the present. My hands rested on her arms to steady her,
but it was to steady myself just as much.
Gareth’s choked cry as the first lash struck him was like a
fish hook in my gut. With every lash that followed, my back burned in memory.
These were not scars that would easily fade.
The damage to Gareth’s back was nearly as bad as I expected.
Despite the determination to endure that had lit his eyes early one, he had
passed out little more than halfway through. I didn’t blame him. None of us
Bron’s eyes were glassy with tears of rage as he helped Hart
carry Gareth back inside. Now that the grip of panic had faded, I could
remember—Gareth had been Bron’s protegee when he’d first come to the estate
thirty years ago. He was perhaps the youngest sentry, and he had come despite
knowing that Amarantha was breathing down the court’s neck, despite knowing
that he might be called to give his life across the wall. Bron had trained him
personally, and now …
The older sentry sat in the corner, unable to be near the
young male he cared for so deeply. Feyre had stayed—of course she had. She now
aided the healer, who was slowly mending Gareth’s back. The healer, Asa, was
good, but she wouldn’t be able to restore Gareth completely. There would still
be scars, like mine.
“He’ll never be the same,” Bron said to me hoarsely. I’d
brought him a quart of ale, knowing it was the least I could do. “He has worked
so hard to pass through training, to make a name for himself.”
“Not one of you thinks less of him for this, do you?” I
said, fixing my gaze on Bron.
“Of course not,” Bron rasped. “But he’ll think we do. Won’t
matter what we say.”
I went quiet and watched Feyre and Asa work. Eventually, Asa
told Feyre there was nothing more she could do. Bron stood and walked toward
her before I could say anything. “Allow me, milday,” he said, offering her his
arm. She nodded solemnly and accepted it. Hart joined him in escorting her back
to the manor. My eyes fell on Gareth, laid out on his stomach while his cleaned
back slowly healed. The fears Bron had shared with me resonated in my mind, and
I stood from my stool in the corner. I wavered on my legs a little, but the
wave of exhausted passed and I stalked across the room toward him.
Gareth looked up at me with bleary eyes. “Please, Lucien,”
he said in a hoarse voice, “Don’t disgrace yourself with me. It was bad enough
that Lady Feyre did.”
“It is no disgrace,” I said sharply. “Not a single one of
your brother-at-arms blames you for what happened. They see the truth.”
“I’m not even sure I know the truth anymore,” Gareth
murmured. “The only thing I know is that I am dishonored—I’ll be leaving for my
father’s house as soon as I can move.”
“Not if I have anything to say about it,” I said. He blinked
at me. “You forget that you’re not the only one Lord Tamlin has whipped.” My
face was grave as I pulled off my shirt and turned around in front of Gareth,
baring my ugly red scars before him. The young sentry blanched.
“That—that wasn’t the same. That was Amarantha—”
“I was not to blame for that, just as you are not to blame
for this,” I insisted, turning around again. “Your honor is not determined by
those in whose name your serve, but by those among whom your serve. Your
brothers-at-arms, your fellow citizens—those who know you best.” I grimaced as
I pulled my shirt back on. “If my honor was determined by the former, I would
have never found a place in this court. I’ve been a dishonor to my family my
whole life. That is not what matters. I was given a place here, a chance to
prove myself and earn the trust of those around me. You have earned the trust
of these sentries, Gareth. A conniving bitch of a priestess will not be able to
take that away from you.”
Tears slipped from Gareth’s eyes. I wished I could comfort
him, but he was still in far too much pain. “Thank you, Lucien,” he rasped.
“Bron is proud of you,” I said. “Andras would have been,
too. Don’t leave—you’re sorely needed here.”
Gareth’s throat bobbed and he nodded as much as he could
without jarring his back.
“Get some rest and heal as much as you can,” I instructed. “We’ll
get you back on duty as soon as you’re fit.”
Gareth let out a shuddering sigh, but he was too tired to
form words. I carded my fingers through his hair once, and then I left him
alone to rest. Though he feared his honor lost, I knew he had earned my
respect. And I wouldn’t let him forget it.