The Captain and the Prince is a short scene between Chaol Westfall and Prince Dorian Havilliard, deciding who to sponsor as their Champion. It was published as bonus content in the US paperback version of Throne of Glass.
There’s a special assassin they’ve heard of, but no one knows if she’s fit for the grueling task—or if she’s even alive, for that matter. Their only option is to travel to the Salt Mines and find out…
Dorian Havilliard stood at the window of his tower bedroom, leaning out as far as he dared to catch just a breath of wind on his face. In the distance, the emerald roofs of Rifthold sizzled in the late summer sun, and beyond them, the foothills rolled toward the storm clouds gathering on the western horizon.The rain would be a relief. It had been three weeks of stifling heat, two weeks without a whisper of wind off the Avery, and the reek from the rotting city had now reached even the highest spires of the glass castle. The stench of baking filth was so bad that most of his father’s court had left—either for the sea or for the north. Or both. The heat made the endless string of council meetings and state dinners unbearable, even when encircled by servants fanning them with palm fronds imported from Eyllwe. And if the miserable heat wasn’t enough, the topic of those meetings made Dorian’s temper fray.
Wiping the sweat from his brow on the back of a hand, Dorian shoved up the sleeves of his white shirt to his elbows and faced the Captain of the Guard. Chaol, who had been reading some document or report or other on the couch by the unlit fireplace, looked up. “Well?”
“I’m still thinking about it,” Dorian said, going to the oak table that once had been intended for dining but was now covered in ever-growing stacks of books and papers.
“Your father wanted your decision yesterday.”
No hint of aggression or condescension—just worry. Chaol was always worrying. Even if he rarely showed it. No, even in the heat, Chaol was still wearing his black uniform, still looking crisp and alert and ready to face any threat.
“This … contest”—Dorian spat the word—“is absurd. A waste of gold, a waste of time, a waste of men’s lives.” He reached for the pitcher of water wedged between two piles of books and poured himself and Chaol each a glass. “I don’t even understand why he needs a so-called Champion when he has you and your men. Plus the gods know how many shady people working for him.”
Chaol set down the papers as Dorian handed him the glass, but frowned. “The other councilmen have already selected their Champions. Whether you want to or not, your father’s competition will happen.” Chaol drummed his fingers on the worn fabric of the back of the couch. “If you refuse to play, it will make a statement” A flash of bronze eyes. “And I don’t think it’s the kind of statement you want to make right now.”
Chaol knew—had always known—about Dorian’s tumultuous relationship with his father. Dorian had never been outright rebellious, perhaps because Chaol was usually there to subtly interfere, to keep Dorian from saying or doing something he’d later regret. But each year, each month, each gods-damned day, it was getting harder and harder to submit.
He didn’t know why, exactly. He’d never seen one of those far-off battlefields where his father’s armies still fought to quell any rebel uprisings, had never seen the labor camps at Calculla or Endovier, had never even been in one of his Father’s interrogation chambers, hidden away in Rifthold. Dorian didn’t support the rebels, didn’t want to be a part of anyone’s rebellion, but … Perhaps it was just that he was as much a slave to the crown as the rest of the continent.
Dorian took a long sip of his water. It was already warm.
“If I’m going to be press ganged into this competition,” Dorian mused, more to himself than to his friend, “then I want to win.”
Dorian finished his water. “Who?”
“No. No, they’re too … ordinary.” The other councilmen had picked soldiers and mercenaries and thieves. And if Dorian couldn’t make a statement to his father by refusing to participate, then perhaps …
He went back to the open window to study Rifthold, as if he could see every person and creature winding through the city. He’d never been allowed to roam Rifthold on his own, and the last time he’d had a night out had been a year ago. The party at the riverfront estate remained the most lavish Dorian had ever seen, and Chaol had nearly lost his position when they learned—when his father learned—who had actually been at that party.
Wealthy rebels from the kingdom of Melisande, courtesans from the finest brothel in Adarlan. And mixed in with them all had been thieves, mercenaries, and assassins. Not just any assassins, gods above, but Arobynn Hamel, King of the Assassins, and his cabal of notorious killers. Dorian had unwittingly danced and drank with them all, and Chaol, who had been told the estate belonged to the visiting emissary from Melisande, had let him remain there for hours. No one had known who either of them were, thanks to masks they’d donned at another party earlier that night, but … Even now, Dorian couldn’t suppress a chill at the thought of whom he might have been dancing with, whom he might have clinked glasses with …
For a heartbeat, Dorian could have sworn he felt a cool northern wind on his face, faintly scented with pine and snow. He leaned his head out the window, trying to catch some more of it, but only the relentless, beating sunshine greeted him. He loosed a sigh and again studied the city.
Arobynn Hamel would be a good Champion, but the man had no incentive to participate. They probably wouldn’t even be able to find him. Or come out of that meeting alive. But …
Chaol just stared at him with narrowed brows.
It had been almost a year since the infamous assassin had been captured, tried, and sentenced to a lifetime of labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier. Dorian and Chaol had been in the seaside town of Suria when it happened, and though they’d raced back to Rifthold, by the time they’d returned, she was gone. The guards who had watched her had all been conveniently reassigned to border outposts, and his father had sealed each and every document regarding her capture. Or anything about her. Even the papers had little information, save for a list of victims and her punishment. They didn’t even know how old she was.
“No,” Chaol said—quietly but laced with a building temper.
Dorian angled his head. “Rumor claimed Sardothien was the best. Who better to be my father’s Champion? Besides, I heard she was pretty, too.” He grinned. “Why not have something pleasant to look at during the competition?”
“She’s probably dead,” Chaol repeated and crossed his arms. They had fought before—many times. And in this horrible heat … Dorian shoved his own temper down.
“If my father had all the documents about her capture and trial locked away, then he probably gave an order for all inquiries about her to be ignored.”
“The question is why, though.”
Dorian shook his head. “Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe whoever—whatever—she is threatens him. Or undermines him in some way.” He glanced again to the window, to the land beyond the city, and smiled slightly. “And if no one will answer your letters, then perhaps we should just go see for ourselves if she’s alive or not.”
“And if she’s still capable of work.”
Dorian grimaced. After a year in a place like Endovier, it’d be a miracle if she still breathed. He hadn’t even considered the damage to her body. “I’m sure a few months of good food and exercise will help her recover.”
“That won’t mean anything if she’s broken in other ways.”
“You mean if she’s still sane.”
A half smile, edged with no little amount of disgust. “If she was even sane to begin with.”
“I’m going with you, so don’t even start trying to convince me to stay here.” Dorian couldn’t keep the snap from his voice. Gods, just the thought of getting out of the castle, getting away from his father, even for a month …
Chaol held up his hands. “It’s my job to at least attempt to keep you safe. And even if I say yes to your accompanying me, your father still has to agree. And I’ll have some conditions of my own.”
Dorian rolled his eyes. He might as well be living in the royal nursery. “Leave my father to me.”
“That’s what I’m worried about.”
Dorian opened his mouth to object but found a faint smirk on Chaol’s face. Perhaps the captain wanted to get out of the castle for a while, too. “So you’re really not going to put up a fight about hunting down Sardothien?”
“I’ve learned to pick my battles with you.”
He studied his friend. “Let’s hear your conditions, then.”
Chaol’s smile faded, and he took a seat on the back of the couch. “We travel with my men—men picked by me.” Dorian nodded. That was fine. And smart, if Terrasen’s rebels were indeed restless. “This journey might be your idea, but I’ll be the one leading it.” Dorian tensed a bit at that but nodded again. “And,” Chaol added, “when we get to Endovier, if I think it’s too dangerous to take her out of the mines, then you’ll yield.”
Dorian straightened. “So you get final say about whether she’s suitable?”
A terse nod. “I’m not questioning your judgment—”
“Oh, I think all of your conditions say quite the opposite.”
A flash of ire, then a shake of his head. “I’m not going to get into an argument with you about it. If you don’t like the terms, then pick another Champion.”
What Chaol didn’t need to say was that if he refused to escort him, no other guard would dare cross the captain’s orders to bring Dorian to Endovier. And Chaol also wasn’t above going to Dorian’s father to ensure that his order became a royal command.
Chaol loosed a breath. Then another. Judging, weighing, calculating. When Chaol had that contemplative look on his face, it was impossible to tell what he’d decide. Keeping Dorian and this castle safe was his first priority, but Dorian knew that he also considered their friendship to be almost as important, and sometimes weighed it in his decisions. Even if, as it had last year, it sometimes got him in trouble.
A pointed look.
Dorian lifted his eyes to the stone ceiling. “Fine, fine. I promise.”
Chaol finished off the jug of water, and both of them approached the window to stare out across the sweeping city.
“If my father says yes,” Dorian added, already wondering how he could approach the king about it.
“I have a feeling you’ll find a way to convince him,” Chaol said, a hint of a smile in his voice.
Thunder grumbled in the distance, the clouds sweeping closer, and Dorian could have sworn he heard all of Rifthold sigh in relief. He again wiped the sweat from his brow and grinned. “To Endovier, then.”