Chapter 36 

The guards drag Feyre to an arena filled with a rowdy crowd. They throw her in front of a platform where Amarantha and Tamlin are seated, surrounded by the six other High Lords of Prythian. A winged creature drops Feyre into a deep, muddy maze. The maze holds a giant worm with a mouth full of rows of sharp teeth. Feyre runs from the creature in the slippery mud. Eventually, Feyre realizes the worm is blind. She also realizes that the maze is littered with bones, which she uses to make a ladder up the muddy walls. Feyre lines the bottom of a pit with sharp bones, covers herself with mud so the worm can’t smell her, then climbs out of the pit. Rhysand realizes Feyre’s plan and smiles at her from the audience. Feyre runs toward the worm, cutting her hand so the creature will smell her blood. As she runs, unaware of the worm’s location, Lucien warns her that it’s on her left, just before the creature bursts through the wall of mud. She lures it to the pit. The worm follows her and gets impaled on the bone spikes. Feyre has survived Amarantha’s first challenge. Amarantha tells Feyre the whole court bet against her, except for one individual. As Feyre returns to her cell, she realizes her arm is badly broken.  

Chapter 37 

Alone in her cell, Feyre worries that her wound has become infected. Rhysand appears and Feyre rebuffs him. He tells her he bet on her to win the first challenge and she made him a lot of money. He offers to heal her arm if she’ll spend two weeks each month with him in the Night Court. He tells Feyre that Amarantha punished Lucien for helping her during the trial. Though she’s in terrible pain, Feyre tells Rhysand to go to hell. Just before Rhysand leaves, she has second thoughts. She says she’ll spend five days at the Night Court. They agree on one week. He grabs her arm, ridding her of the pain, fever, and mud. Feyre lifts her left arm to find it covered from fingertips to elbow with a black, swirly tattoo featuring an eye in the middle of her palm. Feyre accuses Rhysand of tricking her and he taunts her with the idea of telling Tamlin. Rhysand vanishes. 

Chapter 38 

Feyre faces the task of scrubbing a white marble hallway with a bucket of dirty water. The guards threaten to roast her over the fire if she doesn’t get the floor clean by supper. The Lady of the Autumn Court visits her. She turns the bucket of water clean to thank Feyre for saving Lucien, her son, from Amarantha’s wrath. The next day, the guards give Feyre the task of cleaning lentils out of the ash in a fireplace. They tell her if she fails, the chamber’s occupant will peel off her skin. Rhysand appears and asks why she’s digging in his fireplace. He tells her that only scraps of his power remain. He also tells her that all High Lords can shapeshift and he shows her his batlike wings. Feyre asks Rhysand if he knows the answer to the riddle, but Amarantha has forbidden anyone from helping her. Impressed that she had the nerve to ask, he uses his magic to separate the lentils and cleans the ashes off of her. He orders the guards not to touch Feyre or give her any more chores. Rhysand smiles at her as she walks out. 


The first task Feyre faces is a literal and metaphorical game for her survival. The maze layout, the crowd of spectators, and the bets placed on Feyre’s performance illustrate that Amarantha is the cruel master of the game. Amarantha knows of Feyre’s skills as a huntress and finds cruel amusement in forcing Feyre into the role of prey. Sensory details like the squelching sound of the mud, the horrible smells of rotting death, and the slithering, slurping, and gnashing noises of the creature bring the macabre game to life. Feyre turns from underdog to winner as she resumes her huntress role, showing she’s not willing to become the worm’s next meal or Amarantha’s discarded toy. When Amarantha accuses Feyre of ruining the fun for the court, it reveals that while this life-or-death challenge is little more than amusement for the crowd, for Feyre, it’s a matter of survival. 

Rhysand reveals himself to be an unlikely ally in these chapters. His revelation that he was the one who bet on Feyre to win suggests he may not be on Amarantha’s side. Rhysand’s offer to heal Feyre’s arm comes with the conditions, however, suggesting that he’s not totally on Feyre’s side either. Though she recalls Alis’s warning against striking any bargains, Feyre realizes her healing is a matter of life or death. Though her desperation to stay alive may be playing into Rhysand’s hands, Feyre has no choice but to agree. Feyre’s counteroffer of five days highlights that she refuses to entirely give up her autonomy even when the deck is stacked against her. The tattoo on Feyre’s arm and eye on her palm mark their deal, but also reveal that Rhysand is motivated by a desire to be cruel to Tamlin. Rhysand’s endgame is clear only to him at this stage in the novel. 

The assistance Feyre receives from unlikely sources stands in stark opposition to the characterization of faeries as purely cruel and evil. Lucien keeps his promise to protect Feyre, helping her during the first challenge even when it puts him in grave danger. While his motives may be suspect, Rhysand demonstrates his assistance by healing Feyre’s arm and magically helping her separate the lentils from the ashes in his fireplace. The Lady of the Court repays Feyre for revealing her name to spare Lucien, illustrating an unexpected show of respect and support when she transforms the dirty water in the bucket. Feyre’s cell Under the Mountain keeps her physically isolated, but as she works to save Tamlin, members of her unlikely support system provide a glimmer of hope.