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  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(2) by Anne Bishop
  • Frustration fills his golden eyes. "What Queen? Who is coming?"

    "The living myth," I whisper. "Dreams made flesh."

    His shock is replaced instantly by a fierce hunger. "You're sure?"

    The room is a swirling mist. He's the only thing still in sharp focus. He's the only thing I need. "I saw her in the tangled web, Daemon. I saw her."

    I'm too tired to hang on to the real world, but I stubbornly cling to his hands to tell him one last thing. "The Eyrien, Daemon."

    He glances at Lucivar. "What about him?"

    "He's your brother. You are your father's sons."

    I can't hold on anymore and plunge into the madness that's called the Twisted Kingdom. I fall and fall among the shards of myself. The world spins and shatters. In its fragments, I see my once-Sisters pouring around the tables, frightened and intent, and Daemon's hand casually reaching out, as if by accident, destroying the fragile spidersilk of my tangled web.

    It's impossible to reconstruct a tangled web. Terreille's Black Widows may spend year upon frightened year trying, but in the end it will be in vain. It will not be the same web, and they will not see what I saw.

    In the gray world above, I hear myself howling with laughter. Far below me, in the psychic abyss that is part of the Darkness, I hear another howling, one full of joy and pain, rage and celebration.

    Not just another witch coming, my foolish Sisters, but Witch.

    PART 1



    Lucivar Yaslana, the Eyrien half-breed, watched the guards drag the sobbing man to the boat. He felt no sympathy for the condemned man who had led the aborted slave revolt. In the Territory called Pruul, sympathy was a luxury no slave could afford.

    He had refused to participate in the revolt. The ringleaders were good men, but they didn't have the strength, the backbone, or the balls to do what was needed. They didn't enjoy seeing blood run.

    He had not participated. Zuultah, the Queen of Pruul, had punished him anyway.

    The heavy shackles around his neck and wrists had already rubbed his skin raw, and his back was a throbbing ache from the lash. He spread his dark, membranous wings, trying to ease the ache in his back.

    A guard immediately prodded him with a club, then retreated, skittish, at his soft hiss of anger.

    Unlike the other slaves who couldn't contain their misery or fear, there was no expression in Lucivar's gold eyes, no psychic scent of emotions for the guards to play with as they put the sobbing man into the old, one-man boat. No longer seaworthy, the boat showed gaping holes in its rotten wood, holes that only added to its value now.

    The condemned man was small and half-starved. It still took six guards to put him into the boat. Five guards held the man's head, arms, and legs. The last guard smeared bacon grease on the man's genitals before sliding a wooden cover into place. It fit snugly over the boat, with holes cut out for the head and hands. Once the man's hands were tied to iron rings on the outside of the boat, the cover was locked into place so that no one but the guards could remove it.

    One guard studied the imprisoned man and shook his head in mock dismay. Turning to the others, he said, "He should have a last meal before being put to sea."

    The guards laughed. The man cried for help.

    One by one, the guards carefully shoved food into the man's mouth before herding the other slaves to the stables where they were quartered.

    "You'll be entertained tonight, boys," a guard yelled, laughing. "Remember it the next time you decide to leave Lady Zuultah's service."

    Lucivar looked over his shoulder, then looked away.

    Drawn by the smell of food, the rats slipped into the gaping holes in the boat.

    The man in the boat screamed.

    Clouds scudded across the moon, gray shrouds hiding its light. The man in the boat didn't move. His knees were open sores, bloody from kicking the top of the boat in his effort to keep the rats away. His vocal cords were destroyed from screaming.

    Lucivar knelt behind the boat, moving carefully to muffle the sound of the chains.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire