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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Daughter of the Blood (Chapter 3)      Page
  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(3) by Anne Bishop
  • "I didn't tell them, Yasi," the man said hoarsely. "They tried to make me tell, but I didn't. I had that much honor left."

    Lucivar held a cup to the man's lips. "Drink this," he said, his voice a deep murmur, a part of the night.

    "No," the man moaned. "No." He began to cry, a harsh, guttural sound pulled from his ruined throat.

    "Hush, now. Hush. It will help." Supporting the man's head, Lucivar eased the cup between the swollen lips. After two swallows, Lucivar put the cup aside and stroked the man's head with gentle fingertips. "It will help," he crooned.

    "I'm a Warlord of the Blood." When Lucivar offered the cup again, the man took another sip. As his voice got stronger, the words began to slur. "You're a Warlord Prince. Why do they do this to us, Yasi?"

    "Because they have no honor. Because they don't remember what it means to be Blood. The High Priestess of Hayll's influence is a plague that has been spreading across the Realm for centuries, slowly consuming every Territory it touches."

    "Maybe the landens are right, then. Maybe the Blood are evil."

    Lucivar continued stroking the man's forehead and temples. "No. We are what we are. Nothing more, nothing less. There is good and evil among every kind of people. It's the evil among us who rule now."

    "And where are the good among us?" the man asked sleepily.

    Lucivar kissed the top of the man's head. "They've been destroyed or enslaved." He offered the cup. "Finish it, little Brother, and it will be finished."

    After the man took the last swallow, Lucivar used Craft to vanish the cup.

    The man in the boat laughed. "I feel very brave, Yasi."

    "You are very brave."

    "The rats . . . My balls are gone."

    "I know."

    "I cried, Yasi. Before all of them, I cried."

    "It doesn't matter."

    "I'm a Warlord. I shouldn't have cried."

    "You didn't tell. You had courage when you needed it."

    "Zuultah killed the others anyway."

    "She'll pay for it, little Brother. Someday she and the others like her will pay for it all." Lucivar gently massaged the man's neck.

    "Yasi, I—"

    The movement was sudden, the sound sharp.

    Lucivar carefully let the lolling head fall backward and slowly rose to his feet. He could have told them the plan wouldn't work, that the Ring of Obedience could be fine-tuned sufficiently to alert its owner to an inner drawing of strength and purpose. He could have told them the malignant tendrils that kept them enslaved had spread too far, and it would take a sweeter savagery than a man was capable of to free them. He could have told them there were crueler weapons than the Ring to keep a man obedient, that their concern for each other would destroy them, that the only way to escape, for even a little while, was to care for no one, to be alone.

    He could have told them.

    And yet, when they had approached him, timidly, cautiously, eager to ask a man who had broken free again and again over the centuries but was still enslaved, all he had said was, "Sacrifice everything." They had gone away, disappointed, unable to understand he had meant what he'd said. Sacrifice everything. And there was one thing he couldn't—wouldn't—sacrifice.

    How many times after he'd surrendered and been tethered again by that cruel ring of gold around his organ had Daemon found him and pinned him against a wall, snarling with rage, calling him a fool and a coward to give in?

    Liar. Silky, court-trained liar.

    Once, Dorothea SaDiablo had searched desperately for Daemon Sadi after he'd vanished from a court without a trace. It had taken a hundred years to find him, and two thousand Warlords had died trying to recapture him. He could have used that small, savage Territory he had held and conquered half the Realm of Terreille, could have become a tangible threat to Hayll's encroachment and absorption of every people it touched. Instead, he had read a letter Dorothea sent through a messenger. Read it and surrendered.

    The letter had simply said: "Surrender by the new moon. Every day you are gone thereafter, I will take a piece of your brother's body in payment for your arrogance."

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire