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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Daughter of the Blood (Chapter 4)      Page
  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(4) by Anne Bishop
  • Lucivar shook himself, trying to dislodge the unwelcome thoughts. In some ways, memories were worse than the lash, for they led to thoughts of Askavi, with its mountains rising to cut the sky and its valleys filled with towns, farms, and forests. Not that Askavi was that fertile anymore, having been raped for too many centuries by those who took but never gave anything back. Still, it was home, and centuries of enslaved exile had left him aching for the smell of clean mountain air, the taste of a sweet, cold stream, the silence of the woods, and, most of all, the mountains where the Eyrien race soared.

    But he was in Pruul, that hot, scrubby desert wasteland, serving that bitch Zuultah because he couldn't hide his disgust for Prythian, Askavi's High Priestess, couldn't leash his temper enough to serve witches he despised.

    Among the Blood, males were meant to serve, not to rule. He had never challenged that, despite the number of witches he'd killed over the centuries. He had killed them because it was an insult to serve them, because he was an Eyrien Warlord Prince who wore Ebon-gray Jewels and refused to believe that serving and groveling meant the same thing. Because he was a half-breed bastard, he had no hope of attaining a position of authority within a court, despite the rank of his Jewels. Because he was a trained Eyrien warrior and had a temper that was explosive even for a Warlord Prince, he had even less hope of being allowed to live outside the social chains of a court.

    And he was caught, as all Blood males were caught. There was something bred into them that made them crave service, that compelled them to bond in some way with a Blood-Jeweled female.

    Lucivar twitched his shoulder and sucked air through his teeth as a lash wound reopened. When he gingerly touched the wound, his hand came away wet with fresh blood.

    He bared his teeth in a bitter smile. What was that old saying? A wish, offered with blood, is a prayer to the Darkness.

    He closed his eyes, raised his hand toward the night sky, and turned inward, descending into the psychic abyss to the depth of his Ebon-gray Jewels so that this wish would remain private, so that no one in Zuultah's court could hear the sending of this thought.

    Just once, I'd like to serve a Queen I could respect, someone I could truly believe in. A strong Queen who wouldn't fear my strength. A Queen I could also call a friend.

    Dryly amused by his own foolishness, Lucivar wiped his hand on his baggy cotton pants and sighed. It was a shame that the pronouncement Tersa had made seven hundred years ago had been nothing more than a mad delusion. For a while, it had given him hope. It had taken him a long time to realize that hope was a bitter thing.

    "Hello?"

    Lucivar looked toward the stables where the slaves were quartered. The guards would make their nightly check soon. He'd take another minute to savor the night air, even if it smelled hot and dusty, before returning to the filthy cell with its bed of dirty, bug-infested straw, before returning to the stink of fear, unwashed bodies, and human waste.

    "Hello?"

    Lucivar turned in a slow circle, his physical senses alert, his mind probing for the source of that thought. Psychic communication could be broadcast to everyone in an area—like shouting in a crowded room—or narrowed to a single Jewel rank or gender, or narrowed even further to a single mind. That thought seemed aimed directly at him.

    There was nothing out there except the expected. Whatever it was, it was gone.

    Lucivar shook his head. He was getting as skittish as the landens, the non-Blood of each race, with their superstitions about evil stalking in the night.

    "Hello?"

    Lucivar spun around, his dark wings flaring for balance as he set his feet in a fighting stance.

    He felt like a fool when he saw the girl staring at him, wide-eyed.

    She was a scrawny little thing, about seven years old. Calling her plain would have been kind. But, even in the moonlight, she had the most extraordinary eyes. They reminded him of a twilight sky or a deep mountain lake. Her clothes were of good quality, certainly better than a beggar child would wear. Her gold hair was done up in sausage curls that indicated care even if they looked ridiculous around her pointed little face.

    "What are you doing here?" he asked roughly.

    She laced her fingers and hunched her shoulders. "I-I heard you. Y-you wanted a friend."

    "Youheard me?" Lucivar stared at her. How in the name of Hell had she heard him? True, he had sent that wish out, but on an Ebon-gray thread. He was the only Ebon-gray in the Realm of Terreille. The only Jewel darker than his was the Black, and the only person who worethat was Daemon Sadi. Unless . . .

    No. She couldn't be.

    At that moment, the girl's eyes flicked from him to the dead man in the boat, then back to him.

    "I have to go," she whispered, backing away from him.

    "No, you don't." He came toward her, soft-footed, a hunter stalking his prey.

    She bolted.

    He caught her within seconds, heedless of the noise the chains made. Looping a chain over her, he wrapped an arm around her waist and lifted her off her feet, grunting when her heel banged his knee. He ignored her attempts to scratch, and her kicks, while bruising, weren't the same kind of deterrent one good kick in the right place would have been. When she started shrieking, he clamped a hand over her mouth.

    She promptly sank her teeth into his finger.

    Lucivar bit back a howl and swore under his breath. He dropped to his knees, pulling her with him. "Hush," he whispered fiercely. "Do you want to bring the guards down on us?" She probably did, and he expected her to struggle even harder, knowing there was help nearby.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire