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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Daughter of the Blood (Chapter 9)      Page
  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(9) by Anne Bishop
  • They reached an opening in the woods where a flat slab of stone rested above two others. Daemon wondered if it was natural, or if Tersa had built it as a miniature altar.

    The slab was empty except for a wooden frame that held a Black Widow's tangled web. Uneasy, Daemon rubbed his wrist and waited.

    "Watch," Tersa commanded. She snapped the thumbnail of her left hand against the forefinger nail. The forefinger nail changed to a sharp point. She pricked the middle finger of her right hand, and let one drop of blood fall on each of the four tether lines that held the web to the frame. The blood ran down the top lines and up the bottom ones. When they met in the middle, the web's spidersilk threads glowed.

    A swirling mist appeared in front of the frame and changed into a crystal chalice.

    The chalice was simple. Most men would have called it plain. Daemon thought it was elegant and beautiful. But it was what the chalice held that pulled him toward the makeshift altar.

    The lightning-streaked black mist in the chalice contained power that slithered along his nerves, snaked around his spine, and sought its release in the sudden fire in his loins. It was a molten force, catastrophic in intensity, savage beyond a man's comprehension . . . and he wanted it with all his being.

    "Look," Tersa said, pointing to the chalice's lip.

    A hairline crack ran from a chip in the chalice's lip to the base. As Daemon watched, a deeper crack appeared.

    The mist swirled inside the chalice. A tendril passed through the glass at the bottom into the stem.

    Too fragile, he thought as more and more cracks appeared. The chalice was too fragile to hold that kind of power.

    Then he looked closer.

    The cracks were starting from the outside and going in, not starting from the inside and going out. So it was threatened by something beyond itself.

    He shivered as he watched more of the mist flow into the stem. It was a vision. There was nothing he could do to change a vision. But everything he was screamed at him todo something, to wrap his strength around it and cherish it, protect it, keep it safe.

    Knowing it would change nothing that happened here and now, he still reached for the chalice,

    It shattered before he touched it, spraying crystal shards over the makeshift altar.

    Tersa held up what was left of the shattered chalice. A little of mist still swirled inside the jagged-edged bottom of the cup. Most of it was trapped inside the stem.

    She looked at him sadly. "The inner web can be broken without shattering the chalice. The chalice can be shattered without breaking the inner web. They cannot reach the inner web, but the chalice . . ."

    Daemon licked his lips. He couldn't stop shivering. "I know the inner web is another name for our core, the Self that can tap the power within us. But I don't know what the chalice stands for."

    Her hand shook a little. "Tersa is a shattered chalice." Daemon closed his eyes. A shattered chalice. A shattered mind. She was talking about madness. "Give me your hand," Tersa said.

    Too unnerved to question her, Daemon held out his left hand.

    Tersa grabbed it, pulled it forward, and slashed his wrist with the chalice's jagged edge.

    Daemon clamped his hand over his wrist and stared at her, stunned.

    "So that you never forget this night," Tersa said, her voice trembling. "That scar will never leave you."

    Daemon knotted his handkerchief around his wrist. "Why is a scar important?"

    "I told you. So you won't forget." Tersa cut the strands of the tangled web with the shattered chalice. When the last thread broke, the chalice and web vanished. "I don't know if this will be or if it may be. Many strands in the web weren't visible to me. May the Darkness give you courage if you need it, when you need it."

    "The courage for what?"

    Tersa walked away.

    "Tersa!"

    Tersa looked back at him, said three words, and vanished.

    Daemon's legs buckled. He huddled on the ground, gasping for air, shuddering from the fear that clawed at his belly.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire