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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Daughter of the Blood (Chapter 11)      Page
  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(11) by Anne Bishop
  • He had kept his promise. But the daughter never came.

    The insistent knocking on the door of his private study finally pulled him from his thoughts.

    "Come," he said, his deep voice a tired whisper, a ghost of what it once had been.

    Mephis SaDiablo entered and stood beside the chair, silent.

    "What do you want, Mephis?" Saetan asked his eldest son, demon-dead since that long ago war between Terreille and Kaeleer.

    Mephis hesitated. "Something strange is going on."

    Saetan's gaze drifted back to the fire. "Someone else can look into it, if anyone so desires. Your mother can look into it. Hekatah always wanted power without my interference."

    "No," Mephis said uneasily.

    Saetan studied his son's face and found that he had a hard time swallowing. "Your . . . brothers?" he finally asked, unable to hide the pain that the question caused him. He'd been a flattered fool to cast the spell that temporarily gave him back the seed of life. He couldn't regret Daemon's and Lucivar's existence, but he'd tortured himself for centuries with reports of what had been done to them.

    Mephis shook his head and stared at the dark-red marble mantle. "On thecildru dyathe's island."

    Saetan shuddered. He'd never feared anything in Hell, but he'd always felt an aching despair for thecildru dyathe, the demon-dead children. In Hell, the dead retained the form of their last living hour. This cold, blasted Realm had never been a kind place, but to look upon those children, to see what had been done to them by another's hand, for there to be no escape from those blatant wounds. . . . It was too much to bear. They kept to their island, unwilling to have any contact with adults. He never intruded on them, having Char, their chosen leader, come to him once in a while to bring back the books, games, and whatever else he could find that might engage their young minds and help wile away the unrelenting years.

    "Thecildru dyathe take care of themselves," Saetan said, fussing with the hearth rug. "You know that."

    "But . . . every so often, for the past few weeks, there's another presence there. Never for very long, but I've felt it. So has Prothvar when he's flown over the island."

    "Leave them alone," Saetan snapped, his temper returning some strength to his voice. "Perhaps they've found an orphaned Hound pup."

    Mephis took a deep breath. "Hekatah has already had an altercation with Char over this. The children are hiding from everyone who approaches because of it. If she had any authority to—"

    Before Saetan could respond to the sharp rap on the study door, it swung open. Andulvar Yaslana, once the Eyrien Warlord Prince of Askavi, strode into the room. His grandson, Prothvar, followed him, carrying a large globe covered with a black cloth.

    "SaDiablo, there's something you should see," Andulvar said. "Prothvar brought this from thecildru dyathe's island."

    Saetan assumed an expression of polite interest. As young men, he and Andulvar had become unlikely friends and had served together in a number of courts. Even Hekatah hadn't severed that friendship when she'd strutted around, gleefully carrying a child that wasn't his—Andulvar's child. It didn't turn him against the only man he'd ever called a friend—who could blame a man for getting tangled up in one of Hekatah's schemes?—but it had ended his stormy marriage.

    Saetan looked at each man in turn and saw the same uneasiness in three pairs of gold eyes. Mephis was a Gray-Jeweled Warlord Prince and almost unshakable. Prothvar was a Red-Jeweled Eyrien Warlord, a warrior bred and trained. Andulvar was an Eyrien Warlord Prince who wore the Ebon-gray, the second darkest Jewel. They were all strong men who didn't frighten easily—but now theywere frightened.

    Saetan leaned forward, their fear pricking the bubble of indifference he'd sealed himself in a decade ago. His body was weak and he needed a cane to walk, but his mind was still sharp, the Black Jewels still vibrant, his skill in the Craft still honed.

    Suddenly, he knew he would need all that strength and skill to deal with whatever was happening on thecildru dyathe's island.

    Andulvar pulled the cloth off the globe. Saetan just stared, his face full of wonder and disbelief.

    A butterfly. No, not just a butterfly. This was a huge fantasy creature that gently beat its wings within the confines of the globe. But it was the colors that stunned Saetan. Hell was a Realm of forever-twilight, a Realm that muted colors until there was almost no color at all. There was nothing muted about the creature in the globe. Its body was pumpkin orange, its wings an unlikely blend of sky blue, sun yellow, and spring-grass green. As he stared, the butterfly lost its shape, and the colors bled together like a chalk painting in the rain.

    Someone on thecildru dyathe's island had created that glorious piece of magic, had been able to hold the colors of the living Realms in a place that bleached away the vitality, the vibrancy of life.

    "Prothvar threw a shielded globe around this one," Andulvar said.

    "They dissolve almost immediately," Prothvar said apologetically, pulling his dark, membranous wings tight to his body.

    Saetan straightened in his chair. "Bring Char to me, Lord Yaslana." His voice was soft thunder, caressing, commanding.

    "He won't come willingly," Prothvar said.

    Saetan stared at the demon-dead Warlord. "Bring Char to me."

    "Yes, High Lord."

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire