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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Daughter of the Blood (Chapter 12)      Page
  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(12) by Anne Bishop
  • The High Lord of Hell sat quietly by the fire, his slender fingers loosely steepled, the long nails a glistening black. The Black-Jeweled ring on his right hand glittered with an inner fire.

    The boy sat opposite him, staring at the floor, trying hard not to be frightened.

    Saetan watched him through half-closed eyes. For a thousand years now, Char had been the leader of thecildru dyathe. He'd been twelve, maybe thirteen, when someone had staked him and set him on fire. The will to survive had been stronger than the body, and he'd tumbled through one of the Gates to end up in the Dark Realm. His body was so burned it was impossible to tell what race he had come from. Yet this young demon boy had gathered the other maimed children and created a haven for them, thecildru dyathe's island.

    He would have been a good Warlord if he'd been allowed to come of age, Saetan thought idly.

    Andulvar, Mephis, and Prothvar stood behind Char's chair in a half circle, effectively cutting off any means of escape.

    "Who makes the butterflies, Char?" Saetan asked too quietly.

    There were winds that came down from the north screaming over miles of ice, picking up moisture as they tore over the cooling sea until, when they finally touched a man, the cold, knife-sharp damp seeped into his bones and chilled him in places the hottest fire couldn't warm. Saetan, when he was this calm, this still, was like those winds.

    "Who makes the butterflies?" he asked again.

    Char stared at the floor, his hands clenched, his face twisted with the emotions raging within him. "She's ours." The words burst from him. "She belongs to us."

    Saetan sat very still, cold with the fury rising in him. Until he had an answer, he had no time for gentleness.

    Char stared back, frightened but willing to fight.

    All of Hell's citizens knew the subtle nuances of death, that there was dead and there wasdead. All of Hell's citizens knew the one person capable of obliterating them with a thought was their High Lord. Still, Char openly challenged him, and waited.

    Suddenly, something else was in the room. A soft touch. A question running on a psychic thread. Char hung his head, defeated. "She wants to meet you."

    "Then bring her here, Char."

    Char squared his shoulders. "Tomorrow. I'll bring her tomorrow."

    Saetan studied the trembling pride in the boy's eyes. "Very well, Warlord, you may escort her here . . . tomorrow."

    4—Hell

    Saetan stood at the reading lectern, the candle-lights spilling a soft glow around him as he leafed through an old Craft text. He didn't turn at the quiet knock on his study door. A swift psychic probe told him who was there.

    "Come." He continued to leaf through the book, trying to rein in his temper before dealing with that impudent little demon. Finally, he closed the book and turned.

    Char stood near the doorway, his shoulders proudly pulled back.

    "Language is a curious thing, Warlord," Saetan said with deceptive mildness. "When you said 'tomorrow,' I didn't expect five days to pass."

    Fear crept into Char's eyes. His shoulders wilted. He turned toward the doorway, and a strange blend of tenderness, irritation, and resignation swept over his face.

    The girl slipped through the doorway, her attention immediately caught by the stark Dujae painting,Descent into Hell, hanging over the fireplace. Her summer-sky blue eyes flitted over the large blackwood desk, politely skipped over him, lit up when she saw the floor-to-ceiling bookcases that covered most of one wall, and lingered on Cassandra's portrait.

    Saetan gripped his silver-headed cane, fighting to keep his balance while impressions crashed over him like heavy surf. He'd expected a giftedcildru dyathe. This girl wasalive! Because of the skill needed to make those butterflies, he'd expected her to be closer to adolescence. She couldn't be more than seven years old. He'd expected intelligence. The expression in her eyes was sweet and disappointingly dull-witted. And what was a living child doing in Hell?

    Then she turned and looked at him. As he watched the summer-sky blue eyes change to sapphire, the surf swept him away.

    Ancient eyes. Maelstrom eyes. Haunted, knowing,seeing eyes.

    An icy finger whispered down his spine at the same moment he was filled with an intense, unsettling hunger. Instinct told him what she was. It took a little longer for him to find the courage to accept it.

    Not the daughter of his loins, but the daughter of his soul. Not just a gifted witch, but Witch.

    She lowered her eyes and fluffed her sausage-curled golden hair, apparently no longer sure of her welcome.

    He stomped down the desire to brush out those ridiculous curls.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire