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  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(138) by Anne Bishop
  • "He owes me for Titian," Surreal insisted.

    "He owes Titian for Titian. When the time comes, he'll pay the debt to her."

    "He killed her."

    "No, he broke her, seeded her. A man named Greer, Dorothea's hound, killed her."

    Surreal brushed at the tears spilling down her cheeks. "You're dead, aren't you?" she said wearily.

    "No. My body's still there." Jaenelle pointed toward Briarwood and frowned. "They gave me some of their special 'medicine,' the one that's supposed to make girls behave, but something went wrong. I'm still connected to my body. I can't break the link and leave it, but this misty place is very nice. Do you see the mist, Surreal?"

    Surreal shook her head.

    "When I'm in the mist, I can see them all." Jaenelle smiled and held out a transparent hand. "Come, Surreal. Let me show you Briarwood."

    Surreal stood up, brushing the snow from her knees. Jaenelle laughed softly. It was the most haunting, terrifying sound Surreal had ever heard.

    "Briarwood is the pretty poison," Jaenelle said softly. "There is no cure for Briarwood. Beware the golden spider who spins a tangled web." Her hand touched Surreal's arm, drawing her toward the garden. "Rose said I should build a trap, something that will snap shut if my blood is spilled. So I did. If they spring the trap . . . dying is what they'll wish for, but their wish will be long in coming."

    "You'll still be dead," Surreal said hoarsely. As she saw the shadows in the garden beginning to take shape, she tried to stop, tried to turn and run, but her legs wouldn't obey her.

    Jaenelle shrugged. "I've walked among thecildru dyathe. Hell doesn't frighten me."

    "She's too old to be one of us," said a voice Surreal knew had come, at one time, from a poorer section of Beldon Mor.

    Surreal turned. A few minutes ago, seeing a girl walking toward her in a bloody dress with her throat slit would have been a shock. Now it was something her numbed mind cataloged as simply part of Briarwood.

    "This is Rose," Jaenelle said to Surreal. "She's demon-dead."

    "It's not so bad," Rose said, shrugging. "Except I can only cause trouble now after the sun goes down." She laughed. It was a ghastly sound. "And when I tickle a lollipop, it makes them feelso queer."

    Jaenelle plucked at Surreal's sleeve. Her smile was sweetly vicious. "Come. Let me introduce you to some of my friends."

    Surreal followed Jaenelle to the garden, grateful that Rose had disappeared.

    Jaenelle's giggle held the echo of madness. "This is the carrot patch. This is where they bury the redheads."

    Two redheaded girls sat side by side in blood-soaked dresses.

    "They don't have any hands," Surreal said quietly. She felt feverish and slightly dizzy.

    "Myrol wasn't behaving for an uncle and he hurt her. Rebecca hit him to make him stop hurting Myrol, and when he hit Rebecca, Myrol started hitting him, too." Jaenelle was silent for a moment. "No one even tried to stop the bleeding. They'd been bought from a poor family, you see. Their parents never expected them back, so it didn't make any difference." Jaenelle gestured toward the whole garden filled with misty shapes. "None of them were asked about. They 'ran away' or 'disappeared.'"

    They walked to the end of the garden.

    Surreal frowned. "Why are some of them easy to see and others so misty?"

    "It depends on how long they've been here, how strong they were when they died. Rose was the only one strong enough to becomecildru dyathe who wanted to stay. The othercildru dyathe have gone to the Dark Realm. Char will look after them. These girls have always been ghosts, too strong to slip into the ever-night but not strong enough to move away from where their bodies lay." Jaenelle nodded to the girl at the end of the garden. To Surreal's eyes, she looked more vivid, more "real" than Jaenelle. "This is Dannie." Jaenelle's voice quivered with pain. "They served her leg for dinner one night."

    Surreal ran for the nearby bushes and retched. When she turned around, the garden was empty. A low wind swept over the snow, wiping away her footprints. When it was done, there was only the building, the empty lawn, and the garden with its secrets.

    4—Terreille

    Daemon Sadi watched the sun rise.

    All through the long, long night, he'd listened along the Black threads of a psychic web he'd created around Beldon Mor for any disturbance, any indication that Jaenelle might be in danger. Without using the Black Jewels to aid him, it was a strain to keep the web functioning, but like a determined spider, he stayed in the center, aware of the most minute vibration along every strand.

    It had been a reluctant gamble to leave her in Briarwood. He didn't trust Alexandra, but if Jaenelle had been drugged, especially with something likesafframate, it was safer for her to come out of it in the same surroundings. He'd seen too many young witches flee into the Twisted Kingdom when their minds couldn't understand the change in their surroundings, couldn't comprehend that they were safe. The thought of Jaenelle lost in madness was unbearable, so he could only hope the drugged sleep would make her uninteresting prey. If it didn't . . .

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire