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  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(140) by Anne Bishop
  • No, Daemon thought as he reached the ditch. Jaenelle was Dancer's Queen. He deserved the truth. He deserved the right to make a choice.

    Daemon slid down the side of the deep, wide ditch. Dancer lay at the bottom, twisted and dying. Daemon sat beside him, gently putting the horse's head in his lap. He stroked Dancer's neck, murmuring words of sorrow in the Old Tongue.

    Finish the kill. Dancer's strength was ebbing. One narrow, searing probe into the horse's mind would finish it. Daemon took a deep breath . . . and couldn't do it.

    If Hell was where the Blood's dead walked when the body died but the Self was still too powerful to fade into the ever-night, did the kindred Jaenelle spoke of go there too? Was there a herd of demon-dead horses racing over a desolate landscape?

    "Ah, Dancer," Daemon murmured as he continued to stroke the horse's neck. A mind link now wouldn't help, but . . .

    Daemon looked at his wrist. Blood. According to the legends, the demon-dead maintained their strength with blood from the living. That's why blood offerings were made when someone petitioned the Dark Realm for help.

    Daemon shifted slightly. Pushing up his right sleeve, he positioned his wrist over Dancer's mouth. Gathering himself so that what he offered was the strongest he had to give, he nicked a vein with a long nail and watched his blood flow into Dancer's mouth. Daemon counted to four before pressing his thumb to the wound and healing it with Craft.

    All he could do now was wait with his four-footed Brother.

    For a long time, while Dancer's eyes glazed, nothing happened. Then something pricked at Daemon, made the land shift and shimmer. He no longer saw the ditch, no longer felt the cold and wet of the snow-covered ground. In front of him was a huge wrought-iron gate. Beyond it was lightning-filled mist. As he watched, the gate slowly opened with chilling silence. A faint sound came then, muffled, but drawing closer to the gate. Daemon watched Dancer race toward the gate, head high, mane and tail streaming out behind him. A moment later; the stallion was lost in the mist, and the gate swung shut.

    Daemon looked down at the unblinking eyes. Gently setting the head on the ground, he climbed out of the ditch and wearily made his way back to the stable.

    They all came running when he walked in alone. Daemon looked at Andrew, and only Andrew, when he finally got his voice under control enough to say, "He's in the ditch." Not trusting himself to say anything more, Daemon turned abruptly and went back to the house.

    5—Terreille

    "I understand your difficulty, Lady Angelline, but you must realize that neither the ambassador nor I has the authority to remove Sadi from service without the High Priestess's consent." Greer leaned against the desk, trying to look sympathetic. "Perhaps if you exerted more effort to discipline him," he suggested.

    "Haven't you been listening to me?" Alexandra said angrily. "He threatened to kill me last night. He's out of control."

    "The controlling ring—"

    "Doesn't work," Alexandra snapped.

    Greer studied her face. She was pale, and there were dark smudges under her eyes. Sadi had frightened her badly. After so many months of quiet, when Sadi had been almost too accommodating, what had she done to provoke this explosion? "The controlling ring does work, Lady Angelline, if it's used forcefully enough and soon enough. Even he can't dismiss the pain of a Ring of Obedience."

    "Is that why so many of the Queens he has served have died?" Alexandra said sharply. She rubbed her temples with her fingertips. "It's not just me. He's perverted, twisted."

    Oh? "You shouldn't allow him to perform any service not to your liking, Lady," Greer said with sneering sternness.

    Alexandra glared at him. "And how do I keep him from performing services on my granddaughters that are not to my liking?"

    "But they're just children," Greer protested.

    "Yes," Alexandra choked, "children." There was an edge in her voice that made Greer fight to hide a smile. "He's all right with the eldest one, but the other . . ."

    Frowning as if this was a difficult decision, Greer said slowly, "I'll send a message to the High Priestess requesting permission to remove Sadi from Chaillot as soon as possible. It's the best I can do." He held up his good hand to cut off Alexandra's protest. "However, I realize how difficult it may be for you to keep him at your estate, especially if he should, by chance, discover you've been to see us. Therefore, I, with an armed escort, will collect him this afternoon and hold him at the embassy until we have the High Priestess's consent to return him to Hayll." He held out his hand, smiling. "I will, of course, need your controlling ring to disable him quickly and assure your safety."

    Greer held his breath while Alexandra hesitated. Finally she pulled the secondary controlling ring off her finger and dropped it into his hand. Greer nodded to the ambassador who had been hovering near the door. The man hurried forward and escorted Alexandra out, muttering soothing lies.

    Greer waited until the door closed behind them before fumbling to slip the ring over his little finger. He held his left hand out, admiring the gold circle.

    Bastard,Greer thought gleefully.Ihave you now, bastard. First there was Kartane, almost frightened out of his skin, inviting Greer to partake in a "special party" at Briarwood, and now there was this Queen bleating about Sadi's interest in her granddaughters. And all the time Greer had been searching for the Dark Priestess's prey, the Sadist was playing with the little hussy while the half-breed sweated and bled in Pruul.Ifwe told him about the offer you sneeringly declined and then stretched you between two posts and handed him a whip, how much of your skin would be left before he became too tired to complete a stroke? And what part of your anatomy might be lacking when he was through?

    Greer mentally shook himself. Those tantalizing prospects would have to wait. Here was the chance he'd waited for, the chance to cut Sadi to the core and please the Dark Priestess in the bargain.

    Alexandra was a fool to relinquish her only defense against the Sadist. If she'd used the controlling ring with the same brutality he intended to use, she could have brought Sadi to his knees, drained him sufficiently to reduce the threat. And the threat had to be reduced.

    He didn't want Daemon Sadi in any condition to go anywhere tonight.

    6—Terreille

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire