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  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(141) by Anne Bishop
  • Daemon gave his room a cursory glance. His trunks were packed and vanished so they would travel with him. He'd even slipped into the nursery wing and packed a small suitcase for Jaenelle. It troubled him that he might have left behind something she valued. That cold corner in her wardrobe probably contained her most private possessions, but he didn't have the time or energy to spare to try to unravel whatever lock she might have on it. He hoped that, once she was safely out of Beldon Mor, he and Saetan could retrieve them for her.

    Daemon opened his door, startling Cook, who stood with her hand raised as if she were about to knock.

    "You're wanted in the front hall," she said worriedly.

    Daemon's eyes narrowed. Why send Cook with the message? "Is Jaenelle back?"

    "Don't know. Lady Angelline was gone for a while this morning, but after she came back, she and Lady Benedict stayed in the nursery with Miss Wilhelmina and Graff. I don't think Lord Benedict's home, and Prince Alexander has been in the steward's office all day."

    Daemon opened his mind to the psychic scents around him. Worry. Fear. That was to be expected. Relief? His golden eyes hardened as he brushed past Cook and glided toward the front hallway. If Alexandra was playing some game . . .

    He entered the main hallway and saw Greer with twenty armed Hayllian guards. A moment later, the pain from the Ring almost made his legs buckle. He fought to stay on his feet as he flicked a dagger glance at Alexandra, who stood to one side with Leland and Philip.

    "No, Sadi," Greer said in his oily voice, "you answer to me now." He raised his good hand so that the gold controlling ring caught the light.

    "Bitch," Daemon said softly, never taking his eyes off Greer. "I made you a promise, Lady Angelline, and I always keep my promises."

    "Not this time," Greer said. He closed his hand and thrust it forward. The controlling ring flashed.

    Daemon staggered backward, grabbing the wall for support as the pain from the Ring increased.

    "Not this time," Greer said again, walking toward Daemon.

    The cold. The sweet cold.

    Daemon counted to three, thrust his right hand toward Greer, and unleashed a wide band of dark energy. Philip, wearing the Gray Jewel, thrust his hand forward at the same time. The two forces met, exploding the chandelier, snapping the furniture to kindling. Three of the guards fell to the floor, twitching. Greer shrieked with rage. Leland and Alexandra screamed. Philip continued to channel his strength through the Gray Jewel, trying to break Daemon's thrust, but the Black leached around the Gray, and where it did, the walls scorched and cracked.

    Daemon braced himself against the wall. Greer continued channeling power into the Ring, intensifying the pain. Dying would be better than surrendering to Greer, but there was one chance—if he could get there intact enough to do what he had to do.

    Unleashing a large ball of witchfire, Daemon made a last thrust against the Gray, counting on Philip to meet the attack. When the witchfire met the Gray shield, it exploded into a wall of fire.

    Daemon pushed off from the wall and ran toward the back of the house. The pain got worse as he ran through the corridors to the kitchen. Too late he saw the young housemaid on her knees and the puddle of soapy water. He leaped, missing the girl, but his foot landed at the edge of the puddle, and he slip-skidded until his hips hit the kitchen table, pitching him forward.

    The pain in his groin was agony.

    Daemon clenched his teeth, drawing on his anger because he didn't dare draw on the Jewels. Not yet.

    Two pairs of arms grabbed his shoulders and waist. Snarling, he tried to twist free, but Cook's "Hurry up, now" cleared his head sufficiently to realize she and Wilhelmina were trying to help him. The young housemaid, tight-lipped and pale, ran ahead of them and opened the door.

    "I'm all right," Daemon gasped as he grabbed the doorway, "I'm all right. Get out of here. All of you."

    "Hurry," Cook said. She gave him a shove that almost knocked his feet from under him. As he stumbled and half turned, the last thing he saw before the kitchen door closed was Cook grabbing the pail of soapy water and flinging it across the kitchen floor.

    Another burst of pain from the Ring forced him to his knees. He stifled a scream, jerked himself to his feet, and stumbled forward until the momentum pushed him into a run toward the stables and the path that would lead to the field.

    The pain. The pain.

    Each step was a knife in Daemon's groin as Greer continued to channel his power through the controlling ring into the Ring of Obedience.

    Daemon ran along the bridle path past the stables, vaguely aware of Guinness and the stable lads pouring out of the yard to form an angry, solid wall at his back. He ran down the snowy path until another burst of pain from the Ring pulled his legs out from under him. He flew through the air as his momentum carried him forward before hitting the ground with a bone-jarring thud.

    Daemon sobbed as he tried to get to his knees. Behind him was a faint, muffled sound. He turned his head, trying to see through tears of pain. There was nothing there, but the sound kept coming toward him, finally stopped beside him. Daemon flung out an arm to get his balance.

    His hand hit a leg.

    He saw nothing, but he could feel . . .

    "Dancer?" Daemon whispered as his hand traveled upward.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire