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  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(142) by Anne Bishop
  • A moist warmth blew in his face.

    Clenching his teeth, Daemon got to his feet. He was running out of time. His hands found the phantom back. Daemon propelled himself onto the demon stallion's back, gasping as he pulled his leg around. With his head bent low over Dancer's neck and his hands twisted in the mane for balance, Daemon tightened his knees, urging Dancer forward.

    "To the tree, Brother," Daemon groaned. "As fast as you can fly, get me to the tree."

    Daemon almost fell when Dancer surged forward, but he hung on, grimly determined to reach the one escape left to him.

    When they reached their destination, Daemon slid from the horse's back, remembering in time what Jaenelle had taught him about air walking. For a moment, he lay on his side in the air, his knees curled to his chest, fighting the pain and gathering his strength.

    Deep beneath this tree was a neatly cut rectangle already protected by a Black shield that would keep the others out just as much as it had kept Alexandra in.

    Daemon looked back. Apparently demons didn't leave tracks. And he, fortunately, hadn't left any telltale marks in the snow. All he needed was a few uninterrupted moments to make the pass.

    Fighting for patience, Daemon waited for the next burst of pain from the Ring. Once it passed, he could slip down into the earth. Behind him were shouts, sounds of fighting. He waited, feeling his strength seeping out of him as the cold and pain seeped in.

    Just as Daemon decided not to wait, the pain hit again. He twisted and rolled, trying to escape it. This time, however, there was no letup. Greer was sending a steady pulse through the controlling ring into the Ring of Obedience.

    Daemon crawled on air until he was over the proper place. There was no more time. With his hands clenched so hard his nails broke his skin, he took a deep, shuddering breath, closed his eyes, and plunged downward into the earth.

    The moment he felt emptiness instead of earth, he pulled his feet forward so they wouldn't be locked in the frozen ground and stop the pass. He felt his pant legs catch in the earth above him, felt the skin on his knees tear as they ripped through the last crust of earth. Landing squarely on his back, it took him a moment to get his breath.

    A moment was all he had. They might not be able to reach him physically, but the pain still pulsed through the Ring. Not even the Black shield could protect him from that.

    With shaking hands, Daemon undid his belt, unzipped his trousers, and reached down to close his right hand on his organ and the Ring of Obedience. He screamed when his fingers accidentally touched his balls. Taking sobbing, gasping breaths, Daemon kept his hand steady and called in the Black Jewels.

    It had been so very long since he'd felt a Jewel around his neck or on his finger. They pulsed with his heartbeat as he drew on their stored energy. It was a risk. He'd always known it was a risk. But there was something at stake now more important than his body. Taking a deep breath, Daemon turned inward and plunged toward the Black.

    It was an oiled high dive speeding him into the Darkness, faster and faster as he hurtled toward the shimmering dark web that was himself, gaining speed as he unleashed his rage. He continued to plunge downward as his web seemed to rush upward to meet him. There was no time to check his descent. If he missed the turn and shattered the web, the least he would do was break himself, stripping himself of the ability to wear the Black or, possibly, even his Birthright Red. If he couldn't stop his descent and continued falling into the abyss, he would die or go mad.

    Daemon pushed faster, watching for the moment when he could make the turn and draw the most from himself. A long way away, he could feel the tight agony in his heels and the corded muscles in his neck as they supported the arched, pain-racked body. Still he plunged downward. At the last moment he turned, tight to the web, drew all the reserve power out of his Black Jewels and hurtled upward, a tidal wave of cold black rage, a dark arrow speeding toward the center of a gold circle.

    All the way up, Daemon kept his strength tight and rapier-thin but the moment he pierced the center of the circle, he unleashed all of his Black strength. It exploded outward, forcing the circle to expand with him until it shattered under the strain.

    Daemon slowly opened his eyes. He shook from exhaustion, shivered from cold. The smallest movement, even breathing, brought excruciating pain. Reaching down with his left hand, Daemon felt for the Ring of Obedience. When he drew his hands toward his chest, each hand held half a Ring.

    He was free.

    Since his Black Jewels were completely drained, he vanished them and called in his Birthright Red in order to do one last thing.

    If Dorothea or Greer had escaped the shattering of the Ring, they could still use one of the controlling rings to trace the pieces to his hiding place.

    Daemon closed his eyes, concentrated on a spot he knew well, and vanished the two pieces of the Ring of Obedience.

    In a small alcove, the two halves of the Ring hovered in the air for a moment before dropping into the snowy bed of witchblood.

    Daemon's last conscious thought was to call in a blanket, charge it with a warming spell, and wrap it around himself as best he could. The psychic web he'd created was gone. There was no way to tell if Jaenelle was still unharmed. There was nothing he could do for her right now. There was nothing more he could do for himself. Until his body had some rest, he didn't have the strength to get out of his grave.

    7—Terreille

    Cassandra paced.

    The mist around Beldon Mor kept Guardians and the demon-dead out. It didn't keep things in.

    Thankfully, she'd been wearing the Black Jewel instead of her Birthright Red when the rippling aftershock of Sadi hurtling toward the Darkness hit her. Even with that much protection, her body had vibrated from the intensity of the dive.

    As she'd picked herself up off the floor, she'd wondered how many of the Blood, not trained well enough to know that one must ride with those psychic waves instead of trying to shield against them, had been shattered, or at least broken back to their Birthright Jewel.

    And what about Jaenelle? Had he turned against her? Was she fighting against him for her life?

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire