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  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(143) by Anne Bishop
  • Cassandra shook her head and continued pacing. No, he loved the girl. Then why the descent? She feared him now as much as she feared his father, but didn't he realize she would stand with him, fight with him to protect Jaenelle?

    Descending slowly to the Black, she closed her eyes and opened her mind, sending a probing shaft westward on a Black thread. The probe hit the mist, penetrating just a little for just a moment before fading away.

    It was enough.

    She spent the next hour cleaning the Altar, polishing the four-branched candelabra, digging out the stubs of the old black candles and replacing them with new candles. When she was done, the Altar was once again ready to be what it was, what it had not been for centuries.

    A Gate.

    She bathed in hot scented water, washed and dressed her hair. She slipped on a simple gown of black spidersilk that molded itself to her body. Her Black Jewel in its ancient setting filled the dress's open neckline. The Black-Jeweled ring, in its deceptively feminine setting, slipped easily onto her finger. Two silver cuff bracelets with chips of her Red Jewel embedded in the center of an hourglass pattern fit over the tight sleeves of her dress. Last came the black slippers, made by forgotten craftsmen, which never betrayed a footfall.

    She was ready. Whatever storm the night would bring, she was ready.

    With a listening, thoughtful expression on her face and a faraway look in her emerald eyes, Cassandra settled down to wait.

    8—Terreille

    As the slaves were brought up from the salt mines of Pruul, Lucivar turned toward the west. The salt sweat stung the new cuts on his back. The heavy chains that manacled his wrists to his waist pulled at his already aching arms. Still he stood quietly, breathing the clean evening air, watching the last sliver of sun sink beneath the horizon.

    He'd ridden the dark aftershocks that hit Pruul with a lover's passion, using his Ebon-gray strength to fortify those waves and keep them rolling east a little longer. His only regret was not joining Sadi in the bloodletting. Not that the Sadist needed his help. Not that it would be safe to be in the same city with a man that deeply enraged.

    As a frightened guard shook his whip at the slaves to begin leading them to their dark, stinking cells, Lucivar smiled and whispered, "Send them to Hell, Bastard. Send themall to Hell."

    9—Terreille

    Philip Alexander sat at his desk, his head braced in his hands, staring at the shattered Gray Jewel.

    It had taken—what—a minute? A bare minute to produce so much destruction? Some of the guards had felt it first, a shuddery feeling, like trying to stand against a strong wind that kept growing stronger. Then Leland. Then Alexandra. He'd been puzzled, in those moments, wondering why they had become so pale and still, why they all were straining to hear something. When it hurtled past the Gray, heading downward, he'd had a moment, just a moment, to realize what it was, a moment to throw his arms around Leland and Alexandra, pulling them to the floor, a moment to try to form a Gray shield around the three of them. A moment.

    Then his world exploded.

    He had held on for less than a minute before that titanic explosion of Black strength shattered the Gray and swept him along like driftwood caught in a wave before the wave smashes it into the sand. He'd felt Alexandra try to hold him before she, too, was swept away.

    A minute.

    When it was over, when his head finally cleared . . .

    Of the Hayllian guards who had remained in the hall, all but two were dead or had their minds burned away. Leland and Alexandra, shielded from the first impact, were shaken but all right. He'd been broken back to the Green, his Birthright Jewel.

    Still in shock, the three of them had staggered from the hall. They had found Graff in the nursery wing, staring empty-eyed at the ceiling, her body twisted and torn almost beyond recognition.

    Most of the staff had come away from the psychic explosion frightened but intact. They'd found them huddled in the kitchen where Cook, with shaking hands, liberally filled cups with brandy.

    Wilhelmina had frightened them. She had sat quietly in the kitchen chair, cheeks glowing with color, eyes flashing. When Philip had asked if she was all right, she had smiled at him and said, "She said to ride it, so I did. She said to ride it."

    In that moment before the world exploded, he had heard a young, commanding female voice shouting "Ride it, ride it," but he hadn't understood—and still didn't. What was more frightening, Wilhelmina now wore a Sapphire Jewel. Somehow, in that chaos, she had made her Offering to the Darkness, too young. Now that inexperienced girl was stronger than any of them.

    Worst of all was the betrayal of Guinness and the stable lads, particularly Andrew. They had fought against the Hayllian guards, holding them up. If they hadn't interfered, Sadi might have been caught and Beldon Mor . . . Well, he had dismissed Guinness and Andrew and the others who'd survived. There was no reason to keep traitors, especially traitors who said . . . who called him . . . That they would side with Sadi against herfamily!

    Philip closed his eyes, rubbed his aching temples. Who would have thought one man could destroy so much in a minute? Half the Blood in Beldon Mor were dead, mad, or broken.

    Philip let out a sighing sob. His body was almost too weak to wear the Green, but he would recover. That much he would recover.

    Half the Blood. If Sadi had struck again . . .

    But after the ripples had finally passed, there had been no sign of Daemon Sadi.

    And no one knew what had become of Greer.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire