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  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(17) by Anne Bishop
  • Saetan stared at the shoe. "Andulvar, my friend, I hope you've still got all that brass under your belt that you used to brag about because we're in deep trouble."

    "Why?" Andulvar asked suspiciously.

    "Because you're going to help me train a seven-year-old Witch who's got the raw power right now to turn us both into dust and yet"—he dropped the shoe onto the chair—"is abysmal at basic Craft."

    Mephis knocked briskly and entered the study, tripping on a pile of books. "A demon just told me the strangest thing."

    Saetan adjusted the folds of his cape and reached for his cane. "Be brief, Mephis. I'm going to an appointment that's long overdue."

    "He said he saw the Hall shift a couple of inches. The whole thing. And a moment later, it shifted back." Saetan stood very still. "Did anyone else see this?"

    "I don't think so, but—"

    "Then tell him to hold his tongue if he doesn't want to lose it."

    Saetan swept past Mephis, leaving the study that had been his home for the past decade, leaving his worried demon-dead son behind.

    CHAPTER TWO

    1—Terreille

    In the autumn twilight, Saetan studied the Sanctuary, a forgotten place of crumbling stone, alive with small vermin and memories. Yet within this broken place was a Dark Altar, one of the thirteen Gates that linked the Realms of Terreille, Kaeleer, and Hell.

    Cassandra's Altar.

    Cloaked in a sight shield and a Black psychic shield, Saetan limped through the barren outer rooms, skirting pools of water left by an afternoon storm. A mouse, searching for food among the fallen stones, never sensed his presence as he passed by. The Witch living in this labyrinth of rooms wouldn't sense him either. Even though they both wore the Black Jewels, his strength was just a little darker, just a little deeper than hers.

    Saetan paused at a bedroom door. The covers on the bed looked fairly new. So did the heavy curtains pulled across the window. She would need those when she rested during the daylight hours.

    At the beginning of the half-life, Guardians' bodies retained most of the abilities of the living. They ate food like the living, drank blood like the demon-dead, and could walk in the daylight, though they preferred the twilight and the night. As centuries passed, the need for sustenance diminished until only yarbarah, the blood wine, was required. Preference for darkness became necessity as daylight produced strength-draining, physical pain.

    He found her in the kitchen, humming off-key as she took a wineglass out of the cupboard. Her shapeless, mud-colored gown was streaked with dirt. Her long braided hair, faded now to a dusty red, was veiled with cobwebs. When she turned toward the door, still unaware of his presence, the firelight smoothed most of the lines from her face, lines he knew were there because they, were in the portrait that hung in his private study, the portrait he knew so well. She had aged since the death that wasn't a death.

    But so had he.

    He dropped the sight shield and psychic shield.

    The wineglass shattered on the floor.

    "Practicing hearth-Craft, Cassandra?" he asked mildly, struggling to tamp down an overwhelming sense of betrayal.

    She backed away from him. "I should have realized she'd tell you."

    "Yes, you should have. You also should have known I'd come." He tossed his cape over a wooden chair, grimly amused at the way her emerald eyes widened when she noticed how heavily he leaned on the cane. "I'm old, Lady. Quite harmless."

    "You were never harmless," she said tartly.

    "True, but you never minded that when you had a use for me." He looked away when she didn't answer. "Did you hate me so much?"

    Cassandra reached toward him. "I never hated you, Saetan. I—"

    —was afraid of you.

    The words hung between them, unspoken.

    Cassandra vanished the broken wineglass. "Would you like some wine? There's no yarbarah, but I've got some decent red."

    Saetan settled into a chair beside the pine table. "Why aren't you drinking yarbarah?"

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire