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  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(19) by Anne Bishop
  • "You have to control her, Saetan," Cassandra said, watching him.

    Saetan shook his head. "Even if I were willing, I don't think I could. There's a soft fog around her, a sweet, cold, black mist. I'm not sure, even young as she is, that I'd like to find out what lies beneath it without her invitation." Annoyed by the way Cassandra kept glaring at him, Saetan looked around the kitchen and noticed a primitive drawing tacked on the wall. "Where did you get that?"

    "What? Oh, Jaenelle dropped it off a few days ago and asked me to keep it. Seems she was playing at a friend's house and didn't want to take the picture home." Cassandra tucked stray hairs back into her braid. "Saetan, you said there's a soft fog around her. There's a mist around Beldon Mor, too."

    Saetan frowned at her. What did he care about some city's weather? That picture held an answer if he could just figure it out.

    "A psychic mist," Cassandra said, rapping her knuckles on the table, "that keeps demons and Guardians out."

    Saetan snapped to attention. "Where's Beldon Mor?"

    "On Chaillot. That's an island just west of here. You can see it from the hill behind the Sanctuary. Beldon Mor is the capital. I think Jaenelle lives there. I tried to find a way into—"

    Now she had his full attention. "Are you mad?" He combed his fingers through his thick black hair. "If she went to that much effort to retain her privacy, why are you trying to invade it?"

    "Because of what she is," Cassandra said through clenched teeth. "I thought that would be obvious."

    "Don't invade her privacy, Cassandra. Don't give her a reason to distrust you. And the reason forthat should be obvious, too."

    Minutes passed in tense silence.

    Saetan's attention drifted back to the picture. A creative use of vivid colors, even if he couldn't quite figure out what it was supposed to be. How could a child capable of creating butterflies, moving a structure the size of the Hall, and constructing a psychic shield that only kept specific kinds of beings out be so hopeless at basic Craft?

    "It's clumsy," Saetan whispered as his eyes widened.

    Cassandra looked up wearily. "She's a child, Saetan. You can't expect her to have the training or the motor control—"

    She squeaked when he grabbed her arm. "But that's just it! For Jaenelle, doing things that require tremendous expenditures of psychic energy is like giving her a large piece of paper and color-sticks she can wrap her fist around. Small things, the basic things we usually start with because they don't require a lot of strength, are like asking her to use a single-haired brush. She doesn't have the physical or mental control yet to do them." He sprawled in the chair, exultant.

    "Wonderful," Cassandra said sarcastically. "So she can't move furniture around a room, but she can destroy an entire continent."

    "She'll never do that. It's not in her temperament."

    "How can you be sure? How will you control her?"

    They were back to that.

    He took his cape back and settled it over his shoulders. "I'm not going to control her, Cassandra. She's Witch. No male has the right to control Witch."

    Cassandra studied him. "Then what are you going to do?"

    Saetan picked up his cane. "Love her. That will have to be enough."

    "And if it's not?"

    "It will have to be." He paused at the kitchen door. "May I see you from time to time?"

    Her smile didn't quite reach her eyes. "Friends do."

    He left the Sanctuary feeling exhilarated and bruised. He'd loved Cassandra dearly once, but he had no right to ask anything of her except what Protocol dictated a Warlord Prince could ask of a Queen.

    Besides, Cassandra was his past. Jaenelle, may the Darkness help him, was his future.

    2—Hell

    Dropping from the Black Wind, Saetan appeared in an outer courtyard that held one of the Keep's official landing webs, which was etched in the stone with a clear Jewel at its center. The clear Jewels acted as beacons for those who rode the Winds—a kind of welcoming candle in the window—and every landing web had a piece of one. It was the only use that had ever been found for them. Leaning heavily on his cane, Saetan limped across the empty courtyard to the huge, open-metal doors embedded into the mountain itself, rang the bell, and waited to enter the Keep, the Black Mountain, Ebon Askavi, where the Winds meet. It was the repository for the Blood's history as well as a sanctuary for the darkest-Jeweled Blood. It was also the private lair of Witch.

    The doors opened silently. Geoffrey, the Keep's historian/librarian, waited for him on the other side. "High Lord." Geoffrey bowed slightly in greeting.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire