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  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(20) by Anne Bishop
  • Saetan returned the bow. "Geoffrey."

    "It's been a while since you've visited the Keep. Your absence has been noted."

    Saetan snorted softly, his lips curving into a faint, dry smile. "In other words, I haven't been useful lately."

    "In other words," Geoffrey agreed, smiling. As he walked beside Saetan, his black eyes glanced once at the cane. "So you're here."

    "I need your help." Saetan looked at the Guardian's pale face, a stark, unsettling white when combined with the black eyes, feathery black eyebrows, black hair with a pronounced widow's peak, the black tunic and trousers, and the most sensuous blood-red lips Saetan had ever seen on anyone, man or woman. Geoffrey was the last of his race, a race gone to dust so long ago that no one remembered who they were. He was ancient when Saetan first came to the Keep as Cassandra's Consort. Then, as now, he was the Keep's historian and librarian. "I need to look up some of the ancient legends."

    "Lorn, for example?"

    Saetan jerked to a stop.

    Geoffrey turned, his black eyes carefully neutral.

    "You've seen her," Saetan said, a hint of jealousy in his voice.

    "We've seen her."

    "Draca, too?" Saetan's chest tightened at the thought of Jaenelle confronting the Keep's Seneschal. Draca had been caretaker and overseer of Ebon Askavi long, long before Geoffrey had ever come. She still served the Keep itself, looking after the comfort of the scholars who came to study, of the Queens who needed a dark place to rest. She was reserved to the point of coldness, using it as a defense against those who shuddered to look upon a human figure with unmistakably reptilian ancestry. Coldness as a defense for the heart was something Saetan understood all too well.

    "They're great friends," Geoffrey said as they walked through the twisting corridors. "Draca's given her a guest room until the Queen's apartment is finished." He opened the library door. "Saetan, you are going to train her, aren't you?"

    Hearing something odd in Geoffrey's voice, Saetan turned with much of his old grace. "Do you object?" He immediately choked back the snarl in his voice when he saw the uneasiness in Geoffrey's eyes.

    "No," Geoffrey whispered, "I don't object. I'm . . . relieved." He pointed to the books neatly stacked at one end of the blackwood table. "I pulled those out anticipating your visit, but there are some other volumes, some very ancient texts, that I'll pull out for you next time. I think you'll need them."

    Saetan settled into a leather chair beside the large blackwood table and gratefully accepted the glass of yarbarah Geoffrey offered. His leg ached. He wasn't up to this much walking.

    He pulled the top book off the stack and opened it at the first marker. Lorn. "You did anticipate."

    Geoffrey sat at the other end of the table, checking other books. "Some. Certainly not all." They exchanged a look. "Anything else I can check for you?"

    Saetan quickly swallowed the yarbarah. "Yes. I need information about two witches named Morghann and Gabrielle." He started reading the entry about Lorn.

    "If they wear Jewels, they'll be in the Keep's registry."

    "It's a safe bet you'll find them in the darker ranks," Saetan said, not looking up,

    Geoffrey pushed his chair back. "What Territories?"

    "Hmm? I've no idea. Jaenelle's from Chaillot, so start with Territories around there where those names are common."

    "Saetan," Geoffrey said with annoyed humor, "sometimes you're as useful as a bucket with a hole in the bottom. Can you give me a little more of a starting point?"

    Pulled away from his third attempt to read the same paragraph, Saetan snapped, "Between the ages of six and eight. Now will you let me read?"

    Geoffrey replied in a language Saetan didn't understand, but translation wasn't required. "I'll have to check the registry at Terreille's Keep, so this may take a while even if any of your information is remotely accurate. Help yourself to more yarbarah."

    The hours melted away. Saetan read the last entry Geoffrey had marked, carefully closed the book, and rubbed his eyes. When he finally looked up, he found Geoffrey studying him. A strange look was in the librarian's black eyes. Two registers lay on the table.

    Saetan rested his steepled fingers on his chin. "So?"

    "You got the names and the age range right," Geoffrey said softly.

    That icy finger whispered down Saetan's spine. "Meaning?"

    Geoffrey slowly, almost reluctantly, opened the first book at the page marker. "Morghann. A Queen who wears Birthright Purple Dusk. Almost seven years old. Lives in the village of Maghre on the Isle of Scelt in the Realm of Kaeleer."

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