• Home
  • Directory
  • Popular
  • Authors
  • Series
  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Daughter of the Blood (Chapter 37)      Page
  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(37) by Anne Bishop
  • Saetan swiftly closed his inner barriers. "You did well, Prince. I thank you . . . for her sake." He cautiously began to back away from the link between them, not sure he could win a confrontation with Daemon.

    But Daemon, too, backed away, exhausted.

    As the link faded, just before Saetan was once more alone within himself, Daemon's voice came to him faintly, the words a silky threat.

    "Don't get in my way, Priest."

    Grabbing one of the posts of the four-poster bed, Daemon hauled himself to his feet just as the door burst open and six guards cautiously entered the room.

    Normally they had good reason to fear him, but not tonight. Even if he hadn't drained his strength to the point of exhaustion, he wouldn't have fought them. Tonight, whatever happened to him, he was buying time because she, wherever she was, needed a chance to recover.

    The guards circled him and led him to the brightly lit outer courtyard. When he saw the two posts with the leather straps secured at the base and top, he hesitated for the briefest moment.

    Lady Cornelia, the latest pet Queen who had bought his services from Dorothea SaDiablo, stood near the posts. Her eyes sparkled. Her voice dripped with excitement. "Strip him."

    Daemon angrily shrugged off the guards' hands and began undressing when a bolt of pain from the Ring of Obedience made him catch his breath. He looked at Cornelia and lowered his hands to his sides.

    "Strip him," she said.

    Rough hands pulled his clothes off and dragged him to the posts. The guards lashed his ankles and wrists to the posts, tightening the leather straps until he was stretched taut.

    Cornelia smiled at him. "A slave is forbidden to use the Jewels. A slave is forbidden to do anything but basic Craft, as you well know."

    Yes, he knew. Just as he'd known that Cornelia would sense the unleashing of that much dark power and punish him for it. For most males, the threat of pain—especially the pain that could be produced by the Ring of Obedience—was enough to keep them submissive. But he'd learned to embrace agony like a sweet lover and used it to fuel his hatred for Dorothea and everything and everyone connected with her.

    "The punishment for this kind of disobedience is fifty strokes," Cornelia said. "Youwill do the counting. If you miss a stroke, it will be repeated until you give the count. If you lose your place, the counting will begin again."

    Daemon forced his voice to remain neutral. "What will Lady SaDiablo say about your treatment of her property?"

    "Under the circumstances, I don't think Lady SaDiablo will mind," Cornelia replied sweetly. Then her voice became a whip crack. "Begin!"

    Daemon heard the lash whistle before it struck. For a brief moment, a strange shiver of pleasure ran through him before his body recognized the pain. He drew in a ragged breath. "One."

    Everything has a price. "Two." A Blood Law, or part of a code of honor? "Three." He'd never heard of the High Priest of the Hourglass until he'd found one of Surreal's warnings, but there was something vaguely familiar about that other mind. "Four." Whowas the Priest? "Five." A Warlord Prince . . . "Six." . . . like himself. . . "Seven." . . . who wore the Black Jewels. "Eight." Everything has a price. "Nine." Who had taught him that? "Ten." Older. More experienced. "Eleven." To the east of him. "Twelve." And she was to the west. "Thirteen." He didn't know who she was, but hedid knowwhat she was. "Fourteen. Fifteen."

    Everything has a price.

    The guards dragged him back to his room and locked the door.

    Daemon fell heavily onto his hands and knees. Pressing his forehead to the floor, he tried to dull the burning pain in his back, bu**ocks, and legs long enough to get to his feet. Fifty strokes, each one slicing through his flesh. Fifty strokes. But no more. He hadn't missed the count once, despite the bursts of pain that Cornelia had sent through the Ring of Obedience to distract him.

    Slowly gathering his feet under him, he pushed himself to an almost upright position and shuffled to the bathroom, unable to stifle the moaning sob that accompanied each step.

    When he finally reached the bathroom, he braced one trembling hand against the wall and turned the water taps to fill the bath with warm water. His vision kept blurring, and his body shook with pain and exhaustion. It took three tries to call in the small leather case that held his stash of healing supplies. Once he had it open, it took a minute for his vision to clear sufficiently to find the jar he wanted.

    When combined with water, the powdered herbs cleansed wounds, numbed pain, and allowed the healing process to begin—he could keep his mind fixed enough, andif he could withdraw far enough into himself to gather the power, the Craft he would need to heal the torn flesh.

    Daemon's lips twisted in a grim smile as he turned off the water. If he sent a summons along the Black, if he asked the Priest for help, would he get it? Unlikely. Not an enemy. Not yet. But Surreal had done well to leave those notes warning him about the Priest.

    Daemon let out a cry as the jar slipped from his hands and shattered on the bathroom floor. He sank to his knees, hissing as a piece of glass sliced him, and stared at the powder, tears of pain and frustration welling in his eyes. Without the powder to help heal the wounds, he might still be able to heal them to some extent, still be able to stop the bleeding . . . but he would scar. And he didn't need a mirror to know what he would look like.

    "No!"He wasn't aware of sending. He was only trying to relieve the frustration.

    A minute later, as he knelt on the bathroom floor, shaking, trying not to vent the sobs building in him, a hand touched his shoulder.

    Daemon twisted around, his teeth bared, his eyes wild.

    There was no one in the room. The touch was gone. But there was a presence in the bathroom. Alien . . . and not.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire