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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Daughter of the Blood (Chapter 81)      Page
  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(81) by Anne Bishop
  • Again Saetan shrugged. "Venom needs venom. After the venom sac fills, a Black Widow's body craves poison of some kind. But what's taken into the body must be taken with care. The wrong poison can be as deadly to a Black Widow as poison generally is to the rest of the Blood. The best poison is your own. Usually Black Widows milk the sac right before their moon time so that during those days when they must rest, their bodies, stimulated by a few drops of their own venom, will slowly refill the sac with no discomfort.

    "And if it's thick?"

    "No good. The body will reject it." Saetan reclaimed his hand and steepled his fingers. "Witch-child—"

    "If you can't use your own venom, is there a safe poison?"

    "There are some poisons that can be used," he said cautiously.

    "Could I have some?"

    "Why?"

    "Because I know someone who needs it." Jaenelle stepped away from him, suddenly hesitant.

    Saetan's rib cage clamped around his heart and lungs. He fought against a desire to sink his nails into flesh and tear it. "Male or female?" he asked silkily.

    "Does it make a difference?"

    "Indeed it does, witch-child. If the distillation of poisons isn't blended to take gender into account, the effects could be unpleasant."

    Jaenelle studied him, her eyes troubled. "Male."

    Saetan sat still for a long time. "I have something I can give you. Why don't you see what sort of snack Mrs. Beale has for you? This will take a few minutes."

    As soon as Jaenelle was distracted by taste-testing Mrs. Beale's offerings, Saetan returned to his private study in the Dark Realm. He locked the door and checked the adjoining rooms before going to the secret door in the paneling beside the fireplace. His workshop was Gray-locked, a sensible precaution that kept Hekatah out but still allowed Mephis and Andulvar to reach him. He flicked a thought at the candlelights at the end of the narrow corridor, locked the door behind him, and went into his Widow's den.

    This was the place where he brewed his poisons and wove his tangled webs of dreamscapes and visions. Going to the worktable that ran the entire length of one wall, he called in a small key and opened the solid wood doors of one of the large cupboards that hung above it.

    The poisons sat in neat rows, their glass containers precisely labeled in the Old Tongue. Another precaution, since Hekatah had never mastered the Blood's true language.

    He removed a small stoppered jar and held the glass up to the candlelight. He opened the jar and sniffed, then dipped his finger into it and tasted. It was the distillation he used for himself. Since he wasn't born a Black Widow, his body couldn't produce the venom on its own. He replaced the stopper on the jar, looked in the cupboard again, and took out a jar of tiny, blood-red flakes.

    Just a flake or two of dried witchblood added to the distillation and the pain Daemon felt now would be a sweet caress compared to the agony that would be his last experience among the living. Men had actually opened themselves with a knife and pulled their own guts out trying to relieve the pain. Or this one. A softer death but just as sure. Because he was sure now that Daemon was too close. Jaenelle was reaching out to help him, but how would Daemon repay that kindness?

    Saetan hesitated. And yet . . .

    When he'd walked among the living and raised his sons, Mephis and Peyton, he was one note and they were two others, harmonious but different. Lucivar, too, was a different note, more often than not a sharp. Saetan had known from the first time Lucivar hauled himself to his feet, his little wings stirring the air to help him keep his balance, that this son would be a father's plague as he threw himself at the world with that arrogant Eyrien respect for all things that belong to sky and earth.

    But Daemon. From the first moment Saetan had held him, he had sensed on some deep, instinctive level that the Darkness would sing to this son in the same way it sang to him, that this son would be the father's mirror. So he'd given Daemon a legacy and a burden he'd never intended to give any of his children.

    His name.

    He had intended to teach Daemon about honor and the responsibility that came with wearing Jewels as devastating as the Black. But because of honor, he hadn't been there. Because he believed in the Blood Laws and Protocol, he had accepted the lie when Dorothea denied him paternity. And because he had accepted the lie, Daemon had been raised as a bastard and a slave, an outcast who had no place in Blood society.

    So how could he condemn Daemon to death when it was his failure to protect the child that had helped shape the man? And how could he not make that choice when Jaenelle's life might be at risk?

    Saetan replaced the dried witchblood and locked the cupboard door.

    There had been many times in his long, long life when he'd been required to make hard choices, bitter choices. He used the same measuring stick to make this one.

    Daemon had given his strength to help Jaenelle when she needed it.

    He couldn't repay that debt with a bottle full of death.

    Honor forbade it.

    He returned to the Kaeleer Hall, gave the distillation to Jaenelle, and went over and over the instructions with her until he was sure she had them exactly right.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire