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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Daughter of the Blood (Chapter 82)      Page
  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(82) by Anne Bishop
  • 3—Terreille

    Daemon sat on the edge of his bed, his right hand cradled in his lap. His shirt clung to him, sweat-soaked from the fever and the pain.

    He had tried to milk the snake tooth that morning, but the venom had thickened more quickly than he'd expected, and except for inflaming already tender flesh, he'd accomplished nothing. He'd managed to get through the day, and after dinner he had asked to be excused, claiming, truthfully, that he was unwell. Since Philip had gone to dinner elsewhere and hadn't returned and Robert was going about his usual nightly business, Alexandra and Leland had been sympathetic enough not to demand anything further from him.

    Now, as midnight approached and the pain was a sharp, thin line that ran from his finger up to his elbow and slowly climbed toward his shoulder, Daemon vaguely wondered what Leland and Alexandra would do when they found him. He might lose the finger or the hand, possibly even the arm at this point. Given a choice, he would rather die within his own pain. That would be preferable to what Dorothea would do to him after learning about the snake tooth, particularly since he doubted he would be capable of protecting himself.

    His bedroom door opened and closed.

    Jaenelle stood in front of him, solemn and still.

    "Let me see your hand," she said, holding out her own.

    Daemon shook his head and closed his eyes.

    Jaenelle touched his shoulder. Her fingers unerringly followed the line of pain from shoulder to elbow, elbow to wrist, wrist to finger.

    Daemon slowly opened his eyes. Jaenelle held his hand, but he couldn't feel it, couldn't feel his arm at all. He tried to speak but was silenced by the dark look she gave him. Positioning the small bowl he used to milk the snake tooth beneath his hand, she slowly stroked the finger from knuckle to nail tip. He felt no pain, only a growing pressure at his fingertip.

    Then a faint sound, as if a grain of salt had been dropped into the bowl. Then another, and another, and one more before she squeezed a thin, white, steady thread of thickened venom out of the tooth.

    "May I recite the lesson I learned today?" Jaenelle asked quietly as she continued to stroke his finger. "It will help me remember."

    "If you like," Daemon replied slowly. It was hard to think, hard to concentrate as he stared at the little coil of venom at the bottom of the bowl, at the crystallized grains that had caused so much pain.

    When Jaenelle began to speak, Daemon's head cleared enough to listen and understand. She told him about the snake tooth and about venom, about how a Black Widow uses four drops of her own venom mixed with a warm drink to restore the balance of poison her body needs after milking the snake tooth, about the dangers of letting venom thicken, and on and on. In the time it took her to completely milk the thick venom from the tooth, she had told him more than he'd been able to glean from centuries of effort. The fact that what she told him contradicted most of what he'd learned didn't surprise him. Dorothea and her coven made an effort to educate their Sisters in other Territories, an education Daemon knew they themselves didn't ascribe to. It explained why so many potential rivals died in such agony.

    Finally it was done.

    "There," Jaenelle said with satisfaction. She plumped the pillows. "You should lie back and rest now." She frowned at his shirt.

    His mind felt fuzzy. She had him half out of the shirt before he realized what she was doing and made a fumbling effort to help her. Holding the drenched material by her fingertips, she wrinkled her nose and vanished it. She disappeared into the bathroom with the bowl, returned with a towel, rubbed him dry, and pushed him back onto the pillows.

    Daemon closed his eyes. He felt light, dizzy, and empty to the marrow of his bones. He also felt a craving for poison that was so fierce he almost would have welcomed the pain back.

    He heard water running in the bathroom, heard it stop. He opened his eyes to find Jaenelle standing by the bed holding one of Cook's mugs. "Drink this."

    Daemon clumsily took the cup in his left hand and obediently sipped. His body tingled. He drank gratefully, relieved when the craving started to disappear. "What is this?" he finally asked.

    "A distillation of poisons that are safe for you to drink."

    "Where did—"

    "Drink." She darted back into the bathroom.

    He finished the drink before she returned. She placed the clean bowl on the bedside table, took the empty cup, and vanished it. "You need to sleep now." She pulled off his shoes and reached for his belt.

    "I can undress myself," he growled, ashamed of how harsh his voice sounded after she'd done so much to help him.

    Jaenelle stepped back. "You're embarrassed."

    Daemon studied her. She wasn't being coy. "I don't undress in front of young girls."

    She gave him a strange, thoughtful look. "Very well. The snake tooth hasn't drawn back into its sheath yet, so be careful not to snag it." She turned and went to the door.

    It hurt to have her use that neutral, formal voice. "Lady," he called softly. When she returned to the bed, Daemon raised her hand to his lips for a light kiss. "Thank you. If you ever want to recite another lesson to help you remember it, I'd be very pleased to listen."

    She smiled at him. He was asleep before she slipped out the door.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire