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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Daughter of the Blood (Chapter 92)      Page
  • Daughter of the Blood(Black Jewels,Book 1)(92) by Anne Bishop
  • It always amazed Dorothea that the demon-dead didn't look any different from the living. The only distinction was the faint odor of meat beginning to spoil. "I never forget what you are," Dorothea said with a smile. Hekatah's eyes blazed with anger, but Dorothea didn't look away. "And you should remember who owns Sadi, and that it's my generosity and my influence over Prythian that's making your little game of vengeance possible."

    Hekatah flipped the hood back over her face and flung out one hand. The door opened with a crash, its brass knob embedded in the stone wall. With another hiss of anger, she was gone.

    Dorothea refilled her wineglass. She'd seen the slight sneer, the change in Greer's eyes after he'd met the Dark Priestess. But what was she anyway? A bag of bones that didn't know enough to fall to dust. A leech. A scheming little harpy who was still trying to get back at a man who cared for nothing in Terreille. Nothing at all. She wasn't sure she believed this story about a child the Priest was besotted with, wasn't sure what difference it made if he was. Let him have his toy. She'd thrown enough youths into the Dark Priestess's lair. Now the walking carrion wanted her to give up the use of Sadi for a hundred years, and as gratitude for Dorothea's willingness to make such an accommodation, was trying to sway her best servant, to make him untrustworthy.

    Very well. Let Greer fawn. The day would come when he would realize his error—and pay for it.

    Greer sat in a dark corner booth, sipping his second tankard of ale and watching the worn, weary faces of the men at the other tables. He could have gone to a tavern where he would have had a better dinner and the ale wouldn't have left an aftertaste of wash water in his mouth, but he would have had to smile and fawn over the Blood aristos that crowded a place like that. Here, because they were afraid of him, he had the table of his choice, the best cut of meat, and privacy.

    He drained the tankard and raised a finger at the barmaid who hurried to refill it for him, fending off roaming hands as she passed between the tables. Greer smiled. That, too, in this place, he could have for the asking.

    When he was sure everyone else was preoccupied, he lifted his right hand and laid it on the table.

    He still didn't know why Sadi had done that to him, what had provoked the Sadist to such calculated destruction. He'd been sitting quietly in a tavern not unlike this one, exploring a wench's luxuries, when Sadi had walked up to his table and held out his right hand. Since Sadi had said nothing, since there was only that blank, bored face looking down at him, Greer had extended his own right hand, thinking Sadi had come to grovel for some favor. The moment Sadi's hand had closed around his, everything changed. One moment there was only the firm pressure of a handshake, the next he felt his bones being crushed, his fingers snapping, felt himself held in a mental vice so he didn't even have the luxury of fainting to escape. When the vice finally did allow him to escape . . .

    His first thought when he came to was to get to a Healer right away, get to someone who could reshape the pulp that used to be a valuable tool. But someone had already done a healing. Someone had tenderly shaped his hand into a twisted claw and healed the bones sufficiently so that a Healer would have to crush them all over again in order to straighten the hand, and even. Greer knew the best a second healing could do was make the shape a little better. It could never make that twisted claw into a usable hand.

    Sadi had done the healing, knowing what the result would be. Sadi, who had never failed thereafter to greet him courteously, mockingly, hatefully, whenever they were both in attendance at Dorothea's court. Sadi, who now was going to butcher a child for the illusion of freedom.

    Greer drained the tankard for the last time and threw a few coins on the table. There was a Web Coach heading west in an hour's time. He had wanted to wait, wanted to seem casual, but in truth, he couldn't wait to make this offer.

    CHAPTER NINE

    1—Kaeleer

    Saetan sat in a comfortable chair in what had become known as the "family" room at the Kaeleer Hall, his legs crossed at the knee, his fingers steepled and resting on his chin. He watched Jaenelle happily weave bright-colored ribbons through a thin sheet of wood.

    Her lessons were no longer private, and he resented having so little time alone with her, but she was a living ball of witchlight who drew the males of his family to her; and he, who understood so well what drew them, couldn't find it in himself to shut them out.

    Today Prothvar and Mephis haphazardly played chess while Andulvar relaxed in a chair with his eyes half closed. Jaenelle sat on the floor in front of Saetan's chair, brightly colored sticks, playing cards, and ribbons scattered around her.

    The lessons were getting better, Saetan thought dryly as he watched Jaenelle weave another ribbon through the wood. All he had to remember was to start at the end and work back to the beginning.

    The lesson was supposed to be on how to pass one physical object through another. The idea was that once a witch knew how to pass one object through another, she could eventually learn how to pass living matter through nonliving matter, thus being able to pass through a door or a wall. That was the idea anyway.

    He had explained it in every way he could think of, had demonstrated it over and over again. She simply didn't get it. Finally, after an hour of frustration, he'd said brusquely, "If you wanted to pass your arm through that wood, what would you do?"

    Jaenelle paused for the briefest moment, thrust her arm through the wood, and wiggled her fingers on the other side. "Like this?"

    Andulvar had muttered something that sounded like "Mother Night." Mephis and Prothvar had upset the game table, spilling all the chess pieces on the floor. Saetan's eyes had glazed as he studied the wiggling fingers. "Like that," he'd finally said, choking.

    Working backward from what she already knew made him queasy—he had never forgotten the young Warlord who had been too cocky about the lessons and then had panicked halfway through the pass—but it had only taken a few minutes to translate from flesh and wood to ribbons and wood, and it had been so pleasing to see that spark in her eyes, to almost hear the click when she put the pieces together and understood.

    So now she was happily weaving ribbons through a piece of solid wood with an ease that women at a loom would envy.

    "Oh, I almost forgot," Jaenelle said as she picked up another ribbon. "The Prince asked me to send his regards."

    Andulvar's eyes flew open and immediately closed again. Mephis's hand froze above the piece he was about to move. Prothvar's head whipped around and immediately whipped back. Only Saetan, who was sitting in front of her, didn't react.

    "The Prince?" he asked lazily.

    "Mm. We have a Hayllian Warlord Prince living with us now. He's sort of a playmate for Leland and Alexandra." She paused in her weaving, her brow puckered. "I don't think he likes it much. He doesn't seem happy when he's with them. But he doesn't mind playing with Wilhelmina and me."

    "And what does he play with you and Wilhelmina?" Saetan asked softly. He noticed Andulvar's sharp look, but he ignored it. Daemon wasn't just in Beldon Mor, he was in the damn house!

    Jaenelle brightened. "Lots of things. We take walks, and he rides well, and he knows lots of stories, and he plays the piano with Wilhelmina, and he reads to us, and he's not like lots of grown-ups who think our games are silly." She picked up two ribbons and braided them through the wood. "He's like you in lots of ways." She tilted her head and studied his face. "He looks like you in some ways."

    Saetan's blood roared in his ears. He lowered his hands and pressed one against his stomach. "And what way is that, witch-child?"

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