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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Dreams Made Flesh (Chapter 10)      Page
  • Dreams Made Flesh(Black Jewels,Book 5)(10) by Anne Bishop
  • Blinking back tears…and telling herself it was the wind that created them…she looked up… and saw the Black Mountain in the distance.

    Ebon Askavi. The Keep. Rumors had been flying recently that there was a Queen there now…a powerful, terrible, Black-Jeweled Queen. But no one had actually seen her. No one could say for certain.

    She paused, moving her wings to hover, unable to look away from that mountain. Unable to shake the feeling that something was aware of her, watching her. From that mountain.

    Heart pounding, she shook her head to pull her gaze away from the Keep, folded her wings, and did a fast dive toward the woods in the valley. She was an unimportant hearth witch. There was no reason for anyone to look in her direction.

    Unless it had something to do with the envelope her father wanted delivered to a messenger without the court he served in being aware of it.

    Pulling out of the dive, she glided to the edge of the woods, then backwinged to land lightly on the path. She'd deliver the envelope and go home. Once she was safely back in her mother's kitchen, she'd convince herself that the uneasiness growing in her was her own doing, that there wasn't something in the woods that made her want to turn and run, that she wasn't sensing ripples of dark power far, far, far below the strength of her Purple Dusk Jewel…ripples of power that were rising up from the abyss and coming toward her.

    She kept to a fast walk, afraid to run because that would incite a predator's instinct to hunt. And there were predators out there, somewhere. She was certain of it.

    She'd almost reached the other end of the small woods when an Eyrien Warlord stepped out of the trees and spread his wings to block the path. Four other Warlords stepped out of the trees behind her.

    "You have a message for me?" the first Warlord asked.

    They were all wearing clothes that were old but of good quality. The kind of quality only aristo families could afford. That didn't make her feel easier.

    "Well?" he demanded.

    Calling in the envelope, she walked toward him until she was close enough to hand him the envelope by extending her arm its full length.

    He snatched it from her, tore it open, read the first page quickly, then tossed all of it aside. When he looked at her, his smile was amused and cruel.

    "The message wasn't meant for you?" Marian said, backing away from him.

    "Oh, it was for me. You're the payment, witchling."

    "I… I don't understand."

    "You don't have to."

    She felt the other men moving closer, surrounding her. "If you hurt me, my father…"

    The Warlord laughed, a vicious sound. "He sent you here, didn't he? He knew well enough what's going to happen. But nobody is going to miss the likes of you."

    She leaped skyward. There wasn't much room to maneuver under the trees, but she was only a few wingstrokes away from open land…and open sky. If she could get past the Warlords, she might be able to stay ahead of them long enough to catch one of the Winds and… head where?

    The Black Mountain. If she could reach the Keep, she could beg for sanctuary, and the Warlords couldn't hurt her.

    She'd almost reached the open land when she heard the crack of a whip, felt the leather cut her skin as it wrapped around her ankle. They hauled her back under the cover of the trees…and they were on her, flying around her, letting her flail and struggle and try to fly while their knives and war blades sliced her. Blood flowed from dozens of shallow cuts. When they sliced her wings, she managed a rough landing, but there was nowhere to run, no way to escape.

    Ripples of dark power coming closer. Closer.

    "Help me!" she screamed. "Please! Help me!"

    Laughing, the Warlords grabbed her arms and legs and flipped her over on her back, holding her down. The fifth man dropped to his knees between her legs and ripped her torn, bloody clothes to expose her.

    "Hurry up," another Warlord said, "or the bitch will bleed out before we all have a chance to use her."

    "She'll last long enough," the Warlord kneeling between her legs replied as he opened his trousers.

    No,Marian thought. No.

    "You want to play with a witch?" a midnight voice said quietly. "Then play with me."

    The last thing Marian saw before her vision blurred was the fear on the face of the Warlord in front of her. Then a wave of freezing black rage washed over her, pulling her under. She thought she heard muted screams of agony and terror, then the sounds were gone. Everything was gone…

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire