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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Dreams Made Flesh (Chapter 11)      Page
  • Dreams Made Flesh(Black Jewels,Book 5)(11) by Anne Bishop
  • …until she felt a hand close over hers, felt power that wasn't hers flowing into her. She forced her eyes open and stared at the golden-haired, sapphire-eyed woman kneeling beside her. Stared at the Black Jewel that hung from a chain around the woman's neck.

    "You're the Queen," Marian said, barely able to draw enough breath to shape the words.

    "Yes, I'm the Queen," the woman replied.

    "I don't want to die."

    "Then don't." The woman placed her other hand on Marian's forehead.

    The dark power closed in around her again, but it was warm now, gentle, a cocoon of soft blankets. Power not her own kept her heart beating, kept her lungs moving.

    Her last thought before she surrendered to it was,I've seen the Queen of Ebon Askavi.

    As soon as Saetan stepped through the Gate, he knew Jaenelle wasn't in the Keep in Terreille. A moment later, when her psychic scent flooded the corridors, he knew she'd returned…and the control on his temper frayed a bit more.

    That she was his Queen didn't matter. That her power eclipsed his didn't matter. By the time he was done explaining things, his Lady would be in no doubt about how her Steward felt about her entering Terreille, which was the enemy's territory, without even one escort going with her.

    Then he stepped out of the room that held the Dark Altar and saw her moving toward him, one hand under the blankets wrapped around…

    He smelled the blood, noted the dangerous, feral look in Jaenelle's eyes, and felt the heat of his temper chill to cold rage as he rose to the killing edge.

    Jaenelle stopped in front of him. She said nothing while he carefully pulled aside a part of the blankets and looked at the young Eyrien woman, while he studied the torn clothing and the slices in her skin that still seeped blood despite the healing web he sensed Jaenelle weaving around her.

    "Why?" he asked.

    Jaenelle turned her head. "Ask them."

    Five bodies appeared in the hallway. Saetan used Craft to probe the bodies. He felt equally chilled by and approving of what Jaenelle had done. From neck to toes, the bones of the Eyrien males had been crushed into small pebbles, making the bodies look like oddly shaped sacks. The muscles and internal organs had been ripped apart, as if claws had slipped beneath the skin, leaving it untouched while they tore through everything else in long, leisurely strokes. Which, he imagined, is exactly what she'd done. And for the few seconds it took her to do it, the pain would have been exquisite…

    He looked at the Eyrien woman.

    …but not enough to pay the debt.

    "This is what you saw in the tangled web last night?" he asked too softly.

    "I saw emptiness where something bright and joyful should have been. I saw happiness wither like a plant that couldn't find the right soil to take root in. And I saw the terrace where I was standing at dawn, but it was empty…a warning that my presence, or absence, would make the difference in what would come."

    "I see." He looked at the bodies again. "Now I understand what kind of expertise you need from me."

    Jaenelle nodded."Find out why this happened, High Lord… and settle the debt."

    "It will be a pleasure, Lady."

    He stepped back, watched her hurry into the room that held the Dark Altar and the Gate that would take her and the woman to Kaeleer.

    He waited a few minutes, studying the bodies that flopped in unnatural positions. Then he raised his right hand. His Black-Jeweled ring flashed with the reservoir of power it held. The bodies rose from the floor and floated toward him.Turning, he walked back to the Dark Altar, lit the four black candles in the candelabra in the proper sequence, and walked through the misty Gate, the bodies floating behind him.

    When he walked out of the Gate, he felt the difference between this Realm and the two Realms that belonged to the living. Hell was the land of the demon-dead Blood who still had too much power even after the body's death to return to the Darkness. A cold, ever-twilight Realm. He'd begun ruling here while he still walked among the living. He'd been ruling the Dark Realm ever since.

    Turning to look at the bodies floating behind him, he smiled a cold, cruel smile. He accepted that executions were sometimes necessary, and he performed them with exacting skill when duty required it of him. He'd never developed a taste for them, but he suspected finishing what Jaenelle had begun was truly going to be a pleasure.

    Walking through the corridors of the Keep, he went to the closest landing web, caught the Black Wind, and took the five bodies with him to the Hall he'd built in this Realm. There, he would have everything he needed to make sure the debt owed to the Eyrien woman was paid in full.

    The sun had set by the time Saetan returned to the Keep in Kaeleer and entered Jaenelle's suite of rooms. She was on the couch in her sitting room, reading one of those romances that was as close as she was willing to get when it came to experiencing intimacy with a man. With Lucivar as her First Escort, she didn't need a man just to fill the position of Consort, and when Daemon finally …

    He wouldn't allow himself to travel down that road. He would defend Jaenelle's choice not to have a Consort…and he would hope that, with the right man, someday her interest in sex would go beyond the pages of a book.

    Jaenelle closed the book and looked at him with sapphire eyes that still held a touch of feral rage. His daughter hadn't come back yet. Not completely. He was still dealing with Witch…and his Queen…and he needed to tread carefully.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire