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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Dreams Made Flesh (Chapter 89)      Page
  • Dreams Made Flesh(Black Jewels,Book 5)(89) by Anne Bishop
  • "Do you know who… and what… I am?" he asked again.

    The Ambassador's smile faltered. "Hopefully, you are a man who realizes a small inconvenience to the Dhemlan people is worth less than the well-being of your wife and child."

    Saetan waited until the Zuulaman Ambassador had left the Hall before he sank into his chair behind the blackwood desk.

    Hell's fire, Mother Night, and may the Darkness be merciful. What had possessed Hekatah to leave Hayll and go to Zuulaman? Why would she choose to travel so near her time? She'd been aware of the difficulties he'd been having with the Queens who ruled those islands. Had she gone thinking she'd be an honored guest, that the Queens would try to sway her in the hopes that she, in turn, could sway him to agree to something that would be of no benefit to the people he ruled? Now she was a hostage…and their unborn child with her.

    So tempting to declare war on the Zuulaman Queens. He wouldn't need to gather the Dhemlan Warlord Princes to do it. He wouldn't need anyone or anything but himself to annihilate the Zuulaman courts. But Hekatah was so vulnerable right now, unable to use her own power until after the birthing. They would kill her the moment they felt his presence anywhere near their islands.

    He had to find another way. There had to be another way.

    They had issued the challenge, drawn the line. Did any of them realize that, by doing so, they had invited him to step onto a killing field? Did any of them realize what would happen if he did?

    * * *

    Andulvar Yaslana prowled the sitting room in Saetan's suite, too edgy and angry to remain still…and a little uneasy about the way Saetandid remain quietly at the window, watching Mephis and Peyton play in the enclosed garden bounded by the walls of the family wing. Anger needed sound and motion, unless it ripened to the point where it had a killing edge and needed to be quenched on a killing field. That was his kind of anger. Eyrien anger. But Saetan's stillness had a different quality to it. Always had, even before he'd made the Offering to the Darkness and came away from it wearing Black Jewels.

    "What are you going to do?"Andulvar asked.

    "Wait to see what Zuulaman wants," Saetan replied quietly.

    "They made it clear enough," Andulvar growled as he picked up the trade agreements and dropped them back down on the table.

    Turning away from the window, Saetan walked over to the table and stared at the agreements. "Either they really didn't think this through, or they intended something else all along and these agreements are just smoke."

    "They're holding your wife hostage,"Andulvar pointed out. And as far as he was concerned, Zuulaman could keep Hekatah. Saetan was better off without the bitch.

    "My wife is a Red-Jeweled Priestess from one of Hayll's Hundred Families," Saetan said. "If they lay a hand on her, they'll not only have me to deal with but Hayll as well. Zuulaman is enamored with Hayll, so they won't do anything that will make the Hayllian Queens turn on them."

    "There's still those agreements."

    Saetan reached out and pushed the papers with one finger. "Which aren't worth a damn thing. Say I sign them on the condition that the agreements are handed over to Zuulaman at the same time that the baby and Hekatah are returned to me."

    "Then Zuulaman gets what it wants."

    "For a few hours. As soon as we were home, I'd send a message to the Dhemlan Queens that I was stepping down as the Warlord Prince of Dhemlan, giving up my claim to this Territory."

    The words hit Andulvar like a fist in the belly. "You'd give up Dhemlan?"

    "Everything has a price. These agreements are only for Dhemlan Terreille. I'd still have the Dhemlan Territory in Kaeleer."

    "But… this is what you wanted." An odd look crept into Saetan's eyes, gone before Andulvar could put a name to it.

    "Ruling this Territory was a price equal to the protection I offered," Saetan said softly. "It was a price worthy of what I am. But I don't need it."

    Andulvar rubbed the back of his neck. Damn politics. The Eyrien way was simpler…a blade and a battlefield, not these sly games played with words.

    "Since the Dhemlan Queens didn't agree to this, the moment I step down, there are no trade agreements. Zuulaman gains nothing."

    "They won't expect this."

    "They should. If they've paid any attention to how I've ruled this Territory since the Queens here made their bargain with me, they should. Which means they never expected me to sign the agreements, but the greed and audacity of asking for so much will make their real goal seem more reasonable."

    Saetan smiled a gentle, brutal smile.

    Andulvar suppressed a shudder.

    "So I'm waiting for them to name the ransom that will buy back my wife and child," Saetan said.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire