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  • Heir to the Shadows(Black Jewels,Book 2) by Anne Bishop
  • Prologue

    Kaeleer

    The Dark Council reconvened. Andulvar Yaslana, the demon-dead Eyrien Warlord Prince, folded his dark wings and assessed the other Council members, not liking what he saw. Except for the Tribunal, who had to attend, only two-thirds of the members were required at each session to listen to petitions or pass judgment when disputes occurred between the Blood in Kaeleer that couldn't be settled by the Territory Queens. Tonight every chair was filled, except the one beside Andulvar.

    But the chair's occupant was also there, standing patiently in the petitioner's circle, waiting for the Council's answer. He was a brown-skinned, golden-eyed man, with thick black hair that was silvered at the temples. Seeing him leaning on the elegant, silver-headed cane, one might simply have said he was a handsome Blood male at the end of his prime. His long, black-tinted nails and the Black-Jeweled ring on his right hand said otherwise.

    First Tribune quietly cleared his throat. "Prince Saetan Daemon SaDiablo, you stand before the Council requesting guardianship of the child Jaenelle Angelline. You did not, as is customary in a Blood dispute, provide us with the information needed to contact the girl's family so that they could come here and speak on their own behalf."

    "They don't want the child," was the quiet reply. "I do." "We have only your word on that, High Lord."Fools, Andulvar thought, watching the barely perceptible rise and fall of Saetan's chest.

    First Tribune continued. "The most troubling aspect of this petition is that you're a Guardian, one of the living dead, and yet you want us to place the welfare of a living child into your hands."

    "Not just any child, Tribune.This child."

    First Tribune shifted uneasily in his chair. His eyes swept over the tiered seats on both sides of the large room. "Because of the . . . unusual . . . circumstances, the decision will have to be unanimous. Do you understand?"

    "I understand, Tribune. I understand very well."

    First Tribune cleared his throat again. "A vote will now be taken on the petition of Saetan Daemon SaDiablo for the guardianship of the child Jaenelle Angelline. Those opposed?"

    A number of hands went up, and Andulvar shuddered at the peculiar, glazed look in Saetan's eyes.

    After the hands were counted, no one spoke, no one moved.

    "Take the vote again," Saetan said too softly.

    When First Tribune didn't respond, Second Tribune touched his arm. Within seconds, there was nothing in First Tribune's chair but a pile of ash and a black silk robe.

    Mother Night,Andulvar thought as he watched body after opposing body crumble.Mother Night.

    "Take the vote again," Saetan said too gently.

    It was unanimous.

    Second Tribune rubbed her hand over her heart. "Prince Saetan Daemon SaDiablo, the Council hereby grants you all paternal—"

    "Parental. Allparental rights."

    "—all parental rights to the child Jaenelle Angelline, from this hour until she reaches her majority in her twentieth year."

    As soon as Saetan bowed to the Tribunal and began the long walk down the room, Andulvar left his seat and opened the large double doors at the far end of the Council chamber. He sighed with relief when Saetan, leaning heavily on his silver-headed cane, slowly walked past him.

    It wasn't over, Andulvar thought as he closed the doors and followed Saetan. The Council would be more subtle

    next time in opposing the High Lord, but therewould be a next time.

    When they finally stepped out into the fresh night air, Andulvar turned to his longtime friend. "Well, she's yours now."

    Saetan lifted his face to the night sky and closed his golden eyes. "Yes, she's mine."

    PART 1

    Chapter one

    1 / Terreille

    Surrounded by guards, Lucivar Yaslana, the half-breed Eyrien Warlord Prince, walked into the courtyard, fully expecting to hear the order for his execution. There was no other reason for a salt mine slave to be brought to this courtyard, and Zuultah, the Queen of Pruul, had good reason to want him dead. Prythian, the High Priestess of Askavi, still wanted him alive, still hoped to turn him to stud. But Prythian wasn't standing in the courtyard with Zuultah.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire