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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Heir to the Shadows (Chapter 107)      Page
  • Heir to the Shadows(Black Jewels,Book 2)(107) by Anne Bishop
  • "I'm not the one you have to negotiate with, Warlord. Jaenelle set the terms, not me."

    Lord Magstrom looked shocked. "We assumed—"

    "You assumed wrong. Even I don't have the power to do this."

    Lord Magstrom closed his eyes. His breathing was too rapid, too shallow. "Do you know where she is?"

    "I think she's at Ebon Askavi."

    "Why would she go there?"

    "It's her home."

    "Mother Night," Magstrom whispered. "Mother Night." He drained the glass of brandy. "Do you think we'll be able to see her?"

    "I don't know." No point telling Magstrom that he'd already tried to see Jaenelle and, for the first time in his life, had been politely but firmly refused entrance to the Keep.

    "Would she talk to us?"

    "I don't know."

    "Would—Would you talk to her?"

    Saetan stared at Magstrom, momentarily shocked before fiery cold rage washed through him. "Why should I?" he said too softly.

    "For the sake of the Realm."

    "Youbastard]" Saetan's nails scored the blackwood desk. "You try to take my daughter away from me and you expectme to smooth it over? Did you learn nothing from your last visit? No. You just chose to tear apart the life she's starting to build again with no thought to what it might do to her. You try to tear out my heart, and then when you discover there are penalties for playing your vicious little games, you want me fix it. You dismissed me as her guardian. If you want to end this,you go up to Ebon Askavi andyou face what's waiting for you there. And in case you don't yet realize who you're dealing with, I'll tell you. Witch is waiting for you, Magstrom. Witch in all her dark glory. And the Lady isn't pleased."

    Magstrom moaned and collapsed in the chair.

    "Damn." Saetan took a deep breath and leashed his temper as he filled another glass with two fingers of brandy, called in a small vial from his stock of healing powders, and tapped in the proper dosage. Cradling Magstrom's head, he said, "Drink this. It'll help."

    When Magstrom was once more aware and breathing easier, Saetan returned to his own chair. Bracing his head in his hands, he stared at the nail marks on the desk. "I'll take her the Council's proposal exactly as it's given to me, and I'll bring back her answer exactly as it's given to me. I'll do nothing more."

    "After what you said, why would you do that?"

    "You wouldn't understand," Saetan snapped.

    Magstrom was silent for a moment. "I think I need to understand."

    Saetan ran his fingers through his thick black hair and closed his golden eyes. He took a deep breath. If their positions were reversed, wouldn't he want an answer? "I stand at the window and worry about the sparrows and the finches and all the other creatures of the day, all the innocents who can't comprehend why the daylight doesn't come. I cradle a flower in my hand, hoping it will survive, and feel the land grow colder with each passing hour. I'm not going for the Council or even the Blood. I'm going to plead for the sparrows and the trees." He opened his eyes. "Now do you understand?"

    "Yes, High Lord, I do." Lord Magstrom smiled. "How fortunate that the Council agreed to let me negotiate the terms of the proposal. If you and I can reach an agreement, perhaps it will be acceptable to the Lady as well."

    Saetan tried, but he couldn't return the smile. They'd never seen Jaenelle's sapphire eyes change, never seen her turn from child to Queen, never seen Witch. "Perhaps."

    He'd felt grateful when Draca granted him entrance to the Keep. He didn't feel quite so grateful about it when Jaenelle pounced on him the moment he entered her workroom.

    "Do you understand this?" she demanded, thrusting a Craft book into his hands and pointing to a paragraph.

    His insides churning, he called in his half-moon glasses, positioned them carefully on his nose, and obediently read the paragraph. "It seems simple enough," he said after a moment.

    Jaenelle plopped on air, spraddle-legged. "I knew it," she muttered, crossing her arms. "I knew it was written in male."

    Saetan vanished his glasses. "I beg your pardon?"

    "It's gibberish. Geoffrey understands it but can't explain it so that it makes sense, and you understand it. Therefore, it's written in male—only comprehensible to a mind attached to a c**k and balls."

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