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  • Heir to the Shadows(Black Jewels,Book 2)(15) by Anne Bishop
  • Dannie was the only one there. Surreal tried hard not to look at the ghostly stump where a leg should have been. Her stomach tightened as she tried even harder not to remember what had been done with that leg.

    Burying her pity, Surreal sent out a psychic thread of warmth and friendship toward the ghost-girl.

    Dannie smiled.

    Even in death the Blood were cruel, Surreal thought as she squeezed Rose's cold hand. How empty, how lonely the years must have been for those who weren't strong enough to become demon-dead but were too strong to return to the Darkness. They remained, chained to their graves, unseen, unheard, uncared for—except by Jaenelle.

    Whathad happened to her?

    Surreal and Rose finally walked back to the shrub garden. "They should all be gutted," Surreal growled, releasing Rose's hand. She leaned against the tree and stared at the building. Most of the windows were dark, but there were a few dim lights. Calling in her favorite stiletto, she balanced it in her hand and smiled. "Maybe one or two can feed the garden before I go."

    "No," Rose said sharply, placing herself in front of Surreal. "You can't touch any of Briarwood's uncles. No one can."

    Surreal straightened, a feral expression in her gold-green eyes. "I'm very good at what I do, Rose."

    "No," Rose insisted. "When Jaenelle's blood was spilled, it woke the tangled web she created. It's a trap for all the uncles."

    Surreal looked at the building, then at Rose. Therehad been rumors of a mysterious illness that was affecting a number of Chaillot's high-ranking members of the council—like Robert Benedict—as well as a few special dignitaries—like Kartane SaDiablo. "This trap will kill them?"

    "Eventually," Rose said.

    A vicious light filled Surreal's eyes. "What about a cure?"

    "Briarwood is the pretty poison. There is no cure for Briarwood."

    "Is it painful?"

    Rose grinned. " To each will come what he gave.' "

    Surreal vanished her stiletto. "Then let the bastards scream."

    4 / Terreille

    In the light of two smoking torches, the young Priestess double-checked the tools she had placed on the Dark Altar. Everything was ready: the four-branched candelabra with its black candles, the small silver cup, and the two vials of dark liquid—one with a white stopper, the other with a red.

    When the stranger with the maimed hands had given her the vials, he'd assured her that the antidote would keep her from being affected by the witch's brew that had been designed to subdue a Warlord Prince.

    She paced behind the Dark Altar, chewing on her thumbnail. It had sounded so easy, and yet . . .

    She froze, not even daring to breathe as she tried to see beyond the wrought-iron gate into the dark corridor. Was something there?

    Nothing but a silence within the night's silence, a shadow within the shadows, gliding toward the Altar with a predator's grace.

    The Priestess squatted behind the Altar, broke the seal on the white-stoppered vial, and gulped the contents. She vanished the vial and rose. When she looked toward the wrought-iron gate, she clutched her Yellow Jewel as if it might protect her.

    He stood on the other side of the Altar, watching her. Despite the rumpled clothing and the disheveled hair, he exuded a cold, carnal power.

    The Priestess licked her lips and rubbed her damp hands on her robe. His golden eyes looked sleepy, slightly glazed.

    Then he smiled.

    She shivered and took a deep breath. "Have you come for advice or assistance?"

    "Assistance," he said in a deep, cultured voice. "Have you the training to open the Gate?"

    How could a man be so beautiful? she thought as she nodded. "There is a price." Her voice seemed to be swallowed by the shadows.

    With his left hand, he drew an envelope out of an inner pocket in his coat and laid it on the Altar. "Will that be sufficient?"

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire