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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Heir to the Shadows (Chapter 163)      Page
  • Heir to the Shadows(Black Jewels,Book 2)(163) by Anne Bishop
  • They reluctantly admitted that the story was true. A Queen who had acquired a taste for cruelty had been unable to form a court because she couldn't convince twelve males to serve her willingly. So she decided toforce males into service by using that Ring of Obedience device. She had collected eleven lighter-Jeweled Warlords and was looking for the twelfth male when the Warlord Prince confronted her.He was looking for a younger cousin who had disappeared the month before. When she tried to force him to submit, he killed her.

    What happened to the Warlord Prince?

    It took them a moment to understand the question.

    Nothinghappened to the Warlord Prince. After all, he did exactly what he was supposed to do. Granted, they all wished he had simply restrained that horrible woman and handed her over to Nharkhava's Queen for punishment, but one has to expect this sort of thing when a Warlord Prince is provoked enough to rise to the killing edge.

    Lucivar had spent the rest of that day in a tavern, unsure

    if he felt amused or terrified by the Ladies' attitude. He thought about the beatings, the whippings, the times he'd screamed in agony when pain was sent through the Ring of Obedience. He thought of what he'd done to earn that pain. He sat in that tavern and laughed until he cried when he finally realized he would never be able to reconcile the differences between Terreille and Kaeleer.

    In Kaeleer, service was an intricate dance, the lead constantly changing between the genders. Witches nurtured and protected male strength and pride. Males, in turn, protected and respected the gentler, but somehow deeper, feminine strength.

    Males weren't slaves or pets or tools to be used without regard to feelings. They were valuable, and valued, partners.

    That, Lucivar had decided that day, was the leash the Queens used in Kaeleer—control so gentle and sweet a man had no reason to fight against it and every reason to fiercely protect it.

    Loyalty, on both sides. Respect, on both sides. Honor, on both sides. Pride, on both sides.

    This was the place he now proudly called home.

    "Lucivar."

    Lucivar shot to his feet, cursing silently. Considering the tension he felt in her, he was lucky she hadn't taken off without him.

    "Something’s’ wrong," she said in her midnight voice.

    He immediately probed the area. "Where? I don't sense anything."

    "Not right here. To the east."

    The only thing east of them was a landen village under the protection of Agio, the Blood village at the northern end of Ebon Rih.

    "There's something wrong there, but it's elusive," Jaenelle said, her eyes narrowed as she stared eastward. "And it feelstwisted somehow, like a snare filled with poison bait. But it slips away from me every time I try to focus on it." She snarled, frustrated. "Maybe the drugs are messing up my ability to sense things."

    He thought about the Queen who had ensnared eleven young men before being killed. "Or maybe you're just the wrong gender for the bait." Keeping his inner barriers tightly shielded, he sent a delicate psychic probe eastward. A minute later, swearing viciously, he snapped the link and clung to Jaenelle, letting her clean, dark strength wash away the foulness he'd brushed against.

    He pressed his forehead against hers. "It's bad, Cat. A lot of desperation and pain surrounded by . . ." He searched for some way to describe what he'd felt.

    Carrion.

    Shuddering, he wondered why the word came to mind.

    He could fly over the village and take a quick look. If the landens were fighting off a Jhinka raiding party, he was strong enough to give them whatever help they needed. If it was one of those spring fevers that sometimes ran through a village, it would be better to know that before sending a message to Agio since the Healers would be needed.

    His main concern was finding a safe—

    "Don't even think it, Lucivar," Jaenelle warned softly. "I'm going with you."

    Lucivar eyed her, trying to judge just how far he could push her this time. "You know, the Ring of Honor you had made for me won't stop me the way the Restraining Ring would have."

    She muttered an Eyrien curse that was quite explicit.

    He smiled grimly. That pretty much answered the question of how far he could push. He looked toward the east. "All right, you're going with me. But we'll do this my way, Cat."

    Jaenelle nodded. "You're the one with fighting experience. But . . ." She pressed her right palm against the Ebon-gray Jewel resting on his chest. "Spread your wings."

    As he opened his wings to their full span, he felt a hot-cold tingle from the Ring of Honor.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire