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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Heir to the Shadows (Chapter 164)      Page
  • Heir to the Shadows(Black Jewels,Book 2)(164) by Anne Bishop
  • She stepped back, satisfied. "This shield is braided into the protective shield already contained in the Ring. You could drain your Jewels to the breaking point, and it will still hold around you. It's fixed about a foot out from your body and will mesh with mine so we can stay tight without endangering each other. But make sure you keep clear of anything else you don't want to damage."

    Having made regular circuits to all the villages in Ebon Rih, Lucivar knew the landen village and surrounding land fairly well. Plenty of low hills and woodland within striking distance of the village—perfect hiding places for a Jhinka raiding party.

    The Jhinka were a fierce, winged people made up of patriarchal clans loosely joined together by a dozen tribal chiefs. Like the Eyriens, they were native to Askavi, but they were smaller and had a fraction of the life span of the long-lived Eyriens. The two races had hated each other for as long as either of them could remember.

    While Eyriens had the advantage of Craft, the Jhinka had the advantage of numbers. Once drained of his psychic power and the reserves in the Jewels, an Eyrien warrior was as vulnerable as any other man when fighting against overwhelming odds. So, accepting the slaughter required to bring down an enemy, the Jhinka had always been willing to meet an Eyrien in battle.

    With two exceptions. One walked among the dead, the other among the living. Both wore Ebon-gray Jewels.

    "All right," Lucivar said. "We'll run on this White radial thread until we're past the village, then drop from the Winds and come in fast from the other side. If this is a Jhinka raid, I'll handle it. If it's something else . . ."

    She just looked at him.

    He cleared his throat. "Come on, Cat. Let's give whoever is messing with our valley a reason to regret it."

    8 / Kaeleer

    Dropping from the White Wind, Lucivar and Jaenelle glided toward the peaceful-looking village still a mile away.

    "You said we'd go in fast," Jaenelle said on a psychic thread.

    "I also said we'd do this my way," Lucivar replied sharply.

    "There's pain and need down there, Lucivar."

    There was also the foulness that now eluded him. It was still there. Had to be. That he could no longer sense it, would never have sensed it if he'd simply come to check on the village, made him uneasy. He would have stumbled into whatever trap was waiting down there.

    He felt the predator wake in her at the same moment she began a hawk-dive, dropping toward the village at full speed. Swearing, he folded his wings and dove after her just as hundreds of Jhinka appeared out of nowhere, screeching their battle cries as they tried to surround him and pull him down.

    Using Craft to enhance his speed, Lucivar drove through the Jhinka swarm, relishing the screams when they hit his protective shield. Roaring an Eyrien war cry, he unleashed the power in his Ebon-gray Jewels in short, controlled bursts.

    Jhinka bodies exploded into a bloody mist full of severed limbs.

    He burst through the bottom of the swarm, coming out of his dive a wing-length from the ground. "Cat!"

    "Come down the main street, but hurry. The tunnel won't hold for long. Avoid the side streets. They're . . . fouled. There's a shielded building at the other end of the village."

    Flying low, Lucivar swung toward the main street, hit the village boundary at top speed, and swore every curse he knew as his shield brushed against the psychic witch storm engulfing the deceptively peaceful-looking village. The shield sizzled like drops of cold water flicked into a hot pan. All the ensnaring psychic threads flared as if they were physical threads made out of lightning.

    Pushing hard, he flew through the already contracting tunnel Jaenelle had created as she passed through the witch storm and finally caught up with her a block away from the shielded building. A fast psychic probe showed him the parameters of the domed, oval-shaped shield that protected a two-story stone building and ten yards of ground all around it.

    Four men ran toward the edge of the shield, waving their arms and shouting, "Go back! Get away from here!"

    Behind the men, thousands of Jhinka rose from the low hills beyond the village, filling the sky until they blotted out the sun.

    Jaenelle passed through the building's shield as easily as if it were a thin layer of water. Distracted by the men and the approaching Jhinka, Lucivar felt like he was passing through a wall of warm taffy.

    As soon as they were inside the building's shield, Lucivar landed next to the four men. The protective shield Jaenelle had created for him contracted to a skintight sheath, produced a mild tingle in the Ring of Honor, then vanished completely.

    "How many wounded?" Jaenelle snapped. Lord Randahl, the Agio Warlord who was Lady Erika's Master of the Guard, replied reluctantly, "Last count, about three hundred, Lady." "How many Healers?"

    "The village had two physicians and a wise woman who could do a bit of herb healing. All dead."

    Knowing better than to interrupt when Jaenelle focused on healing, Lucivar waited until she ran into the building before snapping out his own demands. "Who's holding the shield?"

    "Adler is," Randahl said, jerking a thumb toward a young, haggard-faced Warlord.

    Lucivar glanced toward the low hills. The Jhinka would descend on them at any moment. "Can you push your shield out another inch or two all around?" he asked Adler. "I'll put an Ebon-gray shield behind it. Then you can drop your shield and rest."

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