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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Heir to the Shadows (Chapter 169)      Page
  • Heir to the Shadows(Black Jewels,Book 2)(169) by Anne Bishop
  • "Not forthem. To protect the land. Won't have that Jhinka filth in Ebon Rih. We came to protect the land— and to get those two out." Randahl's shoulders sagged. "Hell's fire, Yaslana. Who would have thought the boy could build a shield like that?"

    "No one in Agio, obviously." Before Randahl could snap a reply, Lucivar continued harshly, "If Mari and Khevin matter to you, why didn't you let them live in Agio instead of leaving them here to be sneered at and slighted?"

    Randahl's face flushed a dull red. "And what would an Ebon-gray Warlord Prince know about being sneered at or slighted?"

    Lucivar didn't know whether he made the decision because he no longer cared what people knew about him or because he wasn't sure he and Randahl would survive. "I grew up in Terreille, not Kaeleer. I was too young to remember my father when I was taken from him, so I grew up being told, and believing, that I was a half-breed bastard, unwanted and unclaimed. You don't know what it's like to be a bastard in an Eyrien hunting camp. Sneered j at?" Lucivar laughed bitterly. "The favorite taunt was 'your father was a Jhinka.' Do you have any idea what that j means to an Eyrien? That you were sired by a male from I a hated race and that your mother must have accepted the mount willingly since she carried you full term and birthed I you? Oh, I think I know how someone like Khevin feels." I

    Randahl cleared his throat. "It shames me to say it, but I it wasn't any easier for him in Agio. Lady Erika tried to I make a place for him in her court. Felt she owed it to him I because her ex-Consort had sired the boy. But he wasn't happy, and Mari and her grandmother were here. So he I came back."

    And had endured ostracism from the landens and taunts I from the young Blood males—which explained why the two I Warlords now using Craft to move the Jhinka bodies away from the shield were being kept as far away from Jaenelle as possible.

    Lucivar finally answered the question he saw in Ran- | dahl's eyes. "Two of Lady Angelline's friends were training Khevin."

    Randahl rubbed the back of his neck. "Should have I thought to ask her ourselves. She has a way about her."

    Lucivar smiled wearily. "That she does." And she might! also have some idea of where the young couple might relocate. If they survived.

    For a moment, he allowed himself to believe they | would survive.

    Then the Jhinka returned.

    10 / Kaeleer

    Randahl shaded his eyes against the late afternoon sun and studied the low hills that were black with waiting Jhinka. I "They must have called up all the clans from all the tribes," I he said hoarsely. Then he sagged against the back of the community hall. "Mother Night, Yaslana, there must be five thousand of them out there."

    "More like six." Lucivar widened his stance. It was the only way his tired, trembling legs would keep him upright.

    Six thousand more than the hundreds he'd already killed during the past few days and that witch storm still raging around them, feeding on the shield to maintain its strength and draining him in the process. Six thousand more and no way to catch the Winds because that storm made it impossible to detect those psychic roadways.

    They could shield and they could fight, but they couldn't send out a call for help and they couldn't escape. The food had run out yesterday. The well dried up that morning. And there were still six thousand Jhinka waiting for the sun to sink a little farther behind the low western hills before they attacked.

    "We're not going to make it, are we?" Randahl said.

    "No," Lucivar replied softly. "We're not going to make it."

    In the past three days, he'd drained both Ebon-gray Jewels as well as his Red ring. The Red Jewel around his neck was now the only power reserve they had, and that wasn't going to hold much beyond the first attack. Randahl and the other three had exhausted their Jewels before he and Jaenelle had arrived. There hadn't been enough food or rest to bring any of them back up to strength.

    No, the males weren't going to make it. But Jaenelle had to. She was too valuable a Queen to lose in a trap that, he was convinced, had been set to destroy him.

    Satisfied that he'd lined up every argument that Protocol gave him to make this demand, Lucivar said, "Ask the Lady to join me here."

    No fool, Randahl understood why the request was being made now.

    Alone for a moment, Lucivar rolled his neck and stretched his shoulders, trying to ease the tense, tired muscles.

    It is easier to kill than to heal. It is easier to destroy than to preserve. It is easier to tear down than to build. Those who feed on destructive emotions and ambitions and deny the responsibilities that are the price of wielding power can bring down everything you care for and would protect. Be on guard, always.

    Saetan's words. Saetan's warning to the young Warlords and Warlord Princes who gathered at the Hall.

    But Saetan had never mentioned the last part of that warning: sometimes it was kinder to destroy.

    He wasn't strong enough to give Jaenelle a swift, clean death. But even at full strength, Randahl and the other Warlords wore lighter-rank Jewels, and landens had no ; inner defense against the Blood. Once Jaenelle and Mari were away from here, once the Jhinka started their final attack, he would make a fast descent, pull up every drop of power he had left, and unleash that force. The landens would die instantly, their minds burned away. Randahl and the others might survive for a few seconds longer, but not long enough for the Jhinka to reach them.

    And the Jhinka . . . they, too, would die. Some of them. A lot of them. But not all of them. He would be left, alone, when the survivors tore him apart. He would make sure of it. He'd fought Jhinka in Terreille. He'd seen what they did to captives. When it came to cruelty, they were an ingenious people. But then, so were many of the Blood.

    Lucivar turned as movement caught his eye.

    Jaenelle stood a few feet away, her eyes fixed on the Jhinka.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire