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  • Heir to the Shadows(Black Jewels,Book 2)(19) by Anne Bishop
  • The gray mist parted, showing him a Dark Altar.

    Blood. So much blood. . . .he used another male . . .

    The world shattered.

    You are my instrument.

    His mind shattered. . . .destroyed her completely.

    Screaming in agony, he fled through the mist, through a landscape washed in blood and filled with shattered crystal chalices.

    Words lie. Blood doesn't.

    He screamed again and tumbled into the shattered inner landscape landens called madness and the Blood called the Twisted Kingdom.

    PART 2

    Chapter three

    1 / Kaeleer

    Karla, a fifteen-year-old Glacian Queen, jabbed her cousin Morton in the ribs. "Who's that?"

    Morton glanced in the direction of Karla's slightly lifted chin, then went back to watching the young Warlords gathering at one end of the banquet hall. "That's Uncle Hobart's new mistress."

    Karla studied the young witch through narrowed, ice-blue eyes. "She doesn't look much older than me."

    "She isn't," Morton said grimly.

    Karla linked arms with her cousin, finding comfort in his nearness.

    Glacian society had started to change after the "accident" that had killed her parents and Morton's six years ago. A group of aristo males had immediately formed a male council "for the good of the Territory"—a council led by Hobart, a Yellow-Jeweled Warlord who was a distant relation of her father's.

    Every Province Queen, after declining to become a figurehead for the council, had also refused to acknowledge the Queen of a small village that the council finally had chosen to rule the Territory. Their refusal had fractured Glacia, but it had also prevented the male council from becoming too powerful or too effective in carrying out their "adjustments" to Glacian society.

    Even so, after six years there was an uneasy feel in the air, a sense of wrongness.

    Karla didn't have many friends. She was a sharp-tongued, sharp-tempered Queen whose Birthright Jewel was the Sapphire. She was also a natural Black Widow and a Healer. But, since Lord Hobart was now the head of the family, she spent much of her social time with the daughters of other members of the male council—and what those girls were saying was obscene: respectable witches defer to wiser, more knowledgeable males; Blood males shouldn't have to serve or yield to Queens because they're the stronger gender; the only reason Queens and Black Widows want the power to control males is because they're sexually and emotionally incapable of being real women.

    Obscene. And terrifying.

    When she was younger, she had wondered why the Province Queens and the Black Widows had settled for a stalemate instead of fighting.

    Glacia is locked in a cold, dark winter,the Black Widows had told her.We must do what we can to remain strong until the spring returns.

    But would they be able to hold out for five more years until she came of age? Wouldshe! Her mother's and her aunt's deaths had not been an accident. Someone had eliminated Glacia's strongest Queen and strongest Black Widow, leaving the Territory vulnerable to ... what?

    Jaenelle could have told her, but Jaenelle . . .

    Karla clamped down on the bitter anger that had been simmering too close to the surface lately. Forcing her attention away from memories, she studied Hobart's mistress, then jabbed Morton in the ribs again.

    "Stop that," he snapped.

    Karla ignored him. "Why is she wearing a fur coat indoors?"

    "It was Uncle Hobart's consummation prize."

    She fingered her short, spiky, white-blond hair. "I've never seen fur like that. It's not white bear."

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire