• Home
  • Directory
  • Popular
  • Authors
  • Series
  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Heir to the Shadows (Chapter 196)      Page
  • Heir to the Shadows(Black Jewels,Book 2)(196) by Anne Bishop
  • Among his clients were the Queen of Amdarh and her Consort, Prince Mephis SaDiablo, Prince Lucivar Yaslana, the High Lord and, his favorite, Lady Jaenelle Angelline.

    Which was why he was sitting here long after the shops had closed for the day. As he'd told his wife, when the Lady asked for a favor, why, that was almost like serving her, wasn't it?

    He nearly spilled his tea when he looked up from his musings and saw the shadowy figure standing in the doorway of the private showroom. His shop had strong guard spells and protection spells—gifts from his darker-Jeweled clients. No one should have been able to get this far without triggering the alarms.

    "My apologies, Banard," said the feminine, midnight voice. "I didn't mean to startle you."

    "Not at all, Lady," Banard lied as he increased the illumination of the candlelights around the velvet-covered display table. "My mind was wandering." He turned to smile at her, but when he saw what she held in her hands, he broke out in a cold sweat.

    "There's something I'd like you to make for me, if you can," Jaenelle said, stepping into the small room.

    Banard gulped. She had changed since he'd last seen her a few months ago. It was more than the Widow's weeds she was wearing. It was as if the fire that had always burned within her was now closer to the surface, illuminating and shadowing. He could feel the dark power swirling around her—brutal strength offset by a worrisome fragility.

    "This is what I'd like you to make," Jaenelle said.

    A piece of paper appeared on the display table.

    Banard studied the sketch for several minutes, wondering what he could say, wondering how to refuse gracefully, wondering why she, of all people, would have the thing she held in her hands.

    As if understanding his silence and reluctance, Jaenelle caressed the spiraled horn. "His name was Kaetien," she said softly. "He was the Warlord Prince of the unicorns. He was butchered a few days ago, along with hundreds of his people, when humans came in to claim Sceval as their territory." Tears filled her eyes. "I've known him since I was a little girl. He was the first friend I made in Kaeleer, and one of the best. He gifted me with his horn. For remembrance. As a reminder."

    Banard studied the sketch again. "If I may make one or two suggestions, Lady?"

    "That's why I came to you," Jaenelle said with a trembling smile.

    Using a thin, charcoal pencil, Banard altered the sketch. At the end of an hour of fine-tuning, they were both satisfied.

    Alone again, Banard made another cup of tea and sat for a while, studying the sketch and staring at the horn he couldn't yet bring himself to touch.

    What she wanted made would be a fitting tribute for a beloved friend. And it would be an appropriate tool for I such a Queen.

    2 / Kaeleer

    Saetan paced the length of the sitting room Draca had reserved for them at the Keep. Reserved? Confined them to was closer to the truth.

    Lucivar abandoned his chair and stretched his back and shoulders. "Why is it that your pacing isn't supposed to annoy me, but when I start pacing I get chucked into the garden?" he asked dryly.

    "Because I'm older and I outrank you," Saetan snarled. He pivoted and paced to the other side of the room.

    From sunset to sunrise. That's how long it took to make the Offering to the Darkness. It didn't matter if a person came away from the Offering wearing a White Jewel or a Black, that's how long it took. From sunset to sunrise.

    Jaenelle had been gone three full days.

    He had remained calm when the first dawn had passed into late morning because he could still remember how shaky he'd felt after making the Offering, how he'd remained in the altar room of the Sanctuary for hours while he adjusted to the feel of the Black Jewels.

    But when the sun began to set again, he'd gone to the Dark Altar in the Keep to find out what had happened to her. Draca had forbidden him entrance, sharply reminding him of the consequences of interrupting an Offering. So he'd returned to the sitting room to wait.

    When midnight came and went, he'd tried to reach the Dark Altar again and had found all the corridors blocked by a shield even the Black couldn't penetrate. Desperate, he'd sent an urgent message to Cassandra, hoping she would be able to break through Draca's resistance. But Cassandra hadn't responded, and he'd cursed this evidence of her further withdrawal.

    She was tired. He understood that. He came from a long-lived race and had already gone several lifetimes beyond the norm. Cassandra had lived hundreds, had watched the people she'd come from decline, fade, and finally be absorbed into younger, emerging races. When she had ruled; she had been respected, revered.

    But Jaenelle was loved.

    So Cassandra hadn't responded. Tersa had.

    "Something's wrong," Saetan snarled as he passed the couch and low table Tersa hunched over while she arranged puzzle pieces into shapes that had meaning only for her. "It doesn't take this long."

    Tersa poked a puzzle piece into place and pushed her tangled black hair away from her face. "It takes as long as it takes."

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire