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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Heir to the Shadows (Chapter 200)      Page
  • Heir to the Shadows(Black Jewels,Book 2)(200) by Anne Bishop
  • Like swirls of stars, Saetan thought, his breath catching. Like the poem Geoffrey quoted to him years ago, about the great dragons who had created the Blood.They spiral down into ebony, catching the stars with their tails.

    Ebony had once been the poetic term for the Darkness.

    Saetan froze, his foot suspended over the first step.

    Was it still?

    "Something wrong?" Lucivar whispered.

    Saetan shook his head and slowly descended, grateful for the solid Eyrien strength on either side of him.

    When he reached the bottom step, a second set of double doors swung inward. The midnight-black chamber slowly lightened, the dark giving way to the dawn. The light gradually spread from their end of the chamber to the other. But he noticed, as he moved forward, that it didn't illuminate the ceiling. At thrice his height, the light gave way to twilight, which, in its turn, yielded once again to the dark.

    The back wall began to lighten from either side. Filling the wall, as high as the light reached, was a highly detailed bas-relief. A dreamscape, a nightscape, shapes rising up from and dissolving into others. Kindred shapes. Human shapes. Blending. Entwined. Fierce and beautiful. Ugly and gentle.

    The light finally reached the center of the back wall and the Dark Throne. Three wide steps ran around the dais on three sides. On the dais itself was a simple blackwood chair with a high, carved back. Its simplicity said that the power that ruled here had no need for ornamentation or ostentation—especially when it was protected on the right-hand side by a huge dragon head coming out of the stone.

    "Mother Night," Andulvar said in a hushed voice. "She created a sculpture of Lorn's head."

    "Hell's fire," Lucivar whispered. "Where'd she find so many uncut Jewels to make the scales?"

    Trembling, Saetan shook his head, unable to speak. Maybe Andulvar couldn't see the darkness beyond the lit bas-relief from where he stood, a darkness that suggested another large chamber beyond this one. Maybe he couldn't see the iridescent fire in the dragon's scales. Maybe he'd forgotten the sound of that ancient, powerful voice. Maybe . . .

    Eyelids slowly opened. Midnight eyes pinned them where they stood.

    Geoffrey clutched Saetan's arm, his fingers digging in hard enough to hurt. "Mother Night, Saetan," Geoffrey said, his breathing ragged. "The Keep is his lair. He's been here all the time."

    He hadn't expected Lorn to be so big. If the body was in proportion to the head . . .

    Dragon scales. The Jewels were dragon scales somehow transformed into hard, translucent stones. Had there been dragons who matched the specific colors of the Jewels or had they all been that iridescent silver-gold, changing color to match the strength of the recipient?

    Saetan gingerly touched the Black Jewel around his neck. His Birthright Red and the Black had been uncut Jewels. Were there two missing scales somewhere along the great body that must lie in the next chamber that would have matched his uncut Jewels?

    Then he finally understood why there had been a hint of maleness in the uncut Jewels Jaenelle had been gifted with.

    Lorn. The great Prince of the Dragons. The Guardian of the Keep.

    Needing to get his mind focused on something other than the power that ancient body must contain, Saetan turned to Geoffrey. "His Queen. What was the name of his Queen?"

    "Draca," said a sibilant voice behind them.

    They turned and stared at the Keep's Seneschal.

    Her lips curled in a tiny smile. "Her name wass Draca."

    Looking into her eyes, Saetan wondered what subtle spell had been lifted that allowed him to see what he should have guessed long before. Her age, her strength, the uneasiness so many felt in her presence. Which made him think of something else. "Does Jaenelle know?"

    Draca made a sound that might have been a laugh. "Sshe hass alwayss known, High Lord."

    Saetan grimaced, then gave in as gracefully as he could. Even if he'd thought to ask, he doubted he'd have gotten an answer. Jaenelle was very good at keeping her own counsel.

    "Are they relatives of yours?" Lucivar asked, indicating the Fyreborn dragons who were staring at Lorn.

    "You are all relativess," Draca replied, looking pointedly at Lucivar's Ebon-gray Jewel. "We created the Blood. All

    the Blood. Therefore, you are all dragonss under the sskin."

    Saetan glanced at the kindred who were edging closer. "You, of course, would know." He saw amusement in Draca's eyes.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire