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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Heir to the Shadows (Chapter 41)      Page
  • Heir to the Shadows(Black Jewels,Book 2)(41) by Anne Bishop
  • Saetan held his breath, waiting. Coaxing Jaenelle to try the Halaway school for the last few weeks before summer had been difficult. He'd hoped reconnecting with other children might stir her interest in contacting her old friends. Instead, she'd become more withdrawn, more elusive. And the politely phrased queries from Lord Menzar about her formal education—or lack of it—had dismayed him because, except for the Craft he had taught her, he had no idea how her education had been structured. But with each day since they'd come to the Hall, he had seen the threads he was trying to weave between himself and her unravel as fast as he could weave them, and he had had no idea, no clue as to why that was so. Until now.

    "Why?"

    Sylvia, lost in her own thoughts, stared at him, puzzled.

    "Why is she the catalyst?" Saetan repeated.

    "Oh." The vertical line between Sylvia's eyebrows reappeared as she concentrated. "She's . . . different."

    Don't lash out at her,Saetan reminded himself.Just listen.

    "Beron, my older son, has some classes with her, and we've talked. Not that your household is fodder for gossip, but she puzzles him so he asks me things."

    "Why does she puzzle him?"

    She nibbled on a sandwich, considering. "Beron says she's very shy, but if you can get her to talk, she says the most amazing things."

    "I can believe that," Saetan said dryly.

    "Sometimes when she's talking to someone or giving an answer in class, she'll stop in mid-sentence and c**k her head, as if she's listening intensely to something no one else can hear. Sometimes when that happens, she'll pick up the sentence where she left off. Sometimes she'll withdraw into herself and won't speak for the rest of the day."

    What voices did Jaenelle hear? Who—or what—called to her?

    "Sometimes during a rest break, she'll walk away from the other children and not return until the next morning," Sylvia said.

    She didn't return to the Hall, or he would have known about this before now. And she wasn't riding the Winds. He would have felt her absence if she had travelled beyond easy awareness. Mother Night, where did she go? Back into the abyss?

    The possibility terrified him.

    Sylvia took a deep breath. Took another. "Yesterday, the older students went on a trip to Marasten Gardens. Do you know it?"

    "It's a large estate near the border of Dhemlan and Little Terreille. It has some of the finest gardens in Dhemlan."

    "Yes." Sylvia had trouble swallowing the last bite of her sandwich. She carefully wiped her fingers on the linen napkin. "According to Beron, Jaenelle got separated from the others, although no one noticed until it was time to leave. He went back to look for her and ... he found her kneeling beside a tree, weeping. She'd been digging, and her hands were scratched and bleeding." Sylvia stared at the teapot, breathing quickly. "Beron helped her up and reminded her that they weren't supposed to dig up the plants. And she said, 'I was planting it.' When he asked her why, she said, 'For remembrance.' "

    The cold made Saetan's muscles ache, made his blood

    sluggish. This wasn't the searing, cleansing cold of rage. This was fear. "Did Beron recognize the plant?"

    "Yes. I had shown it to him only last year and explained what it was. None of it, thank the Darkness, grows in Halaway." Sylvia looked at him, deeply troubled. "High Lord, she was planting witch blood."

    Why hadn't Jaenelle told him? "If the witch blood blooms ..."

    Sylvia looked horrified. "It won't unless. ... It mustn't!"

    Saetan spaced his words carefully, feeling too fragile to have even words collide. "I'll have that area investigated. Discreetly. And I'll take care of the problem in Halaway."

    "Thank you." Sylvia fussed with the folds of her dress.

    Saetan waited, forcing himself to be patient. He wanted to be alone, wanted time to think. But Sylvia obviously had something else on her mind. "What?"

    "It's trivial in comparison."

    "But?"

    In one swift glance, Sylvia examined him from head to toe. "You have very good taste in clothes, High Lord."

    Saetan rubbed his forehead, trying to find a connection. "Thank you." Hell's fire! How did women make these mental jumps so easily?Why did they make them?

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire