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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Heir to the Shadows (Chapter 69)      Page
  • Heir to the Shadows(Black Jewels,Book 2)(69) by Anne Bishop
  • "Yes, and whenever something comes up that requires 'Authority,' they prop me up, dust me off, and plunk me in the great hall to deal with it." Saetan's warm smile lit his golden eyes. "My chief functions are to be the Lady's loyal guardian and, since Beale would never deign to have his attire ruined by hysterics, to be a shoulder to cry on when Jaenelle throws her tutors off their stride— which seems to be averaging out to three or four times a week."

    "The waifs doing all right then."

    Saetan's smile vanished, replaced by a bleak, haunted expression. "No, she's not doing all right. Damn it, Andulvar, I'd hoped . . . She's trying so very, very hard. She's still Jaenelle. Still inquisitive and gentle and kind." He sighed. "But she's unable to respond to the overtures of friendship from the staff. Oh, I know." He waved a hand, dismissing an unspoken protest. "The relationship of servants to the Lady of the house is what it is. But it's not just them. Between that business with Menzar and the friction that exists between her and the rest of Luthvian's students, she's become timid. She avoids people whenever she can. Sylvia hasn't been able to coax her into another shopping trip, and that Lady has tried. She and her son, Beron, called a few days ago. Jaenelle managed to talk with them for about five minutes before bolting from the room.

    "She has no friends, Andulvar. No one to laugh with, no one to do silly girl things with. She hasn't made the Offering yet, and she's already too aware of the gulf between herself and the rest of the Blood." Saetan slumped in his chair. "If only there was some way to get her to resume her life again."

    "Why don't you invite that little ice harpy from Glacia to visit?" Andulvar said.

    "Do you think she would be brave enough to come to the Hall?"

    Andulvar snorted. "Considering the letter she wrote you, if you let that one through the door, she'll probably be stepping on your toes."

    Saetan smiled wistfully. "I hope so, Andulvar. I do hope so."

    Regretting that the easy mood would change, Andulvar drained his glass and set it carefully on the desk. "It's time you told me why you wanted me to come back to the Hall."

    "Tarl was the one who suggested you might be able to help," Saetan said as he and Andulvar made their way to one of the walled gardens.

    "I'm a hunter and a warrior, not a gardener, SaDiablo," Andulvar said gruffly. "How am I supposed to help him?"

    "A large dog has staked out a territory in the north woods. I first heard it the night Sylvia told me there was something wrong in Halaway. It's killed a couple of young deer, but outside of that, the foresters haven't been able to find a trace of it. A few nights ago, it helped itself to a couple of chickens."

    "Your foresters should be able to handle it."

    Saetan opened the wooden gate that led into the low-walled garden. "Tarl found something else this morning." He nodded to the head gardener, who was standing near the back flower bed.

    Tarl brushed his fingers against the brim of his cap and left.

    Saetan pointed to the soft earth between two young plants. "That."

    Andulvar stared at the clear, deep paw print for a long time before kneeling down and placing his hand beside it. "Damn, it's big."

    Saetan knelt beside Andulvar. "That's what I thought, but this is your expertise. What really bothers me is it seems so deliberate, so carefully placed, as if it's a message or a signal of some kind."

    "And who's supposed to be getting this message?" Andulvar rumbled. "Who would be expected to come in here and see it?"

    "Since Lord Menzar's abrupt departure, Mephis has quietly checked everyone who serves the Hall, inside staff and out. He didn't find anything that would make me believe they can't be trusted."

    Andulvar frowned thoughtfully at the print. "Could be a lover's signal for a secret tryst in the garden."

    "Trust me, Andulvar," Saetan said dryly, "there are simpler and more effective ways of setting up a romantic adventure than this." He pointed to the paw print. "Besides, short of removing the dog's foot, how would anyone find the brute, bring it here, and convince it to leave one print in this exact spot?"

    "I'm going to look around," Andulvar said abruptly.

    While Andulvar studied the rest of the walled gardens in the waning daylight, Saetan studied the print. He'd managed to push aside the nagging worry until Andulvar had arrived, almost hoping the Eyrien would look at the print and shrug it off with an easy explanation. Now Andulvar was worried, and Saetan didn't like it.Was someone trying to set up a meeting? Or just lure someone away from the Hall?

    Snarling softly, Saetan brushed dirt across the print until there was no trace of it. He got to his feet, brushed the dirt from his knees, glanced at the flower bed, and froze.

    The paw print was as deep and as clear as it had been a minute ago.

    "Andulvar!" Saetan dropped to his knees and smoothed dirt across the print again.

    Andulvar rushed in, the air from his wings stirring the young plants, and knelt beside Saetan.

    They watched in silence while the dirt rolled away from the print.

    Andulvar swore viciously. "It's been spelled."

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire