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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Heir to the Shadows (Chapter 93)      Page
  • Heir to the Shadows(Black Jewels,Book 2)(93) by Anne Bishop
  • "Then send him in."

    The Warlord who entered the study was a head taller than Saetan, twice as wide, and solid muscle. His hands were big enough to engulf a man's skull and strong enough to crush one. He looked like a rough man who would wrench what he wanted from the land or from other people. But beneath that massive body and roaring voice was a heart filled with simple joy and a soul too sensitive to bear harsh treatment.

    He was Dujae. Five hundred years ago, he had been the finest artist in Kaeleer. Now he was a demon.

    Saetan knew it was hypocritical to be angry with Dujae for coming here since Mephis, Andulvar, and Prothvar were all frequently in residence at the Hall since Jaenelle had returned with him, and they all had contact with the children. Even so, keeping the Dark Realm separated from the living Realms had always been a knife-edged dance, and he was uncomfortably aware that, even when living, he'd straddled that line. Now with all the children spending the summer at the Hall and the Dark Council pressuring him for an interview with Jaenelle, having demons coming into Kaeleer for an audience with him was beyond tolerance.

    "Twice a month I hold an audience in Hell for any who wish to come before me," he said coldly. "You've no business here, Lord Dujae."

    Dujae stared at the floor, his long, thick fingers pulling at the brim of the shabby blue cap he held in his hands. "I know, High Lord. Forgive me. I should not have come here, but I could not wait."

    Saetan could, and did.

    Dujae crushed the cap in his hands. When he finally looked up, there was only despair in his eyes. "I am so tired, High Lord. There is nothing left to paint, no one to teach, to share with. No purpose, no joy. There is nothing. Please, High Lord."

    Saetan closed his eyes, his anger forgotten. It happened sometimes. Hell was a cold, cruel, blasted Realm, but it

    had its measure of kindness. It was a place where the Blood could make peace with their lives, a suspended time to take care of unfinished business. Some did nothing with that last gift, enduring weeks or years or centuries of tedium before finally fading into the Darkness. Others embraced that time to nurture talents they'd ignored while living or chosen to forsake in order to follow another road. Others, cut off before they were finished, continued as they had lived. Dujae had died in his prime, suddenly, unexpectedly. When he realized he could still paint, he had accepted being demon-dead with a joyous heart.

    Now he was asking Saetan to release him from the dead flesh, to consume the last of his psychic strength and let him become a whisper in the Darkness.

    It happened sometimes. Not often, thankfully, but sometimes the desire to continue faded before the psychic strength. When that happened, a demon came to him and asked for a swift release. And because he was the High Lord, he honored those requests.

    Saetan opened his eyes and blinked hard to clear his vision. "Dujae, are you sure?"

    "I'm—"

    Karla exploded into the room. "That overbearing, overdressed, overscented sewer rat says my drawing is deficient!" Her eyes filled with tears as she flung a sketch pad onto Saetan's desk.

    He vanished his glasses before the sketch pad landed on them.

    "He's a grubby-minded prick," Karla wailed. "This isn't my life's work, this isn't my road. This is supposed to be fun!"

    Saetan surged out of his chair. There had been so many tutors coming and going in the past three weeks he couldn't remember this particular ass's name, but if the man could reduce Karla to tears, he was probably shredding Kalush and Morghann, to say nothing of Jaenelle.

    Dujae reached for the sketch pad.

    "No!" Karla dove for the pad, too upset to remember she could vanish it before Dujae's hand closed around it.

    Her forehead hit Dujae's arm. She stumbled backward

    into Saetan. He wrapped his arms around her and ground his teeth, hating the anguish pouring out of her.

    Dujae studied the sketch. He shook his head slowly. "This is terrible," he rumbled, flipping the pages back to earlier sketches. "Obscene," he roared. He shook the sketch pad at Karla. "You call him sewer rat? You are too kind, Lady. He's a—"

    "Dujae," Saetan warned, first to prevent Dujae from possibly teaching Karla a pithy phrase she didn't already know and second because he'd felt Karla perk up.

    Dujae looked at Saetan and took a deep breath. "He is not a good instructor," he finished lamely.

    Karla sniffed. "You don't think my drawings are good either."

    Dujae flipped to the last sketch. "What is this?" he demanded, stabbing the paper with his finger.

    Karla pulled her shoulders back and narrowed her eyes.

    Saetan stifled a groan and held on tighter.

    "It's a vase," she said coolly.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire