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  • Queen of the Darkness(Black Jewels,Book 3)(7) by Anne Bishop
  • The spider quickly backed away. *No!* she called, sending out her psychic communication thread as far as it would reach. *No!Not a second path.Not an answer! You not walk this path!*

    No answer. Not even a flicker from Witch's powerful mind to indicate that she had heard.

    *You not walk this path,* the spider said again sadly, seeing clearly where that path would end.

    Perhaps not. Witch could weave a tangled web better than any other Black Widow, but even Witch couldn't always sense all the flavors in the threads.

    The Arachnian Queen turned back to the web and felt a mild tug. Walking on air, she followed the tug to a thread near the tree-anchored side of the web. Cautiously, she brushed a leg against the thread.

    Dog. The brown-and-white dog she had seen in the first web she had spun after the cold season had passed. She had asked Witch to bring the dog, Ladvarian, to the Weavers' island. She had wanted to see this Warlord—and she had wanted him to see her.

    She plucked the Ladvarian thread and felt its vibration run through the web. Many of the threads connected to the Ebony ring—the kindred threads—began to shine brightly.

    The human threads shone, too, but not so bright, not so sure. She must remember that. And that triangle...

    With her leg still resting on the Ladvarian thread, the spider let her mind sail to the secret cave, the sacred cave in the center of the island. There the Arachnian Queens had gone time after time to listen to dreams—and to weave, thread by thread, the very special webs that bound dreams to flesh, that were the first tangible step in creating Witch.

    Small webs. Larger webs. Sometimes only one race, only one kind of dreamer, had dreamed Witch into being. Other times the dreamers had come from different places with different needs that somehow had fit together to become one dream.

    When that dream's time in the flesh was done and it no longer walked the Realms, the Arachnian Queen would respectfully cut the anchor threads that held the web to the cave walls, roll the spidersilk into a ball, deposit it in a niche, and then use Craft to coax crystals to grow over the opening. There were many closed niches, more than the human Blood realized. But then, the kindred had always been far more faithful dreamers.

    There was one web in the cave that had been started long, long ago. Generation after generation after generation, the Arachnian Queens had brushed one of the anchor threads of that web, had listened to the dreams, and then had added more strands. So many dreamers in this web, so many dreams that had fit together to become one. Twenty-five years ago, by human reckoning, that dream had finally become flesh.

    In the center of that special web was a triangle. Three strong dreamers. Three threads that had been reinforced so many times they were now thick and very powerful.

    And each Queen, as she consumed the freely offered flesh of the one who had come before her, had been told the same thing: Remember this web. Know this web. Know every thread.

    The spider pulled her mind back to the new web.

    Dreams made flesh. A spirit nurtured in the Darkness, shaped by dreams. And a tangled web, equally nurtured and hidden in a cave full of ancient power, that guided that spirit to the right kind of flesh.

    There had been times, when the spider had seen terrible things in her webs of dreams and visions, when she had wondered if that particular spirit had, in fact, found the right flesh; had wondered if, perhaps, some of the threads had been too old. No, there had been a reason why this one had been shaped into this flesh. The pain and the wounds had not been the fault of the dreaming—or the dreamers.

    The spider drew silk out of her body and carefully attached it to the Ladvarian thread.

    So. Witch would choose the second path, blind to the fact that, while she would save Kaeleer and those she loved, she would also destroy Kaeleer's Heart.

    Therehad to be a way to save Kaeleer's Heart.

    Spinning out an anchor thread between the tree trunk and a sturdy branch, the Arachnian Queen began to weave her own tangled web.

    Chapter Two

    1 / Kaeleer

    Lucivar Yaslana flipped the list back to the first page of neatly written names and stepped away from the table, faintly amused by the men who were caught between wanting to review the lists at that table andnot wanting to get too close tohim.

    That was one advantage he had over the other males who were drifting from table to table to check the service fair lists. No one jostled him or complained about how long it took him to scan the names, because no one wanted to tangle with a Warlord Prince who wore Ebon-gray Jewels, was an Eyrien warrior bred and trained, and had a vicious temper and a reputation for unleashing that temper—and his fists—without a second thought. When added to his belonging to one of the strongest families in the Realm and also serving in the Dark Court at Ebon Askavi, it was little wonder that other men quickly yielded.

    But even all of that didn't help him feel comfortable while he was at the service fair in Goth, Little Terreille's capital. No matter what they called it, this fair had too much of the flavor of the slave auctions still held in the Realm of Terreille.

    Slowly making his way to the door, Lucivar took a deep breath and then wished he hadn't. The large room was overcrowded, and even with the windows open, the air stank of sweat and fatigue—and the fear and desperation that seemed to rise up from the hundreds of names on those lists.

    As soon as he was outside the building, Lucivar spread his dark, membranous wings to their full span. He wasn't sure if it was out of defiance for all the times that natural movement had earned him the cut of a lash or just that he wanted to feel the sun and wind on them for a moment after being inside for several hours—or if it was simply a way to remind himself that he was now the buyer, not the merchandise.

    Folding his wings, he set off for the far corner of the fairground that was reserved for the Eyrien "camp."

    He'd noted several Eyrien names that were of interest to him, but not the one name—the Hayllian name—that was the main reason he'd spent the past several hours searching through those damn lists. But he'd been searching the lists for Daemon's name for the past five years, ever since the idiots in the Dark Council had decided this twice-yearly "service fair" was the way to funnel the hundreds of people who were fleeing from Terreille and trying to find a fingerhold in Kaeleer. And he thought, as he did every time, about why Daemon's name wasn't there. And he rejected, as he did every time, all the reasons except one: he wasn't looking for the right name.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire