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  • Queen of the Darkness(Black Jewels,Book 3)(121) by Anne Bishop
  • *I heard the call,* Sundancer said. *You must ride the Winds?*

    "Yes."

    *I can run faster. Mount.*

    Grabbing a fistful of Sundancer's mane, he swung up on the Warlord Prince's bare back.

    It was a short but harrowing ride. The stallion chose the fastest route to reach the nearest Winds without regard for what lay in his path, and Daemon's legs were shaking when he slid off Sundancer's back. Before he could say anything, the stallion pivoted and was gone.

    *Fight well!* Sundancer said as he raced back to Khary and Morghann's house.

    "You can count on it," Daemon replied too softly. Catching the Black Wind, he headed for Glacia.

    8 / Kaeleer

    Kaelas made an effortless leap to the roof of a human den in time to see Morton fall. He snarled silently, the desire to attack warring with the instinct for caution. Slipping down to the depth of his Red Jewel, where he couldn't be detected by the winged males who were there, he opened his mind and carefully let a psychic tendril drift toward Morton.

    The first thing he sensed was the Lady's shield. That wasn't a problem. The Lady had made a Ring of Honor for the kindred males, too. So he had the same protection and, more important right now, he had the means to safely slip past that shield.

    The moment he did, he knew Morton's body was dead, but he could still sense Morton, very faintly, inside it Morton was a Brother in the Lady's court, and the Brothers looked after each other. That was important. So he would get his Brother away from the enemy and then decide what to do next.

    Looking in the opposite direction, he saw the Sanctuary that held the Dark Altar. Near it was a large, old tree that wouldn't wake again. The pale humans would have cut it down and burned it in their fires. They wouldn't need it now.

    Using Craft, he opened the Sanctuary door, letting it swing as if it hadn't been latched properly.

    Leaping from the roof, he circled around the backs of the human dens, air walking so that he would leave no tracks. Just because the sight shield made him invisible was no reason to be careless. Playing "stalk and pounce" with Lucivar had taught him that.

    Thinking of Lucivar, he remembered something else: never show your full strength to an enemy until it was needed.

    His Birthright Jewel was the Opal. Morton's Jewel of rank was the Opal. Yes,that might confuse the winged males.

    Baring his teeth in what might have been a feline smile, Kaelas unleashed a burst of Opal strength at the dead tree. It exploded. Flaming branches soared through the air in all directions. Another burst of power shattered windows in the dens near the Sanctuary. Another burst of power sent enough snow into the air to form a small blizzard. The last controlled burst of power slammed the Sanctuary door.

    The Green-Jeweled Eyrien Warlord Prince had spun around at the first blast, his face twisted with fury. Other males were shouting. When the Sanctuary door slammed, the Eyrien started running, shouting orders.

    "What about that bastard?" one of the other men called out.

    The Warlord Prince hesitated for a moment. "Leave him. He's not going anywhere. We'll finish the kill after we take care of our new guests."

    Kaelas moved forward in stalk position, using all of his senses to keep track of the winged humans. Then, a burst of speed brought him to Morton.

    One sniff of the body had him backing away, confused. Morton smelled like poisoned meat. He did not want to set his teeth in poisoned meat. But he had to get Morton away from the winged males.

    Moving forward again, he brushed against the Lady's shield, felt it recognize itself in the Ring of Honor he wore and let him in. He put a snug Opal shield around Morton's left arm. When he took that arm between his teeth, the Opal shield was between him and the poisoned meat. Satisfied, he used Craft to float Morton on the air, expanded his sight shield to cover both of them, then raced for the trees.

    When he was among the trees, he slowed slightly, but didn't stop until he reached the hiding den KaeAskavi had dug. Releasing Morton's arm, he studied the den. The human would fit easily enough without the pointed sticks— the arrows—poking out. But the Healer would need the stick part to remove the arrow. Wouldn't she?

    After a little thought, he used Craft to shear the shafts in half. He tucked Morton into the den and placed the sheared-off shafts next to him. Then he paused again.

    He had never seen human Blood become demon-dead. He didn't know how long it would take for Morton to wake and reclaim the dead flesh. But hedid know that when Morton woke and found himself in a strange place, he would wonder if the enemy had put him there.

    Kaelas pressed a forepaw into the snow near Morton's head, leaving a deep imprint, then put a shield over the print, so that it couldn't be brushed away carelessly. Morton would see the print and understand.

    Pleased that he had worked out the complicated thinking required to deal with humans, he covered up the den, leaving a small airhole. A dead human didn't need air, but the freshness would show Morton the easiest place to dig free.

    Now to take care of the bad winged males.

    After sending out a summons for the dark-Jeweled Arcerian Warlords and Warlord Princes to join him, Kaelas headed back to the village.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire