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  • Queen of the Darkness(Black Jewels,Book 3)(132) by Anne Bishop
  • Daemon nodded. "Are you going back to Ebon Rih?" He had been planning to go to the Keep since Jaenelle was on her way there with Karla and Morghann.

    Lucivar shook his head. "The High Lord asked me to report to him at the Hall. This side trip has delayed that report for a couple of days, so I'd better get my ass there before he decides to take a piece out of it."

    "Then I'll go with you."

    When they reached the place where they could catch the Winds, Lucivar hesitated. "How is Karla? I didn't get to see her before they left for the Keep."

    Daemon stared at the unbroken snow. "She'll live. Jaenelle thinks she can heal the legs enough for Karla to walk again."

    "Jaenellethinks she can?" Lucivar paled. "Mother Night, Daemon, ifJaenelle isn't sure, what was done—"

    "Don't ask," Daemon said too sharply. He made an effort to soften his voice. "Don't ask. I... don't want to talk about it." But this was Lucivar who was asking, so he tried. "There's no antidote for witchblood. The poison had to be drawn into some part of the body in order to save the internal organs and then drawn out. It ... killed a lot of the muscle, and that muscle had to be..." His gorge rose as he thought of the withered limbs that had been healthy legs.

    "Let it go," Lucivar said gently. "Let it go."

    They both took a couple of unsteady breaths before Daemon said, "The sooner we make our reports, the sooner we can go home." For him, home wasn't a place, it was a person—and right then, he needed to know that Jaenelle was safe.

    6 / Terreille

    "Kartane sent a report." Dorothea carefully selected a piece of sugared fruit, took a bite, and chewed slowly just to make Hekatah wait.

    "And?" Hekatah finally asked. "Has the Gate in Glacia been secured for our use? Is the village ready for our hand-picked immigrants?"

    Dorothea selected another piece of fruit. This time she gave it a couple of delicate licks before answering. "The villagers were eliminated. So were the Eyriens."


    "The messenger who met with Kartane couldn't find out what happened to the Eyriens, only that they had killed the villagers and had, in turn, been killed." She paused. "Lord Hobart's dead as well."

    Hekatah stood perfectly still. "And the bitch-Queen, Karla? Was that, at least, successful?"

    Dorothea shrugged. "She disappeared during the fighting. But since Ulka died rather... dramatically... one would assume she consumed the poison."

    "Then that's the end of her," Hekatah said with a little smile of satisfaction. "Even if someone manages to figure out an antidote for the Hayllian poison in time, the witch-blood will finish things."

    "Our plans for Glacia are also finished. Or hasn't that occurred to you?"

    Hekatah waved that away. "Considering what wehave achieved, that's a minor inconvenience."

    Dorothea dropped the fruit back into the bowl. "We've achievednothing*. "

    "You're becoming inflexible, Dorothea," Hekatah said with venomous sweetness. "You're starting to act as old as you look."

    Dorothea's blood pounded in her temples, and she wanted—oh, how she wanted—to unleash just a little of the feelings that had been growing more virulent. She hated Hekatah, but she also needed the bitch. So she sat back and inflicted a wound that would hurt much deeper than any physical blow. "At least I still have all my hair. That bald patch is starting to ooze, dearest."

    Hekatah automatically lifted a hand to cover the spot. With effort, she lowered it before it reached her head.

    The impotent hatred in Hekatah's dull gold eyes scared Dorothea a little but also produced a sense of vicious satisfaction.

    "We can make do with sneaking through the other Gates," Hekatah said. "We have something better now."

    "And what is that?" Dorothea asked politely.

    "The excuse we needed to start the war." Hekatah's smile was pure malevolence.

    "I see," Dorothea said, returning the smile.

    "The immigrants we had picked to replace the villagers will go to Glacia—just as they would have if Hobart had given us that village as payment for our assistance. We'll also add a few immigrants from other Terreillean Territories. The escorts will be males who don't know where the original village was located. Only the Coach drivers will be told where to drop off the happy families—and that won't be anywhere near a settled area, so there won't be any chance of detection. The escorts will, of course, be dismayed to see no sign of a village waiting for inhabitants." A dreamy look filled Hekatah's eyes. "The company of Eyrien warriors who will be waiting for them will take care of things. The slaughter will be ... horrible. But there will be a couple of survivors who will manage to escape. They'll live long enough to get back to Little Terreille and tell a few people about how Terreilleans are being butchered in Kaeleer. And they'll live long enough to say that two men had been giving the orders—a Hayllian and an Eyrien."

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