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  • Queen of the Darkness(Black Jewels,Book 3)(134) by Anne Bishop
  • "Yes, thank you, she is, but she's had to be careful. Grandfather Magstrom didn't mention the letter. At least, I don't remember him mentioning it, and then, after he... was killed..." The man's hands trembled. "I hope it wasn't something urgent. As soon as I found it, I knew I had to come right away. I hope it wasn't urgent."

    "I'm sure it's not," Saetan replied gently. "I expect it's just the usual information Lord Magstrom sent me after a service fair—a confirmation more than anything else."

    The man's relief was visible.

    Saetan glanced at the Warlord's Yellow Jewel. "May I offer you the use of a Coach to take you home?"

    "Oh, I don't want to put you through any bother."

    "It's no bother—and with a driver who can ride the darker Winds, you'll be home in time to have dinner with your Lady."

    The Warlord hesitated a moment longer. "Thank you. I—don't like to be away from her too long." He looked a little sheepish. "She says I fuss."

    Saetan smiled. "You're going to become a father. You're entitled to fuss." He led the man out of the study, gave Beale instructions about the Coach, and returned to Daemon and Lucivar. Using the letter opener on his desk, he carefully slit the envelope. He called in his half-moon glasses, opened the letter, and began to read.

    "You got reports from Magstrom about the service fair?" Lucivar asked, accepting the glass of brandy Daemon poured for him.

    "No." And the more he read, the less he liked receiving this one. As he read the letter a second time, he barely listened to Daemon's and Lucivar's conversation—until Daemon said something that caught his attention. "What did you say?"

    "I said Lord Magstrom had indicated that he was going to send letters to some of the Queens outside of Little Terreille," Daemon repeated, swirling the brandy in his glass. "But after Jorval took over handling my immigration, I was told that the Queens outside of Little Terreille wouldn't consider a Black-Jeweled Warlord Prince."

    Lucivar snorted. "Jorval probably arranged for the letters not to be sent. Hell's fire, Daemon, you've met the other Territory Queens. They're the coven. If a letter had reached any one of them, she would have had her Steward at the service fair to sign the contract as fast as he could travel."

    "Read this," Saetan said, handing the letter to Daemon.

    "I don't understand," Daemon said when he'd read half the letter. "Aren't the lists supposed to indicate every immigrant at the service fair?"

    "Yes, they are," Lucivar said grimly, reading over Daemon's shoulder. "And you weren't on any of them." He looked at Saetan. "I did mention that at the time."

    "Yes, you did," Saetan replied, "but, since Daemondid end up in the Dark Court, I failed to appreciate the significance of that remark."

    Daemon handed the letter back to Saetan. "There must have been a list somewhere. Otherwise, how would the Queens in Little Terreille have known I was available?"

    Saetan kept his voice mild. "What Queens were those?"

    "There were four Queens in Little Terreille who were willing to have me," Daemon said slowly. "Jorval insisted they were the only ones."

    "So, if you hadn't met Lucivar by chance..."

    Daemon froze. "I would have signed a contract with one of them."

    Swearing quietly, Lucivar started to pace.

    Saetan just nodded. "You would have signed a contract with one of Jorval’s handpicked Queens, and you would have ended up tucked away somewhere in Little Terreille— with no one else aware that youwere there."

    "What would have been the point of that?" Daemon said irritably.

    "In Little Terreille they use the Ring of Obedience on immigrating males," Lucivar snapped."That's the point. It would have been Terreille all over again."

    "Not necessarily," Saetan said, still keeping his voice mild. "If Daemon was well treated, was handled with care—which I'm sure was part of the agreement—he would have had no reasonnot to use the strength of his Jewels against an enemy who was threatening the Queen he served. And after the first unleashing of the Black, there would have been no turning back. The lines would have been drawn."

    Daemon stared at him.

    "What does it matter?" Lucivar said, looking at the two of them uneasily. "Daemon's with us."

    "Yes," Saetan said softly, "he is. But where are the other men whose names disappeared from those lists?"

    8 / Kaeleer

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire