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  • Queen of the Darkness(Black Jewels,Book 3)(144) by Anne Bishop
  • "I forget nothing where Saetan is concerned," Hekatah snarled. "His honor hobbles him, just as it always has, and his own emotional failings will muzzle him. With the right persuasion, he'll tuck his tail between his legs and submit to whatever we require of him."

    She hoped that rotting sack of bones was right. Theyhad to eliminate Saetan, Lucivar, and Daemon. When those three were gone, the Terreillean armies would be able to destroy the Kaeleer Queens and Warlord Princes. Entire armies would be slaughtered in the process, but theywould win the war. And then she would rule the Realms—after

    she hurried the Dark Priestess to a well-deserved, and permanent, rest.

    Pleased by that thought, Dorothea stopped prowling long enough to notice that Hekatah was preparing to go out. "Where are you going?"

    Hekatah smiled malevolently. "To Kaeleer. It's time to collect the first part of the bait that will give us control of Jaenelle Angelline."

    8 / Kaeleer

    Finally admitted to Jaenelle's sitting room, Andulvar studied her and thought of several things he'd like to do to Daemon Sadi. Damn it, the man was her Consort and should have been taking care of her. She was far too thin, and the skin under her eyes was faintly bruised from exhaustion. And there was a queer, almost desperate glitter in her eyes.

    "Prince Yaslana," Jaenelle said quietly.

    So. It was going to be formal.

    "Lady," Andulvar replied stiffly. "Since I'm obviously not here as your uncle, am I here as your Master of the Guard?" When she flinched, he regretted the harshness of his words. She didn't look like she could endure too many more emotional blows.

    "I—There's something I need to tell you. And I need your help."

    He did his best to soften his tone. "Because I'm your Master of the Guard?"

    She shook her head. "Because you're the Demon Prince. After Saetan, you have the most authority in Hell. The demon-dead will listen to you—and follow you."

    He went to her and hugged her gently, afraid that if he held on to her the way he wanted to she would shatter. "What is it, waif?"

    She eased back just enough to look him in the eyes. "I've found a way to get rid of Dorothea and Hekatah and the taint they've left in the Blood. But the rest of the Blood will be at risk unless the demon-dead are willing to help me."

    Thirty minutes later, Andulvar closed the sitting room door, took a couple of steps, then sagged against the wall.

    Mother Night.

    He didn't doubt the plan would work. Jaenelle wouldn't have said she could do it if she had any doubts. But...Mother Night.

    He had fought in the last war between Terreille and Kaeleer. That war had devastated both Realms, and millions had died. And it had made no difference. They were standing on the edge of that same cliff, fighting against a greed and ambition that would simply go to ground again if it wasn't finally, completely eliminated.

    Like Mephis and Prothvar, he had known it would be futile to fight another war in the same way. Like them, he had looked around the table when the First Circle argued for a formal declaration of war and had wondered how many would still be among the living when it was over.

    Jaenelle hadn't wondered. She hadknown none of them would survive. Hell's fire, no wonder she had been doing anything she could to keep them in the one place where they would be safe.

    And now she had aplan that... Mother Night.

    Even after she had told him, there was something about it that hadn't felt quiteright —as if she had glossed over something. Saetan would have known what it was, but Saetan...

    Shewas right about that. The coven and the boyos would need Saetan's wisdom and experience to mend the wounds already inflicted on Kaeleer. So he couldn't tell his friend what Jaenelle intended to do, couldn't take the chance that Saetan might choose to throw his strength in with the rest of them instead of staying behind. He couldn't do that because, after everything was over, the High Lord would be needed by the living.

    Ladvarian waited in the shadows until he was sure Andulvar was really gone. Then he slipped into Jaenelle's sitting room.

    She was staring out the window. He wanted to tell her it would be all right, even though he wasn't sure it would be. Yes, he was. Itwould be all right. The kindred would not doubt. The kindred would be strong. But he couldn't tell her that because this was a time for fangs and claws. This was a time for killing. And they weren't sure she would be able to kill if they told her what was going to happen afterward.

    But there was something else hehad to tell her.

    *Jaenelle?*

    There was as much sadness as pleasure in her eyes when she turned and saw him. "What is it, little Brother?"

    *I have a message for you—from the Weaver of Dreams.*

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire