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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Queen of the Darkness (Chapter 21)      Page
  • Queen of the Darkness(Black Jewels,Book 3)(21) by Anne Bishop
  • He moved carefully, like a man who had received a fatal wound and was quietly bleeding to death.

    Khardeen stood up and gestured toward the vacated seat. "Why don't you sit down? I've got a couple of things to see to."

    As soon as Daemon sat down, he wrapped his arms around himself.

    She'd seen that protective gesture before, when he had been pushing too hard at his Craft studies, when dreams had haunted his sleep.

    Khardeen gave her a questioning look. She shook her head. She appreciated his concern, but there was nothing anyone could do for Daemon just then except let him retreat until he felt strong enough to face the world again.

    A minute later, Lucivar came out of the private room, his expression carefully blank.

    For the rest of the journey, Daemon sat beside her with his eyes closed and Lucivar stood near the back of the Coach, talking quietly to the Eyrien males who cautiously approached him.

    For the rest of the journey, she wondered what had happened in that private room. And she worried.

    4 / Kaeleer

    Lord Jorval cowered in the chair and watched the Dark Priestess storm around the outer room of the suite he'd rented for this meeting.

    Red Moon houses hadn't existed in Kaeleer until four years ago—andstill didn't exist anywhere outside of Little Terreille. But certain influential Council members, himself included, had argued that the stronger immigrating males, who had little chance of having a Kaeleer-born woman for a lover, needed some way to relieve their sexual tension. The Queens in Little Terreille had yielded to the argument with no more than a token protest since they quickly recognized the usefulness of such places. Now a visit to a Red Moon house became a way of rewarding males for good behavior in the Queens' courts. They could take their frustrations and aggressions out on women who couldn't refuse them, who couldn't demand courtesy and obedience. And no one noticed—or cared, if they did—that all the women in those houses were immigrants who had been claimed the day after a service fair.

    And some Kaeleer males, himself included, had discovered the pleasure that could be had from a cringing woman's obedience.

    He'd chosen this Red Moon house, on the edge of the slums that had sprung up near the fairground, because the proprietors wouldn't ask any questions. The two men who owned the place didn't care if a woman was damaged physically or mentally, as long as they were suitably compensated. And they wouldn't care about the youth who was now bound and gagged in the other room—the offering he had brought in the hopes it would lessen the Dark Priestess's rage.

    Hekatah threw off the cloak that had shrouded her face and body.

    Jorval swallowed hard. He had become violently ill once at the sight of her decaying, demon-dead body. Her punishment for his lack of control had given him nightmares for months.

    There were times when he desperately wished he'd never met her or become entangled in her schemes. But she had been behind his rise to power in the Dark Council, and he had discovered that she owned him before he even realized he had agreed to serve her.

    "There were four Queens suitable for our purpose," Hekatah snarled."Four. And you still couldn't manage to get him tucked away until we found a way to use him."

    "I tried, Priestess," Jorval said, his voice quivering. "I blocked the inquiries Sadi made about serving outside of Little Terreille. Those were the only names I offered him."

    "Then why isn't he with one of them?"

    "He walked out of the last meeting," Jorval cried. " I didn't know he had signed another contract until Friall told me."

    "He signed another contract," Hekatah crooned."With his brother!"

    Jorval's chest jerked with the effort to breathe. "I tried to stop it! I tried..." His voice trailed off as Hekatah slowly approached him.

    "You didn't handle him well," she said, her girlish voice becoming dangerously gentle. "Because of that, he's now connected with the court we wanted unaware of his presence in Kaeleer, and we have no way of using that Black-Jeweled strength for our own purposes."

    Jorval tried to get up. Fear clogged his throat when he realized she was using Craft to keep him pinned to the chair.

    She settled gracefully in his lap and wrapped one arm around his neck. As her long nails brushed against his cheek, he wondered if he was going to lose an eye. Maybe that would be best. Blind, he wouldn't be able to see her. On second thought, no. She wore darker Jewels than he did. She could force his mind open and leave an image that was a hundred times worse than her actual appearance.

    He whimpered as his stomach rolled ominously.

    "Just as there are rewards for success, there are penalties for failure," Hekatah said as she stroked his face.

    Knowing what was required, he whispered, "Yes, Priestess."

    "And you did fail me, didn't you, darling?"

    "Y-Yes, Priestess."

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire