• Home
  • Directory
  • Popular
  • Authors
  • Series
  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Queen of the Darkness (Chapter 48)      Page
  • Queen of the Darkness(Black Jewels,Book 3)(48) by Anne Bishop
  • Saetan's smile was sweet and vicious. "My darling Prince, if Jaenelle actually gives her consent, you can do more than watch."

    9 / Kaeleer

    Lord Magstrom sighed as he laid his stack of files on the large table already filled with stacks of files. He sighed again when his elbow jostled a corner stack and the top bulging file spilled on the floor. Going down on one knee, he began collecting the papers.

    Thank the Darkness claiming day had ended and the autumn service fair was officially over. Perhaps he should decline to work the service fair next spring. The grueling hours were taxing for a man his age, but it was the heartbreaking hope and desperation on the immigrants' faces that wrung him dry. How could he look at a woman no older than his youngest granddaughter and not want to help her find a place to live where the fear lurking at the back of her eyes would be replaced by happiness? How could he talk to a courteous, well-spoken man who had been horrifically scarred by repeated attempts to "teach him obedience" and not want to send him to some quiet village where he could regain his self-respect and not have to wonder what was going to happen to him every time the Lady who ruled there looked in his direction?

    There weren't places like that in Little Terreille. Not anymore. But it was the Queens in this Territory that continued to offer contracts and stuff their courts with immigrants. The other Queens in Kaeleer, in the Territories that answered to the Queen of Ebon Askavi, were more cautious and far more selective. So he did his best to find the immigrants who had a skill or a dream orsomething that might buy them a contract outside of Little Terreille, and he brought those people to the attention of the males in Jaenelle Angelline's First Circle when they came to the service fair. As for the others, he filled out the contracts and wished them luck and good life—and wondered if their new life in Little Terreille would really be any different than the life they had tried to escape.

    And he tried not to think at all about the ones who hadn't been fortunate enough to receivesome kind of contract and were sent back to Terreille.

    Magstrom shook his head as he shuffled the papers into some kind of order. Such sloppy work, stuffing the immigration entry lists into the same file as the service lists and the lists of those who were returning to Terreille. How could the clerks be expected to—

    His hand tightened on a sheet of paper. The Hayllian entry list. Buthe had been in charge of the Hayllian list— until the end of the third day, when Jorval had decided to oversee that particular list. There had been twenty names on the list he'd given Jorval. Now there were only twelve. Had someone recopied the list and only put down the names of the people who had been accepted into service? No, because Daemon Sadi's name wasn't there.

    Magstrom quickly shuffled through the papers for the Hayllian list of people returning to Terreille which the guards would use to make sure no one tried to slip away and go into hiding. Four names listed. Since Sadi was now in Dhemlan, that left three people unaccounted for who had been on the entry list he had given to Jorval.

    When he heard footsteps approaching, he stuffed the papers back into the file, grunted softly as he stood up, and hurriedly placed the file on a stack where it wouldn't just spill back onto the floor.

    The footsteps stopped at the door, then continued on.

    Magstrom listened for a moment, then used Craft to probe the area. No one there. But a shiver of uneasiness rippled down his back.

    Pushed by that uneasiness, he left the building and hurried to the inn where he had been staying during the service fair. As soon as he reached his room, he began to pack.

    By rights, he should have sought out other Council members and mentioned the disparities in the Hayllian lists. Maybe it was a simple clerical error—too many names, too much work rushed through. But who would "forget" to put a Warlord Prince like Daemon Sadi on the list? Unless the omission had been deliberate. And if that were the case, who knew how many other lists had similar disparities, how many Terreilleans who had come to Kaeleer were now unaccounted for?

    And who knew what might happen to the evidence of those disparities if he told the wrong Council members about it?

    If he rode the White Wind, which would be the least demanding, he could still be at the Nharkhava border by dawn. Because one of his granddaughters lived there, Kalush, the Queen of Nharkhava, had granted him a special dispensation that allowed him to visit her Territory without having to go through the formalities every time. And if, once he reached the border landing web, he requested an escort to his granddaughter's house... The guards might think it an odd request, but they wouldn't refuse to assist an elderly man. After he had a little sleep, he would compose a letter to the High Lord, explaining about the disparities in the lists.

    Maybe itwas only a clerical error. But if it was, in fact, the first glimpse of trouble, at least Saetan would have some warning—and would also know where to look for the source.

    Jorval looked at the sheet of paper lying under the table and the papers hastily stuffed back into the bulging file.

    So. The old fool had gotten curious. How unfortunate.

    Magstrom might have been a thorn in the Dark Council's side for a good many years now, but he'd had his uses— especially since he was the only Council member who could request an audience with the High Lord and actually be granted one.

    But it would seem that Magstrom's usefulness was coming to an end. And he wasn't about to forget that if it hadn't been for Magstrom's interference yesterday afternoon, the Dark Priestess would have had her Black-Jeweled weapon safely tucked away somewhere where he could be useful.

    He was tempted to send someone to take care of Magstrom that night, but the timing might lead certain people—like the High Lord—to look into the service fair a little too closely.

    He could wait. Magstrom couldn't have seenthat much. And if anything was questioned, it was easy enough to dismiss a clerk or two for negligence and offer profuse apologies.

    But when the time did come

    10 / Kaeleer

    Alexandra huddled in the chair in front of the blackwood desk.

    The High Lord requests your presence.

    Requests?Demands was more like it. But the study had been empty when that large, stone-faced butler had opened the door for her and, after fifteen minutes, she was still waiting. Not that she was in any hurry to face the High Lord again.

    She strengthened the warming spell she'd put on her shawl and then grimaced at the futility of seeking a little warmth in this place. It wasn't so much theplace —which was actually quite beautiful if you could get past the oppressive, dark feel of it—it was thepeople who produced a bone-deep chill.

    She didn't think it was out of courtesy that she and her entourage had been given dinner in a small dining room located near the guest rooms. He wouldn't have cared that she was too physically and emotionally exhausted to cope with meeting whoever else lived there. He wouldn't have cared that she wouldn't have been able to choke down a mouthful of food if she had to sit at a table with Daemon Sadi.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire