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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Queen of the Darkness (Chapter 57)      Page
  • Queen of the Darkness(Black Jewels,Book 3)(57) by Anne Bishop
  • Surreal worked to keep her voice warm. Marian didn't seem the type to be interested in a former whore's underwear. "Why?"

    "Lucivar will insist that you strip down for the lesson."

    "Strip?" Wilhelmina said. "In front of those men?"

    "You don't want your movements restricted by your clothing," Marian said kindly. "And you'll want to put on something dry afterward."

    "I take it I'm going to be sweating," Surreal said. She glanced at Wilhelmina and wondered if that kind of exercise was a good idea. The young woman looked as pale as water and scared enough to break.

    "I don't think he'll work the beginners that hard, but you..." Marian's gold eyes flicked to Surreal's pointed ears. "You're Dea al Mon. He may push you harder, just to find out what you can already do."

    "Lucky me," Surrel muttered as they headed across the lawn toward the other women who were already gathered at the practice circle.

    Marian smiled. "My first weapon was the skillet."

    "Sounds dangerous," Surreal said, returning the smile.

    "I'd been working for Lucivar as his housekeeper for about four months. My moon's blood had started that morning, and I wasn't feeling well. Looking back, I realize that he must have gone through the other moontimes with his teeth clenched to keep from saying anything. But that morning, he started fussing at me to take it easy, and I took it as a criticism that I couldn't do my job. I threw a pot at him. Well, not reallyat him. I didn't want tohit him, I just felt mad enough that I needed to throw something. It hit the wall about two feet away from where he was standing.

    "He looked at the pot for a minute, then picked it up and went outside. I could hear him throwing it, and thought he was doing that instead of using his fists on me the way some Eyrien males would have.

    "He came back inside, muttering, took one of the skillets, and went back out. A few minutes later, he dragged me outside. He said a pot didn't have the right balance, but a skillet would work if it was thrown properly. I spent two months practicing slinging a skillet before he declared me proficient enough to suit him." Marian grinned at the memory.

    "What does he consider proficient?" Surreal asked.

    Marian didn't look amused now. "Being able to break bone nine out of ten times."

    Surreal just gaped at her for a moment, and then started thinking hard. She was a damn good assassin. Just how much, under Lucivar's training, could those skills be honed?

    When they reached the practice circle, Wilhelmina hung back. Surreal pushed her way to the front. When an Eyrien warrior snarled at her for elbowing him in the ribs, she snarled back, pleased that he was the one to give ground.

    She looked around, saw Daemon, and felt her breathing hitch. He looked calm enough, standing there with a mug of coffee in one hand, but his face had that set look that she'd seen when they were in the Coach on the way here. It wasn't as bad as it had been then, but it wasn't good.

    Then Lucivar started talking, and she put her concern for Daemon aside for the time being.

    "There are reasons why Eyrien males are the warriors," Lucivar said, his eyes skimming over the women as he paced slowly down the line and back again. "We're bigger, stronger, and we have the temperament for killing. You have other strengths and other skills. Most of the time, that works out well. But that's no reason for you to be unable to defend yourselves. And before you give me any shit about not being able to handle a weapon, I'll remind you that most of you don't have any trouble using kitchen knives, and some of them are as big as a hunting knife. They just look different. And some of you will want to wiggle out of this training by telling me that, no matter how much she knows, a woman can't hold her own against a male. Right?" Looking at the other practice circle, he roared, "CAT! Get over here!"

    Wondering why he'd want a feline, Surreal looked toward the circle. Her breath came out in a hiss as the woman talking to Karla, Morghann, and Gabrielle turned around. "Jaenelle," she whispered.

    She focused on Daemon again. He didn't look shocked to see Jaenelle. Maybe they'd already had a chance to talk. Maybe... No, it was probably way too early to think aboutthose maybes.

    The other women strode toward the practice circle. Jaenelle came more slowly, her eyes fixed on Lucivar while she whipped the stick around her waist with enough force to sting the air.

    Lucivar sidestepped to the middle of the circle, always watching her. "Come play with me, Cat," he said, giving her an arrogant smile.

    She snarled at him and began to circle.

    "Hallevar," Lucivar said as he circled with her. "Call the time."

    Surreal felt Falonar tense beside her.

    "What's time?" she asked, nudging him when he didn't answer.

    "Ten minutes," Falonar replied grimly. "He'll beat her into the ground long before that."

    Surreal slashed a look at Daemon and started to sweat. If that happened, what would Sadi do? Easy answer. The hard question was, what could any of them do to stop him from tearing Lucivar apart?

    The first clash of the sticks had her heart jumping into her throat. After that she wasn't aware of anything except Jaenelle and Lucivar moving gracefully through a savage dance.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire