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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 116)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(116) by Anne Bishop
  • “I don’t think our traditional songs sound right on the Scelt whistle,” Laithan said, “but Dena Nehele folk songs suit the instrument’s range. Jade has sorted out most of the music that arrived. I’ll see if there is anything that was written specifically for these whistles.”

    Ranon picked up a whistle. It was shorter and half the circumference of a Shalador flute, but the finger holes were the same. Setting his fingers, he blew a note.

    A different sound than the wooden flute. A sharper sound. But pleasing all the same. He tried a piece of a traditional Shalador song and then a folk song from Dena Nehele. Laithan was right; the folk songs sounded better than the music of Shalador.

    “Here,” Laithan said, returning with several sheets of music. “Try one of these.”

    Ranon looked over the music. Folk songs, he guessed. One had a lively pace; the other was slower. He chose the slower piece—and he understood why the Shalador people might find common ground with the music of Scelt.

    Bright and yet bittersweet. A sound that slipped past the mind and spoke to the heart.

    “It’s good,” he said a few minutes later, setting the whistle on the counter.

    “A gift,” Laithan said, “along with this music.”

    “Laithan . . .”

    “In exchange for you coming to play here once or twice a month.” Laithan laughed. “Don’t make such a face, Ranon. You won’t have to perform alone. I’ve kept one of these whistles for myself because I want to become acquainted with this music too. One night of Shalador music and one night of Scelt to teach and entertain our people through the winter months.” He held out his hand. “Deal?”

    Ranon shook hands. “Deal.” Then he vanished whistle and music and looked at his grandfather. “Would you like to—”

    *Ranon!*

    The dog sounded panicked. *Khollie? What’s wrong?* By the time Ranon turned away from the counter and took the first step, Lizzie had passed through the door and charged down the street.

    *Ranon!*

    More than panic now. All he heard was terror.

    Ranon burst out of Heartbeat and headed down the street, not quite running as he shaped a tight, double layer of Opal shields around himself—the kind of shielding a Warlord Prince used on a killing field.

    Not quite running toward the commotion near Elders’ Park, but aware of everything around him. Aware of confused feelings edging toward anger that created a psychic buzz so thick and harsh it was almost a sound. Aware of Wynne and Kharr herding the children who had come for story time into a tight flock that could be defended. Aware of Vae, Darcy, and Lizzie snapping and snarling as they circled around something that kept trying to move away from Elders’ Park and all the people.

    *Ranon?* Archerr called. *What in the name of Hell is going on?*

    *I don’t know.* Ranon slowed down as he scanned the street. *The Scelties are all acting strange. Maybe a piglet or chicken got loose and they’re making a game of herding it.* But he’d see or hear an animal if it was caught between the three dogs. And that didn’t explain Wynne and Kharr’s behavior—or why he couldn’t spot Khollie.

    Then Vae charged the empty space within the Sceltie triangle and hitsomething with a blast of Purple Dusk power.

    A sight shield broke, revealing an unknown Warlord.

    Ranon froze for just a moment as he remembered the day the Scelties arrived in Eyota and how one of them had located Archerr by scent, despite the Warlord Prince being sight shielded.

    They had known he was there. He’d slipped past us, but they had . . .

    That was when he saw the rest, and a cold rage burned through him as he strode down the street.

    The bastard had a hand around Khollie’s neck, holding the dog off the ground that way. Not by the scruff,by the neck.

    The Scelties looked at him and hesitated a moment, then resumed their attack, hitting the defensive shields the stranger threw around himself.

    At first Ranon wondered why Vae and the others were throwing themselves against the stranger’s shields. That tactic was draining the Scelties’ power as well as the Warlord’s, and Ranon thought it a waste of their strength until he realized the brilliance of their fight. The dumb, two-legged sheep was caught in a snapping triangle, unable to run away—and too harried to notice the enraged Warlord Princes closing in on him.

    As he moved toward the fight, Ranon’s eyes flicked from one side of the street to the other. Kharr and Wynne had the children and elders well shielded. Shaddo and Archerr were coming up the street to flank the bastard. Vae, Darcy, and Lizzie continued their relentless attack, wearing down the Warlord’s power and shields.

    And Khollie . . .

    Khollie hung limp and unmoving in the bastard’s grasp.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire