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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 141)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(141) by Anne Bishop
  • If she ordered him to, he would tell her—and that would break the trust building between them.

    “Can you promise me that what you do will not harm Dena Nehele or any of its people?” she asked.

    He relaxed. He even smiled. “That I can promise with everything in me.”

    “Then we’ll look forward to your return.”

    “Thank you, Lady.”

    After Talon left the room, Cassidy curled up in a window seat.

    It wasn’t fair to compare Gray and Jhorma, to compare a man who said he loved her with one who had wanted to list being her Consort on his credentials. It wasn’t fair, but Gray’s unexplained absence made her wonder if he would continue to want her now that he was emotionally healed. Being his first lover didn’t mean he wanted her to be his last.

    If that was the case, she would find the strength to let him go with grace. But after he was gone, would she be able to hide the heartache well enough to escape the pity of her own court?

    CHAPTER 28


    Dena Nehele Queens rode the trails through the Tamanara Mountains in secret and in silence. Some had made this journey many times over many years. For others, it was the first time they had dared to give anyone this much trust.

    Each of them had the list of trails to follow. Their escorts knew the exact time they had to pass the checkpoints on the trails. Miss the time, and you had a choice: turn back or die. There was no leniency or mercy in the spells that protected the mountain trails—and in this time and place, there was no mercy in the Sapphire-Jeweled Warlord Prince who created those spells year after year, generation after generation. He was the assurance that the Queens who had gathered twice a year to talk with each other were safe from the ones who had ruled.

    When they reached the meeting place, they left horses and escorts behind and entered the clearing alone. Many embraced, relieved to see familiar faces again. But no one asked for a name. They never asked for a name. Even if they lived in neighboring villages and knew each other, they did not acknowledge such things, or ask about children, lovers, or parents.

    Too many had been tortured to death over the years for them to leave all caution behind.

    When the last Queen who chose to make the journey entered the clearing, the Sapphire shields went up around them—protective shields, sight shields, aural shields.

    Witchlight and warming spells made them comfortable. They called in stools, benches, or chairs. Then, safe within the Sapphire shields that would hide them until dawn, they shared their knowledge of their land and their people.

    “It was a good harvest. The best we have had in many years. There will be enough food this year for everyone. The Craft the Rose Queen called the Queen’s Gift made the difference.”

    “Harvests were not so good in the north. The Other Queen was not as generous with her time. She wears a stronger Jewel than the Rose, but I do not think she is as skilled in her Craft—or as caring of the people.”

    “There was trouble in Grayhaven. Some people moved away because of the Other Queen’s presence.”

    “I heard the Rose Queen allowed a community of landens to settle close to her home village. They are courteous and hardworking. They come to the Blood village for supplies and for social events. They show great respect for the Rose.”

    “Warlord Princes who have gone to the Rose’s village have been impressed by the work being done, and by the feel of the village. Fear no longer creeps through the streets. Even Ferall was impressed.”

    “Jared Blaed has healed.”

    A stunned silence.

    “I have heard that too. And that he is the Rose Queen’s lover—by choice. He is becoming a strong leader, and it is said that he knows some very powerful men in Kaeleer.”

    “There is a rumor in the north that the Rose Queen will leave when the spring flowers bloom and the Other Queen will take her place and rule Dena Nehele.”

    “That one wants much and offers little.”

    “The south has not heard these rumors. There is no sign that the Rose intends to leave. Her court is strong and gathers strength around itself.”

    “I have heard the rumor too. Theran Grayhaven wants the Other to rule and will give her our land.”

    “There was some . . . strangeness . . . about the way the Rose departed from Grayhaven and ended up with the Shaladorans. It is speculated that it had something to do with the Other Queen.”

    “The Rose has brought a young Shaladoran Queen into her court for training. The girl is learning the Old Ways and Protocol. She is respectful and performs her duties well. And there is real affection between the girl and the Rose.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire