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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 16)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(16) by Anne Bishop
  • When she reached the vegetable garden, she stopped.

    It should have been good soil, but it was parched, almost barren, and the plants struggling to grow wouldn’t yield the bounty needed to feed these people. Not parched for water; the ground was still soft, a sure sign that there had been a long, soaking rain sometime in the past day or two. No, it was parched for the connection with a Queen, for that necessary give-and-take that kept the land healthy.

    Why had the Shalador Queens neglected this? Cassidy wondered as she knelt at the edge of the bed. Surely they were aware of the need. Had they been so afraid to call attention to themselves that they hadn’t done this one thing that would have helped so many? Or had they stopped because they realized that if they made this land richer than the rest of Dena Nehele by following traditions, it would have been taken away? Ranon had told them that the reserves were half the size they had been when Lady Grizelle and Lia had established those parts of Dena Nehele as a place that belonged to the Shalador people.

    Well, it was time everyone stopped denying one of the duties of a Queen.

    She didn’t turn around. If she looked at him, Gray would join her—and raise too many objections. Ceremony could come later. First she would show themwhy ; then she would show them how.

    Cassidy called in a short-bladed knife and made a cut on each palm. As the blood flowed, she vanished the knife and pressed her hands into the soil—and sent her Rose-Jeweled power flowing through her blood and into the ground.

    So parched. So needy. So empty for so long.

    Power flowed, spreading through the vegetable garden like sweet rain.

    The land was the true root and heart of the Blood’s power. They were the caretakers of the Realms. That was more than society and cities. It was more than music and literature, more than ruling over the landens. A connection to the land was an important part of what made the Blood who and what they were, and the Queens were the bridge because their power supported the land.

    So parched. So needy. Soaking up everything she was willing to give. She could feel the land responding under her hands, wanting more. Wanting everything.


    A little more. She could give a little more. Saturation would come soon, and the land would stop draining her.


    So parched. So needy. To be wanted so much.

    Then the power was draining too fast, too much. But she couldn’t pull away, couldn’t turn away when there was so much need.

    Just a little—




    The ground felt soft and smelled lightly of herbs. She didn’t remember seeing herbs in the vegetable garden.

    Groaning, Cassidy rolled onto her side. Her eyes felt sleep-crusted, but it was too much effort to pry them open. One hand pressed on the surface next to her head. Pillow. Was she in bed? How did she get there? What in the name of Hell happened? Every muscle ached, and she felt parched, like she had been wrung so dry she was hollow.

    Quiet rustling. Movement. Then a weight settled beside her on the bed.

    Had to be Shira since the psychic scent was female, but she couldn’t tell anything beyond that—a sure sign thatsomething was wrong with her.

    “Hell’s fire,” Cassidy muttered with her eyes still closed. “Am I late for the evening’s feast?”

    “By about two days,” said a voice that wasn’t Shira’s but held a vaguely familiar tartness.

    She rubbed the crustiness from her eyes and looked at the woman sitting beside her. Short, spiky, white-blond hair. A thin face that looked a decade older than the woman’s real age. Gray Jewel and Hourglass pendant. And a wicked smile that curved unpainted lips but didn’t reach the glacier blue eyes.

    “Lady Karla?”

    “Kiss kiss.”

    Cassidy struggled to prop herself up on one elbow—and failed. “What are you doing here?”

    “Looking after you. I was at the Keep visiting Uncle Saetan when Vae arrived howling that you were dying and needed help from a Healer who knew about Queen things. Being a Healer and a Queen, I figured I would know how to deal with whatever happened. So here I am.” She paused, then added, “Lucivar is here too.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire