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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 168)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(168) by Anne Bishop
  • She found that comforting, and she realized Vae was right. This wasn’t confusing at all.

    Gray came up to her and brushed a hand over her hair. “You feeling better after getting some rest?”

    She smiled at him. “Yes, I am.”

    He studied her as if he’d been prepared for one kind of mood and was faced with another. Then he smiled in return. “Come over here. We have some things to show you.”

    He led her to her place at the table, but she felt too restless to sit down. And she wasn’t sure how to interpret the men’s hard eyes and grim faces since Powell had seemed so dismissive earlier.

    “Powell told you about the letter,” she said.

    “We saw that piece of shit,” Talon replied. “It pissed off the rest of us, but if it knocked your legs out from under you for even a little while, I guess it was a good ploy for Kermilla to use.”

    “Ploy?” Cassidy stared at her Master of the Guard.

    “You bluff well enough when we play cards. I’m surprised you couldn’t see this for what it is.” Talon leaned across the table toward her. “Direct question, Cassie. You give us a direct answer. Are you walking away from us? Yes or no.”

    “No, I’m not walking away from you, but—”

    “ ‘But’ wasn’t one of the choices,” Talon growled.

    “—my contract ends in two months.”

    “Only if you choose to end it,” Powell said. “The provisional contract was a way for us to save face if you chose not to stay with us.”

    That hadn’t beenher impression of what that contract meant. “Kermilla says she’s going to be the Queen.”

    “Not without a fight,” Ranon said.

    Fight with words. With Protocol. By taking this challenge before a tribunal of Queens, assuming she and Kermilla both had an official court. That’s what Ranon meant. Didn’t he?

    She looked at the men again. Warlords and Warlord Princes. Warriors who had already survived years of battles, a lifetime of fighting in one way or another.

    They weren’t going to fight with words or with Protocol or by arguing before a tribunal to decide who would rule their Territory. They would meet their challengers on a killing field as they had done before.

    “If this turns into a fight, some of you could die,” she said, chilled by the possibility.

    “Some of us might die either way,” Ranon said. “We’re not going to submit to a Queen who cares nothing about our people or our land. We’ve seen what that kind of Queen can do to a Territory. And over these past few months, we’ve seen what a good Queen can do. We’d rather fight for you than just fight against Kermilla, but one way or another we’re going to fight—and some of us will die.”

    “No,” she whispered. For a moment, she felt grateful when Gray slipped an arm around her waist. Then she looked at him. Really looked at Prince Jared Blaed.

    No longer a boy in a man’s body who would be tucked away with the other young boys. This time he would stand on a killing field with the rest of the men.

    “Besides,” Ranon said, “just before we helped James Weaver and the other landens relocate here, he told me flat out that if Kermilla became Queen, there would be another landen uprising. So there’s going to be a war one way or the other.”

    No.“If it has to be physical confrontation, it would be Kermilla’s court fighting against mine to settle who ruled. It wouldn’t be a war.”

    Talon made a rude noise. “Witchling, it’s not going to stay between the courts. There’s too much at stake. More at stake than we’ve had for a lot of years.”

    “You’re going to give in just because some bitch tells you to go?” Shaddo growled at her.

    “No, I’m not giving in, but you’re talking aboutwar .”

    The thought of empty chairs around the table kept her arguing. “When Theran leaves it will break the court. We’ll have an unofficial court going up against an official one.”

    “You don’t know that,” Talon said. “He needs to convince eleven other men to serve Kermilla, and I don’t think that’s going to be an easy task.” He nodded at Gray. “And we’ve already got his replacement.”

    “Remember the lessons I was taking at the Keep?” Gray asked her. “I was training to be a First Escort. To be your First Escort. I’m qualified, Cassie. The High Lord, Daemon, and Lucivar all agree I can serve you and the court in this way. And the High Lord gave me this.” He called in a sheet of paper and handed it to her.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire