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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 197)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(197) by Anne Bishop
  • “I’ll see that she gets it.”

    “High Lord? Is Kermilla going to be all right?”

    Saetan stared at him for a long time. “Lady Sabrina and her Steward are on their way to the Keep. They’ll see that Kermilla gets back to Dharo safely.” He looked behind Theran. “This Warlord will escort you back to the Coach and retrieve Lady Kermilla’s trunks.”

    “Thank you.”

    Nothing more to say, so he bowed to the High Lord of Hell and followed the servant to the Coach.

    On the way back to Dena Nehele, Julien fixed him coffee and a plate of food. He didn’t touch either. He sat in the passenger compartment of the Coach, breathing in Kermilla’s lingering physical and psychic scents—and wondered if this feeling of being torn and broken would ever go away.

    After going through the Gate and arriving at the Keep in Kaeleer, Kermilla followed the High Lord to a sitting room. He’d been awfully scary when she’d first seen him, but hewas a handsome man. A little too old for her tastes. Older men could be soserious abouteverything. And they didn’t have enough stamina to be fun. But the way he had handled that other strange man . . . Yes, he could be helpful.Very helpful.

    “I’m glad Theran didn’t come with us,” she said, giving him a sideways glance through her lashes. “That way we can get to know each other better.”

    She started to link her arm through his, but when she touched his jacket, the air turned so bitingly cold it burned her skin.

    He said nothing about the cold or the way she jerked away from him. When he opened the sitting room’s door, she darted inside and went straight to the fireplace, hoping to warm up.

    Her hands finally thawed enough to stop burning. She turned around and found him staring at her, his gold eyes glazed and sleepy.

    “I was ordered to give you a gift,” he said. “It was created especially for you.”

    “A gift?” That warmed her even better than the fire. She clapped her hands in delight and gave him a brilliant smile. “What is it?”

    He stepped closer, raised his right hand, and pressed his fingers lightly against her chest.

    At first it felt like a delicate necklace that rested on her skin in a web of fine metal. Then it meltedinto her skin, and threads of power flowed around her and through her, creating an odd flood of warmth that was there and gone.

    Only moments passed before he raised his hand and stepped back to look at her.

    “How appropriate,” he said in a singsong croon.

    She placed a hand on her chest, but she felt nothing.

    “Look,” he said. A turn of his hand, and a large gilt-framed mirror floated in the air nearby. “Look.”

    She looked. Then she screamed.

    And the High Lord of Hell laughed.

    “Don’t worry, my dear. It’s only an illusion spell, but it’s a powerful one—and unbreakable. You’ll wear that face for a year and a day. Then the spell will fade gradually over the months that follow. Within two years, you’ll have your own face again and, hopefully, a great deal more.”

    “Why?” Kermilla wailed as she stared at a face that was even more homely than Freckledy’s. Everyone would seethis when they looked at her? “Why?”

    “The tangled webs all said the same thing,” the High Lord replied. “If you continue to be nothing more than a greedy little girl, you will be dead within a year. While some of us welcomed that solution to a noxious problem, the Queen decided to give you a second chance. Your pretty face was the tool you used to get what you wanted, regardless of what it cost anyone else. Now you’ll have to earn what you want by proving your worth as a Queen. You’re being given a chance to grow up, Lady Kermilla, instead of dying young. I hope you eventually appreciate the gift. If you don’t, we’ll meet again soon in Hell.”

    She trailed after him as he walked to the sitting room’s door. Then a gleam of silver caught her eye, drawing her toward one of the small tables scattered around the room. Plenty of expensive little nothings in this room. Who would notice if there were one or two less?

    The silence turned heavy and cold and peculiar.

    She looked at the High Lord, who studied her with those sleepy gold eyes.

    “If you steal something from the Keep, what guards this place will let you take it,” he crooned. “But they will take your hand in exchange.”

    He walked out of the room and closed the door.

    Something moved in the wall. A shadow where there shouldn’t be a shadow.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire