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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 46)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(46) by Anne Bishop
  • “In exchange for what?” Powell asked.

    Talon shook his head. In exchange for nothing. At least, nothing he was willing to discuss with Powell.

    He felt a respectful tap on his first inner barrier. “Ranon is on his way down. The boy cleared out his room fast.”

    “He wants to be gone.” Powell rubbed his left hand. “So do I.”

    Talon sighed. “I raised Theran, taught him as best I could. Tried to hold on to the Old Ways even when I could feel them slipping away with each generation. I fought to keep him safe. I killed to keep him safe. You don’t know how much it hurts to see him giving himself to Kermilla. I can’t decide if protecting him from the twisted Queens all his life has made him blind to the kind of woman Kermilla is, or if he senses that something isn’t right but is defending her because he can’t admit he might be wrong about her. I can’t decide—but tonight I’m wondering if men wasted their lives by defending the Grayhaven bloodline.”

    He shook his head and raised a hand, indicating he didn’t want a response.

    A moment later, Ranon walked into the room—and Talon walked out.

    CHAPTER 11

    TERREILLE

    *Talon,* Cayle said. *We’ve got the horses loaded in the livestock Coach. Haele and Burne are at the station. Everyone else is gone.*

    *Then go,* Talon replied. *I’m last man out.*

    *See you in Eyota.*

    *Yes, you will. May the Darkness embrace you.*

    Standing outside the Grayhaven mansion, Talon watched the sun rise—and felt the light begin to drain the power from his demon-dead flesh. Smarter to stay here until sundown, but once he delivered his message, it would be best for all of them if he left. He’d need fresh human blood, not yarbarah, by the time he reached Eyota, but now he knew how to ask for it without feeling shame for what he was taking from the living.

    He walked the hallways, delaying the moment when he would reach the family wing. Servants were already stirring. Dryden and Elle would be in the kitchen with Maydra, having a simple breakfast while the three reviewed the day’s schedule. Birdie, who mostly looked after the rooms of the Queen, Steward, and Healer, gave him a sleepy smile as she passed him in a hallway. She was shy as a rabbit when she first came to work here a few weeks ago, but was getting braver because the Queen she served treated her with respect.

    “Birdie,” he called before she disappeared around a corner.

    “Prince Talon?” She returned, looking uncertain since he’d never asked her for anything before.

    He called in a half sheet of paper and the stub of a pencil, and wrote, “The Queen’s residence has moved to Eyota, a village in the eastern Shalador reserve.”

    He folded the paper into quarters and handed it to her. “Give that to Dryden.”

    “Yes, sir.” Birdie started to leave, then hesitated. “Sir? Do you think Maydra should make up a tray for Lady Cassidy? The Lady’s stomach has been a mite tender, and maybe a peaceful breakfast would help.”

    A stab of guilt. The Warlords and Warlord Princes who had lived in the Tamanara Mountains had swept into villages to get supplies, visit friends and family, and hunt down the men who willingly served the Queens they viewed as enemies. Then they swept out again, back to their guarded camps in the mountains, leaving the villagers behind to endure the Queen’s grace.

    What would being at Kermilla’s beck and call do to a girl like Birdie?

    “Lady Cassidy won’t need a tray this morning,” he said. “Don’t forget to give that to Dryden.”

    “No, sir. I’ll do it right away.”

    He watched her go, a spring in her step. There was no spring in his. He needed to finish this task and get out.

    When Theran answered the sharp rap on the bedroom door and blocked the view into his room, Talon wondered if there was someone with him—and who it might be.

    “The Queen’s court is no longer in residence,” Talon said. “The Queen’s court now resides in Eyota.”

    Theran’s eyes remained sleepy and blank a moment too long. And that moment too long told Talon everything he needed to know about Theran’s loyalty to Cassidy—and also confirmed another truth that had been hidden under his own strength and the Grayhaven name: Theran didn’t have that subtlesomething that made a man a true leader.

    Theran’s face darkened with anger. “Why should we move there and inconvenience everyone?”

    “Everyone being your guest?” Talon asked with a mildness that hid heartache and anger.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire