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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 47)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(47) by Anne Bishop
  • “Kermilla, yes, but the court as well. Why should we have to pack up just because Cassidy is acting like a spoiled child?”

    Talon snarled. “Be careful what you say, boy. You’re talking about the Queen.”

    “So you expect me to leave my family’s home and go live in a Shalador reserve?” Theran snapped.

    “You’re not welcome there.” He said the words because they were true.

    Theran’s eyes widened. He looked stunned, hurt.

    “This is how it’s going to be, Theran. Trust that I mean everything I say.” No response but wariness. At least the boy had sense enough to be wary. “You will remain as First Escort so that the court remains intact. You promised to serve Cassidy for one year. That promise was witnessed by the most powerful men in all the Realms. But they aren’t here. I am, and I will hold you to that promise. What you do the day after that contract is fulfilled is your own business, but you will do nothing to break this court. If you do, I will kill your whore.”

    “Kermilla isnot a whore!”

    “In exchange for keeping your oath of service, you will rule the town of Grayhaven on the Queen’s behalf. All the tithes from the town will be your income to do with as you please. Half should go to the treasury, but no one is going to ask for an accounting of your expenses.”

    “Talon, you’re making a mistake.”

    He heard a hint of panic in Theran’s voice. Good. The boy was finally understanding that he no longer had the support that had always guarded his back.

    “While she stands on Dena Nehele land, Kermilla will be confined to this town,” Talon continued. “The Queen ordered Kermilla out of her Territory. You disregarded that command and made her your personal guest. The shame is on the rest of the First Circle, and especially me, that we let you do that. Because the fault is ours as well as yours, we will not raise a hand against Kermilla while she remains in Grayhaven. However, by sunrise tomorrow, every Warlord Prince in Dena Nehele will know she is considered an enemy of the Queen and tolerated only so long as she remains in the town under your rule. The moment she steps beyond that line, we will deal with her as we have dealt with every other enemy.”

    Theran looked shocked. “Kermilla is the Queen we should have had. She’s the one who should have been here from the beginning, not Cassidy. I know you have to fulfill your contract with the court, and I respect that, but don’t turn your back on the Queen you can serve next spring.”

    Sadness filled Talon. He’d faced this moment before with friends, but he had never felt this bitter. And now that he felt the bond that drove a Warlord Prince to serve a particular Queen, he finally understood why good men had served bad Queens—and had become twisted because of that service. He could only hope that the bond Theran felt broke before something in Theran did. “Kermilla is your Queen, isn’t she? Something about her calls to you to cherish and protect.”

    “She’s the right Queen for Dena Nehele. For all of us. If you’d just take the time to get to know her . . .”

    “She’s not my Queen, Theran,” he said quietly. “She never will be. I look at her and see the same kind of Queen I fought against for three centuries. Nothing is going to change that, boy. We’re standing on opposite sides of a line now. I’m sorry for that, but that’s the way it is.”

    “You’ll regret this,” Theran said urgently. “A year from now, Kermilla will be the Queen of Dena Nehele, and she may not forgive you for treating her this way.”

    “That may be. If she does take control of Dena Nehele . . .” Talon shrugged. “I’ve spent most of my life as a rogue in the Tamanara Mountains. If it comes to that, I’ll finish my life the same way.”

    “You don’t mean that. Youcan’t mean that.”

    “I mean every word. Don’t tell yourself otherwise.”

    They stood in a doorway, both feeling something break between them that would never truly mend.

    “May the Darkness embrace you, Theran.” He hesitated, then felt he had to say one last thing, try one last time. “I’ve taught you what I could about honor, about the Invisible Ring. The day may come when you have to make a choice, so I want you to remember this: it is better to break your own heart than to break your honor.”

    “When did you ever make that choice?” Theran asked bitterly.

    Right here. Right now.

    Talon walked away from one of the boys he loved, walked out of the mansion, and headed for the landing web beyond the gate. The sun’s fist beat on him with every step until he caught the Sapphire Wind and rode it through the Darkness, heading for Eyota.

    Part of him wanted Theran to come after him. Part of him hoped the boy would stay away until he was free of Kermilla.

    And part of him had the sick feeling that Theran would use the Grayhaven name to justify breaking all of their trust.

    Theran stood on the terrace, staring at the single remaining honey pear seedling. Gray had watered it, had given it that last bit of care before taking the other twelve.

    Grayleft. Even more than Talon, Gray’s misguided loyalty to Cassidy hurt. Hell’s fire, it hurt. Ranon? He didn’t give a damn if he ever saw the man again, but if Ranon was gone that meant Shira was gone—and he needed to find someone else to act as Kermilla’s personal Healer.

    Probably for the best. He wasn’t sure he would trust Kermilla’s well-being to a Healer who was also a Black Widow.

    “Oh,la. There you are.” Kermilla slipped her arm through his and gave him a sunny smile. “Why the sour face?”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire