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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 59)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(59) by Anne Bishop
  • “As you please.” Jhorma rose and walked out of the room.

    Shehad wanted sex, but he’d spoiled her mood.

    So maybe she’d take a walk in the moonlight with Theran this evening and see if he had any experience behind that enthusiasm.

    Accepting Gray’s assistance, Cassidy stepped out of the carriage and looked at the boardinghouse. Queen’s Residence, she reminded herself. Somehow, while dealing with the snarls and grumbles that had been a constant background during this journey, she had agreed that the boardinghouse now be referred to as the Queen’s Residence.

    “It’s good to be home,” she said—and wondered if she would recognize the inside of the place. After all, she’d been gone five days and had told Powell he could do pretty much as he pleased.

    “Those cottages across from the Residence weren’t occupied when we left,” Ranon said, studying the street while offering Shira a hand. “Shaddo and Archerr must be back.”

    The door of the Residence opened. Talon stepped out and strode over to them.

    The way he looked her over—as if assessing a warrior he’d sent out on a difficult mission who had finally returned—she wondered how many reports, and complaints, the Master of the Guard and Steward had received in the past five days.

    “Shaddo and Archerr are back?” she asked.

    “They are,” Talon replied. “Lady Shira, tomorrow will be soon enough, but I think a visit from the court Healer would be in order for both families. Those people have not had an easy time.”

    “Should I go over and welcome them?” Cassidy asked.

    “No.”

    The finality of that statement shook her.

    “Tomorrow afternoon is soon enough for them to have an audience with the Queen,” Talon said.

    “Surely we don’t have to be so formal—” She swallowed the rest of her protest. It was clear Talon thought there was reason for that formality.

    “Powell has worked out a schedule of afternoons when you are available to give audiences,” Talon said.

    “Afternoons?” Cassidy stammered. “Audiences? Hell’s fire! I thought Powell was going to rearrange the furniture, not my life!”

    “Did you?”

    The amusement under the dry words made her take a step back. “Is tomorrow morning soon enough to go over my social calendar?”

    “I think so,” Talon replied.

    “Good. Then there’s enough time for a quick bite to eat before I meet Lord Yairen for my drumming lesson.”

    “No.”Ranon backed away from her, his dark eyes filled with fear. “No, he can’t do that.”

    Staggered by his distress, she said nothing as he strode down the street toward his grandfather’s house. Then she turned to Shira.

    “Yairen offered to teach you?” Shira asked, her voice breaking as tears filled her eyes.

    “Yes. When Ranon brought me back here, Yairen stayed with me and we talked. He offered to teach me the drums. He said drums were a woman’s instrument because they were the sound of the land’s heartbeat. Shira, why is Ranon so upset? Is it against Shaladoran customs to teach an outsider?”

    Tears spilled over. Shira shuddered with the effort to maintain some control. “We weren’t forbidden music or stories or dances as long as they were from Dena Nehele—or Hayll. But anything that came from Shalador, that came from the hearts ofour people was forbidden. Ranon’s grandfather is a Tradition Keeper of Music. He taught people how to play drums and the flute. He wasn’t as skilled with the fiddle and only taught the basics. But he defied the Queens who ruled here and taught the Shalador drum rhythms and the Shalador songs. So they broke his hands as punishment. And when his hands healed the first time, he continued to teach the music of our people. So they broke his hands again. The third time, the Queens’ Healers made sure the fingers healed wrong so that Yairen could no longer play. Ranon was a small boy the last time Yairen’s hands were broken. But, somehow, Yairen still taught Ranon to play the Shalador flute—and taught him the songs of our people.”

    Cassidy stood frozen while Shira dried her eyes and the men shifted uneasily.

    How much trust had gone into what she’d thought was Yairen’s friendly offer? How much fear had ridden alongside that trust?

    “I want all the Tradition Keepers in this village here within the hour,” Cassidy said quietly.

    “Cassie . . .” Gray began.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire