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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 60)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(60) by Anne Bishop
  • She raised a hand, cutting him off. Then she looked at her Master of the Guard. “See that it’s done, Prince Talon.”

    She walked into the Residence. Powell took one look at her face and swallowed whatever greeting or comment he intended to make.

    She went up to her room, blind to whatever changes had been made in her absence. All she could see was the fear on Ranon’s face before he walked away.

    Cassidy stood in the street in front of the Queen’s Residence. The Tradition Keepers stood before her in their shabby best clothes. Filling the streets around them were the people of the village.

    “Lord Yairen.” Cassidy used Craft to enhance her voice. She wanted everyone who had come to stand witness to hear her words.

    Yairen stepped forward, standing tall. “How may I serve the Queen?”

    “I have just learned today that your people have been forbidden to play the music that was born of Shalador, that you have been forbidden to perform the traditional dances, or teach the young the stories of your people. Is this true?”

    “It is true, Lady,” Yairen said. “All have been forbidden for many generations.”

    “But the Tradition Keepers have remembered these forbidden things?”

    Yairen hesitated. How many times had one of the Keepers been cornered into answering a question that would condemn them?

    She didn’t have an actual psychic link to Ranon, but his psychic scent was filled with distress. Wouldn’t know it to look at him, standing cold and arrogant with the rest of her First Circle, but the worry that he might have misjudged her was eating his heart out.

    “Some things have been lost,” Yairen finally said, “but those of us who are the memory of our people have held on to enough.”

    Cassidy nodded. “In that case, as of this hour, the music of the Shalador people will be taught and will be played openly. The dances of the Shalador people will be taught and performed openly. The stories of the Shalador people will be taught and told openly. The Queens in the Shalador reserves will be given a written decree so they will know these words are true. But it will be up to the Tradition Keepers to return Shalador’s heart to its people. This is my will.”

    Silence.

    Finally one of the Tradition Keepers raised his hand. “Does this mean we can perform the circle dances this autumn?”

    “Yes,” Cassidy replied.

    Another silence.

    Then Yairen pressed one of his crippled hands to his chest. “Our hearts are too full for words tonight.”

    Cassidy swallowed hard. “Then return to your homes. We will speak more of this tomorrow.”

    She took a step back, a clear signal this audience was over.

    Ranon broke away from the rest of the First Circle. Hugging his grandfather, he put his head on the old man’s shoulder and wept.

    A hand linked with hers. Looking to her left, she saw Reyhana trembling with the effort not to cry—and felt the girl’s hand tighten.

    “The circle dances mean so much to my people,” Reyhana said. “Toour people.” She choked, but went on. “Someone will write a song about how Shalador’s Lady gave the heart back to the people, and all the children will learn it, and someday I will tell my grandchildren I was there and heard the words as they were spoken.”

    Mother Night.

    A familiar touch on her shoulder. She looked at Gray, hoping for some help, but his eyes were too bright, too wet.

    “I’d like to go inside now,” she said.

    It was Talon who nudged Reyhana aside and gripped Cassidy’s arm to lead her into the house before she ended up weeping too.

    “I told Ranon to spend the night with his grandfather,” Talon said once he got her to the parlor. “He’ll be better for it.”

    “Talon . . .”

    “Don’t say anything, witchling. Don’t. I knew Jared. I’ve seen the circle dances. I know what the bitches took away from these people—and I know what you just gave back to them. I think it’s best if you Ladies have a quiet evening for yourselves.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire