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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 62)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(62) by Anne Bishop
  • A quick psychic probe told him the only people in the house were Powell, Talon, and Vae, which meant Cassidy and Gray weren’t back from their planned ride, and Shira wasn’t back from her inspection of the nearby cottages. She wanted a Healer’s House—a place where she could take care of people without intruding on Cassidy’s privacy. There was only one other fully qualified Healer in Eyota, so even though Shira was supposed to be the court’s Healer, she and Cassidy agreed to expand that to the court and their families.

    He flicked an “I’m home” thought along a psychic thread aimed at Shira’s sharp, loving—and sometimes dangerous—mind.

    *Almost done myself,* Shira replied.

    *Find anything?*

    *Maybe.*

    But she sounded more resigned than excited, so he didn’t press her. Besides, the sound of another horse had him turning, his temper instinctively sharpening as Shaddo rode up to the Queen’s Residence.

    It was a Warlord Prince’s nature to rise to the killing edge. Since coming to Eyota, all of them had discovered that their instincts were more keenly honed when they were around their Queen or her home. Even with each other, there was still a bristling moment when temper was poised between predatory instinct and conscious loyalty to the Queen and their Brothers in the court.

    Watching Shaddo, who made no move, Ranon nodded to acknowledge that he had his temper leashed.

    “Anything?” he asked. Shaddo had spent the day in the western Province where his wife and boys had lived, riding through a couple of villages to see who might want to talk to a member of Cassidy’s First Circle.

    “Lots of circling around questions no one was brave enough to ask,” Shaddo replied, dismounting. “But everyone is interested in the special magic Queens can do to help the harvest. And I ran into a handful of Warlord Princes. I had the feeling they hadn’t met up in that particular village by chance.”

    “Does that mean trouble for us?”

    Shaddo shook his head. “I think . . . Hell’s fire, Ranon, remember when Cassidy first talked about having the Warlord Princes step up and rule on behalf of the Territory Queen because there weren’t many Queens left in Dena Nehele?”

    “At least not many living in the open or having a visible court,” Ranon said. In the past few days, Powell had received tentative messages from men in a dozen villages, all asking if they could see this special magic. Reading between the lines, there were Queens out there who wanted to learn but weren’t willing to trust their lives and what little structure was left in Dena Nehele to a Queen who was still unknown. But men who served those Queens would come to watch and learn—and report back to their Ladies.

    “Basically, they wanted to know how Cassidy would respond if they divided a Province based on who was available ‘to rule on behalf of the Queen.’ ”

    “I think she’d be relieved to have the Warlord Princes rule whatever the surviving Queens couldn’t handle,” Ranon said. Or didn’t want to handle because it would call attention to themselves.

    “I told them the Steward was trying to figure out how to divide the Provinces into Districts, but he was working blind because he didn’t know how many of the Warlord Princes were willing to step up to the line and help their people.”

    Ranon winced. “Those words must have stung.”

    Shaddo shook his head. “They didn’t, and that surprised me too since I’d meant them to sting. But word is spreading about what Cassidy did for the Shaladorans—and about her going into landen villages as well as Blood to do that special magic. Every man who had fought in the uprisings wanted to know how we could let her do something that dangerous.”

    “I hope you told them we don’tlet her do anything,” Ranon grumbled.

    Wasn’t much of a grumble. Cassie might chafe at the boundaries the First Circle set for her protection, but the men were smart enough to keep expanding those boundaries as they settled down to a life here in Eyota. Besides, according to the Protocol Powell was studying every night, even the First Circle’s right to protect the Queen had some limits.

    “Papa! Papa!”

    Ranon felt Shaddo’s fierce joy as his two boys came running toward them, but he also saw the stern face and the hand quickly raised to stop them.

    “What did I tell you about running toward horses?” Shaddo said.

    “Don’t do it.” Eliot, the younger one, scuffed one shoe on the street.

    “Can we walk the horses to the stables?” Eryk asked. “We’ll be careful.”

    Saying nothing, Ranon handed his reins to Shaddo.

    “You can walk them,” Shaddo said. “And then we’ll all take care of them.”

    “Yes, sir.”

    Hearing an odd whistle on the “s,” Ranon studied Eliot. “Someone lost a tooth.”

    Eliot grinned, showing off the gap. “Mother is making a special tooth treat.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire