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  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(76) by Anne Bishop
  • Cassidy lay down on her bed and stared at the ceiling. Theran probably would accuse her of telling tales, and Kermilla certainly would accuse her of acting out of jealousy and spite. But it was the bruised look in Birdie’s eyes more than the bruise on her face that had to be the deciding factor. Besides, no matter how hard it was, she had a duty to report Kermilla’s behavior. Since he ruled the town of Grayhaven, Theran should be the one who disciplined Kermilla—something he wouldn’t do if he truly belonged to the other Dharo Queen.

    Dharo Queen. That was the sticking point, wasn’t it? Kermilla ruled a village in Dharo. Her conduct was the business of the Queen who ruled that Territory. So Cassidy had a responsibility to Sabrina, Territory Queen to Territory Queen, to inform the Queen of Dharo that the conduct of one of Dharo’s District Queens needed careful review.

    If Kermilla, as a guest, had struck a servant, what was she doing to the people in Bhak—people whose lives depended on their Queen’s mercy?

    Get it done. This isn’t about you and Kermilla, no matter what anyone else might think. This is about being a Queen.

    Sitting up, she called in the lap desk the High Lord had given her, selected a sheet of stationery with her initial on it, and began writing her letter to Sabrina.

    “Ranon!”

    Seeing Gray trotting toward him from the court’s stables, Ranon stopped at the edge of the street and waited. He’d walked from the northern landing web, wanting the time to contact his grandfather, who would contact Akeelah. For now, two Tradition Keepers were enough to stand witness to what he’d brought home.

    “Where’s Shira?” Ranon asked when Gray reached him.

    “She’s been home for a while. I had another errand to run and just got back.” Gray cocked a thumb over his shoulder toward the stables. “Four of the stable lads from Grayhaven are working at the stables here. Just started an hour ago. They’re taking one of the cottages across from the stables as their living quarters. And some of the other servants from Grayhaven are working at the Residence. Did Cassie say anything to you about this? Or Talon?”

    Ranon shook his head. “I just got back myself. Let’s find out—” He stopped when Gray gripped his arm. “What?”

    “I need to go away for a couple of days. Three at the most. I need you to come with me.”

    Ranon studied the other Warlord Prince. Something different. Of course, Gray seemed to be changing daily, but this blend of excitement, fear, and determination was new.

    “Where are we going?” Ranon asked.

    “To Dhemlan. In Kaeleer. To talk to Daemon Sadi.”

    A few months ago, Theran had been the one going in search of Daemon Sadi. Now it was Gray.

    “There are things we need, for the court and for this village. I have an idea of how we can start to get them. But I need to talk to Daemon, and there are some decisions I can’t make alone.”

    “Why me?”

    “You’re Shalador’s Warlord Prince.”

    The words rocked him. Yes, he was the last adult Warlord Prince until youngsters like his brother Janos came of age, but Gray’s phrasing gave a weight, aduty , to a truth he’d lived with for the past few years.

    “If Cassie gives her consent to this journey, I’ll go with you,” Ranon said.

    Gray huffed out a breath and smiled. “Good. So let’s find out what everyone else was up to today.”

    Plenty,Ranon thought when Dryden opened the door and greeted them.

    It looked like they wereall going to have something to talk about that evening.

    CHAPTER 17

    TERREILLE

    Kermilla frowned at the toast that was burnt around the edges. She tasted the eggs and made a face. As she pushed her plate away—and noticed Correne doing the same—Theran walked into the small breakfast room.

    That was unusual. She and Correne, the “Ladies of the court,” had breakfast alone, leaving the men to a working breakfast where they reviewed their assignments for the day and were allowed to be fools before they had to put on their manners.

    It might be unusual to see him in the breakfast room, but his timing was perfect.

    “Theran, what in the name of Hell is wrong with the cook today?” Kermilla complained. “The toast is burned, and these eggs are unacceptable. And the beef is . . . Well, I can hardly choke it down.”

    “I suggest you try,” Theran said in an odd voice. “The woman who was the cook’s assistant has a blind eye and a weak arm, courtesy of the last Queen she served. She’s doing the best she can.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire