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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 94)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(94) by Anne Bishop
  • “I’ll let the others know, but if the court is there and your people are willing to have us, I don’t think anyone who wants to leave is going to care about those kinds of boundaries.”

    Ranon nodded and returned to James. “How many of you want to get out?”

    James looked at him as if not quite daring to believe the question. A glance at the other craftsmen, who nodded. “Several families. All have skilled craftsmen who aren’t afraid to work hard.”

    That would please Burle,Ranon thought. Cassie’s father wasn’t afraid of working hard either and required the same commitment from anyone who was going to work for him.

    “My brother has sheep.” James sounded cautiously hopeful. “They give a fine wool that my wife spins for our weaving. And Tanner’s cousin has cattle for meat and leather. I know a dairyman too. Maybe . . . maybe a dozen families in all.” He looked sad. “Too many here think the past will be our future. They’ve given up hope. They’ll stay here to fight or die. Some of us would like more for our families.”

    Ranon signaled for Rogir to join them. Looking at Rogir, he tipped his head toward James. “Can your family shelter his tonight?”

    “We can,” Rogir replied without hesitation.

    “I don’t know where you will end up, and I don’t know what I can offer beyond the promise that I’ll help you get out of this town,” Ranon said.

    “I’ll talk to the men I know want to get out,” Rogir said. “Tell them to pack up what they don’t want to leave behind.”

    James made a gesture that took in himself and the other craftsmen who were watching them so intently. “We were relocated here after the uprisings. We were allowed only what could fit in one wagon. Everything we have can still fit in that wagon.”

    Ranon looked at the two men. They had stood on opposite sides during the uprisings. Now they stood together as fathers and husbands—and men who, if they had to fight again, wanted to fightfor something instead of against something.

    “Start packing,” he said. “We’ll meet back here during the aristo dinner hour.” Less chance of running into Theran or Kermilla at that time. “I’ll give you the Queen’s decision then.”

    Mounting his horse, he rode back through town and found himself passing one of the shops that held the kind of merchandise only an aristo could afford. He stopped, dismounted, and went in, not sure what he was doing there.

    Hell’s fire. Heknew what he was doing there: looking for something to sweeten the half-promises he’d made on his Queen’s behalf.

    “May I assist you?” the merchant asked.

    Sweets. Cassie had dipped into the loan Sadi had given the court and given her First Circle half what was due them from the coming tithe, so he had a few marks he could spend.

    “Chocolates,” he said. “A small treat for the Ladies.” He emphasized small because the stuff was wickedly expensive.

    The merchant studied him. “You serve Lady Cassidy.”

    Ranon felt his body tighten, but he wasn’t sure why since the man had made no hostile move. “I do.”

    “I heard she is now living in a village in the eastern Shalador reserve?”

    “She is.”

    “Is she intending to stay there?”

    “She is.”

    A hesitation. “Would there be room in that village for another shop?” Ranon blinked.Another one looking to run? He looked around the shop. “The Shalador people couldn’t afford your fine merchandise.”

    “I can adapt and sell what people need.”

    There weren’t any shops like this one in Eyota, but there were going to be the shops owned by Sadi. “The Warlord Prince of Dhemlan now owns a few shops in the village. His man of business is talking to anyone interested in managing those shops. Lord Marcus will be in Eyota for a couple more days.”

    “Thank you for the information.”

    As the merchant went behind the counter, Ranon spotted the small boxes of chocolates. He winced at the price, but he chose the box that held a dozen pieces—three each for Cassidy, her mother Devra, Shira, and Reyhana.

    He set the box on the counter. The merchant looked at the box, then reached under the counter, set a box twice that size beside the one Ranon chose, and vanished the smaller box.

    “The one you chose is stale,” he said. “I’ll give you this one for the same price.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire