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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 95)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(95) by Anne Bishop
  • Ranon frowned. “Why would you leave out stale sweets?”

    The merchant smiled wearily. “It doesn’t sting as much when they are stolen.”

    “Have you reported this theft?” Ranon asked. “Who has been stealing from you?”

    The man’s silence was the answer.

    Ranon paid for the chocolates, then vanished the box and headed for the door. He wanted to get away from here. He wanted to behome.

    But he hesitated at the door and turned to look at the merchant. “If you come to Eyota, tell Lord Marcus I suggested he talk to you.”

    “Thank you, Prince.”

    As he rode back to the Coaching station to return the horse, he kept his eyes on the street, aware of how many people noticed him and half raised a hand to catch his attention. He’d had enough for one day—too much for one day—so he pretended he didn’t see them.

    But he couldn’t ignore the four Warlord Princes who walked out of the Coaching station just as he rode up.

    He hadn’t ridden with any of them during the uprisings, and didn’t know any of them as friends. But when there were only a hundred of your caste left to defend your land, you knew the names and faces—and reputations—of those men.

    “Ranon,” Ferall said, sounding cordial—and surprised. Since Ferall’s Opal Jewel outranked the other three, he stood as their leader while they were together.

    “Ferall,” Ranon said. Then he nodded to the other men. “Gentlemen.”

    “You were up to the mansion?” Ferall asked.

    He shook his head. “Had some personal business in the town. I offered to pick up a couple of things for the Ladies that weren’t available in Eyota.”

    “We have some personal business here ourselves,” Ferall said.

    Like a meeting with Theran?But it wasn’t a question to ask, because silence was being offered. They wouldn’t mention his presence in the town to Theran and he wouldn’t mention them to the court by name.

    He nodded and led the horse to the stables. Then he caught the Opal Wind and headed back to Eyota.

    He’s dancing on the knife’s edge,Cassidy thought as she listened to Ranon’s too carefully thought-out report. He was skilled enough at offering this kind of information that she couldn’t tell what he was withholding, only that he wasn’t telling her everything.

    She glanced at her Master of the Guard. Whatever reason Ranon had for tempering his words now, he was going to tell Talon everything.

    Easy enough to guess though. He’d been in Grayhaven. If he’d had a meeting with Theran—or Kermilla—he wouldn’t want her to know. Then again, Shira had said thatshe had sent Ranon to Grayhaven because of a vision.

    Did the reason really matter? Cassidy wondered. Did whatever Ranon was hiding matter? There were people who wanted to leave Grayhaven and begin a new life, and had asked a member of her First Circle for help. She had the uneasy feeling that some of those people might not haveany life if she didn’t support the tentative offers Ranon had made on behalf of Queen and court.

    And in truth, he had acted as a Warlord Prince in Kaeleer would have acted. He had acted because he believed in her and the Old Ways her presence was bringing back to the Blood in Dena Nehele.

    When Ranon finished his report, a heavy silence filled the room as all the First Circle who had returned from their duties in time for this meeting waited for her response.

    She stood up and walked over to Ranon, who tensed but showed no other sign of nerves.

    “Since the day I met you, you have championed the Shalador people, argued so their concerns wouldn’t be ignored. Today you are standing for a people who are not your own but needed someone to speak for them. By doing so, you honor the justice I want for all the people of Dena Nehele. I’m so proud of you and—” Her throat suddenly closed. Tears filled her eyes and spilled over. She swallowed hard, put a hand on her chest, and said, “My heart is too full for words.”

    Suddenly she was in his arms, being hugged breathless. Then he released her and stepped back.

    Wiping tears off her cheeks, Cassidy looked at Gray and Powell. “We need to consider land and buildings. Any suggestions?”

    “If the merchant is willing to be a manager rather than own a shop, I think he’ll be a good choice for one of Prince Sadi’s shops,” Powell said. “However, I suggest that a condition of his managing a shop in this village is that he hire one or two Shaladorans who want to learn the merchant trade and teach them the skills needed to run their own shops one day.”

    Cassidy’s smile widened until her muscles ached. “That’s an excellent idea.”

    “The guards who have families may want to look at the available cottages within the Queen’s square,” Archerr said. “From a tactical point of view, having more trained fighters within that ground is better for all of us.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire