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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 96)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(96) by Anne Bishop
  • “Agreed,” Talon said.

    “So we should pick a couple of cottages?” Powell asked.

    “You will not,” Cassidy and Shira said.

    Powell blinked.

    “The women will choose their own homes,” Cassidy said firmly.

    Powell blinked again, apparently not sure if there was any safe ground at the moment. “Very well. We will charge rent?”

    Cassidy started to deny it, but Ranon said, “That’s fair. The village is giving the land and buildings to the court to do with as you please. That doesn’t mean letting anyone beyond the First Circle live here free. Cassie, if you don’t want to keep the rent as income for yourself or the court, it could go back into the village treasury. Or you can offer the cottages as part of the wages the guards receive from the village treasury or the tithes.”

    Cassidy chewed on her lower lip. Too much to think about.

    “Why don’t we work out those kinds of details later?” Powell suggested.

    Gray looked up from a rough sketch of the village and the available buildings. “Ranon, what’s this place beyond the village?”

    Ranon braced his hands on the table and leaned to see the sketch better. “Used to be a kind of tradesman’s school. I think. My grandfather might remember when it was last inhabited.”

    “Would it work for craftsmen?” Gray asked. “It looks like a walled community that has a considerable bit of open land attached to it. And it’s a couple of miles beyond the rest of the village.”

    Ranon nodded. “It was far enough out to be vulnerable to attack. I think that’s why it was abandoned.”

    “We don’t have to worry about attacks now,” Gray said. “How about offering this place to the landens?”

    Cassidy saw something flicker in Ranon’s eyes when Gray said they didn’t have to worry about attacks. “You think the landens would be at risk if they lived so close to us?”

    “No,” Ranon said quickly. “In fact, this might be a fair compromise. They’ll have a place that is their own, but it’s close enough for them to come into the village for market day and other supplies. There’s enough land attached to the place for them to graze their livestock as well as grow some crops beyond kitchen gardens. Only one big barn, but it was built to hold all the animals in the community, so it might do for them for this year at least.”

    “So we’re agreed on what we can offer?” Cassidy asked, looking at her First Circle and waiting for their nods of agreement. “In that case, Ranon, go back and talk to them.”

    “I’ll draft letters of passage,” Powell said. “That way if the landens are stopped along the way, the Blood will know they’re traveling at the Queen’s command.”

    “Good idea,” Talon said. “Ranon, see if the guards who don’t have families to settle would be willing to ride escort for the landens.”

    “I’ll ask,” Ranon said.

    “Gray, get a couple of horses saddled,” Talon said. “I want to take a look at these places, and I want you to come with me since you’ve been looking at these buildings more than the rest of us.”

    “Yes, sir.” Gray vanished the sketch, gave Cassidy a smile, and left the room.

    “I think that will be all, gentlemen,” Powell said. “If you would come to my office, we’ll discuss tomorrow’s duties.”

    Powell had a knack for being a Steward, Cassidy thought as the men except Ranon and Talon left the room.

    “Cassidy, Reyhana, and I have drum practice tonight, so I think Maydra prepared a stew for dinner,” Shira said, looking at Ranon. “I’ll see if it’s ready so you can have a quick meal before you head back out.”

    “Before you go,” Ranon said. He called in a box, set it on the table, and nudged it toward Cassidy. “I picked up some chocolates for you Ladies.”

    Cassidy stared at the box, then let out a whoop of laughter. “You reallywere nervous about this report, weren’t you?”

    Looking completely baffled, Ranon said, “Huh?”

    “The last time I saw a box of chocolates this size was when my father had done something to piss off my mother and was trying to work his way back to the sweeter side of her temper.” Cassidy looked at Ranon more closely. Hell’s fire. The man wasblushing.

    *You hit the target dead center that time,* Shira said on a distaff thread. She hurried out of the room.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire