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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Shalador's Lady (Chapter 97)      Page
  • Shalador's Lady(Black Jewels,Book 8)(97) by Anne Bishop
  • Ranon was strong, brave, as arrogant as any other Warlord Prince, and wouldn’t back down from a fight. But he had shy spots when it came to living with women, and he wasn’t always sure of how he should behave.

    Then again, maybe he did understand how some things balanced other things.

    She picked up the box, thanked him, and left the room.

    Shira was waiting for her.

    “Do you think this is in proportion?” Cassidy asked, lifting the box.

    Shira frowned at the box. “In proportion to what?”

    “To whatever Ranon thought would hurt so much that I would need this much consolation.”

    Talon used Craft to close the door. Then he put an aural shield around the room and a Sapphire lock on the door. The last wasn’t to keep Ranon in as much as to keep everyone else out.

    He studied the Shaladoran’s back. Stiff. Tense. Waiting for the Master of the Guard to make the first move.

    “Tell me what you wouldn’t tell her,” Talon said.

    Ranon turned around.

    Hell’s fire. How had the man managed to hidethat much anger?

    “Theran has given his . . .Lady . . . free run of the town. The Warlord brothers who hurt the landen girl?She brought them with her to the landen part of town—and then threatened the guards when they stood by our Queen’s command. I gather she’s been stealing from some of the merchants. And she has the expectation that, come spring, Cassidy is going to be gone andshe is going to be the Queen of Dena Nehele.” Ranon’s hands curled into fists. “And sincethat expectation was the reason Cassie ran in the first place, I wasnot going to tell her about the rumors.”

    Talon frowned. Landens, guards, and merchants were all looking to leave the town? To him that added up to more than rumors. “What else?”

    “I met four Warlord Princes who were just coming into town as I was leaving. I think all four of them come from the Heartsblood River Province.”

    Recruiting, Talon thought bitterly. Trying to woo enough Warlord Princes to support Kermilla and form a court in the spring that would be strong enough to challenge Cassidy’s—and break Cassidy’s court in the process.

    But he’d known when they left Grayhaven that Theran wanted Kermilla to rule and Cassidy’s court would break when Cassidy’s First Escort, the man who had brought her to this land in the first place, walked away. And the reason he said nothing then was the same reason he would say nothing now: Gray.

    The man Gray was becoming might be able to serve in a court, or at least fill an empty space and keepthis court intact. He wanted to give the boy as much time to season as possible before that decision had to be faced.

    “You hear anything else, I want to know,” Talon said. “I’ll make sure the Steward is aware that we may be looking at a fight come spring. But it doesn’t go further than the three of us. You understand me?”

    “Yes, sir, I do,” Ranon replied.

    “Get some food and head out,” Talon said. “Take Burne and Haele with you. And take the biggest Coach you can handle from the Coaching station here.”

    Ranon paled. “You’re talking about a fast retreat. Take the most vulnerable and run. Leave the stronger to pack up what can be saved before the enemy takes notice. You can’t believe Theran would attack women and children, landen or otherwise. Youcan’t believe that.”

    He didn’t believe it possible of the boy he’d raised, but he wasn’t so sure of the man anymore. With Kermilla holding the leash, he wasn’t sure what Theran would do.

    “How many times have you seen someone poised to run who didn’t survive long enough to find safe ground?” Talon asked. Ranon paled even more, which told him the man had seen firsthand what had happened to some of those people. “I don’t care if you stuff them into a Coach and move them on the Winds or have them on the road in wagons, but you get those people out of Grayhaven tonight.”

    Talon released the Sapphire lock and dropped the aural shield.

    Looking dazed, Ranon walked out of the room.

    Talon sank in a chair and rubbed his maimed left hand over his face.

    So Theran was recruiting. And either Kermilla was making an ambitious assumption because she was living in Theran’s house—and sharing his bed?—or he had told her he was going to try to make her the Queen of Dena Nehele.

    Damn young fool. With Cassidy, they had a real chance to bring Dena Nehele back to what it had been. If Theran let a pretty face dazzle him stupid, he could ruin this for all of them.

    Before that happened, he, Talon, who had been Jared and Lia’s friend, would spill whatever blood needed to be spilled. Even if he had to tear his own heart out in the process.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire