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  • Tangled Webs(Black Jewels,Book 6)(25) by Anne Bishop
  • As for his other “consultant”…Well, he couldn’t trust much ofanything that came fromthat mind.

    At the bookshop, they had laughed at his portrayal of the Blood, had laughed at him. But they had done much worse here at the hotel. Here, theypitied him.

    Thank the Dark he hadn’t used his real name when he checked in. After that humiliation in the bookshop, he didn’t want anyone to know he was in this thrice-cursed city. He almost changed his mind about revealing who he was when the clerks at the deskdid acknowledge him as Blood. Then he looked into their eyes and listened to their carefully phrased words…and realized they thought he was abroken male, someone who had been stripped of so much of his power, he was barely one of them anymore.

    Didn’t stop them from taking the gold marks. No, his lack of power didn’t stopany of them from taking a hefty fee for the pittance they were willing to share.

    Like this room. If he’d gone to a landen establishment in a nearby city, he could have had a better room for half the price. But he’d wanted to stay at a hotel that catered to the Blood. For what? The room he’d been given wasn’t any different from rooms he’d had in landen cities—was, in fact, stripped of almost everything that required Craft. On purpose. Because they didn’t believe he was capable of being like them.

    And he wasn’t capable. Not yet anyway.

    They thought they were so special, so powerful, so superior.

    Daemon Sadi, for example. He’d personally sentPrince Sadi a copy of his new book. The bastard hadn’t even had the courtesy to write a sentence acknowledging the gift. Andcertainly hadn’t sent the desired dinner invitation.

    And then there wasLady Surreal. He’d heard of her. Whohadn’t heard of her? Nothing but a whore, but she could stand in a shop and publicly laugh at aneducated man for no other reason than because she wore aJewel.

    There was more than one kind of power. The Blood made the rules and ruled the Realm, but they weren’t all-powerful, weren’t invincible. A clever man could defeat them and prove he was worthy of notice, of respect.

    Pitting one kind of skill against another, a clever man could defeat them. Even the most powerful among them.

    Of course, it might not be prudent to admit being the author of such a scheme, but he’d know, for himself, that he could stand among them.

    And Lady Jaenelle Angelline herself had provided him with a way of covering his tracks. He’d been a little upset when he’d thought she had stolen his idea and spoiled the setting for his next novel, but now that only meant that people could confirm he’d begun the new Landry Langston storybefore the tragic events took place.

    Yes, there was more than one kind of power, and he had the means of weaving a wonderful plot.

    He would give the Blood a story the SaDiablo family would never forget.

    At least, the ones who were still alive.

    SIX

    “No, witch-child. I willnot saybwaa ha ha. ”

    “But it’s for—”

    “No!”Saetan slammed the books down on the blackwood table in the Keep’s library. “If you choose to insult what we are, that is your decision. But I willnot participate.”

    Jaenelle stared at him, stunned. “It’s just a little fun.”

    “Fun!” He choked on his anger, since it had no outlet that wouldn’t end in fierce destruction. “You’re turning what we are into a mockery, and you think this is fun?” He turned away from her, his daughter and his Queen, and pressed the heels of his hands against his temples as he struggled for control.

    “Saetan…”

    Bewilderment. Hurt. She’d come to the Keep to share something amusing and hadn’t been prepared for him to turn on her. How could she? He wasn’t sure if he was lashing out at her as her father or as her former, and still unofficial, Steward.

    He turned to look at her, and he also wasn’t sure if it was Jaenelle or Witch who now watched him. No matter. He would have his say.

    “We are the Blood, the caretakers of the Realms. We come from various races, but we are no longer a part of those races. We have our own culture that spans those racial cultures. We have our own laws, our own code of honor that landens don’t understand and couldn’t live by even if they tried. We rule the Territories, and we control the lives of all the landens in those Territories. But we are the minority, Jaenelle. Despite the sometimes brutal way we deal with each other, we seldom need to unleash that power and temper against landensbecause we are feared. Because we are a mystery mostly seen from a distance. And now you are turning us into acheap entertainment. ”

    He choked. Such a long, long life. So many things that he’d done, both good and terrible.

    “By letting some children dictate what we are like, you turn us into a safe, insignificant fear. Cobwebs and creaking doors and funny sounds. We become something to laugh at. So I ask you, Lady. What happens when those boys who find us amusing become men and feel they can ignore the laws established for the landens? What happens when they challenge the Warlords who come on behalf of the Queens who rule over their villages? What happens when they gather in force to attack the Blood and discover how vicious—and how complete—the slaughter can be when we fight?”

    A long silence. Then Jaenelle said, “Why didn’t you mention this when you first heard about it? You haven’t said anything in the past few weeks while Marian and I have been putting this together.”

    “It wasn’t my place to say anything. And, frankly, it hurt too much that it was you, of all people, who was doing this to us.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire