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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Tangled Webs (Chapter 60)      Page
  • Tangled Webs(Black Jewels,Book 6)(60) by Anne Bishop
  • The Station Master pointed to a messenger. The young Warlord came forward, shaking his head.

    “Not me,” the messenger said. “I’ve already been there once today. I’ve completed my assigned runs. I’ve—”

    “Do you want to tell the man who walked out of here that the message wasn’t delivered in time?” In time for what, none of them would ever ask—and most of them hoped they would never find out.

    He watched, puzzled, as the messenger shielded himself before taking the message, then put a shield around the message before putting it into his carry bag as if it were a sack full of poisonous snakes instead of a piece of paper, andthen putanother shield around the carry bag.

    The messenger looked at him and grimaced. “Youdidn’t deliver the last message.” Then he added under his breath, “And I don’t wanthim kicking my ass.”

    The Station Master decided not to ask. He just patted the Warlord’s shoulder. “Good lad. Get moving.”

    And may the Darkness have mercy on all of us.

    A dining room. Table, chairs, and a rug that had swirls of colors that had been muddied by age and dirt—or had been like that in the first place. No tools by the fireplace. She was hoping for another poker to start arming the children. They might not have any skill, but she figured anyone could whack at something that was trying to hurt them.

    Guess we only get two weapons,she thought as she set her lamp at one end of the table and began a slow counterclockwise circuit around the outside of the room while Rainier made the same circuit in the opposite direction.

    Three windows. The two along the side of the house had been bricked over. The one in the back, if she could trust what she was seeing, looked out on some kind of veranda. A doorway that opened into a small storeroom and an entryway with a door thatmight work. And a closed door.

    Surreal studied the door, then looked at the room again. A triangular hutch in one corner, but it held nothing but teapots and matching cups and saucers. So behind the door was probably the storage cupboard for dishes and linens.

    She reached for the knob. Any door might be an exit, right?

    Her hand froze above the knob. Instinct? Or something less easy to define? Didn’t matter. If she’d been fully shielded, she might have opened the door just to find out what was making her skin crawl—and then kill it. As it was, she backed away from the door, raising the poker like a sword.

    “Surreal?” Rainier asked, stopping his circuit to watch her.

    “Something here,” she said.

    “Is it something spooky?” Trist asked.

    The children had been nicely huddled together when they got into the room. Now they were starting to spread out and explore.

    She gave them all a hard look. “Stay away from this door.” She put enough bite in her voice so there wouldn’t be any question that this was a command and not a suggestion. Put enough snap in the words so that none of the children would think she was playing “spooky house” with them.

    As she looked at them, she remembered another boy, a little Yellow-Jeweled Warlord who had been a killer’s intended prey. That boy had survived because he had obeyed her orders.

    She felt some of the tension in her shoulders ease.

    These children were old enough to understand they were in a dangerous situation. Despite the verbal pissing contests they seemed to want to engage in, and despite her calling them idiot sheep, they were smart enough to realize she and Rainier were trying to keep them safe.

    And theywould keep the children safe—at least as long as she and Rainier were both standing.

    But there was something about the buzzy-buzz whispering between Dayle and Ginger that annoyed her. And the mumbles and snickers coming from Kester and Trist made her edgy.

    Were the buzzy-buzz and the snickers something all children did, or just landens? She didn’t know, wasn’t sure how to ask. When she’d worked in the Red Moon houses as a whore, she’d refused to work in any house that used younger girls, and as an assassin, she had never accepted a contract to kill a child. So she’d had no reason to be around children and plenty of reasons to avoid them. If she’d had friends her own age when she was very young, she didn’t remember them—and by the time she was Ginger’s age, she’d been whoring on the streets in order to survive and had already killed her first man.

    She turned away from the children and tipped her head toward the back window, a signal for Rainier to meet her there.

    “I didn’t feel anything when I passed that door,” Rainier said quietly.

    “I know that,” Surreal replied. “You would have said something if you had.” She caught a movement out of the corner of her eye and turned her head.

    Trist was drifting toward the closed door. He stopped when he realized she was watching him. She waited until he retreated a couple of steps and began another whispered conversation with Kester before she turned her attention back to Rainier.

    “Maybe the distaff gender is more sensitive to this spell than the spear gender. Or maybe I do have a bit more feel for what’s here because my mother was a Black Widow. Either way…”

    She glanced at the children in time to see Trist grab the knob of the closed door. He gave her a defiant smirk, then turned the knob and pulled the door open.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire