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  • The Invisible Ring(Black Jewels,Book 4)(100) by Anne Bishop
  • Corry shook her gently. “Cathryn? It’s all right now.”

    Jared crouched down, wondering if he dared to touch her.

    A minute passed before Cathryn took a shuddering breath and blinked. She looked at Jared and burst into tears.

    Corry put his arms around her and rocked her. Then he pressed his face against her shoulder and started crying.

    Jared rested a hand on Corry’s bright red hair. Recognizing there was nothing he could do for either of them, he left them.

    A few moments later, Eryk stumbled into the road. He would have fallen if Randolf hadn’t caught him. He looked at Jared, and his eyes filled with tears.

    “I tried,” Eryk sobbed. “I tried.”

    Randolf pulled the boy into a fierce embrace. “You’re safe. That’s what matters.”

    “T-Tomas.” Eryk said. “Tomas ... I tried!”

    Leaving Randolf to deal with Eryk, Jared hurried toward the wagon. Thayne was nearby, swaying on his feet as he soothed the gelding, mare, and one of the wagon horses. When he turned, Jared saw the burns that covered the left side of his face and his left arm.

    “You shielded the horses,” Jared said. Seeing the sorrow and pain in Thayne’s eyes, Jared glanced at the wagon. He quickly looked away from the remains of the other horse. “How badly are you hurt?”

    Thayne tried to smile. “I’ll live.”

    Blaed walked down the road toward them, moving so carefully Jared’s body ached in sympathy.

    Do my eyes look that haunted? Jared wondered.

    “I killed them,” Blaed said, his voice trailing away.

    Jared understood what wasn’t being said. To protect Thera and Lia, Blaed had made the choice to step onto that private battlefield inside himself and wholly embrace the violent nature of a Warlord Prince. What Jared had needed Randolf’s instruction to do, Blaed had done instinctively—and had been no more prepared for the results of that kind of killing than Jared had been.

    Before Jared could think of something to say to Blaed, Thera suddenly appeared, staggering from exhaustion and sobbing uncontrollably. Thin to begin with, she now had the gaunt, dried-husk look of a witch who had channeled too much power through her body.

    “Lia?” she said plaintively, a desperate look in her eyes.

    No answer.

    When Blaed moved toward her, she stumbled away from him, holding her arms out for balance.

    “Lia!” Thera looked around frantically.

    Ice coated Jared’s spine. Wherewas Lia? Was she too hurt to answer?

    “LIA!” Staggering over to the boulders, Thera tried to climb. Her body shook with the effort. Sobbing hysterically, she sank to the ground. “LIIIAA!”

    Jared turned toward the boulders, opening his inner barriers as he searched for Lia’s psychic scent, probed for some trace of a Green Jewel.

    He found nothing.

    “LIA!” Jared shouted.

    He scrambled through the boulders, slipped on torn-apart bodies, barely aware of them except to feel relief that they were male.

    A groan to his left made him tense, crouch.

    A male hand wearing a Purple Dusk ring appeared above a boulder, found a handhold.

    Jared pointed his Red-Jeweled ring toward the man rising behind the boulder and waited.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire