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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > The Invisible Ring (Chapter 13)      Page
  • The Invisible Ring(Black Jewels,Book 4)(13) by Anne Bishop
  • Having too much psychic strength to be landen but not enough to be Blood, half-Bloods were outcast bastards, wanted by neither society. If the Blood sire thought the unclaimed offspring showed potential, the child might be taken in and raised as a servant, maybe even trained to become an overseer for a landen village. Most of the time, half-Bloods became the slaves that looked after, and were used by, Blood slaves.

    And sometimes there was no one cruder than someone who was, himself, enduring cruelty.

    Cursing under his breath, Jared followed Tomas.

    The bathroom had two toilets, three sinks, and two bathtubs. There were no partitions to give anyone the illusion of privacy, but at least the toilets were better than stinking privy holes.

    Sighing with relief, Jared took care of business and tried to ignore the boy standing next to him. Tomas might have learned fear in the slave quarters, but the boy was just too brash to have learned caution.

    “You ain’t wearing a Ring,” Tomas said in a hushed voice.

    “It’s invisible,” Jared replied curtly, hoping that would end it.

    “You sight shield a Ring so people don’t know you’re a slave, you’ll get your back whipped off for good.”

    Jared clenched his teeth at the honest concern in the boy’s voice and pulled the chain to flush the toilet. “It’s not sight shielded, it’s invisible.”

    “Well, I cansee that.”

    How could he explain something he didn’t understand himself? “It’s an Invisible Ring. It’s like the Ring of Obedience, but stronger.”

    Tomas’s eyes widened. “You have to wear somethingstronger than a Ring of Obedience? You that dangerous?”

    “I guess so.”

    “As dangerous as the Sadist?”

    Jared started to say something reassuring, but there was no fear in the boy’s face, just a held-breath excitement. Aristos had good reason to fear Daemon Sadi, but not young half-Blood boys. So he said solemnly, “He taught me everything I know.”

    Tomas looked at him for a long minute, his mouth silently forming the word, “oh,” and Jared realized he couldn’t have presented better credentials to reassure the boy he was a “safe” male.

    That grin that seemed to be Tomas’s natural expression flashed again. “You’ll be wanting a bath. We’ve got hot water and everything.”

    As Jared watched the boy dart around the room preparing a bath for him, the full import of their surroundings finally hit him. He wandered over to the tub that was already half-full of steaming water. “Why are we in the guest servants’ quarters?”

    “ ‘Cause the Lady took one look at the slave quarters and threw a polite icy fit.”

    Jared scratched the back of his head. Hell’s fire, he was looking forward to getting clean. “How does one throw a polite icy fit?”

    Tomas tugged on his earlobe and scrunched up his face. “Well, like the Lady did, I guess.”

    That told him a lot.

    Tomas turned off the water. “In you go,” he said, waving the wash sponge at Jared.

    “Yes, Tomas,” Jared said meekly.

    Tomas hesitated, as if wanting to be sure that the adult male he was ordering around really was teasing him. Then he grinned and dropped the wash sponge into the water.

    Jared settled into the tub, closed his eyes, and groaned in pleasure. After soaking for a couple of minutes, he opened one eye and looked at the boy kneeling beside the tub. “So what did she do?”

    “Well, the innkeeper was pleased enough at first to have a Queen staying at his place, even if itwas the Gray Lady. He told her his servants would get her slaves settled into quarters, but she insisted on seeing them before she’d go to her own room. So he showed her the slave quarters and she said, no, they wouldn’t do.”

    “Were they that bad?” Jared asked. Pleasure slaves were usually quartered together in a comfortable “stable” or in tiny rooms adjoining the main bedchambers so they’d be close by to indulge their Ladies’ whims. Since they were also kept fairly isolated from everyone except the court and each other, he really didn’t know what was considered normal slave quarters.

    Tomas shrugged. “Looked like any other as far as I could tell, although the privy holes did stink something fierce. But the Lady said she wasn’t going to have half of us coming down sick with a chill or worse by trying to sleep with no blankets and nothing but bars and broken shutters over the windows. Now, anybody could have told her you don’t seal up slave quarters tight ‘cause breathing the stink would make us sicker than fresh cold air, but the innkeeper just eyed Thera and Polli and told the Lady if she just eased the Rings a bit, the males would keep the females warm enough, and with their blood heated like that, they wouldn’t even notice the cold.

    “Well, the Lady just looked at the innkeeper until he started to sweat, and she said, mild as if she was asking for a cup of tea, ‘Have you ever seen what happens to a man’s balls when you freeze them so deep they’ll shatter if you flick a finger against them?’ You could tell he thought she was bluffing, but he was sweating, too. Then one drop of sweat rolled off his chin. It froze before it hit the ground and bounced up like a little hailstone. And she just kept looking at him. I thought he was going to mess his pants.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire