• Home
  • Directory
  • Popular
  • Authors
  • Series
  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > The Invisible Ring (Chapter 132)      Page
  • The Invisible Ring(Black Jewels,Book 4)(132) by Anne Bishop
  • Krelis smiled, feeling more sure of himself than he’d felt in days. “No, Priestess. The useful ones will be taken as slaves. The rest will be eliminated.”

    “All well and good if the bitch is there.”

    “We’ll also have the slaves she bought at Raej. They must have some bargaining value for her to be so determined to get them to Dena Nehele. There’s no reason Hayll can’t bargain more keenly and get further concessions from the Queens or aristo families in the slaves’ Territories.” He wanted to laugh. His pet could tell his fellow travelers a good many things about being part of a bargain with Hayll. “If she’s not there, we can demand a trade— the slaves for the bitch-Queen. Some of them aren’t worth much, true, but if the children are aristo, their families are going to think hard about believing any promises the Gray Lady makes if she doesn’t trade her kin for theirs since it was her buying them that put them in this danger. And the Shalador Warlord isn’t willingly going to sacrifice his family for a witch he’s only known for a short time.”

    Walking up to the quivering thing, Dorothea tucked the flowers into the holes where its ears had been. “What are your plans?”

    “I’ll take a thousand Hayllian guards to Ranon’s Wood and—”

    “So many?” Annoyance crept back into Dorothea’s voice. “Surely there can’t bethat many Jeweled Blood left in that privy hole of a village. You’ll have the courts thinking the Gray Lady’s an enemy to be respected, even feared, if you need that many Hayllian warriors to subdue the little bitch who serves her.”

    Did shewant them to fail? Krelis wondered. Why deny a fierce enemy when the denial fooled no one? Taking that many men was a sound fighting decision.

    He hesitated, almost tempted to explain this to Dorothea. Instead he said, “It’s not unusual for guards to be called from various stations throughout a Territory to participate in a specific training exercise or a special assignment. The Masters of the Guard in the minor courts won’t give it a second thought. And the guards themselves won’t think past having an opportunity to be observed by the Masters in the stronger courts in the hopes of being offered a contract. There’s no reason they have to know this isn’t a chance for them to show off their skills. And there won’t be anyone else to say differently.”

    Dorothea began her slow, hip-swaying pacing. “How long?”

    Krelis swallowed carefully, keeping his eyes away from the thing. “A couple of days, Priestess, before I’ll be able to hand the Gray Lady’s bitch into your keeping.”

    “A couple of days,” Dorothea murmured.

    He caught a flash of amusement in her eyes. He held his breath and waited. By tomorrow evening, his cousin or the young Warlord whose training he’d been overseeing would look like that quivering thing. His pet’s information had come two days too late, which was something Krelis wasn’t going to forget when he got to Ranon’s Wood.

    “A couple of days,” Dorothea murmured again. Pausing at the table, she selected a knife and looked at the quivering thing.

    It whimpered. Tried to shift its position.

    Dorothea put the knife down and approached Krelis. “This has been a difficult time for you, hasn’t it, darling?” she said as she stroked his cheek. “And I do understand how wearing it can be when a person’s concentration is split between business and family. Since you’ve obviously taken my incentives to heart, I’ll tell you what I’ll do. Your cousin and protégé will remain confined but untouched. We’ll discuss their future upon your return.”

    Krelis turned his face just enough to kiss her palm. “Thank you, Priestess.” When she lifted her hand, he stepped back and bowed low. “If you’ll excuse me, there’s a great deal to do.”

    “Of course.”

    He took a step toward the door. Stopped. Turned back. Cutting off his ability to feel anything, he carefully studied the thing that had been a man.

    Dorothea eyed him curiously. “Is there a problem. Lord Krelis?”

    Krelis’s lips curved in a small smile. “My pet has not fulfilled his duties satisfactorily and will, I fear, require discipline.”

    Dorothea’s eyes filled with glittering pleasure. “Yes, fear is always a useful tool. Something your predecessor didn’t understand.”

    Krelis almost reached the door when she added quietly, “But then,he was an honorable man.”

    Chapter Twenty-three

    Jared poured another two fingers of whiskey into his glass. Raising it to eye level, he studied it.

    A liquid cloak to cover the heart and protect it from lethal shards of pain. A fluid wall to keep grief at bay.

    He turned away from such thoughts. If he kept his mind harnessed to practical matters, he didn’t really have to think at all.

    And right now, he couldn’t afford to think.

    “Jared.” Yarek sipped his whiskey, hesitated.

    Jared leaned back and waited. He and Yarek were the only ones left in the inn’s dining room. Lia, Thera, and Blaed had gone for a walk after the midday meal. He suspected Lia needed a little time away from the pulsing needs everyone in the village was trying so hard to keep reined in. He’d seen the hunger in the males’ eyes, the relief in the witches‘. And he’d seen the way Lia had quietly accepted and eaten the full bowl of stew that had been placed before her—theonly full bowl that had been served. She hadn’t shamed the village by refusing the food offered, hadn’t denied them the honor of serving a Queen.

    She must have choked on every mouthful with all those eyes anxiously watching her, but she never showed it.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire