• Home
  • Directory
  • Popular
  • Authors
  • Series
  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > The Invisible Ring (Chapter 148)      Page
  • The Invisible Ring(Black Jewels,Book 4)(148) by Anne Bishop
  • When Brock turned around, Jared stopped abruptly, stunned by the bitterness in the other man’s face.

    “Even now, when he’s barely half of what he used to be, you choose to believe him, to trust him,” Brock said. “Even now.”

    Regret cut deep into Jared’s bones. “I trusted you.”

    “Not enough to be useful,” Brock snapped. “You trusted the Warlord Prince whelp and the Black Widow enough to tell them we weren’t slaves, but not me. It might have been different if you’d trusted me.”

    “It wouldn’t have made any difference,” Jared said coldly. “You’d already chosen whom you serve.”

    “It might have,” Brock insisted. His face twisted with conflicting emotions. “Do you know how I came to be a slave? MyQueen sold me to Hayll. The Territory Queen is getting old, and the bitch I served wants to rule more than a small Province. So she traded twenty of her best males for Hayll’s influence in choosing the next Territory Queen. She sold our freedom, ourlives for ambition.”

    “When a male serves, he puts his life into his Queen’s hands,” Jared said. “It’s hers to do with as she pleases. That’s the risk we all take, Brock.” Remembering Talon, he added, “His life, but not his honor. You had that much choice.”

    “Who are you to talk about honor? You’re a pleasure slave, a nonman pretending to be a Warlord.A Queen killer . Where were you hiding your honor when you butcheredher ?”

    “I was owned by her. I didn’t serve her.” But the verbal thrust hurt as much as a knife in the gut.

    “You’re splitting hairs, Jared,” Brock said harshly. “But if that’s how you want to split it, then as far as I knew, I was owned by the Gray Lady. What’s the difference between you killing the bitch who owned you and me buying some kind of freedom for myself by helping the High Priestess get rid of a rival? All I had to do was lead the marauders to her if she escaped the trap at the Coach station.”

    Brock’s lips curled into a sneer. “Hayll didn’t want her killed by a newly purchased slave because it would make all the other witches nervous about going to Raej to buy their pretty toys.I wasn’t going to have a Queen’s blood onmy hands.”

    Jared felt a weight settling in his chest. “Who was Garth before Dorothea did that to him?”

    “The Province Queen’s Master of the Guard. A leader. Men trusted him, listened to him. Even our father always listened to him,” Brock added bitterly.

    “Garth’s yourbrother ?”

    “My older brother. Always stronger. Always better at everything. After the High Priestess broke him back to his Birthright Purple Dusk and sealed him up inside himself, he wasn’t stronger or better anymore, was he? No one was going to listen tohim anymore, were they? But they still didn’t listen to me, either.” Brock looked at Jared with eyes full of hatred. “The others would have listened to me ifyou hadn’t been there.I would have been the dominant male in the group if it hadn’t been foryou . She would have trusted me.”

    Jared studied Brock. How could the strong man he’d known on the journey become this whining boy? “The link with Garth,” Jared said slowly. “It not only hid your true nature, it also helped you act as Garth would have acted, say what he would have said.”

    Brock nodded, his mouth curving in a sly, nasty smile. “I’m the one who thought of that after the Priestess put the compulsion spells around me that would make sure the Gray Lady bought me. Being brothers, it was easy to make a link that would meld our psychic scents so that the bitch-Queen couldn’t separate one from the other. I even made him place the first couple of buttons, since no one paid any attention to the mind-damaged male. But he started fighting me, defying me. After a while, all I could do was keep enough of the link so that I wouldn’t be discovered.”

    Hold it back, Jared told himself.Leash it. Save this rage for the fight ahead . “You brought them to Ranon’s Wood. You brought these carrion-eaters from Hayll down on my people.”

    “If she’d been captured at the ambush like she was supposed to, we wouldn’t have come to your precious village at all. If anyone brought them here, it wasyou .”

    “Get out of here,” Jared said too quietly. “Get away from my people. You belong with those Hayllian bastards.”

    Brock pouted. “If I’d known she was going to give usreal freedom, it would have been different.”

    “Get out.”

    The pout twisted back to nastiness. “You’re going to die, Jared. All of you are going to die, and all the words in the Realm aren’t going to change that.” Brock bared his teeth in a smile. “Maybe once the High Priestess is done playing with Lia, they’ll let me have her for a while. I’d like to take a long, hard ride between her thighs.”

    Jared clenched his fists and his teeth.

    Hold it back. Keep it leashed. Striking out now would bring the Hayllians in faster, and Thera and Lia needed as much time as they could get to prepare this Queen’s gamble.

    Looking a little disappointed at getting no reaction from Jared, Brock raised his hand in a mocking salute. Then he flinched and put a hand to his head.

    “Have to answer,” he mumbled. “Have to ... summoned.” He turned and continued down the road to the landing place at a fast walk.

    By the time Jared got back to the tavern, Thayne had taken the children away—but Garth had returned.

    Blaed and Talon held Randolf back while the guard snarled threats and obscenities at the large man standing on one side of the room.

    “Damn you. Jared,” Randolf shouted. “Tell them to let me go. Let me get rid of the bastard before he does any more harm.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire