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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > The Invisible Ring (Chapter 22)      Page
  • The Invisible Ring(Black Jewels,Book 4)(22) by Anne Bishop
  • Thayne glanced at the wagon and swallowed hard. “If it’s all right with you, I’ll keep Blaed company for a bit.”

    Meaning even the saddle horses were too close to Thera’s temper.

    Nodding his permission, Jared moved far enough away from them to discourage conversation. He took a moment to add a little more power to the Craft shields on his clothing. They did a fairly good job of waterproofing the fabric and keeping the mud and water from seeping into the boots. A little warming spell helped, too. But even with spells and shields, it was impossible not to feel the damp after a while, and if anyone knew a shield-spell that would have kept the rain off their heads, no one had mentioned it.

    Jared took a deep breath, wishing it would settle his churning stomach. Sweet Darkness, don’t let her be hurt badly. Pointless to hope that her arms wouldn’t have bruises the shape of his hands.

    Hurting her made him ache. It shouldn’t have. Hadn’t he crossed that line when he’d killed the last Queen who had owned him?

    It shouldn’t have made him ache. But it did.

    When the rain started yesterday afternoon, the Lady was the one who had told them to use whatever Craft was necessary to stay as dry as possible. She was the one who had put the Craft shields on Tomas’s clothes and had kept an eye on those among them who might not have the power to hold the shields. Even Garth. She was the one who had put some kind of shield-spell on the wagon’s wheels and the horses’ hooves so they wouldn’t sink in the mud.

    And she was the one who had come up with the rotation.

    The rotation was fair. More than fair. Hell’s fire, there were thirteen of them, including the Gray Lady, and four of them were children. She could have let the children ride on the outer seat or inside and let the adults stumble along. She could have let the other females stay in the wagon with her—and slave or not, no Blood male would have argued about it. But she’d worked out this rotation that included everyone so that they all alternated between walking and riding, and everyone had a chance to get out of the rain and eat and rest within the confines of the wagon.

    Telling himself that he just wanted to check on Tomas and see if they could start moving again, Jared walked to the back of the wagon.

    Tomas wasn’t in sight. Jared sighed and raked his wet hair away from his face. He didn’t relish stumbling around in the trees and bushes on either side of the road in order to find the boy. Well, the Lady’s controlling ring would be able to locate Tomas quickly enough.

    After giving the roan mare and bay gelding friendly pats, Jared stood on the bottom step and knocked once on the wagon’s door.

    Thera opened the door, shifting her body slightly to block his view of the inside. But he heard Tomas sternly tell someone to drink up the brew ‘cause it wasn’t doing any good while it was still in the cup.

    Thera looked at Jared and shrugged.

    Relieved to see humor instead of temper in her eyes, Jared shrugged in reply, as if to say, “He’s male. What can you expect?”

    “How is she?” Jared asked quietly.

    “She wrenched her knee,” Thera replied just as quietly. Then she added thoughtfully, as if she were trying to work out a puzzle that still had too many pieces missing, “I knew she had healing supplies in that private box of hers—I saw them when she took care of you. But when I suggested that she open it so that I could see if there was anything that might help her, she refused to let Polli or me touch it. Then Tomas stuck his head in to see what was going on and heard us ... discussing things. He just stomped in and started scolding.” Thera smiled. “He’s a good scolder.”

    “I know,” Jared said dryly. “So you got the healing supplies.”

    “I got the supplies,” Thera replied.

    But Jared was no longer listening to her. His thoughts were on the small chest the Gray Lady had brought with her. With the spell-lock on it, he’d assumed, along with everyone else, that it held gold and silver marks and other things she wouldn’t want slaves to have access to.

    Except he’d realized the first time he’d seen it that the chest had a Green-strength spell-lock. Which wouldn’t have meant anything if there wasn’t one slave who wore a Red Jewel and who could have easily broken that lock, if that same slave hadn’t been singled out from the very beginning as being different from the others.

    He wasn’t sure if there was something Thera suspected about the chest that she wasn’t going to mention.

    Why hadn’t the Gray Lady used a Gray lock on that chest?

    “Anything else?” Thera said.

    Did she sound a little defensive?

    “Can we get moving?” Jared asked. “We should use what daylight is left and start looking for a place to camp.”

    “Sure. We’ll keep her comfortable enough.” Thera paused. “Are you coming in now? It’s your rest period.”

    “In a few minutes.” When Thera started to close the door, Jared put his hand against it and asked the question he really wanted to ask. “Is her knee the only place she’s hurt?”

    Thera didn’t pretend not to understand. “There are a couple of bruises. Nothing that won’t easily heal.”

    No anger. No criticism. Somehow that made it worse.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire