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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > The Invisible Ring (Chapter 33)      Page
  • The Invisible Ring(Black Jewels,Book 4)(33) by Anne Bishop
  • The pain and weariness in her face, the shadows in her eyes, and the anxiety he could sense in her stopped him as much as the Warlord Prince’s condemnation.

    “I’ll take care of it,” Jared said quietly, making sure his voice remained neutral and in no way implied loyalty. He wasn’t certain she deserved loyalty, no matter what that rogue bastard thought, but he was cold, wet, and hungry, and no defiance right now was worth delaying the moment when they could eat and rest. But, Hell’s fire, seeing her in pain chewed at him until he wanted to lash out at something, anything, until her pain went away.

    Leading with her left leg, the Gray Lady climbed the steps into the wagon. Thera glanced sharply at Jared and said nothing as she followed the Gray Lady inside.

    If the other men noticed an edge in his voice when he gave the order to move on, no one mentioned it. They didn’t question his insistence that Cathryn and Corry sit on the driving seat and Eryk and Tomas ride the saddle horses tied to the back of the wagon since it was the most sensible way of keeping an eye on the children. Nor did they question his order that Brock and Randolf take up a rearguard position. And one look at his face made them swallow any comments they might have made about the oddly protective way Garth walked beside the wagon instead of rambling ahead as usual. He had made the decision that, at least for the time being, they weren’t going to act like slaves, and no one was going to challenge that decision.

    Taking point, Jared walked ahead of the wagon, trying to sort through his conflicting emotions. He’dseen the Gray Lady hand a slave over to a pack of rogues, and he couldn’t ignore the bitterness it produced in him any more than he could ignore the way his protective instincts kept pushing at him. But that Warlord Prince kissing her hand, making that deliberate gesture of respect. Was there a hidden reason for handing Polli over to that rogue bastard? Maybe not hidden, just not obvious. There were things about the Gray Lady that he didn’t understand—yet. That made him uneasy.

    And where were the rest of them going if a pack of rogues was considered the safer choice?

    Blaed had been walking a couple of steps behind him for several minutes. Jared waved him forward, no longer able to ignore the younger man’s unhappiness or his own curiosity.

    “Thayne knew about you,” Jared said, keeping his voice conversational.

    Blaed shrugged, an action that seemed more resigned than unconcerned. “We’ve been friends since we were boys, even though he’s a couple of years older than me, so he would have known.”

    And had been enough of a friend to say nothing. “How did you do it?”

    “I didn’t,” Blaed said quickly, his hazel eyes holding a plea for acceptance—and a hint of defiance that was more in keeping with his true nature.

    You can’t help being what you are, Jared thought as he looked at the young Warlord Prince,any more than men like Brock and Randolf can help being wary of what you are . “Someone else put a spell on you to hide your . . . ?” His voice trailed off as he tried to think of some way to phrase it that wouldn’t sound insulting.

    Blaed bit his lip and nodded. “He said a Warlord Prince my age, being used as a pleasure slave, would be twisted out of all recognition or have the heart torn out of him.

    He said I hadn’t come into my strength yet and had too much potential to be wasted that way.“ Blaed gulped. ”So he put this spell around me. He said it would mask what I was as long as I was around Warlords, but another Warlord Prince’s presence could break it.“

    He. A male who could create a spell so subtle no one had realized it existed. No blurring of Blaed’s psychic scent, no sense of Craft. Just a masking of an essential difference between Blaed and the rest of them.

    Jared felt a chill run up his spine that had nothing to do with the falling temperature or the rain. He studied Blaed as if he’d never seen him before. A good-looking face that would mature into a handsome one. A well-toned body that needed to fill out a little more. Medium-brown hair that was long enough for a woman to run her hands through it. Hazel eyes that reflected a temperament that hadn’t sharpened yet.

    Looks meant nothing. It was the potential within the flesh that had to be considered carefully—and, also, who would recognize that potential and want to shape and hone it into a fine, sharp weapon.

    “You know the Sadist.” Jared didn’t make it a question.

    Blaed paled a little. “I think he’s the reason I ended up at Raej so quickly. My training was . . . accelerated.”

    Jared snorted. “I’ll bet the part of the training you were supposed to be learning got accelerated, too.”

    Blaed’s eyes widened.

    Jared’s lips curled up in a twisted smile. “He trained me, too.”

    There was no need to put into words that uneasy mixture of revulsion and excitement, the embarrassment of feeling like a voyeur when the young men who were being trained watched an experienced pleasure slave play a woman’s body until mild arousal became blinding heat and she screamed throughout a prolonged climax. No need to talk about the shame they’d felt because they had stiffened and ached for release while Sadi rose from the bed as flaccid as he’d been before the first kiss. No need to talk about the private lessons, those times when that bored, cold expression that so effectively masked the Sadist’s thoughts and feelings was set aside and they’d seen enough of the man beneath to feel trust and terror.

    “I take it there wasn’t a Warlord Prince serving your previous Queen,” Jared said.

    “Only him.” Blaed shrugged. “Minor Queens usually can’t lure a Warlord Prince to serve in their courts. And Territory Queens usually won’t let a minor Queen keep an enslaved Warlord Prince because he’s too hard to control.”

    Minor Queens usually didn’t get a chance to hold the Sadist’s leash, either—unless the High Priestess of Hayll was rewarding them for some reason.

    “How long were you in that court?”

    “Six months altogether. He was there for the first four, then the contract that that Queen had with Dorothea SaDiablo ended and he was ‘loaned’ to another Queen.”

    “Queens don’t usually give up a freshly trained pleasure slave,” Jared said thoughtfully. “Even if he is a Warlord Prince. Shedid know you were a Warlord Prince when she acquired you?”

    Blaed nodded. “Although once he put the spell around me, everyone seemed to forget that. After he was gone, she became uneasy about using me, for no reason I could figure out, and sent me to Raej.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire