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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > The Invisible Ring (Chapter 35)      Page
  • The Invisible Ring(Black Jewels,Book 4)(35) by Anne Bishop
  • Something about their shape tugged at him, disappearing when he took a couple of steps closer. He stepped back, and kept stepping back, until he was on the other side of the lane. He looked at the stones again and swore silently.

    He was either losing his mind or his self-control, because the way the boulders had tumbled together, they looked like a woman clothed in moss rising up from among the other stones.

    Smiling bitterly, Jared crossed the lane, then reached out and cupped a stone breast.

    Polli’s face flashed through his mind.

    His fingers bit into the moss as another face filled his mind. It wavered between young and old, but there was no mistaking those hard gray eyes. If any woman had stone br**sts to match a stone heart, it was the Gray Lady.

    He felt the slight tingle of a spell being keyed. A moment later, Blaed let out a yip of surprise.

    Jared twisted around, his eyes widening as a section of the bushes changed into a simple wood pole strung with vines.

    He hurried away from the boulders before Blaed turned to look at him, not really sure why he felt the need to keep access to this place a secret from the rest of them.

    “How’d you unkey the illusion spell?” Blaed asked.

    The wagon came around a curve in the lane, saving Jared from having to think of a lie.

    “I’ll check things out,” Jared told Blaed as they lifted the wooden pole off its supporting posts and laid it aside. “‘You bring the others in.”

    Jared took a deep breath and cautiously followed the straight path that led to the clearing. It was barely wide enough for the pedlar’s wagon and longer than he expected. His careful psychic probes didn’t tell him anything. That didn’t make him feel easier. If that rogue had been able to persuade a Black Widow to make the illusion spell to hide the entrance to the clearing, were there other illusions he wasn’t able to detect?

    Passing between the two stone posts that marked the end of the path, Jared stepped into the clearing. He waited a moment, straining all of his senses to detect anything that might be a danger to them, then sighed with relief when nothing happened.

    The clearing itself was fairly large—a couple of acres surrounded by trees and thick undergrowth on three sides, backed by a steep, rocky hill. On the left side of the clearing was a corral and a small stone building built into the hill. It was large enough to shelter half a dozen animals in bad weather, or at least keep feed and gear dry. Also built into the hill was a one-story stone building. Between the building and the corral was a small wooden structure that probably contained the privy hole.

    Jared couldn’t summon up enough interest for whatever else the clearing might contain. As soon as he figured out how to rekey the illusion spell on the gate, he was going to spend his thoughts and energy on nothing but getting dry, getting fed, and going to sleep.

    The wagon passed him, its wheels almost scraping the stone posts that marked the clearing boundary. The other slaves followed behind the saddle horses.

    As he passed Jared, Blaed said, “I put the pole back in place,” then pointed a thumb over his shoulder.

    Jared’s breath huffed out in an impatient sigh as he waited for Garth who was, for the first time, trailing behind everyone instead of roaming ahead.

    “Come on, Garth,” Jared said, waving the big man forward.

    Garth stopped two yards away from the stone posts, and shifted his weight from one foot to the other. His head swiveled in the opposite rhythm as he kept eyeing the posts.

    “Come on,” Jared snapped.

    Garth raised his hands, then let them slap against his thighs. He seemed to want to say something, but he made no sound. Finally, he let out a low, distressed cry and bolted past the posts.

    “Hell’s fire,” Jared muttered, watching Garth trot toward the others. The big man stumbled a little every time he looked anxiously over his shoulder at Jared.

    Jared turned his back on the group and stared uneasily at the stone posts with their rounded tops. Were they supposed to be a rogue’s idea of a bitter joke or a blatant symbol of male strength?

    He didn’t have time to decide because, seconds later, he realized Garth must have understood something about the posts that he hadn’t.

    A psychic storm swiftly began to surround the clearing. Jared felt it hum along his nerves and scratch at his bones, felt the pressure of power that would build and build until its destructive release tore through anyone who wasn’t strong enough to withstand the onslaught. Hell’s fire. There must be a spell set in the posts to trigger all the defensive spells around the clearing if some key wasn’t used within a certain amount of time. Butwhat key?Where ? That rogue bastard hadn’t mentioned this. Had the omission been deliberate?

    With his heart beating so hard it pounded in his temples, Jared looked at the wagon pulled up close to the stone building and the people standing near it. There wasn’t time for them to run across the clearing and down the path before the defensive spells triggered and the psychic storm hit.

    He hadn’t realized he’d been descending instinctively to the level of the Red until he felt the wild stranger’s presence as keenly as if he’d stepped into its lair. And, in a sense, he had. Here he could tap his full strength. Here his power was raw, primal—and savage. Here it belonged to the part of himself he had tried to push away and deny.

    Now he reached for the strength of the Red, regardless of the cost, using it to quickly probe the gathering storm.

    Layer upon layer upon layer of protection spells, defensive spells, spells honed to destroy flesh but not hurt the land. White, Tiger Eye, Rose, Purple Dusk, Opal, Sapphire. Strength woven into strength.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire