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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > The Invisible Ring (Chapter 37)      Page
  • The Invisible Ring(Black Jewels,Book 4)(37) by Anne Bishop
  • How was he supposed to choose the right three?

    Jared paused, then shook his head. Of course it was three.

    He found the symbol for male on the left stone. His finger hesitated over it before moving to the triangle beneath it. Using Craft, he traced the triangle’s deep lines with one finger, filling them with witchlight.

    In a court, the male triangle of Consort, Steward, and Master of the Guard formed the tightest bond with the Queen. They were companions, advisors, protectors.

    None of the other symbols on the left post pulled him, so he turned to the right. His finger traced the outline of the symbol for female.

    The male triangle was the core of a court, but the Queen, the female, was always its heart.

    He sank to his knees and traced the last symbol carved into the post, the Blood’s most revered symbol—the symbol for the Darkness.

    The Blood honored the Darkness because it meant endings and beginnings; it was the fertile dark of land and womb that nurtured the seeds of life; it was the psychic river the Blood came from and returned to; it was the abyss the Self descended into to reach its own strength; it was the vastness that contained the spiderweb-shaped psychic roadways called the Winds. It was all those things, and more.

    As the last line filled with witchlight, Jared felt the jolt of power funneling into the stone posts. The witchlight in the symbols became so bright he had to squint. It flashed once and then faded, the little bit of power he’d used to create it already expended.

    In that moment after the flash, Jared saw a pale triangle form between the three symbols before it, too, faded.

    The protection spells quieted. The psychic storm quickly dissipated. Rekeyed, the illusion spell turned a wood pole strung with vines into thick, unpassable undergrowth.

    Jared stayed on his knees, too tired and shaken to stand up. He sank back on his heels, his head bent, his hands resting loosely on his thighs. This exhaustion wasn’t caused by draining too much of his power. He used more than that for everyday living. It wasn’t even caused by the sharp fear he’d felt.

    For a few moments when the wild stranger had filled him, he had felt so alive and whole. Now he felt empty and hollowed out again, and it cut at him. But he wasn’t sure he was ready to fully embrace that part of himself, to bind himself to that kind of responsibility, and until he was . . .

    Strong hands gripped his arms and pulled him up. Blaed smiled solemnly. Brock looked respectful.

    “Let’s get you inside,” Brock said.

    “The horses.” Jared’s voice sounded thick.

    “I’ll help Thayne and Randolf with the horses.”

    “I can—”

    “You’ve done enough,” Brock said sharply.

    “You’ve done enough,” Blaed agreed quietly.

    Jared gave in, needing their support more than he wanted to admit.

    As they walked toward the one-story stone building, Garth hurried up to them, stopping just short of barreling into Jared. The big man studied Jared’s face for a moment, then made a sound like a grunt of satisfaction, and hurried away.

    Thayne smiled shyly and raised his hand in a casual salute.

    Randolf stood by the corral, watching Garth, his expression unreadable.

    Jared was too tired for Randolfs moods, but he couldn’t quite dismiss the man’s animosity for the broken Warlord.

    “We should pay more attention to Garth,” Jared said quietly as they neared the building.

    Brock made an exasperated sound. “Garth’s not that bad. It could’ve happened to any of us.”

    “He knew about those protection spells before the rest of us did.”

    A brittle silence followed Jared’s words.

    “He was the last one,” Jared insisted. “Nothing started to happen while he was still on the path, so I’d guess there’s something built into those spells to make sure all the rogues have time to get into the clearing. It’s the last person in who has to rekey the illusion spell in order to stop the defensive spells from triggering. If I’d paid attention to his distress, we would have had more time to figure out the key before the storm came down on us.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire