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  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(7) by Anne Bishop
  • Saetan hid a smile and concentrated on clearing out the stacks of papers at his end of the table.

    “What are you planning to do with this?” Daemon asked several minutes later. “Bring it back to the Keep in Kaeleer?”

    “Why in the name of Hell would I do that?”

    “Marian says shredded parchment makes a good mulch for flower beds.”

    Marian was Lucivar’s wife, a lovely woman and a talented hearth witch whose gentler nature balanced her husband’s volatile one. But there were times, Saetan felt, when hearth-Craft practicality needed to be put aside for a more direct and simple solution.

    “I’m planning to haul this out to one of the stone courtyards, put a shield around it to keep it contained, blast it with witchfire, and transform several wagonloads of useless paper into a barrel of ash.”

    “If you asked Marian to help, you’d get this done a lot faster. I bet she knows several ‘tidy-up’ spells,” Daemon said. Then he paused. Considered. “Well, maybe you wouldn’t get it done faster, but Marian would be thorough.”

    Damn the boy for knowing just where to apply the needle in order to prick and annoy.

    He wasn’t trying to clean the place; he was trying to eliminate reams of history so old it was no longer of any use to anyone—including the long-lived races.

    Well, two could play the needle game. “If I wanted things to get interesting, I could ask Jaenelle to help.”

    Daemon looked at the parchment in his hand, tipped it a little closer to the ball of witchlight hovering over the table so he could read the faded script . . . and paled.

    Saetan had no idea what was written on that parchment, but clearly the thought of Jaenelle Angelline, the former Queen of Ebon Askavi and now Daemon’s darling wife, having that information was sufficient to scare a Black-Jeweled Warlord Prince.

    Daemon put the paper on the discard pile and quietly cleared his throat. “I think the two of us can take care of this without mentioning it to the Ladies.”

    “A wise decision.” And the same conclusion he’d come to when he’d decided to clear out some of this stuff.

    They worked for another hour. Then Saetan said, “That’s all that can be done today.”

    Daemon looked around. They’d thrown the discarded papers into a large crate, but the table and surrounding floor were still strewn with stacks that hadn’t been touched.

    “It’s midday, Prince,” Saetan said.

    Daemon nodded. “I hadn’t realized it had gotten so late.”

    The hours between sunset and sunrise were the part of the day that belonged to the demon-dead—and Guardians, the ones like Saetan who were the living dead, who straddled a line that extended their lifetimes beyond counting. During the years when Jaenelle had lived with him as his adopted daughter, his habits had changed and his waking hours had extended through the morning so that he would be available to the living. But even here at the Keep, the Sanctuary of Witch, he needed to rest when the sun was at its strongest.

    “Let’s go back to the Keep in Kaeleer,” Saetan said. “We’ll wash up, have something to eat before I retire, and you can ask me about whatever you’d originally come here to ask.”

    The library door opened before they reached it. A Warlord who served the Keep in Terreille nodded to them and said, “High Lord, a Warlord Prince has arrived.”

    “His name?” Saetan asked.

    “He wouldn’t offer it,” the Warlord replied. “And he wouldn’t say which Territory he’s from. He says he’s looking for someone, and he insists on talking to ‘someone in authority.’ ”

    “Does he?” Saetan said softly. “How foolish of him. Put our guest in one of the receiving rooms. I’ll be with him shortly.”

    “Yes, High Lord.”

    The Warlord’s look of gleeful anticipation told Saetan how deeply the idiot had offended those who served the Keep by not following the basic courtesies. Fools who tried to withhold their names when asking to speak with someone here were usually given as much as they’d offered—which was nothing.

    When the Warlord left, Saetan turned and touched Daemon’s arm. “Why don’t you go back to Kaeleer and ask for a meal. I’ll talk to this unknown Prince and join you when I’m done. I doubt this will take more than a few minutes.”

    The air around them chilled—a warning that a violent temper was turning cold, cold, cold.

    “If you’re going to talk to anyone from Terreille, you should have someone watching your back,” Daemon said too softly.

    He wasn’t sure if he should feel flattered or insulted by his son’s desire to protect, but he decided it was best to keep his own temper out of this conversation—especially now that Daemon’s temper had turned lethal. “Have you forgotten that I’m a Black-Jeweled Warlord Prince and do know how to defend myself?”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire