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  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(8) by Anne Bishop
  • One sweep of those golden eyes that were now glazed and sleepy. One pointed look at his left hand—which was missing the little finger.

    “I haven’t forgotten anything,” Daemon crooned.

    A shiver went down Saetan’s spine.

    The boyish posturing was gone. Even their relationship as father and son was gone. The man before him was a Warlord Prince of equal rank, who was standing one step away from the killing edge. A Warlord Prince the Blood in Terreille had called the Sadist. A man who was capable of doing anything if provoked the wrong way.

    And that, more than anything else, was reason enough to get Daemon out of Terreille.

    “Would you have told Lucivar he had to have someone guarding his back?” Saetan asked.

    “I wouldn’t have needed to,” Daemon replied. “He would have known I’d stand with him.”

    This isn’t a fight, Saetan thought.But he caught,too late,the undercurrent that had been hiding beneath the boyish posturing.

    For Daemon, simply being back in Terreille meant being prepared to fight. To kill.

    “Prince, I’m asking you to return to Kaeleer. This is the Keep. It’s a sanctuary. To treat someone as an enemy simply because they’ve come here requesting information would be a violation of everything this place stands for. Daemon, it isn’t done.” At least, not by another guest. What guarded the mountain called Ebon Askavi passed its own judgment on anyone entering the Keep. And people who entered did not always leave.

    “I’m sorry I didn’t realize how difficult it is for you to be in this Realm, even here at the Keep,” Saetan said. “If I had, we would have left hours ago.”

    That keen mind assessed his words while those golden eyes assessed him.

    “You’ll shield?” Daemon finally asked.

    “I will shield.” Despite his efforts to hold on to his own temper, the words came out in a growl.

    Daemon’s lips twitched in a reluctant smile. “You would have made the same demand of me if I was the one staying.”

    “Of course I would, but that’s different. I’m your father.”

    Daemon’s smile—and the air around them—warmed. “Fine. I’ll go back to Kaeleer and see about getting us a meal.”

    Saetan waited, tense, until he no longer felt the presence of the other Black Jewel—confirmation that Daemon had gone through the Gate and returned to Kaeleer. Then he sagged against the doorway until he heard the sound of Craft-enhanced footsteps announcing the Warlord’s return.

    “Is everything all right, High Lord?” the Warlord asked. “I felt . . . We all felt . . . Prince Sadi went cold for a minute.”

    “Yes, he did. Being in Terreille makes the Prince feel a little defensive.”

    The Warlord stared at him. “If that’s how Prince Sadi reacts when he’s feeling a little defensive, I wouldn’t want to be around him when he’s feeling really defensive.”

    “No,” Saetan said quietly, “you wouldn’t want to be around him.”

    Theran opened the glass doors that led out to a tiered garden, then closed them again until there was only a finger-width opening. Despite the spring season, it was cold up in the mountains. He would have preferred sitting in a comfortable chair by the fire, except . . .

    This place chilled him a lot more than the cold air. The Black Mountain. Ebon Askavi. Repository of the Blood’s history—and the lair of Witch, the living myth, dreams made flesh. Who was, he suspected, nothing more than a dream and myth. There had been rumors that there was, in fact, a Black-Jeweled Queen who ruled Ebon Askavi, but after the witch storm or war or whatever it was that had swept through Terreille and devastated the Blood, the rumors stopped.

    The place didn’t need a Queen. It was creepy enough without one, and he couldn’t imagine anyone . . . normal . . . ruling this place. There were things flitting in the shadows, watching him. He was sure of it, even if he couldn’t detect a psychic scent or any kind of presence.

    Which didn’t change the conviction that the things he couldn’t feel or see could—and would—kill him before he realized anything was there.

    When the door opened, he breathed a sigh of relief but stayed by the window. If something went wrong, he had a better chance of getting out and catching one of the Winds if he could reach open ground.

    The man who entered the room was Hayllian or Dhemlan—the black hair, brown skin, and gold eyes were common to both long-lived races, and he’d never been able to distinguish between the two. An older man, whose black hair was heavily silvered at the temples, and whose face was beginning to show lines that indicated the weight of centuries. A Red Jewel hung from a gold chain. A Red Jewel flashed in the ring worn on a hand with slender fingers—and long, black-tinted nails.

    “Who are you?” Theran demanded. The Territory of Hayll had been at the root of all the suffering his people had endured, and he didn’t want to deal with anyone who came from that race. With one exception.

    The man came to an abrupt halt.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire