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  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(138) by Anne Bishop
  • “He took Vulchera’s head,” he said, keeping his voice soothing. “Why did he take her head?”

    “It was all he needed.” Jaenelle sipped her brandy. “He didn’t break her Jewels, didn’t strip her power. She’ll make the transition to demon-dead. He’ll make sure of it.”

    “But . . . it’s just her head.”

    “Which contains the brain, which contains the mind, which is the conduit to the Self. Or one of them, anyway. All he needs. He’s going to finish the execution. She bled to death. Slowly. That was what the shirt was intended to do. Bleed her out. He would have sealed her into that room. She would have tried to get out, would have tried to get the shirt off. When she couldn’t do either, when she knew she couldn’t do either . . . There was so much fear in that room. Could you feel it?”

    “Yes, I could.”

    “Bleeding out because she put on a shirt.” Jaenelle laughed, but it was a hollow sound. “I imagine when they burn the body . . . Whatever spell that releases . . . I guess there will be a few men who will sleep better for whatever message rises from that fire.”

    There is nothing he has done that I couldn’t have done, Daemon thought. So why am I so uneasy?

    “That fear while she bled out, that was the first part of the execution,” Jaenelle said. “After she makes the transition to demon-dead . . . That’s when the pain truly begins.”

    “Why?”

    She looked sleepy. Her body was relaxing against him.

    “Because of you. This is about you, Daemon. About him . . . and you. That’s why you need to be the one who helps him come back from the Twisted Kingdom. He’ll answer you.”

    “I don’t know how to do that,” he protested. “I don’t have any training to do that.”

    “You don’t need training. This is about fathers and sons. Lucivar needs to go with you.”

    “Hell’s fire, Jaenelle. Saetan is my father. Do you really think I’ll need Lucivar there to watch my back?”

    She smiled gently. “No, think of his being there as stacking the deck in your favor.”

    Suddenly exhausted, and scared sick of what he might be facing, he rested his cheek against her head. “When?”

    “Tomorrow after sunset,” Jaenelle replied. “He’ll be done with the execution by then, and I think he’ll go back to the Keep after that.”

    “All right.” His breath came out in a shuddering sigh. “Come to bed with me. Just be with me.”

    They went to bed for rest, for comfort. And as he went through the motions of the rest of the day, talking to Lord Collyn and dealing with the aftermath of the kill, he tried not to think about what might be waiting for him at the Keep tomorrow.

    CHAPTER 27

    TERREILLE

    “Psst. Gray.”

    Gray tensed. When he’d been in captivity, that sound usually preceded some boy’s attempt to “befriend” him so that he could be blamed for whatever mischief the boy and his friends had done.

    “Psst.”

    He turned toward the sound—and wondered why Ranon was hiding behind the stone shed.

    He moved toward the other man slowly, reluctantly. Ranon seemed hesitant, uncertain. That in itself was a reason to be wary.

    Then Ranon crouched and rested his hand above the ground. When he dropped the sight shield and revealed the wooden box, Gray rushed behind the shed to join him.

    Plants. Lovely little plants ready for a garden.

    “I talked to my people,” Ranon said. “Some of the elders, along with the Queens, traveled to my home village to meet with me. To hear about the new Queen. I told them about Cassidy. I told them she knew about witchblood—a plant that is not unknown in the reserves even though we’d forgotten what it meant. I told them about the flower bed you wanted to plant for her. I mentioned that some of the flowers Cassidy’s mother had sent looked similar to plants that grew in the southern part of Dena Nehele, so they sent these back with me. The Ladies sent notes with the plants.” He called in several folded sheets of paper. “They said some are perennials, some are annuals. Some can winter over. They tried to give me more of a gardening lesson than I wanted, but I figured you’d know what they were talking about.”

    Each plant had a carefully written label attached to its pot. Gray touched each one gently, moved that strangers would be willing to help him make this special part of the garden.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire