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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > The Shadow Queen (Chapter 160)      Page
  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(160) by Anne Bishop
  • *Fire?* The Sceltie sounded much too eager to use witchfire to take care of the bad smells.

    “Not up here.” Crouching, Cassidy held up the key. If Vae had been able to find the hiding place under the bed by smelling a key, maybe she could find what this key opened. “We’re looking for the thing that fits this key, that has the same smell.”

    Vae sniffed the key. *Not much smell, even for kindred.*

    Damn. Well, she hadn’t expected this to be easy. “Come on. Let’s see if we can find the starting point that’s shown on the map.”

    Grayhaven was a big mansion, so there were several ways up to the attic, and the map, by accident or deliberate omission, didn’t indicate direction. So she was hot and dusty, and Vae’s tail was veiled in cobwebs, by the time she found the attic entrance that looked like the starting point for this stage of the treasure hunt.

    Of course, that assumed no one had removed or added windows in the past few centuries or made other structural changes to the house. And the map had been made long before generations of furniture had been disposed of by tossing it up here.

    Cassidy tipped the paper toward the light to read the small print around the section of the attic that had been marked as the end of the search.

    “We need to find a large wardrobe that has a mirror beside it and a clothes trunk in front of the mirror.” She looked around at all the discarded furniture. “Hell’s fire, Lia. Didn’t you consider that someone else might toss a trunk or two up here?”

    The attic had been divided into sections. The interior walls didn’t go all the way up to the roof, but they did offer sufficient privacy. Would she find remnants of servants’ quarters at the other end of the attic, or would she find more out-of-reach shelves?

    “She tells me the number of paces from here to the treasure if I walk in a straight line,” Cassidy muttered. “So were the walls here then, and she assumed whoever was searching would use Craft to pass through the wood, or were the walls added later?”

    *Cassie?*

    “Do we walk in a straight line as the map indicates, going through the walls and furniture?” Cassidy asked, more as a question to herself.

    *No.* Vae shook herself. *Don’t want to walk through the bad smells.*

    The dog had a point. Cassidy was feeling mucky enough just being near this furniture. The thought of passing through it and having some of that psychic residue cling to her was nauseating.

    “All right, then. I guess we do this the hard way.”

    “She’s not in her room,” Shira said when she returned to the Steward’s office later that morning. Talon had gone to his room for some rest, which was a relief to her, but Powell, Ranon, Theran, and Gray were still waiting for her report.

    Gray hugged himself. “Captured?”

    The sharp look Ranon gave her said he was wondering the same thing. The fact that any of them would ask that question now . . .

    She could almost feel Dena Nehele dying around her.

    Shira shook her head. “No sign of struggle. No feel of anything wrong.” She hesitated, then decided against mentioning the old, broken trinket box on Cassidy’s bed. Might have been an heirloom Cassidy had brought with her, but Shira didn’t think so. She’d been tempted to pick up one of the books that had been on the bed as well, but when she’d reached for one, she’d had the feeling that the moment she touched one, something important would go away, would be lost.

    Because it wasn’t time for her to touch one or read whatever was inside.

    When a Black Widow sensed that kind of warning, she heeded it—especially when a friend was suddenly, and mysteriously, missing.

    Which was why she had put locks and shields around Cassidy’s rooms. Until they knew what had happened to the Queen, she wasn’t taking a chance of anyone upsetting a delicate balance.

    “Did you try contacting her on a psychic thread?” Theran asked.

    Didn’t you? Shira wondered as she nodded. “No answer.”

    “But she didn’t”—Theran glanced at Gray—“pack up?”

    She shook her head.

    Poor Gray. Cassidy’s retreat from all of them had been hard on him. Now Shira could see him breaking down, little by little, as the possibility of Cassidy disappearing for good began to take root.

    “Well,” she said, trying for a bracing tone and hoping no one—except Ranon—heard the worry, “at least we know Cassidy isn’t alone.”

    “Why do you think that?” Ranon asked.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire