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  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(161) by Anne Bishop
  • “Because I can’t find Vae either.”

    “I guess when you get rid of a wardrobe, the mirror and trunk go with it,” Cassidy said, rubbing her forehead with a grimy hand as she studied the latest combination of furniture. Why hadn’t she thought to bring a jug of water? She was parched, and Vae was panting.

    I’m certainly not going to tell anyone I didn’t bring any water. Lucivar can’t yell about what he doesn’t know.

    It was tempting to give up, since they had circled and wandered the damn attic long enough to have crossed their own footprints a few times, but the answer was up here. Somewhere.

    *Tired, Cassie,* Vae said.

    And there were times when sense should override a foolish need to do one thing right.

    “Me too. Last one. If we don’t find anything this time, we’ll go downstairs and get some help looking.” Maybe they could just pitch every mirror, trunk, and wardrobe onto the lawn until they found the right one. And Theran could damn well help with the pitching and searching. After all, this was his inheritance, not hers.

    Taking a deep breath—and coughing from the dusty air—Cassidy crouched in front of the trunk and warily held out a hand. Some of the trunks . . . Whatever they contained was so vile, she couldn’t get near them without feeling sick. This one . . .

    Expectation. Anticipation. An odd feeling of hope.

    She slipped the key into the trunk’s lock . . .

    . . . and the wardrobe door opened.

    “Well, that’s clever.” She pulled the wardrobe door open a little more, then pushed the nearest box of whatevers against it to hold it open before she created a ball of witchlight.

    “It’s a room,” Cassidy whispered. She stepped back and looked at the discarded furniture and boxes. Part real and part illusion? Had to be, but she wasn’t sure her hands would be able to tell the difference, even now when so many centuries had passed since that spell had been cast.

    “Vae, you stay out here.”

    *Why?*

    “Because if that door closes and I get trapped in there, you’ll need to find Theran and rescue me.”

    Vae sat down, wagged her tail in agreement—and sneezed.

    “Let’s see what Lia left for her heirs.”

    Trunks lined two of the walls. Sturdy shelves rose above them, filled with boxes and bags—and more journals. The third side, to her left, had racks for storing paintings.

    She pulled out the first painting, easing away the protecting cloth—and wondered how a portrait of Theran had gotten up there. Then she uncovered the next painting and saw the same man, older. His arms were around a woman who wasn’t pretty, but had her own kind of beauty.

    Jared and Lia.

    She wanted to uncover the rest of the paintings, wanted to spend hours studying these people who were still the heart of their land. But Theran and Gray should have the pleasure of that discovery, so she replaced the cloths over the paintings and began to check the shelves to get an idea of what was there before she went downstairs to tell the others what she’d found.

    Bags of gold and silver coins. Even a few gold bars. Loose gemstones. Enough, she judged, to repair the estate and support a prudent Queen’s court for several years so that the tithes could be put back into the Provinces and villages, helping Blood and landens alike to rebuild Dena Nehele.

    And a few pieces of jewelry, carefully preserved in velvet-lined boxes and fit for a Queen.

    Family heirlooms. Dishes and trinkets that were worth more for their history than for whatever price they might fetch.

    Then there was the box with the sealed message resting on top.

    For the Queen.

    You have found what we left behind to help when it will be needed most.

    Give this box to the Grayhaven heir. Once it is placed in the heir’s hands, all the spells that have kept these items safe will end, and this room can be found by any eye.

    May the Darkness embrace you, Sister. You have given Dena Nehele, and my family, more than you know.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire