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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > The Shadow Queen (Chapter 17)      Page
  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(17) by Anne Bishop
  • Until he remembered what waited for him in the study.

    Daemon tipped his head toward the study door. “A pot of coffee and whatever Mrs. Beale might have handy.”

    “And then you’ll be unavailable?” Beale asked.

    Daemon considered Theran’s claim that he owed the Grayhaven family a favor, and he considered Jaenelle’s certainty that Theran was connected to the vision she had seen.

    Jaenelle had been trained by the Arachnians, the golden spiders who were the weavers of dreams, to spin the tangled webs of dreams and visions. Even now, with her power diminished from what it had been, she was the most accomplished—and deadly—Black Widow in Kaeleer.

    So he would listen to Theran’s claim, and no matter what he heard, the other Warlord Prince would join him and his Lady for dinner.

    Whether Theran Grayhaven would see another sunrise was a different consideration.

    He looked at Beale and knew the butler understood the nature of the man who owned the Hall.

    “Yes,” Daemon said softly. “I’ll be unavailable.”

    Something had changed, Theran thought as he watched Daemon walk back into the study and settle behind the blackwood desk. The sexuality was chained again, thank the Darkness, but the mood was both lighter and more grim than when Theran had first entered the room.

    Sadi leaned back in his chair, steepled his slender fingers, and rested the black-tinted forefinger nails against his chin.

    “I understand you think I owe you a favor,” Daemon said.

    Hell’s fire.

    “You are Jared’s descendant, aren’t you?”

    “Yes,” Theran replied. “The last of the bloodline that goes back to Jared and Lia, who was the last Gray-Jeweled Queen we had in Dena Nehele.”

    “Because of that bloodline, I’m willing to hear you out.”

    The words were courteously spoken, but there was a growing chill in the deep voice.

    How to explain when it mattered so much, when so much was at stake?

    He shrugged out of his coat and vanished it to give himself a little more time. He’d thought of little else during the journey between the Keep and here—what to say, how to explain. Now . . .

    “We need a Queen.”

    Daemon raised one eyebrow. “I beg your pardon?”

    Theran leaned forward, gripping the arms of the chair hard enough to make his hands ache. “You don’t know what it’s been like for my people. Two generations after Lia—just two!—the bloodline failed. The last Grayhaven Queen wore a Yellow Jewel. She wouldn’t have been the Territory Queen at all if she hadn’t been a Grayhaven. After that . . .” He swallowed hard.

    “After that,” Daemon said, “the Queens who were willing to sell themselves to Hayll in order to rise to a power they wouldn’t have gained otherwise were the ones who ruled. Those who opposed Dorothea’s bid to control the whole of Terreille were either broken so they had little or no power, or were killed outright so the males would have no one to serve except Dorothea’s pets.”

    Theran stared at Daemon. “How did you know?”

    “I was a pleasure slave for a lot of centuries, controlled by Dorothea and the Ladies she sold me to. I watched some Territories fall, village by village, court by court, until there was nothing left that was decent, no one left who was honorable.” Daemon smiled bitterly. “Oh, I slaughtered the bitch’s pets. Buried more of them than anyone will ever know. Hell’s fire, there were times when Lucivar and I destroyed entire courts. But Dorothea was like a vile weed with a deep taproot. No matter how much you cut away, her poisonous influence would grow back. It always grew back—until the taint of her and the bitch who backed her was cleansed from the Blood for good.”

    Theran licked his lips. “The storm of power two years ago. You know about that?”

    Something queer flickered in Daemon’s eyes. “Yes,” he said. “I know about that. I know what it did—and I know what it cost.”

    You know what it cost you, Theran thought, feeling hopeful that Daemon might be more sympathetic than he seemed. “We lost half the Blood in Dena Nehele to that storm. We lost half of the survivors while quelling the landen uprisings that followed that storm. There are one hundred Warlord Princes left in the whole of Dena Nehele. One hundred. My Green Jewel is the darkest we have.” Not quite, but he didn’t want to mention Talon.

    “Theran . . .”

    “We don’t have any Queens.” Theran rammed his fingers through his hair, then ended up fisting them and pulling until his scalp stung.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire