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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > The Shadow Queen (Chapter 39)      Page
  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(39) by Anne Bishop
  • “Sadi hated Terreille,” Ranon said. “He might see this as an opportunity to crush a Territory completely.”

    “Sadi hated everything to do with Dorothea SaDiablo and what she was doing to the Realm,” Theran said, raising his voice to be heard above the mutters.

    “That may be true,”Archerr said. “But you said it was his wife who went and talked to this Queen.”

    *And you’ve said damn little about the wife,* Talon said on a psychic thread aimed directly at him.

    *Nothing much to say,* Theran replied.

    Talon shifted in his chair. The mutters faded as the other Warlord Princes focused their attention on him.

    “Here’s the thing,” Talon said. “Jared trusted Daemon Sadi. So did Blaed. They knew him. He gave them some training when they were slaves, and helped them survive. Yeah, that was a few centuries ago, and maybe he’s changed—maybe he jumps now when his wife snaps her fingers. But the terms he set tell me he gave some thought to this request. They won’t be all that easy for us to meet, and these ‘inspections’ don’t sit well with me, I can tell you that. Even so, I think we have to take this chance.”

    “Forgive me, Prince Talon,” Ranon said, his tone respectful, “but you’re demon-dead. You have less to lose than the rest of us.”

    “I have less to lose physically,” Talon agreed. “That doesn’t mean I don’t have anything to lose. But I’ll offer to serve in this Queen’s court—and that’s an offer I didn’t make to Grizelle or Lia when they ruled. I served them both in my own way, but I never chained myself to a contract.”

    Feet shuffled. Bodies shifted in chairs. They all understood how hard it would be for a man who had been rogue for so many years to hand over his life to a Queen.

    “How do we decide who serves in the First Circle?” Ranon finally asked. “Any of us who leaves our piece of Dena Nehele for a year will leave those Blood open to landen attacks.”

    “I think we should all offer,” Theran said. He’d thought about this on the way back to Grayhaven. “Let her choose whatever twelve of us appeal to her. I’m required to offer myself as one of the Queen’s triangle. The rest of you can offer yourselves according to your skills.”

    “What about the rest of the Blood?” Archerr asked. “You’re going to need other females in the court.”

    We’re going to need a lot more than that, Theran thought. “A court is made by twelve males and a Queen. Everything else builds from that. Let’s establish the First Circle and give the Queen a couple of days to settle in and get to know those males. Then we’ll set up some audiences to let anyone else present themselves to her.”

    Ranon stood up. “In that case, I’m heading back to the Shalador reserves to inform the elders.”

    “Ranon . . . ,” Theran began.

    Ranon smiled bitterly. “I know we’ve never been welcome in a court, but we’ll be ruled by this Queen too, Theran, so it’s only polite to offer our Blood for the Lady’s pleasure.”

    Ranon walked out. A few seconds later, the other Warlord Princes followed, leaving Talon and Theran alone.

    Theran straddled a chair and braced his arms on the back. “Maybe it was a mistake to invite Ranon to be part of this. He’s too bitter, too angry, although he hides that fairly well.”

    “I’ll remind you that if you weren’t who you are, you’d be living in the reserves with him,” Talon said. “Half your bloodline came from the Shalador people. You’ve got the green eyes.”

    “Plenty of people in Dena Nehele have green eyes.”

    “Not that shade. You only find that shade of green in the reserves, and it’s rare even there. You have Shalador eyes,Theran. Jared’s eyes. He came from that race, and Dorothea SaDiablo went beyond the initial fighting there and destroyed that Territory and that race because Jared helped Lia. The Shalador people have had a harder time surviving than the rest of us, and you know it.”

    He did know it. That didn’t erase his worry that the Blood living in the reserves would try to splinter Dena Nehele even more.

    “I won’t be going back to the rogue camps in the mountains,” Theran said. “I’ll be living here, at Grayhaven.”

    “I know that.”

    “If you’re accepted in the court, you’ll be here too.”

    “Yes. It’s not likely she’ll accept someone who’s demon-dead, but if she does, I won’t be going back to the mountains either.” Talon sighed. “You have to tell Gray. You have to let him make his own choice.”

    “What choice? He can’t survive on his own.”

    “There are plenty of rogues who will stay up in the mountains, not feeling easy enough to come down. They’ll look after him.”

    “That’s not the same as family.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire