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  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(43) by Anne Bishop
  • “Both, actually.”

    “And which one tucked a few marks about two-thirds of the way down in the stack so you would find the gift about the time you might be feeling homesick?”

    “No one . . .” She remembered her father blushing and mumbling something when she’d walked into her room and found him poking around near her trunks. “How did you know?”

    Saetan’s smile warmed. “I’m a father.” He leaned against a big stuffed chair and crossed his arms. “Do you want some advice?”

    Since that wasn’t actually a question, she nodded obediently.

    “According to the conditions Prince Sadi set to have you go to Dena Nehele, you will send him a report once a week. That report is from the Queen of Dena Nehele to the Warlord Prince of Dhemlan and can be nothing more than information about your court and your official meetings for that week. That will tell him how the Queen is doing, but not how you are. He can accept that because you don’t know him beyond a passing acquaintance. Therefore, you should also write a brief note to Jaenelle to let her know how you’re doing. That’s personal and equally important. Don’t shrug it off. If you miss a report, there are Warlord Princes in Kaeleer who are already committed to finding out why, and they will descend on Dena Nehele ready to step onto a killing field. Is that clear?”

    “Yes, sir.” Cassidy hesitated. “Do you really think this will be that dangerous?”

    “If I thought you’d be in danger, you wouldn’t be going,” Saetan replied softly. Then he shifted a little and continued in his usual voice. “You should also send a note to your mother when you send the report. We’ll see that it reaches her. That should be a daughter-to-mother note. Tell her about your life. Between those reports and notes, send a note to your father. He won’t be concerned about the court; he wants to know about you.”

    “Why don’t I send them both at the same time?” Cassidy asked. “Then the messenger only has to make one trip to the Keep.”

    “It will be good exercise for the messenger,” Saetan said dryly. “The point is to reassure. Staggering the notes will make both your parents feel better since they’ll hear from you twice as often. And at least once a month, write a letter to your brother.”

    “Clayton?”

    “Yes, Clayton. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never sent him a letter before. It doesn’t matter if he’s always gotten news about you from your parents. You won’t be in Dharo anymore, Cassidy. Getting a letter from you that’s just for him will matter.”

    “I suppose I should send a note to cousin Aaron too.”

    “Not required, but definitely a good idea. This might help.” Saetan called in a lap desk, which floated on air.

    “Oh.” Cassidy pulled it closer. The sides and back were decorated with carved flowers. The hinged top was smooth and silky. When she opened the lid, she discovered two sizes of stationery, both decorated with a C that had been made into a formal crest.

    “There are drawers on the sides,” Saetan said.

    One drawer contained pens and ink. The other contained sticks of wax and three seals. One was a flower, one was the crest of her initial, and the other . . .

    “Geoffrey and I did a little digging in the library and found the Grayhaven crest that had been used during the time when the Gray Ladies ruled. We had the seal made for you.”

    “But I’m not a Grayhaven,” Cassidy protested.

    “I was told it would be appropriate for you to use that crest for your formal correspondence.”

    Who told you? She didn’t have to ask. There was only one person Saetan would obey without question. She didn’t know why Jaenelle thought it was appropriate for her to use that particular crest, but she wouldn’t argue.

    “Thank you.”

    “A couple more things.” He pointed to four large crates. “Two of those contain primers in basic Protocol. The other two crates contain the more advanced study of Protocol.”

    “Won’t they be insulted if I bring those?”

    “They’ll be needed. Also, Prince Sadi has set aside some funds as a Queen’s gift.” He held up a hand, silencing her protest before it could form. “There are things that you will need that you may not be able to find in Terreille. Recognizing that you may hesitate to ask for those things from a people who will have little to spare, Daemon is willing to bear the cost.”

    “How much?” Cassidy asked. “It would help to know so that I’m not asking for anything unreasonable.”

    “If he feels you’re overspending, I’m sure Daemon will let you know,” Saetan replied mildly. “You don’t have an easy task, Cassidy. You’ll be the only one who knows the Old Ways and the Protocol that goes along with those ways. You’ll be trying to help a people remember who they were. Accept the help we can give you.”

    She felt the blood draining out of her head. “I’ll be the only one who knows Protocol?”

    “Well.” Saetan looked a little guilty. “You and Vae.”

    She frowned, puzzled. “Who is Vae?”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire