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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > The Shadow Queen (Chapter 55)      Page
  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(55) by Anne Bishop
  • A woman, a witch, approached the platform.

    “Your kind shouldn’t be here,” Theran said at the same time Ranon said, “Shira.”

    He loves her, Cassidy thought, watching Ranon’s effort to remain neutral. But he didn’t want her to come here. Why?

    “I have as much right to be here as you do, Theran Grayhaven,” Shira said. Her omitting his title was a deliberate slap in the face. “You can trace your bloodline back to Jared. I can trace my bloodline back to Jared’s cousin Shira. So if I don’t belong here, neither do you.”

    Since that particular verbal slap left Theran speechless, Cassidy jumped in. “What can I do for you, Sister?”

    Shira looked at her. “I want to offer my services. I’m a fully qualified Healer and—”

    “That’s not all you are,” Theran snapped.

    No, that wasn’t all Shira was. The hourglass pendant she wore above her Summer-sky Jewel proclaimed her to be something more powerful—and more dangerous—than a Healer.

    “I’m not ashamed of what I am,” Shira said.

    “Why should you be?” Cassidy asked. “You’ve completed your training in the Hourglass’s Craft?” The question was a formality. The pendant Shira wore, with all the gold dust in the bottom half of the hourglass, indicated a Black Widow who had completed her training and could spin the tangled webs of dreams and visions, as well as help people caught in the Twisted Kingdom. The Black Widows were also the caste of witches who were well versed in the making and use of poisons.

    “Her kind were outlawed generations ago,” Theran said.

    “You’re a natural Black Widow?” Cassidy asked Shira.

    “That’s the only kind there are in Dena Nehele,” Shira replied.

    “The penalty for training anyone in that Craft is execution,” Theran said.

    Ranon snarled at Theran.

    “Gentlemen,” Cassidy said, using Craft to enhance her voice. She waited until they had all quieted down. Then waited until a couple of Warlords got done swearing after Vae nipped them because they didn’t quiet fast enough to suit the Sceltie.

    “I’m here because you wanted a Queen who knows the Old Ways of the Blood, who lives by the Old Ways of the Blood, and who will require that you live by that Protocol and code of honor. That means a good many things that you knew no longer apply.” Cassidy turned in her chair and looked at Theran. “You say Black Widows were outlawed. How many of the Queens who controlled Dena Nehele had Black Widows in their courts? My guess is all of them did. What was outlawed were the Black Widows who wouldn’t serve in those courts. The ones whose skills would endanger a Queen who was hated.

    “We’re going back to the Old Ways, gentlemen, and in the Old Ways the Hourglass is an honored caste of witches. They are not outlaws. Their training is not outlawed.” Cassidy turned to look at Shira. “If you accept the position of court Healer, you would have to reside here. Are you prepared to do that?”

    “I am,” Shira replied.

    “Then welcome to the court, Sister.”

    *You’re forgetting something, Lady,* Theran said. *We don’t have a court. There are only eleven males.*

    *No,* Cassidy said, *there’s—* Gray, she finished silently.

    He wasn’t going to be part of her court. Couldn’t be part of her court. Not as he was.

    But he could have been—should have been—if he had been whole.

    Ranon looked at the men on the platform, his expression grim. He too must have just realized they didn’t have an official court.

    “Is the other Warlord Prince still planning to present himself?” Ranon asked.

    Theran shot him a hostile look. “He is.”A glance at the windows. “He’ll be here as soon as the sun sets.”

    And this Warlord Prince, whoever he is, is the reason the men who weren’t selected have been waiting.

    Folding her hands on the table, Cassidy looked at the windows at the other end of the room.

    “He’ll be here soon,” her cousin Aaron had said, glancing out a window. “The sun has almost set.”

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire