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  • The Shadow Queen(Black Jewels,Book 7)(80) by Anne Bishop
  • He saw the moment when she understood.

    “Bitches,” she said softly.

    “It’s dead, but it still taunted them,” Gray said. “I’ve been talking to some of the men who used to work here and some whose fathers worked here. They said some of the Queens tried to pull the tree down, but there’s something about it, about what’s left of it. Saws won’t cut the wood. Axes can’t do more than chip at the outside. And the roots are still so chained to the ground, the tree can’t be pulled out either. The soil all around it is so hard it can break a shovel, and Craft can’t touch it at all. So all that time, they said they left the tree to remind everyone that the Grayhaven line was gone, but in truth they left it because they couldn’t get rid of it.”

    “Maybe because the line isn’t completely gone,” Cassie said.


    “I hear the names Jared and Lia,Thera and Blaed. They must have been so important to this land, but I know so little. Does anyone know stories about them? Or were those lost too when the other Queens took over Dena Nehele?”

    “Sure, there are stories,” Gray said. “I know some. So does Theran. Talon would know more because he knew the four of them. They were friends.”

    “Do you think Talon would share some of those stories with me?”

    “He’ll tell you. So will I.”

    She stared at the tree and looked a little sad. Then she smiled at him. “I’d better take a look at the rest of the garden before someone comes looking for me.”

    He watched her walk away, with Vae trotting beside her.

    As he shifted his weight from one foot to the other, he felt a warning twinge in his back.

    “Enough,” he said.

    It surprised him how bitter his voice sounded that he couldn’t work anymore today. He’d never minded before when he had to stop.

    But that was before it mattered that someone might think he was weak.

    One last thing, he thought as he vanished the tools. He’d get a bucket of water to wet down the new plants, and he’d use Craft to take the weight of the full bucket instead of forcing his body to do more than it should. Then he’d get something to eat and sit in the shade while he studied the next part of the book on—

    *Gray? Gray!*

    His body stiffened in response to the panic in Vae’s voice. He saw Cassie at the far end of the garden, backing away from that weedy spot, one hand clamped over her mouth.

    Something wrong. Something terribly wrong.


    He ran.

    The moment Vae saw him running toward Cassie, she ran toward the house. He had no idea who the Sceltie was calling for help, but he was certain she’d do her best to rouse everyone she could.

    He slowed to avoid running Cassie down. “Cassie!” Maybe it was nothing worse than a snake or a dead mouse. Maybe . . .

    She turned to look at him. Her freckles were the only color in her face.

    “It’s witchblood,”she whispered. Then she threw her arms around him and held on as if her life depended on it. “It’s witchblood.”

    Her legs buckled, and he went down with her, wincing when his knees hit the ground.

    “So many,” Cassie sobbed. “So many.”

    He didn’t know what to ask, didn’t know what to do, didn’t understand why those black-edged red flowers upset her so much.

    *Cassie? Cassie!*

    Not alone, Gray thought as the Sceltie returned, whining anxiously.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire