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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Twilight's Dawn (Chapter 120)      Page
  • Twilight's Dawn(Black Jewels,Book 9)(120) by Anne Bishop
  • “Why is Sylvia glaring at me?” Lucivar asked Saetan. “It was only a few drops of Red added to the yarbarah. It’s not like I opened a vein and poured Ebon-gray down her throat. I added a few drops to your glass too, and you aren’t acting bitchy about it.”

    “I’m going to overlook that poor choice of words,” Saetan replied, giving Lucivar a look that said, Say another word and I’ll kick your ass. “Prince Sadi, please report.”

    “As I told you last night, Mikal is upset, but he’s fine except for the bruises Tildee’s teeth made on his arm. He and Tildee are staying with Tersa for the time being.”

    “I thought my father might want to take him,” Sylvia said, her voice troubled.

    Are you hoping he’ll take them, or are you hoping someone will step in and prevent that arrangement? Daemon wondered. Something wasn’t right between grandfather and grandsons, but he wasn’t going to wade into that family quarrel unless Jaenelle wanted him to. “Right now, Mikal has Tildee, Ladvarian, and Jaal protecting him. Your father might be willing to argue with two Scelties, but I don’t think he’ll want to deal with a tiger. So Mikal stays with Tersa, since her response to finding Jaal in her parlor was to send Ladvarian out to buy more milk.”

    “And Beron?” Sylvia asked.

    Lucivar gave her that lazy, arrogant smile. “He remembered more of his training than you did. But I guess I’ll overlook that, since you’re all weak and helpless now.”

    *The Prick sure does know how to rile up women,* Daemon told Saetan as they watched Sylvia change from wounded, vulnerable woman into a pissed-off Queen. *Think she’ll go for his balls?*

    *I locked the wheels on her chair after I tasted the yarbarah,* Saetan replied.

    “Beron is wounded,” Daemon said. “He’ll need several days of rest and care to fully heal, but he will heal. He’ll stay at the Hall with us until this is settled. He’ll be well protected there. Nothing will get past Kaelas—or me.”

    Sylvia looked at each of the men. “Why so much protection? The trouble is in the southern part of Dhemlan, not in Halaway.”

    They had reached the nasty part of this report. “We brought Haeze back to the Hall last night. After talking with Rainier this morning, I’m glad I made that choice.” Daemon took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “A Warlord in Little Terreille has been preying on young boys for the past few years. There is even a story whispered in schools near Goth about No Face, a Warlord who tortures and kills boys who slip out at night instead of staying home as they should.” No Face indulged in physical, sexual, and emotional torture, but Daemon saw no reason to tell Sylvia what had been intended for her younger son.

    “No Face.” Sylvia turned her hand palm up and stared at her fingers. “He had some kind of mesh covering his face. I thought my fingers were ripped up by it when I was fighting him.”

    Saetan cleared his throat. “Nurian was able to heal your fingers before the flesh could no longer respond like it was still living.”

    He broke his own rules in order to repair her body this much, Daemon thought. He won’t regret that decision, but he isn’t comfortable with having made that choice. “Some of No Face’s victims might have made the transition to cildru dyathe, but more likely, he used them up and made the final kill so there wouldn’t be anyone to bear witness against him.”

    “Until now,” Saetan said too softly. “The cildru dyathe who have reached Hell in the past few weeks ...” He didn’t glance at Sylvia, but Daemon understood why his father chose not to continue. “The last one was a boy from Dhemlan. Something I wanted to discuss with you, Daemon.”

    *Was he mutilated?* Daemon asked on a Black thread.

    *Yes.*

    “No Face has either grown careless or too confident,” Daemon began.

    “Or bored,” Lucivar said, breaking in.

    Daemon nodded. “Or bored. The bastard shifted his hunting ground to villages near the Dhemlan border. All of a sudden, village guards in Little Terreille were paying attention and responding faster when a child disappeared. More of a challenge for him, and far more exciting.”

    “Then he made the mistake of straying over the border into Dhemlan.” Lucivar helped himself to one of the breakfast breads. “He sees a brown-skinned child and forgets that the Dhemlan people are a long-lived race, and that child probably has lived as many years—or more— than him. That means the child is a little more mature in some ways than other children and may not be as easy to grab. Combine that with an adolescent male who had the luck to become friends with the Queen of Halaway’s son, and the bastard has more trouble than he’s prepared to meet.”

    “Haeze soaked in the weapons lessons Lucivar gave the boys, and used his spending money to buy a knife,” Daemon said. “When the District Queen makes some pointed inquiries, I suspect she’ll discover more than one child has gone missing from that village before Haeze came to visit Beron.”

    “He wanted to learn to protect himself,” Saetan said.

    “More likely, to protect his younger brother,” Lucivar said. “Like Beron, Haeze is too old to be of interest to No Face.”

    Daemon glanced at his father. The look in Saetan’s eyes was enough to confirm the age of the children who had reached Hell.

    “The invitation,” Sylvia whispered. “The house party was a ruse to bring Mikal within reach. Why lure a boy who lives in a distant village instead of hunting one within reach?”

    “We think No Face blames your family for his death and the inconvenience that comes with the physical death,” Daemon said. “Haeze’s younger brother was the intended prey. But when No Face attacked, Haeze rushed in and managed to land a killing blow. Not an instant kill, since the boy was knocked out by a blast of power and his brother was taken, but he changed the battleground. No Face became demon-dead.”

    “People in the border villages are going to notice if a Warlord from Little Terreille no longer goes out during daylight or sits down for a meal,” Lucivar said. “Whatever face the bastard hides behind that mesh is no longer going to go unnoticed—and people will start connecting him with the missing children.”

    “So his game was spoiled,” Daemon continued. “All because Haeze went to Halaway to visit Beron.”

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