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  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Twilight's Dawn (Chapter 127)      Page
  • Twilight's Dawn(Black Jewels,Book 9)(127) by Anne Bishop
  • “For one thing, your father doesn’t feel it’s appropriate for the boys to see you anymore. You’re dead. They need to accept that and rebuild their lives without you. Normally I would agree with him, but not this time. You are strong enough to let them go—and they will go, Sylvia. The day will come when they need you to be nothing more than a good memory. But for now, Daemon and I are willing to sanction, and chaperon, a visit twice a month here at the Keep in Kaeleer. You, Beron, and Mikal can spend the evening together. You’ll have the reassurance that they’re being taken care of.”

    By whom? she wondered. “Everything has a price.”

    “And this is no exception.”

    “What is your price, High Lord?”

    “I want to show you something.”

    Using Craft, he floated her above the chair. She straightened her legs so that her long skirt just brushed the floor. Linking her arm through his, she floated beside him as he made his way through the Keep’s corridors until they reached the Dark Altar. After he opened the Gate, he led her to a landing web, wrapped a shield around her, and caught the Black Winds.

    When they dropped from the Winds to another landing web, she looked around. “This is SaDiablo Hall, but it’s . . .”

    “In the Dark Realm. At one time, I ruled in all three Realms, so I built the Hall in all three Realms.”

    “Mother Night.” She couldn’t imagine what it had cost to build one of the Halls, let alone three.

    She’d expected the place to be empty. It was a hive of activity. She saw caution in every eye when the demon-dead spotted the High Lord, but there were also smiles and pleasantries. He held what was left of their lives in his hands, and they didn’t forget that.

    Just as he now held hers.

    “Most of the demon-dead remain near the Gate closest to where they lived,” Saetan said quietly. “Some go to specific territories that have been claimed by a particular group, like the Harpies or the cildru dyathe. And some have unfinished business—the novel they never found time to write or the dream of learning to paint that they gave up out of duty to family. Some want to learn to play a musical instrument. Unfinished business. Not with the living; with themselves. I provide a place for them to live, a modest amount of yarbarah for sustenance, and the materials they need. In turn, they take care of this place, and the stronger look after the weaker when it’s needed.”

    “It’s a community of artists,” she said, wishing he would slow down so she could get a better look at the paintings. Some were hung out of kindness. Others were stunning and beautiful.

    “This is what I wanted you to see.” He opened a door and guided her inside.

    The room was divided in half. There were scribbles and colored handprints and primitive drawings covering the set of folding panels that separated the room.

    *It’s less frustrating than trying to clean the walls all the time,* Saetan said.

    Since he was clearly moving to keep them out of sight of whoever was on the other side of the panels, she stifled a laugh.

    “It’s a pretty nice place,” a young male voice said. “There are toys and games and lots of books to read for fun. There are also chores and studies, but those are interesting too. Some of the time.”

    Sylvia smiled. That sounded so much like Mikal.

    Saetan slipped his arm out of hers. After making sure she was steady, he stepped back. *Go ahead. Take a look.*

    Taking hold of the edge of the panel, she eased herself into a position to see the room.

    Thirty children, if not more. None of them had reached adolescence, whatever their race. Among them was a Dhemlan boy sitting on the floor, hugging a stuffed toy.

    Sylvia looked back at Saetan. *Is that . . . ?*

    *Haeze’s brother? Yes.*

    She listened for a minute as the boy in charge explained the rules everyone had to follow in order to be a resident of the Hall.

    Pushing against the panel, she floated back to Saetan. *Who is the Keeper of the Rules?*

    *The first cildru dyathe to choose to live here instead of on their island. Daemon rescued him from the spooky house several years ago and brought him to me. In his way, he’s made the same choice another cildru dyathe made long ago—to be the leader of this band of children and help the others adjust and survive and let go when they’re ready.*

    She caught something the boy said, and looked more closely at the man. *You can’t help the ones who don’t trust adults enough to accept help, but you help these children, don’t you? You’re the one who comes to read them stories or listen to them or give them a hug. Aren’t you?*

    *Some came from loving homes. Others never knew the comfort of a hug. Not from a father or a mother.*

    Everything has a price. Suddenly she knew what he was asking of her in exchange for spending time with her own sons—to be a maternal presence for the children who had never known any. To help them with their unfinished business. To give them a sense of family. With him.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire