• Home
  • Directory
  • Popular
  • Authors
  • Series
  • Home > Anne Bishop > Black Jewels > Twilight's Dawn (Chapter 74)      Page
  • Twilight's Dawn(Black Jewels,Book 9)(74) by Anne Bishop
  • He waited until Daemon left the eyrie and Saetan returned to the guest room where Surreal drifted in that unnatural sleep. Then he put on his winter cape and went outside, needing the sharp, cold air.

    Wasn’t anyone’s fault—not the boy’s, not the wolf pups’, not even his. But if Surreal didn’t recover, her loss would leave scars on all of them.

    Daemon glided through the stone corridors of the Keep until he reached the room that held the Dark Altar—one of the thirteen Gates between the Realms.

    He picked up a kindling stick, then used Craft to create a tongue of witchfire. Once the kindling stick was burning, he extinguished the witchfire and began lighting the four black candles that would open the Gate and take him from the Keep in Kaeleer to the Keep in Terreille, which was where he needed to go in order to find the information about Falonar that Surreal wanted.

    An empty shell. That was what he’d seen before Saetan pushed him out of the guest room and told him to wait with Lucivar. Nothing but an empty shell.

    He’d held an empty shell once before. He’d lain beside Jaenelle’s bloody husk while the Sadist tricked Witch into leaving the Misty Place and rising high enough in the abyss so that he could force her to heal the young body that had been violently raped. Now it was Surreal that Saetan was trying to coax back into the body she had abandoned.

    The first time he saw Surreal, she had been ten years old. Big eyes and long legs. Ready to bolt because she’d already learned that men were the enemy, but she’d had enough steel in her spine to stay beside her mother, Titian, while he listened to Tersa’s request to help the woman and her daughter.

    Pretty girl all those years ago. Beautiful woman now. And she still had steel in her spine.

    Would it be enough this time? And what would it do to the boy if his auntie Surreal never recovered from what should have been an innocent game?

    “Sweet Darkness, for Daemonar’s sake and for her own, let Surreal come back to us,” he whispered as he lit the last candle in the four-branched candelabra and blew out the kindling stick.

    The wall behind the Dark Altar changed to mist, and Daemon walked through the Gate.

    Four steps. That was all it took to move from one Realm to another. Four steps.

    The moment he took that last step and walked into the other Dark Altar’s room, he knew something wasn’t right. He’d been in the Terreille Keep’s Altar room, and it didn’t look like this. This room was rougher, smaller, colder.

    Leaving the room, Daemon called in his heavy winter coat and put it on while he glided through the corridors to the doorway that should lead him to one of the courtyards.

    Too dark. Too cold. Not enough candle-lights in the wall braces—not for this part of the Keep.

    And the air smelled different.

    He found the door and went out to the courtyard that would give him a view of Ebon Rih—or the Black Valley, as it was called in Terreille.

    Twilight. That wasn’t right. There had still been daylight when he’d returned to the Keep from Lucivar’s eyrie.

    There were lights in the valley, indicating a gathering of people, but he wasn’t sensing enough people down there to populate a village. Of course, the witch storm two years ago had devastated the Blood’s population in Terreille, so maybe it wasn’t surprising to sense so few minds. But that explanation, while valid, didn’t feel right.

    It was winter here, as it should be, but there was an underlying cold that had nothing to do with the season, as if this place never felt the sun.

    When he finally focused on the plants growing around the courtyard walls, he realized he’d never seen anything like them before.

    There were three Realms, and the black candles were lit in a specific order to open the Gate to a specific Realm.

    He’d been thinking about Surreal, distracted by the fear that she might not recover, and he’d opened the Gate without paying attention to the order in which he’d lit the black candles.

    “Mother Night,” he whispered, looking out over the valley. “This is Hell.”

    Rainier laid out the cards for a solitary game and watched a middle-aged Warlord approach the bar. Briggs kept his eyes on the stranger, giving the man no reason to look at anyone else in the room. Rainier nodded, silent permission for Briggs to notice him and bring him to the Warlord’s attention.

    A few moments later, the Warlord approached the table. “I’m Lord Randahl, Lady Erika’s Master of the Guard. Could I have a few minutes of your time, Prince?”

    Rainier tipped his head to indicate another chair at the table. “What brings Agio’s Master to Riada?” he asked as Randahl took a seat.

    “Wanted to talk to Prince Yaslana, but when I reached the landing web for his eyrie . . . Well, when shields go up around a home in that way, you know there’s some trouble there—accident, illness, death.”

    An unspoken question. Because Rainier sensed concern rather than curiosity, he said, “Accident.”

    “Something a Healer can fix?” Randahl asked.

  • Romance | Fantasy | Vampire