They studied each other.

"What's your name?" she finally asked.

"I'm called Yasi." He laughed when she wrinkled her nose. "Don't blame me. I didn't choose it."

"It's a silly word for someone like you. What's your real name?"

Lucivar hesitated. Eyriens were one of the long-lived races. He'd had 1,700 years to gain a reputation for being vicious and violent. If she'd heard any of the stories about him . . .

He took a deep breath and released it slowly. "Lucivar Yaslana."

No reaction except a shy smile of approval.

"What's your name, Cat?"


He grinned. "Nice name, but I think Cat suits you just as well."

She snarled.

"See?" He hesitated, but he had to ask. Zuultah's guessing he'd killed that slave and knowing for sure would make a difference when he was stretched between the whipping posts. "Is your family visiting Lady Zuultah?"

Jaenelle frowned. "Who?"

Really, she did look like a kitten trying to figure out how to pounce on a large, hoppy bug. "Zuultah. The Queen of Pruul."

"What's Pruul?"

"This is Pruul." Lucivar waved a hand to indicate the land around them and then swore in Eyrien when the chains rattled. He swallowed the last curse when he noticed the intense, interested look on her face. "Since you're not from Pruul and your family isn't visiting, where are you from?" When she hesitated, he tipped his head toward the boat. "I can keep a secret."

"I'm from Chaillot."

"Chai—" Lucivar bit back another curse. "Do you understand Eyrien?"

"No." Jaenelle grinned at him. "But now I know some Eyrien words."

Should he laugh or strangle her? "How did you get here?"

She fluffed her hair and frowned at the rocky ground between them. Finally she shrugged. "Same way I get to other places."

"You ride the Winds?" he yelped.

She raised a finger to test the air.

"Not breezes or puffs of air." Lucivar ground his teeth. "The Winds. The Webs. The psychic roads in the Darkness."

Jaenelle perked up. "Is that what they are?"

He managed to stop in mid-curse.

Jaenelle leaned forward. "Are you always this prickly?"

"Most people think I'm a prick, yes."

"What's that mean?"

"Never mind." He chose a sharp stone and drew a circle on the ground between them. "This is the Realm of Terreille." He placed a round stone in the circle. "This is the Black Mountain, Ebon Askavi, where the Winds meet." He drew straight lines from the round stone to the circumference of the circle. "These are tether lines." He drew smaller circles within the circle. "These are radial lines. The Winds are like a spider web. You can travel on the tether or the radial lines, changing direction where they intersect. There's a Web for each rank of the Blood Jewels. The darker the Web, the more tether and radial lines there are and the faster the Wind is. You can ride a Web that's your rank or lighter. You can't ride a Web darker than your Jewel rank unless you're traveling inside a Coach being driven by someone strong enough to ride that Web or you're being shielded by someone who can ride that Web. If you try, you probably won't survive. Understand?"

Jaenelle chewed on her lower lip and pointed to a space between the strands. "What if I want to go there?"

Lucivar shook his head. "You'd have to drop from the Web back into the Realm at the nearest point and travel some other way."

"That's not how I got here," she protested.

Lucivar shuddered. There wasn't a strand of any Web around Zuultah's compound. Her court was deliberately in one of those blank spaces. The only way to get here directly from the Winds was by leaving the Web and gliding blind through the Darkness, which, even for the strongest and the best, was a chancy thing to do. Unless . . .

"Come here, Cat," he said gently. When she dropped in front of him, he rested his hands on her thin shoulders. "Do you often go wandering?"

Jaenelle nodded slowly. "People call me. Like you did."

Like he did. Mother Night! "Cat, listen to me. Children are vulnerable to many dangers."

There was a strange expression in her eyes. "Yes, I know."

"Sometimes an enemy can wear the mask of a friend until it's too late to escape."

"Yes," she whispered.

Lucivar shook her gently, forcing her to look at him. "Terreille is a dangerous place for little cats. Please, go home and don't go wandering anymore. Don't . . . don't answer the people who call you."

"But then I won't see you anymore."

Lucivar closed his gold eyes. A knife in the heart would hurt less. "I know. But we'll always be friends. And it's not forever. When you're grown up, I'll come find you or you'll come find me."

Jaenelle nibbled her lip. "How old is grown up?"

Yesterday. Tomorrow. "Let's say seventeen. It sounds like forever, I know, but it's really not that long." Even Sadi couldn't have spun a better lie than that. "Will you promise not to go wandering?"

Jaenelle sighed. "I promise not to go wandering in Terreille."

Lucivar hauled her to her feet and spun her around. "There's one thing I want to teach you before you go. This will work if a man ever tries to grab you from behind."

When they'd gone through the demonstration enough times that he was sure she knew what to do, Lucivar kissed her forehead and stepped back. "Get out of here. The guards will be making the rounds any minute now. And remember—a Queen never breaks a promise made to a Warlord Prince."

"I'll remember." She hesitated. "Lucivar? I won't look the same when I'm grown up. How will you know me?"

Lucivar smiled. Ten years or a hundred, it would make no difference. He'd always recognize those extraordinary sapphire eyes. "I'll know. Good-bye, Cat. May the Darkness embrace you."

She smiled at him and vanished.

Lucivar stared at that empty space. Was that a foolish thing to say to her? Probably.

A gate rattling caught his attention. He swiftly rubbed out the drawing of the Winds and slipped from shadow to shadow until he reached the stables. He passed through the outside wall and had just settled into his cell when the guard opened the barred window in the door.

Zuultah was arrogant enough to believe her holding spells kept her slaves from using Craft to pass through the cell walls. It was uncomfortable to pass through a spelled wall but not impossible for him.

Tags: Anne Bishop Books The Black Jewels Series Books Science Fiction Books