Lucivar opened his eyes to silence. The bed curtains were closed at the bottom of the bed and along one side, cutting off his view of the room. He tried to shift position and ease his stiff muscles, but he'd been stretched out when they tied him, and there wasn't any slack.

He licked his lips. He was so thirsty, so tired. So easy to slip away from the pain, from memories.

Male voices murmured in the hallway. Movement in the room, hidden by the closed curtains. At last, Zuultah saying, "Bring him."

The room was gray, a sweet, misty gray where the light danced through shards of glass and voices were heard under water.

The guards untied his hands and feet, retied his hands behind his back. Lucivar snarled at them, but it was a faraway sound of no importance, no importance at all.

For a moment, when he saw the marble lady, his vision cleared, and the pain made his legs buckle. The guards dragged him to the leather leg straps, forced him to his knees, and strapped him to the floor behind his knees and at his ankles. They rolled the marble cylinder, with its smoothly carved orifices, into position. When he was fitted into an orifice, they held him in place with a leather strap beneath his bu**ocks. There was enough slack for him to thrust but not enough for him to withdraw.

The gray. The sweet, twisting gray.

"That will be all," Zuultah said arrogantly, waving the guards out of the room with her switch and locking the door.

The floor hurt his knees. Pain. Sweet pain.

The switch hit his bu**ocks. Blood trickled over the leather strap. Scented silk brushed against his shoulder and face.

"Are you thirsty, Yasi?" Zuultah cooed as she swung herself up on the flat top of the marble lady. "Want some cream?" She opened her robe and spread her thighs, revealing the dark triangle of hair.

The switch hit his shoulder. "This is your reward, Yasi. This is your pleasure."

Red streaks in the gray. Red streaks and a dark triangle.

"Thrust, you bastard." The switch hitting, cutting where one wing joined his back.

Thrust, thrust, thrust into the gray. Lips against the wet. Tongue obedient. Thrust, thrust. Deeper into the pain, the wet, the dark, the dark, the dark, the pain twisting to a sweetness, shards of glass, twisting, the wet, the dark, the dark streaked with red, the hunger, the pain, the red fire boiling, rising, the Ebon-gray boiling, rising, the hunger, the hunger, teeth, pleasure, pain, moaning, moaning, teeth, pleasure, rising, boiling, pain, pleasure, moaning, hunger, teeth, moaning, teeth, screaming, screaming, screaming, red, red, hot sweet red, boiling, rushing, free.

Lucivar swayed, confused. Zuultah rolled on the floor, screaming, screaming. He tried to lick the moisture from his lips but something was in the way. He turned his head and spat.

For a long time, while guards pounded on the locked door and Zuultah screamed, he stared at the small thing his teeth had found to ease the hunger. At first he didn't understand what it was. When his flaccid organ finally slipped out of the orifice and he recognized the red for what it was, Lucivar lifted his head and let out a howling, savage laugh.

3—Terreille

"You have a visitor," Philip said tersely as he tapped piles of papers into neat stacks, something he did when annoyed.

Daemon raised an eyebrow. "Oh?"

Philip glanced toward him but refused to look at him.

"In the gold salon. Keep it brief, if possible. You have a full schedule today."

Daemon glided to the gold salon. The psychic scent hit him before he touched the door. He settled his face into its cold mask, locked away his heart, and opened the door.

"Lord Kartane," he said in a bored voice as he closed the door and leaned against it, his hands in his trouser pockets.

"Sadi." Kartane's eyes were filled with malicious glee. Still, he took a nervous step backward.

Daemon waited, watching Kartane pace one side of the room.

"Probably no one's thought to tell you, so I took it upon myself to bring the news," Kartane said.

"About what?"

"Yasi."

The anticipation in Kartane's eyes made Daemon's heart pound and his mouth go dry. He shrugged. "The last time I heard anything about him, he was serving the Queen of Pruul. Zuultah, isn't it?"

"Apparently he's served her better than he's ever served anyone," Kartane said maliciously.

Get to the point, you little bastard.

Kartane paced. "The story's a bit muddled, you understand, but it appeals that, while under the influence of a substantial dose ofsafframate, Yasi went berserk and bit Zuultah." Kartane let out a high-pitched, nervous laugh.

Daemon sighed. Lucivar's temper in the bedroom was legendary. At the best of times, he was unpredictable and violent. Under the influence ofsafframate . . . "So he bit her. She's not the first."

Kartane laughed again. It was almost a hysterical giggle. "Well, actually,shaved might be a better way to describe it. Anything she mounts now won't be forher pleasure."

No, Lucivar, no. By the Darkness, no. "They killed him," Daemon said flatly.

"He wasn't that lucky. Zuultah wanted to, when she finally came to her senses and realized what he'd done. He also killed ten of her best guards while they were trying to subdue him." Kartane wiped nervous sweat from his forehead. "Prythian intervened as soon as she found out. For some insane reason, she still thinks she can eventually tame him and breed him. However, Zuultah wasn't going to let him get away withoutsome kind of punishment." Kartane waited, but Daemon didn't rise to the bait. "She put him in the salt mines."

"Then she's killed him." Daemon opened the door. "You were right,'" he said too gently, turning to look at Kartane, "no one else would have dared tell me that."

He closed the door with a silence that made the whole house shake.

All the tears were gone now, and Daemon felt as dry and empty as the Arava Desert.

Lucivar was Eyrien. He would never survive in the salt mines of Pruul. In those tunnels with all the salt and the heat, no room for him to stretch his wings, no air to dry the sweat. There were a dozen different molds that could infect that membranous skin and eat it away. And without wings . . . An Eyrien warrior was nothing without his wings. Lucivar had once said he'd rather lose his balls than his wings, and he'd meant it.

Oh, Lucivar, Lucivar, his brave, arrogant, foolish brother. If he'd accepted that offer, Lucivar would be hunting in Askavi right now, gliding through the dusk, searching for prey. But they had known it might come to this. The wisest thing for Lucivar to do would be to end it quickly while his strength was intact. He would be welcome in the Dark Realm. Daemon was sure he would be.


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