You are my instrument.

Words, like flickering black lightning, came out of that mist, threatening to sear his soul.

Words lie. Blood doesn't.

He was less than a mile from the Gate.

"Lucivar," he whispered. But he didn't have the strength to feel angry at his brother's betrayal.

You are my instrument.

"No." He tried to stand up, but he couldn't do it. Still, something in him required defiance. "No. I am not your instrument. I ... am ... Daemon . . . Sadi."

He closed his eyes, and the gray mist engulfed him.

With a groan, Daemon rolled onto his back and slowly opened his eyes. Even that was almost too much effort. At first, he wondered if he had gone blind. Then he began to make out dim shapes in the darkness.

Night. It was night.

Breathing slowly, he began to assess the physical damage.

He felt as dry as touchwood, as inflexible as stone. His muscles burned. His belly ached from hunger, and the craving for water was fierce. The fever had broken at some point, but . . .

Something waswrong.

Words lie. Blood doesn't.

The words Lucivar had spoken swam round and round, growing larger, growing solid. They crashed against his mind, fragmenting it further.

Daemon screamed.

You are my instrument.

As Saetan's words thundered inside him, there was more pain—and there was fear. Fear that the mist filling his mind might part and show him something terrible.

Daemon.

Holding on fiercely to the memory of Jaenelle saying his name like a soft, sighing caress, Daemon got to his feet. As long as he could remember that, he could hold the other voices at bay.

His legs felt too heavy, but he managed to leave the house and follow the remnants of the drive that would take him to the Hall. Even though every movement was a fiery ache, by the time he reached the Hall, he was almost moving with his usual gliding stride.

But there was still something very wrong. It was hard to hold on to the Warlord Prince called Daemon Sadi, hard to hold on to his sense of self. But he had to hold on for a little while longer. He had to.

Gathering the last of his strength and will, Daemon cautiously approached the small building that held the Dark Altar.

Hekatah prowled the small building that stood in the shadow of the ruins of SaDiablo Hall. She shook her fists in the air, frustrated beyond endurance by the past three days. Even so, every time she circled the Altar, she glanced at the wall behind it, fearful it would turn to mist and Saetan would step through the Gate to challenge her.

But the High Lord was too preoccupied with his own concerns lately to pay attention to her.

Her main problem now was Daemon Sadi.

After drinking the brew she'd made, hecould not have walked away from that Dark Altar, despite what those idiot guards swore. But if he was actually making his way to this Gate ... By now the second part of her brew, the part that would make his mind receptive to her carefully rehearsed words, would be at its peak. She had planned to whisper all her poisoned words while she nursed him through the fever and the pain so that, when the fever broke, those words would solidify into a terrible truth he wouldn't be able to escape. Then all that strength, all that rage would become a dagger aimed right at Saetan's heart.

All her carefully made plans were beingruined because . . .

Hekatah jerked to a stop.

There was a silence within the night's silence.

She glanced at the unlit torches on the walls and decided against lighting them. There was enough moonlight to see by.

Not wanting to waste her strength on a sight shield, Hekatah slipped into a shadowy corner. Once he entered the Altar room, she would be behind him and could startle him with her presence.

She waited. Just when she was sure she'd been mistaken, he was there, without warning, standing just outside the wrought-iron gate, staring at the Altar. But he didn't enter the room.

Frowning, Hekatah turned her head slightly to look at the Altar. It was just as it should be. The candelabra was tarnished, and the wax from the black candles she'd burned so carefully so they wouldn't look new hung like stalactites from the silver arms.

Fearing that he might actually leave, Hekatah stepped up to the wrought-iron gate. "I've been waiting for you, Prince."

"Have you?" His voice sounded rusty, exhausted.

Perfect.

"Are you the one I should thank for the demons at the other Altars?" he asked.

How could he know she was a demon? Did he know who she was? Suddenly, she didn't feel confident about dealing with this son who was too much like his father, but she shook her head sadly. "No, Prince. There's only one power in Hell that commands demons. I'm here because I had a young friend who was very special to me. A friend, I think, we had in common. That's why I've been waiting for you."

Hell's fire! Couldn't there besome expression in his eyes to tell her if she was getting through to him?

"Young is a relative term, don't you think?"

He wasplaying with her! Hekatah gritted her teeth. "A child, Prince. A special child." She forced a pleading note into her voice. "I've waited here at great risk. If the High

Lord finds out I've tried to tell her friends ..." She glanced at the wall behind the Altar.

Still no reaction from the man on the other side of the gate.

"She walks among thecildru dyathe," Hekatah said.

A long silence. "That isn't possible," he finally said. His voice was flat, totally without emotion.

"It'strue." Was she wrong about him? Was he only trying to escape Dorothea? No. He had cared for the girl. She sighed. "The High Lord is a jealous man, Prince. He doesn't share what he claims for himself—especially if what he claims is a female body. When he discovered the girl's affection for another male, he did nothing to prevent her from being raped. And he could have, Prince. Hecould have. The girl managed to escape afterward. In time, and with help, she would have healed. But the High Lord didn't want her to heal, so, under the pretense of helping her, he used another male to finish what was begun. It destroyed her completely. Her body died, and her mind was torn apart. Now she's a dead, blank-eyed pet he plays with."

Hekatah looked up and wanted to scream with frustration. Had he heard any of it? "He should pay for what he's done," she said shrilly. "If you've courage enough to face him, I can open the Gate for you. Someone who remembers what she could have been should demand payment for what he did."

He looked at her for a long time. Then he turned and walked away.

Swearing, Hekatah began to pace. Why did he say nothing? It was a plausible story. Oh, she knew he'd been accused of the rape, but she also knew it wasn't true. And she wasn't completely convinced that hehad been at Cassandra's Altar that night. All the males who'd sworn they had seen him had come from Briarwood. They could have said that to keep the Chaillot Queens from looking too closely atthem. Surely—

Anne Bishop Books | Science Fiction Books | The Black Jewels Series Books
Source: www.StudyNovels.com