He continued to work, ignoring the headache the sun gave him, ignoring the aching muscles and growing fatigue.

His emotions numbed as a defense against the slaughter.

But they weren't numb enough when he found Jaenelle and Kaetien.

"There, my fine Lady," Lucivar said, running one hand down the mare's neck. "It'll feel sore for a few days, but it will heal well."

The mare's colt snorted and pawed the ground until Lucivar gave them a few carrot chunks and a sugar lump.

When the mare and her colt moved off, he helped himself to a long drink of water and half of a cheese sandwich while he waited for the next unicorn to gather the courage to be touched by a human.

May the Darkness bless Khary's equine-loving heart. After a rapid look at the carnage, Khary and Aaron had gone back to Maghre. They'd returned with Daffodil and Sundancer pulling carts loaded with healing supplies, food for the humans, changes of clothes, blankets, and Khary's "bribes"—carrots and sugar lumps.

Seeing Daffodil and Sundancer working confidently with the humans had acted as a balm on the unicorns' fear. The words "I serve the Lady" had produced an even stronger response. On the strength of those words, most of the unicorns had let him touch them and heal what he could.

Taking the last bite of his sandwich, he watched a yearling colt cautiously approach him, its skin twitching as the flies buzzed around the shoulder wound protected by a fading shield.

Lucivar spread his arms, showing empty hands. "I serve—"

The yearling bolted as Sceron's war cry shattered the uneasy truce and Kaelas roared in challenge.

Calling in his Eyrien war blade, Lucivar launched himself skyward.

As he sped toward the man running for the landing place, he coldly ticked off each little scene as it flashed under him: Morghann, Kalush, and Ladvarian herding the foals into the trees; Kaelas pulling a man down and tearing him open; Astar pivoting on her hindquarters as she nocked an arrow in a Centauran bow; Morton shielding Karla and the unicorn she was healing; Khary, Aaron, and Sceron protecting each others' backs as they unleashed the strength of their Jewels in short, controlled bursts that ripped the invading humans apart.

Focusing on his chosen prey, Lucivar unleashed a burst of Ebon-gray power just as the man reached the bottom of the hill.

The man fell, both legs neatly broken, his Yellow Jewel drained.

Lucivar landed at the same moment the old stallion with the broken horn charged the downed man. "Wait!" he yelled as he threw a tight Red shield over the man.

The stallion screamed in rage and pivoted to face Lucivar.

"Wait," Lucivar said again. "First I want answers.Then you can pound him."

The stallion snorted but stopped pawing the ground.

Keeping a watchful eye on the stallion, Lucivar dropped the shield. Applying a foot to a shoulder, he rolled the man over onto his back. "This is a closed Territory," he said harshly. "Why are you here?"

"I don't have to answer to the likes of you."

Brave words for a man with two broken legs. Stupid, but brave.

Using the Eyrien war blade, Lucivar pointed to the man's right knee and looked at the stallion. "Once. Right there."

The stallion reared and happily obliged.

"Shall we try this again?" Lucivar asked mildly once the man stopped screaming. "The other knee or a hand next? Your choice."

"You've no right to do this. When this is reported—"

Lucivar laughed. "Reported to whom? And for what? You're an invader waging war on the rightful inhabitants of this island. Who's going to care what happens to you?"

"The Dark Council, that's who." Sweat beaded the man's forehead as Lucivar fingered the war blade. "You've no claim to this land."

"Neither do you," Lucivar said coldly.

"We've a claim, you bat-winged bastard. My Queen and five others were given this island as their new territory. We came here first to settle the territory boundaries and take care of any problems."

"Like the race that's ruled this land for thousands of years? Yes, I can see how that might be a problem."

"No one rules here. This is unclaimed land."

"This is the unicorns' Territory," Lucivar said fiercely.

"I hurt," the man whined. "I need a Healer."

"They're all busy. Let's get back to something more interesting. The Dark Council has no right to hand out land, and they have no right to replace an established race who already has a claim."

"Show me the signed land grant. My Queen has one, properly signed and sealed."

Lucivar gritted his teeth. "The unicorns rule here."

The man rolled his head back and forth. "Animals have no rights to the land. Only human claims are considered

legitimate. Anything that lives here now lives by the Queens' sufferance."

"They're kindred," Lucivar said, his voice roughened by feelings he didn't want to name. "They're Blood."

"Animals. Just animals. Get rid of the rogues, the rest might be useful." The man whimpered. "Hurt. Need a Healer."

Lucivar took a step back. Took another. Oh, yes. Wouldn't the Terreillean bitch-Queens just love to ride around on unicorns? It wouldn't bother them in the least that the animals' spirits would have to be broken before they could do it. Wouldn't bother them at all.

Three glorious years of living in Kaeleer couldn't cleanse the 1,700 years he'd lived in Terreille. He tried very hard to put the past aside, but there were nights when he woke up shaking. He could control his mind for the most part, but his body still remembered all too well what a Ring of Obedience felt like and what it could do.

Swallowing hard, Lucivar licked his dry lips and looked at the old stallion. "Start with the arms and legs. It'll take longer for him to die that way."

Vanishing his war blade, he turned and walked away, ignoring the sound of hooves smashing bone, ignoring the screams.

Saetan stumbled over a severed arm and finally admitted he had to stop. Jaenelle's blood-tonic allowed him to tolerate, and enjoy, some daylight, but he still needed to rest during the hours when the sun was strongest. As the morning gave way to afternoon, he'd worked in the shade as much as possible, but that hadn't been enough to counteract the drain strong sunlight caused in a Guardian's body, and he couldn't take the strain of doing so much healing for so many hours.

He had to stop.

Except he couldn't until he found Jaenelle.

He'd tried everything he could think of to locate her. Nothing had worked. All Ladvarian could tell him was she" was here and she was crying, but neither Ladvarian nor Kaelas could give him the barest direction of where to search. When he finally got Mistral to understand his concern, the stallion said, "Her grief will not let us find her."

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