For some of the younger ones he thought might be acceptable to those Territory Queens, he'd written respectful letters pointing out the men's skills and their pledged willingness to adapt to the ways of the Shadow Realm. Some had been accepted into service. At each turn of the season, he received brief letters from each of those young men, and all of them expressed their relief and delight in their new life.
But the pleas were getting more desperate as more and more Terreilleans flooded into Little Terreille. And with every plea, with every story he heard about Terreille, he worried more and more about his youngest granddaughter. Even in his small village incidents had already occurred, and it was no longer wise for a woman to travel after dusk without a strong escort. Was that how it had begun in Terreille, with fear and distrust spiraling deeper and deeper until there was no way to stop it?
"Your request has been noted," Lord Jorval said, making a gesture that indicated dismissal. "Will the next—"
The doors at the end of the chamber blew open with a force that sent them crashing into the walls.
Jaenelle Angelline glided into the Council chamber, once again standing outside the petitioner's circle, once again flanked by the High Lord and Prince Lucivar Yaslana. Along the edges of her black, cobwebby gown's low neckline were dozens of Black Jewel chips glittering with dark fire. Around her neck was a Black—Black?—Jewel set in a necklace that looked like a spider's web made of delicate gold and silver strands. In her hands . . .
Lord Magstrom's hands shook.
She held a scepter. The lower half was made of gold and silver and had two Black-looking Jewels inset above the hand-hold. The upper half of the scepter was a spiraled horn.
Fingers pointed at the horn. Murmurs filled the chamber. "Lady Angelline, I must protest your interrupting—" Jorval began.
"I have something to say to this Council," Jaenelle said coldly, her voice carrying over the others. "It will not take long."
The murmurs grew louder, more forceful. "Why isshe allowed to have a unicorn's horn?" the dismissed Terreillean Queen shouted."I wasn't allowed to have one as compensation for my men being killed."
There was no expression on the High Lord's face as he looked at the Terreillean Queen. Lucivar, however, didn't try to hide his loathing.
"Silence."Jaenelle didn't raise her voice, but the undisguised malevolence in it hushed everyone. She looked at the Terreillean Queen and spoke five words.
Lord Magstrom knew enough of the Old Tongue to recognize the language but not enough to understand. Something about remembering?
Jaenelle caressed the horn, stroking it from base to tip and back down. "His name was Kaetien," she said in her midnight voice. "This horn was a gift, freely given."
"Lady Angelline," Jorval said, pounding on the Tribunal's bench as he tried to regain order.
From the seats closest to the Tribunal's bench, Lord Magstrom heard harsh voices talking aboutsome people who thought they could ignore the authority of theCouncil. Jaenelle swung the scepter in an arc, holding it for a moment when the horn pointed at the floor before swinging it up until it pointed at the chamber ceiling.
A cold wind whipped through the chamber. Thunder shook the building. Lightning came down from the ceiling and entered the unicorn's horn.
Dark power filled the chamber. Unyielding, unforgiving power.
When the thunder finally stopped, when the wind finally died, the shaking members of the Dark Council climbed back into their seats.
Jaenelle Angelline stood calmly, quietly, the scepter once again held in both hands. The unicorn's horn was unmarked, but Magstrom could see the flashes of lightning now held within those Black-but-not-Black Jewels, could feel the power waiting to be unleashed.
"Hear me," Jaenelle said, "because I will say this only once. I have made the Offering to the Darkness. I am now the Queen of Ebon Askavi." She pointed the scepter at the Tribunal's bench.
Lord Magstrom shook. The horn was pointing straight at him. He held his breath, waiting for the strike. Instead, a rolled parchment tied with a blood-red ribbon appeared in front of him.
"That is a list of the Territories that yielded to Ebon Askavi. They now stand in the shadow of the Keep. They are mine. Anyone who tries to settle in my Territory without my consent will be dealt with. Anyone who harms any of my people will be executed. There will be no excuses and no exceptions. I will say it simply so that the members of this Council and the intruders who thought to take land they had no right to claim can never say they misunderstood." Jaenelle's lips curled into a snarl."stay out of my territory!"
The words rang through the chamber, echoing and reechoing.
Her sapphire eyes, eyes that didn't look quite human, held the Tribunal for a long moment. Then she turned and glided out of the Council chamber, followed by the High Lord and Prince Yaslana.
Magstrom's hands shook so hard it took him four tries to untie the blood-red ribbon. He unrolled the parchment, ignoring the fact that he should have given it to Jorval as First Tribune.
Name after name after name after name. Some he'd heard of as stories his grandmother used to tell him. Some he'd heard of as "unclaimed land." Some he'd never heard of at all.
Name after name after name.
At the bottom of the parchment, above Jaenelle's signa- ture and black-wax seal, was a map of Kaeleer, the Territories that now stood in the shadow of the Keep shaded in. Except for Little Terreille and the island that had been granted to the Dark Council centuries ago, the Shadow Realm now belonged to Jaenelle Angelline.
Magstrom looked at the graceful, calligraphic signature. She had stood before the Council twice as a maid, and twice they had ignored the warnings of what she would become. Now they had to deal with a Queen who would not tolerate mistakes.
He shuddered and looked at the seal. In the center was a mountain. Overlaying the mountain was a unicorn's horn. Around the edge of the seal were five words in the Old Tongue.
A small piece of folded paper suddenly appeared on top of the seal. Magstrom grabbed it at the same moment Jorval pulled the parchment out of his hands. While Jorval and the Second Tribune read the list to the rest of the Council, their voices quivering more and more as they realized what it meant, Magstrom unfolded the paper, keeping it hidden.
A masculine hand had written the same five words that were on the seal. Below them was the translation.
For remembrance. As a reminder.
Magstrom looked up.
The High Lord stood just outside the open chamber doors.
Magstrom nodded slightly and vanished the paper, relieved no one had noticed that Saetan had remained behind to give him that message.