Mrs. Beale glared at him. Lucivar prudently stepped behind him.

Abandoning the kitchen to Mrs. Beale and her charges, Saetan headed for his suite. Lucivar went with him.

"The puppy's cute," Saetan said. If that was the best he could do, he definitely needed to rest.

"Don't let puppy cute fool you," Lucivar said quietly. "He's a Warlord, and there's a shrewd intelligence inside that furry little head. Combine that with a large Warlord Prince predator and you've got a partnership that needs to be handled with care."

Saetan stopped at the door of his suite. "Lucivar, just how big do Arcerian cats get?"

Lucivar grinned. "Let's just say you ought to start putting strengthening spells on the furniture now."

"Mother Night," Saetan muttered, stumbling to his bed. The paperwork on his desk could wait. He didn't need to look for trouble.

He'd just started to doze off when he felt eyes staring at him. Rolling over, Saetan blinked at Ladvarian and Kaelas. Someone—he snorted—had already taught Ladvarian to air walk. True, the puppy wobbled, but he was, after all, a

Puppy-Groaning, Saetan rolled back over, hoping they would go away.

Two bodies landed on the bed. Well, he didn't have to worry about rolling over on the Sceltie. He wasn't going to roll anywhere with Kaelas pressed against his back—except, perhaps, onto the floor.

And where was Jaenelle?

The Lady, he was told, was taking a bath. They wanted a nap. Since Papa High Lord was taking a nap, they would stay with him.

With grim determination, Saetan closed his eyes.

He didn't need to look for trouble. It had just pounced on him.

Chapter twelve

1 / Kaeleer

Carrying a glass globe and a small glass bowl, both cobalt blue, Tersa walked a few feet into her backyard, her bare feet sinking into ankle-deep snow. The full moon played hide-and-seek among the clouds, much as the vision had eluded her throughout the day. She had lived within visions for so many centuries, she understood that this one needed to be given a physical shape before revealing itself.

Letting her body be the dreamscape's instrument, she used Craft to sail the globe and bowl through the air. When they reached the center of the lawn, they settled quietly into the snow.

She took a step toward them, then looked down. Her nightgown brushed the snow, disturbing it. That wouldn't do. Pulling it off, she tossed it near the cottage's back door and walked toward the globe and bowl. She stopped. Yes. This was the right place to begin.

One long stride to keep the snow pristine between her shuffled footsteps from the cottage and the footsteps that would guide the vision. Placing one foot carefully in front of the other, heel to toe, she waited. There was something else, something more.

Using Craft to sharpen a fingernail, she cut the instep of each foot deep enough for the blood to run freely. Then she walked the vision's pattern. When it brought her back to her first footstep, she leaped to reach the snow disturbed by shuffled footsteps.

As she turned to see the pattern, the journey maid Black Widow who was staying with her for a few weeks called out, "Tersa? What are you doing outside at this time of night?"

Snarling, Tersa whirled back to face the young witch.

The journey maid studied her face for a moment. Fetching the discarded nightgown, she tore it into strips, wrapped Tersa's feet to absorb the blood, then moved aside.

Urgency pushed Tersa up the stairs to her bedroom. Opening the curtains, she looked down at the yard and the lines she had drawn in the snow with her blood.

Two sides of a triangle, strong and connected. The father and the brother. The third side, the father's mirror, was separated from the other two and the middle was worn away. If it broke fully, that side would never be strong enough again to complete the triangle.

Moonlight and shadows filled the yard. The cobalt globe and bowl that rested in the center of the triangle became sapphire eyes.

"Yes," Tersa whispered. "The threads are now in place. It's time."

Receiving Jaenelle's silent permission, Saetan entered her sitting room. He glanced at the dark bedroom where Kaelas and Ladvarian were awake and anxious. Which meant Lucivar would be appearing soon. In the five months since he'd begun serving her, Lucivar had become extraordinarily sensitive to Jaenelle's moods.

Saetan sat down on the hassock in front of the overstuffed chair where Jaenelle was curled up. "Bad dream?" he asked. She'd had quite a few restless nights and bad dreams in the past few weeks.

"A dream," she agreed. She hesitated for a moment. "I was standing in front of a cloudy crystal door. I couldn't see what was behind it, wasn't sure Iwanted to see. But someone kept trying to hand me a gold key, and I knew that if I took it, the door would open and then I wouldhave to know what was hidden behind it."

"Did you take the key?" He kept his voice soft and soothing while his heart began to pound in his chest.

"I woke up before I touched it." She smiled wearily.

This was the first time she remembered one of those dreams upon waking. He had a good idea what memories were hidden behind that crystal door. Which meant they needed to talk about her past soon. But not tonight. "Would you like a brew to help you sleep?"

"No, thank you. I'll be all right."

He kissed her forehead and left the room. .

Lucivar waited for him in the corridor. "Problem?" Lucivar asked.

"Perhaps." Saetan took a deep breath, let it out slowly. "Let's go down to the study. There's something we need to discuss."

2 / Kaeleer

"Cat!" Lucivar rushed into the great hall. He didn't know what had set her off, but after talking with Saetan last night, he wasn't about to let her go anywhere by herself.

Fortunately, Beale was equally reluctant to let the Lady rush out the door without telling someone her destination.

Caught between them, Jaenelle unleashed her frustration with enough force to make all the windows rattle. "Damn you both! I have togo."

"Fine." Lucivar approached her slowly, holding his hands up in a placating gesture. "I'm going with you. Where are we going?"

Jaenelle raked her fingers through her hair. "Halaway. Sylvia just sent a message. Something's wrong with Tersa."

Lucivar exchanged a look with Beale. The butler nodded. Saetan and Mephis would be back at any moment from their meeting with Lady Zhara, the Queen of Amdarh, Dhemlan's capital—and Beale would remain in the great hall until they arrived.

"Let me go!" Jaenelle wailed.

Thank the Darkness, it didn't occur to her to use force against them. She could easily eliminate what amounted to token resistance.

Anne Bishop Books | Science Fiction Books | The Black Jewels Series Books