"Don't tell me what I can do. You had your chance, old man, and you didn't have the balls to take it. Now it'smy turn, and I intend to rule."

"That's just another lie," Dorothea snapped. "You've never been interested in ruling."

Daemon turned searing, cold anger on her. "What wouldyou know about what I wanted, bitch? You never offered me a chance to ruleanything. You just wanted to use my strength without ever offering anything in return."

"I did offer you something!"

"What?You? You had your use of me, Dorothea. How could you imagine enduring more of that would be any kind of reward?"

"Youbastard !You—" She took a step toward him, her hand raised like a claw.

A blow from a phantom hand knocked her off her feet. She fell on top of Surreal, who swore viciously and pushed her off.

Tearing his eyes away from Daemon, Saetan looked at Hekatah—and realized she was shaking, but it wasn't from anger.

"What is it you want, Sadi?" Hekatah said, unable to keep her voice steady.

A long, chilling moment passed before Daemon turned his attention back to her. "I came to negotiate on my Queen's behalf."

"I told you," Dorothea muttered—but she didn't try to get up.

"And what will you tell your Queen?" Hekatah asked.

"That I arrived too late to save any of them. I'm sure I can prod her into a suitably violent reaction."

"She'll destroy more than us if she unleashes that kind of power."

Daemon's smile was a satisfied one. "Exactly. She'll destroy everything. And once all of you are gone... Well, therewill have to be a few more battles in Kaeleer to eliminate the more troublesome males in the court. But after that, I think things will settle down quite nicely." He turned and started to walk away.

He'll never get her to destroy everyone in Terreille,Saetan thought, closing his eyes against the sick feelings churning in his stomach.He'll never twist her thatmuch. Not Jaenelle.

"Wait," Hekatah said.

Saetan opened his eyes.

Daemon was almost at the edge of the light. Turning, he raised one eyebrow in inquiry.

"Was that the only reason you came here?" Hekatah asked.

Daemon glanced at Lucivar again and smiled. "No. I thought I would settle a few debts while I was here."

Hekatah returned the smile. "Then, perhaps. Prince, we do have something to talk about. But not right now. Why don't you indulge yourself while I—while Dorothea and I think about how we might settle this amicably between us."

"I'm sure I can find something amusing to do to pass the time," Daemon said. He walked out of the light, disappeared into the darkness.

Hekatah looked at Saetan. It wasn't possible for him to keep his feelings hidden right now, to keep his face blank.

Dorothea got to her feet and pointed at Surreal. "Secure that bitch," she snapped at a couple of guards. Then she turned to Hekatah. "You can't really believe Sadi."

"The High Lord does," Hekatah said quietly. "Andthat's very interesting." She hissed when Dorothea started to protest. "We'll discuss this in private."

She walked to her cabin with Dorothea reluctantly following.

After chaining Surreal to the post on Saetan's left, the guards gathered up the dead men, and, with uneasy glances at the surrounding darkness, finally returned to their duties.

"Your son's a cold-blooded bastard," Surreal said quietly.

Saetan thought about the look in Daemon's eyes. He thought about the man he should have known well—and didn't know at all. Closing his eyes, he rested his head against the post, and said, "I only have one son now—and he's Eyrien."

"Hello, Prick."

Lucivar turned his head, watched Daemon glide out of the darkness and circle around to stand directly in front of him.

He had watched that initial game closely, waiting for some sign from Daemon that it was time to attack. The spelled chains couldn't have held him by themselves, and, unlike Saetan, the pain from the Ring of Obedience didn't debilitate him for long—at least, it didn't drain him the way it seemed to drain the High Lord. No, what had made him hold back and wait was the threat to Marian and Daemonar. There was always a guard inside the far hut that was being used as one of the prisons, and that guard had orders to kill his wife and son if he broke free. So he had waited, especially after Saetan had surrendered to those two bitches, because he had realized that Saetan had known there wouldn't be an exchange, had walked in expecting to become a prisoner, and had had a reason for doing it.

So when he saw Daemon, he figured the game was about to begin. But now, seeing that bored, sleepy,terrifying look... He'd danced with the Sadist enough times in the past to know that look meant they were all in serious trouble.

"Hello, Bastard," he said carefully.

Daemon stepped closer. His fingertips drifted up Lucivar's arm, over the shoulder, traced the collarbone.

"What's the game?" Lucivar asked quietly. Then he shivered as Daemon's fingers drifted up his neck, along his jaw.

"It's simple enough," Daemon crooned, brushing a finger over Lucivar's lower lip. "You're going to die, and I'm going to rule." He met Lucivar's eyes and smiled. "Do you know what it's like in the Twisted Kingdom, Prick? Do you have any idea? I spent eight years in that torment because of you."

"You forgave the debt," Lucivar snarled softly. "I gave you the chance to settle it, and you chose to forgive it."

Daemon's hand gently settled on Lucivar's neck. He leaned forward until his lips almost brushed Lucivar's. "Did you really think I would forgive you?"

From the far hut, they both heard a child's outraged howl.

Daemon stepped back. Smiled. Slipped his hands into his trouser pockets. "You're going to pay for those years, Prick," Daemon said softly. "You're going to pay dearly."

Lucivar's heart pounded in his throat as Daemon glided toward the hut that held Marian and Daemonar. "Bastard? Bastard, wait.I'm the one who owes the debt. You can't... Daemon?Daemon!"

Daemon walked into the hut. A moment later, the guard hurried out.


A few minutes after that, Lucivar heard his son scream.

Dorothea's hands closed into fists. "I'm telling you, it's a trick of some kind. Iknow Sadi."

"Do you?" Hekatah snapped.

Ithink it's more accurate to say I'm the man my fathermighthave been if he'd had the balls for it.

Yes, she had been able to sense the ruthlessness, the ambition, the cruel sexuality in Daemon Sadi. It frightened her a little. It excited her even more.

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