"Hell's fire, Bastard," Lucivar said, feeling queasy. "What was it you did to me that I would have ended up looking likethat ?"

"I don't know," Daemon replied wearily. "But I'm sure Hekatah can imagine something." He hesitated, swallowed hard. "Look, Prick, for once in your life, just do as you're told. Get to the Keep. Everyone who matters the most to you is waiting for you there."

"Not everyone," Lucivar said softly.

"I'll get the High Lord out." Daemon waited.

Lucivar knew what Daemon was waiting for, what he hoped for. He wanted to be told that Saetan wasn't the only one left who mattered.

Lucivar said nothing.

Daemon looked away, and said wearily, "Let's go. There's one more game to play."

11 / Terreille

Saetan stared at the bangles lying on the ground. Why had Daemon made such a point of them? And why did they chill him so much?

He hissed in frustration, then jolted at the sibilant sound.

"You wish to undersstand thiss?" Draca had asked.

Bangles floating in a tank of water. Draca holding an egg-shaped stone attached to a thin silk cord. "A sspiral."

The stone moving in a circular motion, spiraling, spiraling, until all the water was in motion, all the bangles caught.

"A whirlpool," Geoffrey had said.

"No," Draca had replied. "A maelsstrom.... Sshe will almosst alwayss sspiral.... You cannot alter her nature.... But the maelsstrom.... Sshield her, Ssaetan. Sshield her with your sstrength and your love and perhapss it will never happen."

"And if it does?" he had asked.

"It will be the end of the Blood."

End of the Blood.

End of...

Those bangles weren't a message from Daemon, they were a warning fromDraca. Jaenelle was spiraling down to her full strength to unleash the maelstrom. The end of the Blood. Was that why she had insisted that the First Circle remain at the Keep? Because it would be the only place that could withstand that devastating power? No. Jaenelle didn't like to kill. She wouldn't destroy all the Blood if she could...

Damn it.Damn it, he needed to draw that vision back. Needed to see those webs again in order to remember that one important thing that was eluding him. Deliberately eluding him. A veil had been drawn across that vision to keep him from remembering that one thing until it was too late.

But if she was going to unleash the maelstrom, what in the name of Hell was Daemon doinghere?

Stalling. Buying time. Keeping Dorothea and Hekatah distracted. Playing games to... Marian and Daemonar. Then Surreal. He'd heard Lucivar cry out a couple of hours ago, but there had been no sign of him since then. Which only left...

A shadow fell across the bangles.

He looked up into Daemon's glazed eyes.

"It's time to dance," Daemon crooned.

He might have said something, but he could smell Hekatah nearby. So he let Daemon lead him into the prison hut, said nothing while he was tied to the bed.

When Daemon stretched out beside him, he whispered, "When does the game end?"

Daemon tensed, swallowed hard. "In a couple more hours," he said, keeping his voice low. "At midnight." He laid a hand gently on Saetan's chest. "Nothing's going to happen. Just—"

They both heard someone brush against the door, both knew who was listening.

Saetan shook his head. Everything has a price. "Make it convincing, Daemon," he whispered.

He saw the sick resignation and the apology in Daemon's eyes before his son kissed him.

And he learned why the Blood called Daemon the Sadist.

Saetan lay on his side, staring at the wall.

Daemon had actually done very little.Very little. But he'd managed to convince that bitch who had hovered outside the door that a son was raping his own father without actually doing anything that would prevent either of them from being able to look the other in the eye. A rather impressive display of skill.

And very brief. He'd been concerned about that, but when Daemon walked out of the hut, he'd heard a murmured comment and Hekatah's delighted, abrasive laugh.

So, while Daemon continued to prowl and keep the camp on edge, he'd had time to rest, to gather his strength, to think.

The game ended at midnight. What was the significance of midnight? Well, it was called the witching hour, that moment suspended between one day and the next. And it would be seventy-two hours from the time Daemon appeared in the camp.

Saetan jerked upright. Seventy-two hours.

Confined to a sitting room in the Keep, he had paced. "From sunset to sunrise. That's how long an Offering takes. For the White, for the Black, that's how long it takes."

"For the Prince of the Darkness," Tersa had said as she pushed around the pieces of a puzzle. "But for the Queen?"

When Jaenelle had made the Offering to the Darkness, it had taken her three days.Seventy-two hours.

"Mother Night," he whispered, shifting into a sitting position.

The door opened. Daemon rushed in and dropped a bundle of clothing on the bed.

Before Saetan could say anything, one of Daemon's hands was clamped behind his head and the other was holding a cup to his lips, pouring warm liquid down his throat. He had no choice but to swallow or choke. He swallowed. A moment later, he wished he had choked.

"Hell's fire, what did you just give me?" he gasped as he bent over and pressed his forehead to his knees.

"A tonic," Daemon said, vigorously rubbing Saetan's back.

"Stop that," Saetan snapped. He turned his head just enough to glare at Daemon."Whose tonic?"

"Jaenelle's—with my blood added."

Saetan swore softly, viciously, with great sincerity.

Daemon winced and muttered, "She said it would kick like two teams of draft horses."

"Only someone who's never had to drink one of these little tonics would describe it that mildly."

Daemon went down on his knees in front of Saetan and busily undid the chains. "I couldn't search for your clothes, so I brought you these. They should fit well enough."

Saetan gritted his teeth as Daemon massaged his legs and feet. "Where did you get them?"

"Off a guard. He won't be needing them."

"Damn things probably have lice."

"Deal with it," Daemon growled. Taking a ball of clay out of his jacket pocket, he rolled it into a stubby cylinder, then carefully forced the Ring of Obedience to open enough to slide off Saetan's organ. It clamped down on the clay with the same viciousness it had clamped down on flesh.

Setting the cylinder on the bed, Daemon glanced at Saetan's organ and sucked in a breath.

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