Daemon was about to step back into the main compartment when he heard Lucivar's voice just outside the Coach's open door.

"I don't give a damn what that sniveling little maggot says," Lucivar snarled.

"Lord Friall's conduct is not in question here," said a voice Daemon recognized as Lord Jorval's. "This will be brought before the Dark Council, and I can assure you we will not be intimidated into ignoring your vicious conduct."

"You have a problem with me, you can take it up with the Steward, the Master of the Guard, or my Queen."

"Your Queen fears you," Jorval sneered. "Everyone knows that. She can't control you properly, and the Steward and Master of the Guard certainly aren't going to demand any restraints on your temper since it suits their purpose so well."

Lucivar's voice lowered to a malevolent hiss. "Just remember, Lord Jorval, that while you and Friall are whining to the Council, I'm going to make the Territory Queens aware that there are some members of the Council who blatantly ignore their own rules about the service fair."

"That is an outright lie!"

"Then Friall is incompetent and shouldn't be given the task."

"Friall is one of the finest members of the Council!"

"In that case, was he just pissed because he'd expected to get his percentage of the bribes at the table and didn't realize you'd already pocketed them?"

"How dare you!" A long pause followed. "Perhaps Lord Friall was partly responsible for this unfortunate incident, but the Council will stand firm about this other matter."

"And what matter is that?" Lucivar crooned.

"We cannot allow you to have in your service a male who wears Jewels darker than yours."

"The Queens in Little Terreille do it all the time."

"They're Queens. They know how to control males."

"So do I."

"The Council forbids it."

"The Council can go to the bowels of Hell."

Lucivar suddenly filled the Coach's doorway.

"You can't do this!" Jorval yelled from behind him.

Lucivar turned and gave Jorval a lazy, arrogant smile. "I'm an Ebon-gray Warlord Prince. I can do anything I damn well want to." He shut the door in Jorval's face, then glanced at the driver's compartment at the front of the Coach, sending an order on a psychic thread. The Coach immediately lifted.

When Daemon took a step to reenter the main compartment, Lucivar shifted in front of him, effectively blocking the mouth of the corridor. Accepting the unspoken order, Daemon slipped his hands into his trouser pockets and leaned against the wall.

When he felt sure that Lucivar was through giving his silent instructions to whoever was driving the Coaches, he used an Ebon-gray spear thread to ask, *Will this get you into trouble?*

*No,* Lucivar replied. He looked over the immigrants. Every one of them quickly looked away in order to avoid meeting his eyes.

*Won't this Council send a demand for some kind of discipline?*

*They'll send it. The Steward will read it, probably show it to the Master of the Guard, and then they'll ignore it.*

Daemon realized his breathing was too quick, too shallow, but he couldn't change it as he forced himself to ask the next question. *Will they show it to your Queen?*

*No,* Lucivar said slowly. *They won't mention this to the Queen if they can avoid it. And if they can't, they'll try to minimize it without lying outright.*

*Why?*

*Because the Dark Council has pushed her before, and the results scared the shit out of everyone.* Lucivar shifted. "We're away from Goth," he said, raising his voice slightly. "Make yourselves as comfortable as you can. It'll be a couple of hours before we get to where we're going."

"Aren't we going to Ebon Rih?" someone asked.

"Not yet." Lucivar stepped into the small corridor, forcing Daemon to move back. He slid the door to the private compartment open, said, "Inside," and went through the doorway sideways to accommodate his wings.

Daemon followed reluctantly and slid the door closed.

Lucivar stood at one end of the room. Daemon remained at the door.

Lucivar took a deep breath, let it out slowly. "I'm sorry I lashed out at you. I wasn't angry withyou. I—Damn it, Daemon, I checked every list I could think of, and I must have missed your name. If it wasn't for blind luck, you would've ended up in another court, and there might have been no way to get you out of that contract."

Daemon felt one layer of tension ease. He forced his lips to curve in a smile. "Well, luck favored us this time." Then he looked, really looked, at Lucivar, and the smile became genuine. "You're alive."

Lucivar returned the smile. "And you're sane."

Daemon felt a tremor run through his body and tightened his self-control. Tears stung his eyes. "Lucivar," he whispered.

He didn't know which of them moved first. One moment they were standing as far away from each other as they could in the small room, the next they were in each other's arms, holding on as if their lives depended on it.

"Lucivar," Daemon whispered again, pressing his face against his brother's neck. "I thought you were dead."

"Hell's fire, Daemon," Lucivar said softly, hoarsely, "we couldn't find you. We didn't know what happened to you. We looked. I swear, we did look for you."

"It's all right," Daemon stroked Lucivar's head. "It's all right."

Lucivar's arms tightened around him so hard his ribs ached.

Daemon's hand fisted in Lucivar's hair. "Lucivar ... I know there are things that need to be settled between us. But can we put them aside, just for a little while?"

"We can put them aside," Lucivar said quietly.

Daemon stepped back. Using his thumbs, he gently wiped the tears from Lucivar's face. "We'd better join the others." He turned and reached for the door.

Standing behind him, Lucivar's left hand gripped Daemon's left arm. Daemon placed his right hand over it for a moment. As his fingers slid away from Lucivar's, he looked down, and the significance of what he'd seen but hadn't reallyseen finally hit him.

"Daemon," Lucivar said urgently. "There's one thing I need to tell you. I think you may already know, but you need to hear it."

She's alive!Another tremor went through Daemon's body. "No," he said. "Not now." He slid the door open and stumbled into the corridor. Barely keeping his balance, he went into the bathroom and Black-locked the door. His body shook violently. His stomach twisted viciously. Leaning over the sink, he fought the need to be sick.

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