"Why in the name of Hell not?" Lucivar shouted.

Saetan snarled. "Do you think it's easy making the transition? Do you think anything will be the same for him? He'sdead, Lucivar. He's a young man who will never do a great many things now, who is no longer who and what he used to be. There are reasons why the dead remain, for the most part, among the dead."

Lucivar resumed his pacing. "It's not like the First Circle isn't used to being around the demon-dead."

"You didn't know them when they walked among the living," Saetan said softly. "There were no ties with them that needed to be cut. Yes, the tiesdo need to be cut," he said, overriding Lucivar's protest. "The living have to move on—and so do the dead. If you can't respect that, at least respect the fact that he needs time to adjust before he has to deal with the rest of you."

Lucivar swore softly. "How bad... ?"

Saetan set the spoon down and moved to the other end of the table. "The wounds aren't visible when he's dressed. In fact, they wouldn't have been fatal if the arrows hadn't been poisoned."

"Poisoned," Lucivar said flatly as he stared down at the bucket.

"There's not much Morton could tell you, and without more information, even what he knows doesn't help us much."

Lucivar pointed at the bucket. "You may find your answers in there."

Saetan lifted the dark cloth, looked inside the bucket, then let the cloth drop.

"Kaelas," Lucivar said, answering the unspoken question.

"I see," Saetan said quietly. "You're returning to Ebon Rih?"

Lucivar shook his head. "I'm taking a few men to the Dark Altar in Glacia to look around, see if there are any answers there."

"Our Queen's order was quite direct," Saetan said mildly.

"I'll risk her anger."

Saetan nodded. "Then, as Steward of the Court, I formally request that you go to the Dark Altar in Glacia to determine what happened."

"I don't need to hide behind your title," Lucivar snapped.

Saetan smiled dryly. "I'm doing this as much for Jaenelle as for you. This way, she can gracefully back away from having to confront you about disobeying a direct order."

"Oh. In that case..."

"Get going, boyo. Report to me at the Hall. And Prince Yaslana," Saetan added when Lucivar reached the door, "remember Glacia isn't your territory. You're not the law there."

"Yes, sir, I'll remember. We just witness and report."

3 / Kaeleer

Seeing the guarded look in Marian's eyes and the way Luthvian managed to convey silently her disapproval of her son's choice of a wife, Surreal wondered how pissed off Lucivar would be if they took his mother into the garden and used her for target practice.

"How did you manage to bake anything this morning?" Nurian, the journeymaid Healer, asked as she accepted a nutcake from the plate Marian was passing around. "And how do you get anything else done after these morning workouts?"

"Oh," Marian said with a shy smile, "I'm used to it by now, and—"

"You're a Healer," Luthvian interrupted, giving Nurian a cool stare."Your finding it difficult to practice a demanding Craft after these workouts is understandable. But they're hardly an excuse for neglecting one's duties when you're talking abouthearth Craft. After all—"

"If you'll excuse us," Surreal said, hauling Luthvian to her feet. "There's something Lady Luthvian and I need to discuss."

"Let go of me," Luthvian snarled as Surreal dragged her out of the room. "You don't treat a Black Widow Healer like she was—"

"A hearth-witch?" Surreal said with venomous sweetness as she shoved Luthvian into the garden.

"Exactly," Luthvian replied darkly. "But I don't suppose awhore —"

"Shut up, bitch," Surreal said too quietly.

Luthvian sucked in air. "You forget your place!"

"No, sugar, that's exactly what I'm not forgetting. You may belong to a higher caste, but my Jewels outrank yours. I figure that evens things out—at least within the family. You don't like me, and that suits me just fine because I don't like you either."

"Crossing a Black Widow isn't wise," Luthvian said softly.

"Crossing an assassin isn't wise either." Surreal smiled when Luthvian's eyes widened. "So let's make this simple. If you make one more disparaging remark about Marian, I'm going to bang your face against the wall until some sense gets knocked into you."

"What do you think Lucivar would say aboutthat ?Luthvian's voice sounded certain, but there was doubt in her eyes.

"Oh," Surreal replied, "I don't think Lucivar would say anything tome." Watching the verbal thrust hit the mark, she felt a brief moment of pity for Luthvian. The woman drove people away, and then seemed bewildered to find herself alone.

"He could have done better," Luthvian grumbled. "He didn't have to settle for a Purple Dusk hearth-witch."

Surreal studied Luthvian. "This doesn't have anything to do with Lucivar, does it? You're embarrassed becauseyour son married ahearth-witch. Marian is just a gentle, caring woman who loves him and whose presence makes him happy. If he had married a Black Widow Healer and was miserable, well, that would have been all right because he had married a woman worthy of a Warlord Prince. Right?"Besides, she added silently,the High Lord approves of his son's choice. Which, she suspected, was the major reason Luthvian never would. "Remember what I said, Luthvian." She started to walk away.

"Just because the High Lord tolerates your using the SaDiablo name doesn't change what you were—and still are," Luthvian said nastily.

Surreal looked over her shoulder. "No," she said, "it doesn't. You would do well to remember that, too."

4 / Kaeleer

Lucivar felt the tingle of residual power the moment he stepped off the landing web. While the other Eyriens stared at the dead bodies and muttered uneasily, he kept his eyes on the pressed-down snow a few feet in front of him. He moved toward it, then skirted around it.

"What?" Falonar asked as he avoided the spot, too.

"Morton died there," Lucivar said quietly.

"He's not the only one who died," Rothvar said grimly, looking at the savaged Eyrien corpses.

"No, he's not the only one," Lucivar replied.But he's the one I watched grow from a decent youth into a fine man. "Rothvar, you and Endar—"

If he hadn't spent the past eight years living around kindred, he never would have picked up that particular psychic scent—and wouldn't have known the Arcerian cats were there until it was far too late.

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