"I said Lord Magstrom had indicated that he was going to send letters to some of the Queens outside of Little Terreille," Daemon repeated, swirling the brandy in his glass. "But after Jorval took over handling my immigration, I was told that the Queens outside of Little Terreille wouldn't consider a Black-Jeweled Warlord Prince."
Lucivar snorted. "Jorval probably arranged for the letters not to be sent. Hell's fire, Daemon, you've met the other Territory Queens. They're the coven. If a letter had reached any one of them, she would have had her Steward at the service fair to sign the contract as fast as he could travel."
"Read this," Saetan said, handing the letter to Daemon.
"I don't understand," Daemon said when he'd read half the letter. "Aren't the lists supposed to indicate every immigrant at the service fair?"
"Yes, they are," Lucivar said grimly, reading over Daemon's shoulder. "And you weren't on any of them." He looked at Saetan. "I did mention that at the time."
"Yes, you did," Saetan replied, "but, since Daemondid end up in the Dark Court, I failed to appreciate the significance of that remark."
Daemon handed the letter back to Saetan. "There must have been a list somewhere. Otherwise, how would the Queens in Little Terreille have known I was available?"
Saetan kept his voice mild. "What Queens were those?"
"There were four Queens in Little Terreille who were willing to have me," Daemon said slowly. "Jorval insisted they were the only ones."
"So, if you hadn't met Lucivar by chance..."
Daemon froze. "I would have signed a contract with one of them."
Swearing quietly, Lucivar started to pace.
Saetan just nodded. "You would have signed a contract with one of Jorval’s handpicked Queens, and you would have ended up tucked away somewhere in Little Terreille— with no one else aware that youwere there."
"What would have been the point of that?" Daemon said irritably.
"In Little Terreille they use the Ring of Obedience on immigrating males," Lucivar snapped."That's the point. It would have been Terreille all over again."
"Not necessarily," Saetan said, still keeping his voice mild. "If Daemon was well treated, was handled with care—which I'm sure was part of the agreement—he would have had no reasonnot to use the strength of his Jewels against an enemy who was threatening the Queen he served. And after the first unleashing of the Black, there would have been no turning back. The lines would have been drawn."
Daemon stared at him.
"What does it matter?" Lucivar said, looking at the two of them uneasily. "Daemon's with us."
"Yes," Saetan said softly, "he is. But where are the other men whose names disappeared from those lists?"
8 / Kaeleer
The golden spider studied the two tangled webs of dreams and visions.
More deaths. Many deaths.
It was time.
Remember this web. Remember every strand, every thread.
Throughout the cold season, she had been pulled away from her own dreaming, compelled to study the web that had shaped this living myth, the Queen who was Witch. And she had realized it would not be enough, because living inside the flesh had changed this dream. It wasmore now. And, somehow, she needed to add that "more" to the web. Without it, Kaeleer's Heart would be gone for too many seasons—and would not be quite the same when the dream returned.
She continued to study the webs.
The brown dog, Ladvarian, was the key. He would be able to bring her the "more" she needed.
Yes. It was time.
She returned to the chamber within the sacred caves, and began to weave the web for dreams that were already made flesh.
1 / Kaeleer
The First Circle of the Dark Court gathered at the Keep. At least, the humans in the First Circle had gathered, Saetan amended as he listened to Khardeen's grim report about the attacks that had taken place in Scelt during the past three weeks. There had been attackseverywhere in the last three weeks. Maybe that was why the kindred hadn't answered Jaenelle's summons to come to the Keep. Maybe the kindred Queens and Warlord Princes didn't dare withdraw their strength away from their own lands. Or maybe it was the beginning of a rift between humans and kindred. Maybe they were withdrawing from what they considered a human conflict in order to save themselves.
But he would have thought Ladvarian, at the very least, would have come so that he could explain things to the rest of the kindred.He would have realized the conflict wouldn't be confined to humans. Hell's fire, kindred hadalready been attacked.
But Ladvarian wasn't there—and it worried him.
Two other things worried him: the flickers of grief and resignation he was picking up from Andulvar, Prothvar, and Mephis—who had all fought, and died, in the last war between Terreille and Kaeleer—and the fact that Jaenelle had been sitting there for the past two hours with such blankness in her eyes he started to wonder if she hadn't created a simple shadow to fill a space at the table.
"Just defending against these attacks isn't going to save our lands or our people," Aaron said. "There are Terreillean armies gathering against us. If the enemy who's alreadyin Kaeleer gains control of a Gate and opens it for those armies... We need to do somethingnow."
"Yes, you do need to do something," Jaenelle said in a hollow voice. "You need to retreat."
Protests from all sides rose up in a wave of sound.
"You need to retreat," Jaenelle repeated. "And you will send all of the Queens and Warlord Princes in your Territories to the Keep."
Stunned silence met that statement.
"But, Jaenelle," Morghann said after a moment, "the Warlord Princes are needed to lead the fighting. And asking Queens to leave their lands while their people are under attack ..."
"They won't be needed if the people retreat."
"Just how far are we supposed to retreat?" Gabrielle snapped.
"As far as necessary."
Aaron shook his head. "We need to gather our warriors into armies to fight against the Terreilleans and—"
"Kaeleerwill not go to war with Terreille," Jaenelle said in her midnight voice.
Chaosti sprang up from his seat. "We're already at war!"
"No, we are not."
"So we're at war with Little Terreille, since that's where these attackers have been hiding," Lucivar growled. "It's the same thing."
Jaenelle's eyes turned to ice. "We're not at war with anyone."