Marian walked over to the worktable. "Oh, dear. Is it that bad?" She looked at the dark, twisted, misshapen lump that rose out of the bowl and winced. "I guess it is that bad." She hesitated. "Jaenelle did that?"

"No, Jaenelle created those." Saetan pointed at the rosebushes.

Marian's mouth fell open. She hurried around the table to get a better look. "Oh, these are lovely. If you rubbed some rose oil on the rim of the bowl for scent, you wouldn't know for sure these aren't real until you tried to touch them." She studied the rosebushes. "I wonder how long the spells last."

"Why?"

"Well, if the spells lasted a while, people could decorate a room with one of these illusions and have a potted rosebush in a room that wouldn't support a real plant…or even have roses in a climate that wouldn't be suitable for real ones."

He smiled with real warmth and fatherly affection. Jaenelle, the living myth, could create such an illusion, but Marian, the practical hearth witch, could think of a way to use it.

Marian walked around the table to stand beside him. "So what is that?"

They looked at the misshapen lump in the bowl.

Saetan sighed. "My attempt to reproduce the illusion." Then he studied Marian, an idea springing up. "Is there something you need to do right now?"

"No," she said cautiously.

"Would you be willing to help with an experiment? We'll need Morghann, too."

"All right. I'll call her."

He set aside his failed spell, called in another bowl, then made sure the two witches would have everything they needed. By the time Morghann hurried into the workroom, he was ready.

"But we don't know how Jaenelle created that illusion spell," Morghann said after he'd explained what he wanted them to do.

"I know how she did it," Saetan said. "I'll talk you through the steps, but I want the two of you to do the actual spell."

They didn't understand, but Morghann and Marian followed his instructions, Morghann using her Green Jewel and Marian alternating between her Birthright Rose and her Purple Dusk Jewels.

When the last ingredient was added and the last part of the spell invoked, the two women laughed in delight as the rosebush rose out of the bowl. The illusion wasn't as big as the ones Jaenelle created, and it didn't fool the eye quite as well, but the spell had worked. He wasn't sure if that pleased him or chilled him. "So just what was it you were trying to find out, Uncle Saetan?" Morghann asked.

"The two of you can reproduce the illusion spell Jaenelle created," he said quietly. "I can't."

Marian frowned. "But… you're stronger than either of us. Why can't you do it?"

"Because I wear the Black, and the Red is my Birthright Jewel." He studied their illusion. "Power can't be diluted. It's not just that I have a deeper well of power than someone who wears a Jewel lighter than mine, my power is also more potent."

Morghann nodded. "Something you could do with one drop of Red power I could do with three or four drops of Green…and Marian could do using more of her Purple Dusk strength. But that's how it is. Three people doing the same spell will create the same thing, but how much power they have to use and the potency of the spell will depend on their Jewel strength."

"But not in this case." Saetan tipped his head to indicate the rosebush. "I couldn't reproduce the spell using an equivalent amount of power that should have matched the Rose, Purple Dusk, and Green that Jaenelle used. You two could reproduce it because your power has the right potency."

Marian frowned. "Then… how did Jaenelle create the illusion spell in the first place?"

"I don't know."But I'm going to find out. "Tell Lucivar I'll be back as soon as I can." He headed for the door, his mind already focusing on how to ask the questions that would provide some answers.

"Where are you going?" Marian asked.

Saetan paused in the doorway and looked back at the two witches. "I'm going to visit an old friend."

3

Saetan descended the stone stairs. He'd gone down this staircase many times during the years when Jaenelle had been the Queen of Ebon Askavi. Since returning to the Keep to live, he made this descent at least twice a month because he understood loneliness, and an hour's company now and then was all he could offer this ancient being.

The double doors at the bottom of the stairs swung open. Torches set in the walls flared to life as he walked to the other end of the huge chamber where the dragon's head came through an opening in the wall.

Unable to stop himself, he looked at the simple throne and the shattered scepter that lay on the seat exactly where Draca had set it after telling the First Circle that the Queen of Ebon Askavi was gone and the Dark Court no longer existed. Did seeing those reminders of what was lost ever bother Draca or her mate, the legendary Prince of the Dragons? Or did they think of it as a memorial for a Queen who had been the most powerful witch in the history of the Blood?

He looked away…and saw the dragon's large golden eyes were now open and watching him.

"Lorn," he said.

*Ssaetan.*

"I need answers."

*You have assked no quesstionss,* Lorn replied, sounding amused.

Saetan didn't feel amused. "What is Twilight's Dawn?"

*It iss the Jewel for Kaeleer'ss Heart.*

Frustration welled up inside him. "But what is it? How can one Jewel act like it's many Jewels? How did you create it?"

*I didn't. You did.* Saetan stared at Lorn.

*Father. Brother. Lover. You created Twilight'ss Dawn.* Webs of power stretching across a chasm somewhere in the abyss. Him, racing up to intercept Witch as she plummeted toward those webs, Lorn's warning that if she smashed through all the webs they would lose her ringing in his head. Catching her, smashing through the White, the Yellow, the Tiger Eye webs while he fought to slow her descent. Lucivar, taking his place, rolling Witch in the Rose web as they smashed through it. Rolling her in the other webs, beginning to slow the descent while wrapping her in a cocoon of power. Daemon, taking over at the Green web, fighting to stop the fall, fighting to hold on to the person who held his heart. Finally coming to rest on the Black web.

A Jewel formed by layers of power? A Jewel that had, somehow, retained those distinct layers? Extraordinary, to be sure… but still less than her Birthright.

"We didn't know," Saetan said quietly, deep sorrow weighing on his heart. "If we'd realized, maybe there was something we could have done differently."

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