As if any of them had a chance of surviving now.

“Last night, that boy said the worst was still to come,” she said quietly. “What if Lucivar has been here all along?”

Rainier considered the question, then shook his head. “If he’d come in ahead of us, we would have seen some sign of his presence before now. A fist-sized hole in a wall, if nothing else.”

That was true enough. Once he realized he was trapped, Lucivar would go through the house like a wild storm. They would have been climbing over wreckage instead of moving through untouched rooms. But…

“Someone managed to kill a dark-Jeweled Eyrien Warlord and trap him in the house’s spells,” Surreal said. “Could those spells be strong enough to trap an Ebon-gray Warlord Prince?”

“Based on the rules we read, I think trapping Lucivar and Daemon was at least part of the intention,” Rainier replied. “But even if Lucivar is still just Lucivar…”

They looked at each other.

“Let’s get moving,” Surreal said. “We havegot to find a way out of here.”

Moments after Lucivar’s Ebon-gray shield closed around the house, Daemon’s Black shield surrounded the property, forming a dome over the house and sinking deep into the land.

Cold rage whispered in his blood, singing its seductive song of violence and death.

Then he felt Witch’s hand on his arm, felt a cold in her equal to his own but still tempered by the fire of surface anger.

“Lucivar found something he wants to contain,” Daemon said too softly. “Something not otherwise bound by the spells put on that house. He locked the house; I’ve locked the land.”

She nodded. “Nothing will leave here without his consent—and yours.”

And yours,Daemon thought. No matter what he and Lucivar thought, Witch would make the final decision.

Her hand tightened on his arm, a silent command to step back from the killing edge and the sweet, cold rage.

“Daemon, let’s take care around the boy,” Jaenelle said quietly.

That reminder helped him leash the rage and obey. He took a deep breath, let it out slowly…and regained control.

“Why don’t we take a walk around the perimeter and look for something that doesn’t feel natural?” Jaenelle suggested.

“Such as…?”

“A tunnel. A passageway.”

“An underground escape.” Daemon nodded. His Black shield went deep enough to block such an escape, but the search would give them both something to do while they waited.

He looked at the Coach. “Should we bring the boy with us and let him stretch his legs? He hasn’t left the Coach since you invited him in.”

“He’s afraid, Prince.”

“Of us?”

Jaenelle shook her head. “Of being sent back to the orphans’ home.”

He hesitated, then said softly, “We can’t keep him. The Hall is too dark. Our power is too dark. He would never belong. Might not even be able to survive.”

“I know,” she said. “But we can have him as a guest for a day or two while we decide what would be the best place for him.”

Something in her tone of voice. Something that softened his temper and tickled his sense of humor.

“How do kindred puppies feel about young boys who may be half-Blood?” he asked.

Jaenelle just grinned.

Tersa stepped back from her worktable. She had worked through the night, building her tangled web strand by careful strand.

The Langston man had used her to hurt the boys. Her boy. And the winged boy.

She remembered the winged boy from the days when she had been less of a shattered chalice and had lived in a cottage with her boy.

Before Dorothea had taken her boy. Had used her boy. Had hurt her boy.

And the winged boy too.

But the winged one was strong now, powerful now—and still a boy when he came to visit. He thought she believed that foolishness about ale being Eyrien milk? Even someone who walked in the Twisted Kingdom could tell the difference between milk and ale.

He wasn’t being mean, though. He wasn’t making fun of her, thinking she wouldn’t know the difference. He was teasing because he wanted ale, and his smile invited her to pretend she believed the fib.

He understood her. Daemon listened, and he loved her. Jaenelle listened too. And Saetan. But Lucivar rode her currents of words like he rode currents of air, following a path that wasn’t meant for straight lines. So she told him things, taught him things that she couldn’t explain any other way, and trusted him to eventually show the others.

His mother didn’t want him. Couldn’t love him because she hated him. All because he had those glorious wings that looked like dark silk when he spread them wide. What a foolish reason to hate a child.

So, in a way, he had become her boy too.

And Surreal. The girl child who had been forged into a warrior by pain and blood and fear. Never like a daughter, but always a friend. Someone who could accept what couldn’t be made whole.

The Langston man wanted to hurt Surreal too.

Tersa gently touched the frame that held her tangled web.

She owed the Langston man for whatever harm she had done—and she would pay her debt.

TWENTY

Lucivar looked around the dining room. In the early light of a gray autumn morning, an eyrie could look gloomy too, but that was balanced by the fact that an eyrie was built of stone and had the strength and character of being part of the land around it.

There was no excuse formaking a room look like this.

No reason to linger, since Surreal and Rainier weren’t there, but he set his pack down on the dining room table and circled the room anyway, just to see if he could sense anything of interest.

Like the reason someone had ripped the door of the storage cupboard off its hinges and then replaced the door with enough care that a casual glance around the room might not detect the damage.

As he came abreast of the door, the knob rattled, as if someone inside was trying to get out. Or trying to entice whoever was in the room intoletting him or her out.

Switching the war blade to his left hand, he stood on the hinge side and closed his right hand over the doorknob, using the length of his arm as a brace to keep the cupboard’s occupant from simply knocking the door down.

As soon as he started to open the door, something inside the cupboard slammed into it, trying to knock it down on top of him. He moved with the swing of the door, using it as a shield as the enemy rushed into the dining room, intent on finding its prey.

He tossed the door and flipped the war blade back to his right hand. The door’s crash had the witch turning to face him, to find him—and his gorge rose.


Tags: Anne Bishop The Black Jewels Science Fiction
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