“What’s wrong with her hands?” Daemon asked.

“The Healer isn’t sure.” Another nervous glance at Daemon.

“Or doesn’t want to say. But she’s tried everything and hasn’t been able to heal the wounds.”

“I’ll look at them in a few minutes,” Jaenelle said. “Examining the body won’t take long.”

*How do you know that?* Daemon asked on a private psychic thread.

She didn’t answer him. Instead, she removed her flowing, calf-length black jacket and vanished it. “You’ll want to air walk when you’re in this room.”

“I’ve walked on blood-soaked ground before.”

“That may be, Prince, but you don’t want the scent of blood on you. Not this blood.”

He watched her walk into the room, standing on air a finger’s length above the floor. He made sure he was standing the same distance above the floor before he walked into the room.

Jaenelle circled the body slowly. Once. Twice. Thrice.

He circled the body too, and was almost certain they weren’t picking up the same information. At least, not all the same information.

If he’d come across a body like this when he’d lived in Terreille, he would have recognized there was nothing gentle about this death, despite there being no sense of violence in the room. That would have made him sufficiently wary to back away. Because it took more than control and power to do what had been done in this room.

Jaenelle crouched on one side of the body and stared at it. He crouched on the other side, trying to make sense of the pieces of information he could glean.

He put a Black shield around his hand, then reached for the shirt, intending to pull back the collar enough to see if there was a tailor’s label.

Jaenelle grabbed his wrist. *Don’t touch the shirt. I’m fairly certain the spell wasn’t triggered until she put the shirt on, but now that the silk has been saturated with blood, I think it will hook into any flesh.*

*My hand is shielded.*

She looked at him, just looked at him. A chill went down his spine.

Releasing his wrist, she held one hand above the witch’s chest. The Twilight’s Dawn Jewel in her pendant changed to Red edged with Gray. The Jewel in her ring was the equivalent of Ebon-gray with veins of Black.

He couldn’t tell what spell she used. The power that flowed out of her felt like nothing more than a puff of warm air.

But when that power flowed through the fabric, silvery strands shone in the blood-darkened silk. Silvery strands that had nothing to do with clothing and everything to do with a different kind of weaving.

*Tangled web,* Jaenelle said.

The silvery strands faded.

*Can we remove it?* Daemon asked.

*No.*

*Can we destroy it?*

She looked grim. *Yes. It . . . offers the answer to destroying it. But the Darkness only knows what that will unleash.*

*Jaenelle . . . *

*We need to talk about this. About all of this. But not here. Not now. Right now, I want you to walk out of this room and close the door.*

*Why?*

*Wood and stone remember.*

He couldn’t be understanding her. *You’re going to use the Hourglass’s Craft to recall what happened here and watch the execution?*

*Yes.*

*Then I’ll stay with you.*

*No. I want you out of this room, Daemon. Now.*

And the Queen commands, he thought as he walked out of the room—and wondered if his heart could bruise his chest, the way it was pounding.

What was it she suspected that she didn’t want him to see?

It felt like he’d been standing in that hallway for days, but when Jaenelle walked out of the room, he was fairly certain she’d been inside less time than it had taken for Vulchera to bleed out.

“You’ll have to burn the body,” Jaenelle told Lord Collyn. “If you don’t, that shirt will continue to be a danger to your household.”

“Can’t we wait until the spell fades and then deal with the remains?” Collyn asked.

“The body will rot before those spells fade,” she replied sharply. “Use Craft. Don’t touch anything you don’t have to. Build a bonfire,Warlord, because this has to burn. Use witchfire as well as natural fire. Both will be needed to break the spells. I’ll leave a cleansing web Lady Yaslana and I developed to remove emotional residue from a room. That should make it possible for your people to be in the room long enough to take care of the physical cleaning.”

Of course, it would be a long time—if ever—before any guest would willingly stay in that room, cleansed or not, Daemon thought.

“Now,” Jaenelle said, “I’ll see your wife.”

Blood seeped from fine lines on Lady Rosalene’s hands, as if she’d pressed down on wires that had cut deep into her skin. Except the skin wasn’t cut. If you wiped away the blood, all that was visible were those silvery strands on the surface of her skin—until the blood welled up again from those strands.

Rosalene had pressed her hands on the shirt. She had walked into the bedroom, seen the body, seen the blood, and grabbed that bitch Vulchera’s arm in some shocked effort to help before she saw the reason there was no possible way to help.

Silver strands. Like the tangled web that had been woven into that silk shirt.

Ignoring Collyn, who hovered in the doorway, not quite daring to come into the room, Daemon stood near Jaenelle and watched her clean the blood off Rosalene’s hands again.

“I’ve tried everything I know.” The Healer was a middle-aged woman who sounded both frustrated and anxious. “I’ve tried every healing spell I know, but there’s nothing to actually heal.”

Jaenelle called in a small, short-bladed Healer’s knife and made a shallow cut in Rosalene’s hand, following the path of one of those silvery strands. Setting that knife aside, she called in another and pricked her own finger.

Daemon snarled, a reflex to smelling his Queen’s blood, to knowing her blood ran.

A phantom caress down his back—a caress that reassured enough for him to leash the instincts of a Warlord Prince.

As one drop of her blood fell on the shallow cut she had made in Rosalene’s hand, Jaenelle said,“And the Blood shall sing to the Blood. And in the blood.”

The Healer wet a small square of cloth with a healing lotion and handed it to Jaenelle, who murmured her thanks—and didn’t grumble at him when he took the cloth and cleaned her pricked finger.

“Clean off her hands again,” Jaenelle told the Healer.

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