Nothing that was done today made sense if there was real trouble.

She’d barely finished that thought when an Eyrien came winging in from the opposite direction—from the north.

He stumbled as he landed. Bloody face, bloody clothes.

*He’s the same one who came this morning to fetch Lucivar,* Merry told her.

Surreal felt the cold rage twining down the link she still had with Sadi. Shit shit shit. She should have broken the link when she had a chance. If she cut him off now, he’d be down here among the Eyriens looking for answers, and he wouldn’t be concerned about who, if anyone, survived that little chat.

“He’s dead!” the young Warlord cried as he stumbled toward them. “Yaslana is dead!”

“No!” Hallevar roared. “There’s nothing in this valley strong enough to bring down the Ebon-gray!”

*Except his brother,* Surreal sent. The snarl that came back to her was full of hot anger, not cold rage. Thank the Darkness for that.

“Where?” Rothvar shouted as Zaranar said, “Are you sure?”

“That bastard was expecting this,” Rainier whispered in her ear.

She looked at Falonar and swore.

Rainier was right. The other Eyriens were angry, upset, outraged. But Falonar stood there, looking stiff and accepting.

“I don’t believe it,” Rothvar said. “I’ve seen Yaslana fight. You look me in the eyes and say it again.”

“I saw it!” the young Warlord shouted. “Lucivar Yaslana is—”

Surreal threw her arms over her head as the Warlord’s body exploded with such force the pebbles of bone against her shield sounded like hail against a window. Behind her, Merry screamed, and Rainier and Briggs both cried out in shock.

A moment later, she felt that Ebon-gray presence and looked down the street.

He was covered in blood that ran from his half-opened wings and dripped from the war blade. She’d seen that glazed look when he’d fought in the spooky house. She eased back enough to shelter Merry.

“I told you nothing could bring him down!” Hallevar yelled.

Shouts and cheers as Lucivar walked toward the Eyriens, although how they could see him through the red rain clouding the street was beyond her. It settled faster than it should have, given the amount of power that had been punched into that fool, as if a hand were pressing it down.

*Surreal?* Daemon asked.

*He’s alive, I think—and very pissed off.”

*You think?*

*He’s covered in so much blood it’s hard to tell.* Shit. Shouldn’t have told Daemon that.

Lucivar stared at Falonar, who seemed frozen.

Rothvar, however, took a step forward. “How may we be of service, Prince?” he asked Lucivar. “Is there any cleanup that needs to be done in the north?”

Lucivar continued to stare at Falonar. “No cleanup. This prick was the last enemy on the killing field.”

“What about the Eyriens who fought with you?” Zaranar asked. “Do any of them need help?”

“There weren’t any.”

Stunned silence.

“None?” Hallevar finally said.

“None,” Lucivar said.

Surreal didn’t like the flat sound of Lucivar’s voice. It wasn’t Lucivar.

He turned his head and looked at her. “Are you well?”

That’s the question I’d like to ask you. “Yes, I’m well. What can I do for you, Yaslana?”

“Inform the Queen that the trouble has been dealt with. She can release the village from lockdown. Where is my brother?”

Don’t you know? “At your eyrie.”

Lucivar focused on Rothvar and Zaranar. “Take your formations and do a sweep over Riada and its landen villages.”

They nodded, but Hallevar said, “I’ve been out doing flyovers around Doun all morning. I’d appreciate a chance to thaw out these old bones.”

Old bones, my ass, Surreal thought, watching Hallevar, Kohlvar, Tamnar, and Endar leave the formations and come up beside her. If the Gray was going out to report to Riada’s Queen, there would be sufficient warriors to take her place guarding The Tavern.

“Falonar,” Lucivar said too softly. “With me. Now.” Spreading his wings, he launched himself skyward and headed for Falonar’s eyrie.

Falonar didn’t look at any of them, said nothing to any of them. He hesitated a moment, then followed Lucivar.

*Sadi?* Surreal called.

No answer. Sometime during the past few moments he had quietly broken the link between them. She had a sick, shivery feeling it was because he didn’t want anyone to know what he was thinking.

Lucivar waited in the front room of Falonar’s eyrie. He just stared at the other Warlord Prince, saying nothing.

“They’re all dead?” Falonar finally asked, keeping his mind blank of all thoughts—and disappointment.

“While I was going over that field, making sure I finished the kill on every one of those bastards, I kept thinking about how you used to benefit from schemes you had no part of—at least on the surface,” Lucivar said.

“You finished the kill on all of them? Why? Were you afraid they would make the transition to demon-dead and remain a threat?”

“You fool. I was afraid of what would happen to the rest of the Eyriens if one of those bastards made the transition and ended up having a chat with my father,” Lucivar snapped. “I’m not interested in any explanation or justification for why they were on that field, standing against me. They told me the Blood’s code of honor doesn’t apply to a half-breed bastard, and that’s all I needed to know. But my father might see things differently, and I don’t want him to have a reason to start thinking about a purge.”

For a moment, Falonar couldn’t breathe. “He would do that?”

“You stupid son of a whoring bitch,” Lucivar roared. “What did you think you’d gain by this maneuver? A title? Think again. The Keep decides who rules in this valley. You would have been allowed to stand as the ruler of the Eyriens, but you wouldn’t have been given control of Ebon Rih. You and the people you ruled would have to make a living out of what you could grow and hunt on the mountains.”

“No,” Falonar said. “That’s not the way it is.”

“That is the way it is! Your little scheme killed off most of the Eyriens in Ebon Rih today. Every man who would have served you is gone. But do you know what would have happened if they had succeeded in killing me? You wouldn’t have become the leader of the Eyriens, because there would be no Eyriens. When I was taken from him, my father told Prythian that when I died, the Eyrien race would die with me.The whole damn race, Falonar. Here and in Terreille. Everyone.”

Anne Bishop Books | Science Fiction Books | The Black Jewels Series Books