“It can’t be done!” Falonar said. “He couldn’t do it.”

“It can—and he has.”

Falonar staggered back until he could brace a hand against a wall.

“The people from the Zuulaman Islands killed one of his sons,” Lucivar said. “An infant.”

“There’s no such place as Zuulaman,” Falonar whispered.

“Which is why Prythian knew it wasn’t a bluff—because there were a handful of the demon-dead who did remember Zuulaman and knew Saetan could—and would—do exactly what he said.”

“But now . . .”

Lucivar shook his head. “That death spell is still in place. He won’t revoke it—and after today, he’ll have more reason to reinforce it.”

He didn’t tell Falonar about the spell he’d asked Jaenelle to add to Saetan’s. She had obliged him, up to a point.

If Lucivar Yaslana died on a killing field, or by anyone’s hand, Saetan’s death spell would take the Eyrien race, sparing no one but Lucivar’s wife and children. But if Lucivar died of natural causes in the fullness of his years, Saetan’s spell would be absorbed by Jaenelle’s, and the Eyrien race would survive.

“If you die, we all die? Then what were you doing on that killing field?” Falonar cried. “On any field?”

“I’m not going to live in a cage for the benefit of a people who want nothing to do with me,” Lucivar said. “I’ll take my chances, and you’ll have to take them right along with me. But not in Ebon Rih. You’re confined to your eyrie until I can find a court that will take you.”

“If you believe I was behind the attempt to kill you, why don’t you execute me?”

The Warlord Prince of Ebon Rih studied him, then smiled a lazy, arrogant smile. “You’re not worth the effort.”

Lucivar walked out—and an Ebon-gray shield locked around Falonar’s eyrie.

Lucivar landed lightly on the edge of the courtyard in front of his eyrie. It was his home, and his family was inside, but until Daemon released the Black shield around the eyrie and eased back from the killing edge, he didn’t dare come any closer.

The door opened, and Daemon stepped out. Those gold eyes, glazed and murderously sleepy, examined him from head to toe.

“Hell’s fire, Prick,” Daemon said, moving closer. “You reek.” His gold eyes warmed and his expression changed to puzzlement as he watched blood and gore drip into the snow. “How did so much red rain penetrate your shields?”

“I let it.”


Lucivar opened his wings quickly. The air around him turned a misty red as the rain was pushed through all the small holes he’d left in the Red shields. “Looking at me, do you have any doubt about where I’ve been or what I did?”

Daemon stared at him a moment longer. Then he sighed. “You can’t come in the eyrie until you get cleaned up.You’ll terrify the children.”

He couldn’t deny the truth of that. “I know. I’m going to the Keep. It has a special area for this kind of cleanup. But I wanted to make sure everyone here was safe.”

The door opened again and Marian rushed out. Daemon reached for her, but she dodged around him and threw her arms around Lucivar’s neck, pressing herself fully against him.

“Are you all right? Are you hurt?” Marian cried. “Oh, Lucivar! I was so worried about you.”

“Marian . . .” Lucivar put his hands on her waist and tried to ease her away from him, certain that she hadn’t looked at him. When she tightened her hold and came close to strangling him, he gave up and put his arms round her. “Sweetheart, I’m all right. Sore muscles and bruises. Nothing more. I swear by the Jewels, those are the worst of it.”

She started crying. “I’m sorry I was so bitchy about your ribs. You did it to help Surreal, and I shouldn’t have been angry with you.”

“You were right to be bitchy about the ribs,” he said. “It was a dumb thing to do, and I deserved getting jabbed for it.”

“Oh. Well, maybe a little.” Sniffling, she eased back and he let her go. She wrinkled her nose. “Lucivar . . .” Then she looked down at her own clothes and swayed.


Lucivar made a grab for her, but Daemon caught her as she stumbled back, her eyes glassy with shock.

“He’s all right, darling,” Daemon crooned. “Lucivar is all right. A man gets messy in that kind of fight.”

You don’t, Lucivar thought. Which was actually more terrifying? To see a man walk off a killing field covered in the carnage made by his own hand, or to see the man who had created that carnage walk off the field pristine?

A different image, a different message. He knew which one he found more frightening.

“I’ll go with him to the Keep,” Daemon crooned. “Help him get cleaned up. Why don’t you go back inside through the side door? You’ll be able to change clothes and wash up. I’ll take care of Lucivar.”

Marian lifted a hand but didn’t touch the dark, wet stains on the front of her tunic. “Yes. These clothes need to soak.” She focused on Lucivar again.

“I’ll take care of him,” Daemon said firmly. He led her to the gate that opened on her garden, which had access to the side door closest to the laundry room.

Lucivar waited until Marian was inside and Daemon returned. “Soothing spell?”

Daemon nodded. “I thought it best if she didn’t think too much about what was on those clothes—and why.”

He agreed with that. “Come on. I’d rather give this report only once—but I’m going to say this here and now. This isn’t your territory, Bastard, and while I appreciate you being here to protect my family, whatever happens to the people in this valley is my decision, not yours.”

“Of course,” Daemon said. “I never thought otherwise.”

He knew his brother too well to trust the words.

“Shall we go?” Daemon asked.

They rode the Ebon-gray Wind to the Keep, dropping to the landing web closest to the courtyard with the shower. Lucivar wrapped another shield around himself to avoid dripping gore through the corridors. He suspected that what lived within the walls and shadows would welcome the blood and bits of meat, but he didn’t want to excite their hunting instincts, so he took the shortest route.

He pushed open a door and stepped into the courtyard.

Tags: Anne Bishop The Black Jewels Science Fiction
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