The door to the driver’s compartment slid open. Jaenelle said, “We need to find Beron and Sylvia. Mikal should be safe with Tildee.”
*I will find Beron,* Ladvarian said. *I can run faster, and I can smell him, even if he is hiding.*
Daemon didn’t argue, since the dog was right. He wrapped the Coach in a Black sight shield as they approached the estate.
“Front door?” he asked, glancing back as Surreal moved up to join them. Both women now wore trousers, boots, and body-hugging tops that wouldn’t get in the way of fighting or healing.
“Front door,” Jaenelle agreed.
“I’m not sensing anyone in the front lower rooms,” Surreal said. “There are clusters of people in the upper rooms. We should go in fast and quiet.”
“Agreed,” Jaenelle said. “These people haven’t lived around kindred. They have no reason to think Tildee sent a message that could have reached us so fast. If Sylvia and Beron are being held, no one will be expecting us. Not this soon.”
Daemon landed on the drive, using Craft to create a blanket of air so that the Coach silently came to rest just above the gravel.
As soon as the Coach settled, Ladvarian passed through the door and disappeared.
*Sylvia,* Daemon called on a psychic thread. *Sylvia!*
No response of any kind, not even a weak effort of someone sick or injured. *Beron?*
Barely a flicker, but he thought there was some response.
Daemon stepped out of the Coach, then waited for Jaenelle and Surreal. The three of them moved up to the front door together, then passed through it one by one. Daemon took the lead while Surreal guarded their backs. As he headed up the stairs, probing and searching, Ladvarian shouted, *Jaenelle!*
Daemon leaped up the remaining stairs, moving fast to stay ahead of Jaenelle, following the sounds of barking and shouting. He burst into the room, a Black shield fanned out in front of him to protect the women behind him.
A huddle of people—several adults and the boy, Haeze. A Healer cringed near a narrow bed, her eyes on Ladvarian. The Sceltie floated on air above the bed, snapping and snarling to keep the woman away from Beron, who lay in the bed, bloody and too still.
Jaenelle rushed over to the bed. Surreal remained by the door, a knife in her hand. Ladvarian continued snarling at the Healer. And Daemon, riding the killing edge, watched everyone in the room as he assessed the stink of the adults’ psychic scents. Fear, desperation, and a petty satisfaction that it wasn’t their boy lying wounded in the bed. And something more that he couldn’t identify—yet.
“You whoring bitch.”
Planting one knee on air, Jaenelle threw herself across the bed, grabbed the Healer’s Jewel, and channeled a blast of power through cold rage.
Surreal yelped in surprise. Other people screamed, and the Healer shrieked as Jaenelle shattered the woman’s Jewels, both ranking Jewel and Birthright, breaking her back to basic Craft. Windows shattered. The walls of the room cracked in patterns that made Daemon think a violent lightning storm had been etched on the plaster.
He felt as if the Winds had turned into a funnel of speed and power that would sweep away anything in its path, and he was standing at the edge of that fury.
Then the power and fury were gone, reclaimed by the witch who had unleashed it.
Jaenelle opened her hand. The shattered pieces of the Healer’s Jewel fell to the floor, completely empty of power. Pushing against air, Jaenelle returned to the other side of the bed.
“Lady?” Daemon asked sharply.
“She was destroying Beron’s vocal cords under the guise of healing his throat,” Jaenelle snarled.
He didn’t ask how she knew or if she was certain the harm was deliberate. Jaenelle wouldn’t have broken a Healer that way unless she was certain.
Daemon looked at the adults, then at Haeze, who was curled up on the floor.
Everyone in the room had known the bitch was doing it—including the boy who was supposed to be Beron’s friend.
That was the something more he had picked up in their psychic scents—their worry that someone would find out they had stood by and allowed Beron to be harmed.
Well, someone had, and he wasn’t about to overlook or forgive anything.
While Witch’s fury shook the room, Ladvarian had pressed himself against the bed over Beron’s legs. Now he stood up, shook himself vigorously, and looked at Jaenelle. *This room has bad smells, and it is getting cold. You should take Beron to the Coach so you can heal him properly. Surreal will guard you while the Prince and I look for Lady Sylvia.*
*Why aren’t you being that bossy?* Surreal asked Daemon on a Gray thread.
*I wouldn’t have dared. Not yet, anyway,* he replied dryly.
Jaenelle looked at Beron. “Agreed.” She pulled the top sheet loose. Ladvarian jumped off the bed as she floated the boy on air and wrapped the sheet around him.
*Can you handle this?* Daemon asked Surreal.
*Do you have a problem with me burying anyone who upsets her?*
*No problem at all.*
*Then I can handle this.*
Ladvarian went with the women as they hurried to get Beron to the Coach. Daemon remained, his hands in his coat pockets, doing nothing but staring at the people huddled together. Now that Witch was out of the room, he was, once more, the dominant predator.
The male voice was unfamiliar and cautious. Not surprising, since the man was coming up behind him and wouldn’t want to be mistaken for an enemy.
Looking over his shoulder, Daemon studied the Warlord wearing the badge of a Master of the Guard. “Come in.”
The Master entered the room, flanked by several other Warlords. “Someone has been hurt?”
“The Queen of Halaway’s son,” Daemon replied. “And Lady Sylvia is missing.”
“How may we be of service?” The Master’s voice turned grim.
“Lord Ladvarian and I are going to search the grounds for Lady Sylvia. Have some of your men search the house.” Daemon pointed at the Healer, then at the adults he assumed were Sylvia’s hosts. “Keep them under guard, separately, until I’m ready to have a little chat. Take the boy to his room, under protection.”
“Done,” the Master said.
Daemon walked out of the room as the Warlords swarmed around the people being detained. The Master followed him out.
“Something else?” Daemon asked, pausing at the top of the stairs.
“Does this have anything to do with the missing children?”
Cold rage swept through him, but he kept it chained. “What do you know about missing children?” And why hadn’t you shown some balls and come up to the Hall to tell me about them?