“You’re a mean bastard.”

“And you want my help, so stop being a whiny girl. Just hold your nose and take your medicine.”

“I am not whining, you—”

He poured the rest of the blood down her throat. Since he and Geoffrey usually split one of those vials, he knew exactly what he’d done to the woman he loved—which was why he let her swear at him until she wound down enough to sound sane again.

He vanished the vial. “Let’s get you cleaned up. Then we can . . .”

That was when he realized what was wrong with her legs.

Using Craft to take part of her weight, he picked her up and headed for a guest room located near his own suite of rooms.

*Lucivar!* he called on a spear thread.

*Father?*

Jolting Lucivar awake would hone the sharp edge of an always-sharp temper, but he’d deal with that when he had to. *I need your Healer at the Keep. It’s urgent.*

*We’ll be there.* Lucivar broke the link.

Draca waited for him at the doorway of the guest room. When she saw Sylvia, she looked into the room. A marble slab appeared, heavily padded and floating on air.

*It iss more practical,* Draca said.

Nodding, he went into the room and laid Sylvia on the padding.

“All right,” he said, winding a soothing spell through his voice. “Let’s take a look at you.”

“No,” Sylvia said.

He ignored her, pulled aside the torn coat and shirt, and stared at the knife wound that had killed her. He vanished the coat and shirt, then hesitated over the brassiere. It shouldn’t matter now, but it would, so he didn’t remove it. Instead, he called in a blanket and wrapped it around her so she wouldn’t feel embarrassed when Lucivar thundered into the room.

Which Lucivar did a minute later, followed by Nurian.

“Mother Night,” Nurian said as she rushed over to the slab. She reached out, her hands hovering over Sylvia’s ruined legs. “What happened?”

Saetan put his arms around Sylvia, pressing her face against his shoulder. “You need to make a clean amputation, then force the healing to create a closed stump.”

“But she’s . . .” Nurian swallowed hard, but she met Saetan’s eyes. “I don’t think it can be done when the flesh is no longer living.”

“When it’s done within a few hours of dying, the body still remembers what it feels like to be alive and will respond.”

Nurian looked at Sylvia’s Jewels and shook her head. “It would drain her beyond surviving.”

“She’s just had fresh blood. That will sustain her and provide you with what you need to draw for the healing,” Saetan said.

“Whose blood did you give her?” Lucivar asked.

“Jaenelle’s.”

“Half a vial?”

“A whole vial.”

Lucivar looked at Nurian. “Do it.You’ve got more than enough power to work with, so tap everything you need because you only get one chance at this kind of healing. If more blood is needed, I’ll supply it.”

Holding Sylvia close, covering her face with one hand, Saetan watched Lucivar call in a small knife and efficiently cut away the trousers while Nurian began making the cleansing brews she would need.

Lucivar studied the jagged bones and torn flesh, saying nothing, but Saetan had the impression those bones told his Eyrien son a great deal.

There wouldn’t be pain, because the numbing spells would take care of that. Some discomfort, yes, because flesh so newly dead still remembered, and the potency of the blood he could provide for her would keep her close to the line that separated the dead from the living. At least for a little while.

When Nurian was ready, Lucivar shifted Sylvia’s hips, straightening the legs. He pressed his hands on her thighs, holding her in place.

She cried, and it ripped at Saetan’s heart. Lucivar’s body blocked most of her line of sight, but Saetan still covered her eyes so she wouldn’t get even a glimpse of Nurian’s work. And while he held her, he sent out a call to his other son.

*Daemon. Daemon!*

No answer.

*Jaenelle!*

No answer.

*Surreal!*

No answer. Which meant they weren’t at SaDiablo Hall or in Halaway. Or anywhere in that part of Kaeleer, for that matter. Of course, if they were riding the Winds, they couldn’t hear him.

Swallowing a snarl of impatience, Saetan continued to wrap soothing spells around Sylvia until he felt her go limp. Laying her down, he smoothed the hair away from her face.

Lucivar gave him a sharp look.

“I did that,” Saetan said. “Her mind needs to rest. Lady Nurian, can you do without us for a few minutes?”

“I’ll be fine,” Nurian said.

He and Lucivar stepped out of the room and moved a few paces down the corridor.

“A blast of power hit her knees, blowing them out and taking the lower part of her legs with them,” Lucivar said, keeping his voice low. “If she was shielded, whoever did this wore an Opal, a Green Jewel at the most.”

“How can you tell?”

Lucivar gave him an odd look. “Because I know how her legs would look if I had hit her with my Red strength.”

Of course. “Her boys are in trouble.”

Lucivar nodded. “There must have been a fight somewhere. Did she bleed out from the legs?”

Saetan shook his head. “She probably would have bled out if none of her guards survived to help her, but a knife between the ribs is what killed her.”

“What did Daemon say?”

“He’s not answering.”

“All right. You look after Nurian, and I’ll go to the Hall and find out what’s happening.” Lucivar hesitated. “Do you think her boys are going to become cildru dyathe?”

“I hope not, but I do need to talk to Daemon about some children who have become cildru dyathe in the past few weeks.”

“I’ll let him know.”

Saetan watched Lucivar walk away. His sons were strong leaders and powerful men. He would trust them to take care of the living while he took care of the dead.

THREE

Alert for anything or anyone who didn’t belong around his home, Daemon watched Jaenelle and Surreal hustle Beron and Haeze into the Hall, followed by Ladvarian. Just as he was about to go inside, he heard hooves and carriage wheels coming up the drive. He stopped and nodded to Beale, who closed the Hall’s front doors. Then he turned and waited for his visitor. Considering the hour, it didn’t surprise him when Rainier stepped out of the horse-drawn cab. What did surprise him was Lucivar’s sudden appearance on the landing web. He’d expected to see his brother, just not this soon.

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