Good start? Oh, no. “Hell’s fire. You’re not going to make me drink more of that stuff, are you?”

“Not immediately,” he said dryly. “But it’s a simple fact that the darker the power, the less blood that’s required to sustain someone who is demon-dead.”

“Plain speaking, High Lord.”

“Once your power is restored, yarbarah will be sufficient most days. Twice a month, you’ll have a small amount of fresh human blood.”

She narrowed her eyes. “Whose blood?”

He gave her a smile that had her pressing into the bed. “That depends on whether a certain Lady thinks you look peaky. I strongly recommend not draining yourself to the point of looking peaky.”

“Mother Night.”

“And may the Darkness be merciful.” Saetan shifted so he no longer pinned her. “But as I said earlier, you should be grateful you never had Ebony-strength blood poured down your throat.” He rolled out of bed. “All right, witchling. Nurian will be back before sunup to take a look at your legs, but she already confirmed that her shields will keep everything protected so you can have a bath beforehand. I expect Daemon and Lucivar to arrive before sunup as well, since they both know you’ll need to sleep during the daylight hours. Karla’s wheeled chair was left outside the room. You can use that until we can arrange to have one built for you.”

“But you said I could air walk!” She didn’t want to be seen in a chair like that, didn’t want her sons thinking about the parts of her legs that weren’t there.

Saetan gave her a dry look. “It’s like anything else, Sylvia. There needs to be a balance between using Craft to move around and using your body. The wheeled chair is practical.” He snarled softly as he came around to her side of the bed. “You were not a vain woman when you were alive. You are not going to become vain now that you’re dead.”

Her mouth was still hanging open and her brain was still trying to think of a reply when he flung back the covers, picked her up, and took her into the bathroom.

Ignoring the breakfast breads, ham, and fruit that had been set out for him and Lucivar, Daemon poured himself a second cup of coffee and sat back.

“Let’s begin with the simple and work up to the nasty,” he said.

“Why is Sylvia glaring at me?” Lucivar asked Saetan. “It was only a few drops of Red added to the yarbarah. It’s not like I opened a vein and poured Ebon-gray down her throat. I added a few drops to your glass too, and you aren’t acting bitchy about it.”

“I’m going to overlook that poor choice of words,” Saetan replied, giving Lucivar a look that said, Say another word and I’ll kick your ass. “Prince Sadi, please report.”

“As I told you last night, Mikal is upset, but he’s fine except for the bruises Tildee’s teeth made on his arm. He and Tildee are staying with Tersa for the time being.”

“I thought my father might want to take him,” Sylvia said, her voice troubled.

Are you hoping he’ll take them, or are you hoping someone will step in and prevent that arrangement? Daemon wondered. Something wasn’t right between grandfather and grandsons, but he wasn’t going to wade into that family quarrel unless Jaenelle wanted him to. “Right now, Mikal has Tildee, Ladvarian, and Jaal protecting him. Your father might be willing to argue with two Scelties, but I don’t think he’ll want to deal with a tiger. So Mikal stays with Tersa, since her response to finding Jaal in her parlor was to send Ladvarian out to buy more milk.”

“And Beron?” Sylvia asked.

Lucivar gave her that lazy, arrogant smile. “He remembered more of his training than you did. But I guess I’ll overlook that, since you’re all weak and helpless now.”

*The Prick sure does know how to rile up women,* Daemon told Saetan as they watched Sylvia change from wounded, vulnerable woman into a pissed-off Queen. *Think she’ll go for his balls?*

*I locked the wheels on her chair after I tasted the yarbarah,* Saetan replied.

“Beron is wounded,” Daemon said. “He’ll need several days of rest and care to fully heal, but he will heal. He’ll stay at the Hall with us until this is settled. He’ll be well protected there. Nothing will get past Kaelas—or me.”

Sylvia looked at each of the men. “Why so much protection? The trouble is in the southern part of Dhemlan, not in Halaway.”

They had reached the nasty part of this report. “We brought Haeze back to the Hall last night. After talking with Rainier this morning, I’m glad I made that choice.” Daemon took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “A Warlord in Little Terreille has been preying on young boys for the past few years. There is even a story whispered in schools near Goth about No Face, a Warlord who tortures and kills boys who slip out at night instead of staying home as they should.” No Face indulged in physical, sexual, and emotional torture, but Daemon saw no reason to tell Sylvia what had been intended for her younger son.

“No Face.” Sylvia turned her hand palm up and stared at her fingers. “He had some kind of mesh covering his face. I thought my fingers were ripped up by it when I was fighting him.”

Saetan cleared his throat. “Nurian was able to heal your fingers before the flesh could no longer respond like it was still living.”

He broke his own rules in order to repair her body this much, Daemon thought. He won’t regret that decision, but he isn’t comfortable with having made that choice. “Some of No Face’s victims might have made the transition to cildru dyathe, but more likely, he used them up and made the final kill so there wouldn’t be anyone to bear witness against him.”

“Until now,” Saetan said too softly. “The cildru dyathe who have reached Hell in the past few weeks ...” He didn’t glance at Sylvia, but Daemon understood why his father chose not to continue. “The last one was a boy from Dhemlan. Something I wanted to discuss with you, Daemon.”

*Was he mutilated?* Daemon asked on a Black thread.

*Yes.*

“No Face has either grown careless or too confident,” Daemon began.

“Or bored,” Lucivar said, breaking in.

Daemon nodded. “Or bored. The bastard shifted his hunting ground to villages near the Dhemlan border. All of a sudden, village guards in Little Terreille were paying attention and responding faster when a child disappeared. More of a challenge for him, and far more exciting.”

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