Disclaimer: I do not own any part of Anne Bishop's Black Jewel's Trilogy, including characters and worlds.
Reia Rhiannon SaDiablo stood on the balcony at SaDiablo Hall in Kaeleer, letting the rain drench her. How could he? How could he do this to her? Of all the people she had trusted, of all the people she loved, her twin brother, Darian Azriel SaDiablo took the top spot. He was always there for her. When she had scraped her knee as a child. When she had received a scolding from her father after a particularly dangerous Craft experiment, Darian was always there, to soothe away the pain and sting of emotional wounds. Now, Darian was being escorted to Terreille, the Realm of Light. How could he leave her?! They said it only temporary; only until Blood in Kaeleer could be completely sure that the taint spread by Dorothea SaDiablo and the Dark Priestess was completely gone. The same taint her mother had eliminated, nineteen years before.
It wasn't like she didn't know the dreaded day was coming. Kaeleer had been sending their strongest and most gifted warriors into Terreille to destroy any chances the taint had in resurfacing, for the past twenty years. It was only a matter of time before Darian was called. As the son of Dreams made flesh, he was expected to be one of the best and brightest in Craft, not to mention full of the power and leadership his father possessed. Hell's fire, he was her twin. They both had the sun-kissed, light-brown skin and tall, muscular body inherited from their father. They both had golden hair and sapphire eyes, although hers were more summer-sky. They both had enough dark strength and psychic power to rule the realm, but not the ambition to do so. They both wore the Birthright Red. The only difference between them, besides their sex, was the fact that Darian had made the Offering to the Darkness and Reia hadn't. Now, the Ebon-gray Jewelled Warlord Prince was wandering the fouled land in Terreille, finding the remainder of the Blood and reinforcing the old ways. Reia let the rain drench her, soaking the black spider silk night-gown making it cling to her body like a second skin. Tears mingled with the rain trickling down her cheeks. He was gone and there was a chance, however slight, that he wouldn't come back.
"Daemon," even twenty years later, the way Jaenelle said his name sounded like a sighing caress. She had aged beautifully since the purge of the Blood in Terreille. The exotic face had changed from the mask of a young woman to an older, more mature Lady, leaving her with a timeless, ageless beauty that no one could imitate. That face remained untouched by the fine lines that tended to adorn the faces of those from the short-lived races. Those ancient sapphire eyes were less haunted with the ghosts of the past, yet still retained their ancient beauty and commanding gazes. There was no masking the love in those eyes for Daemon and their children, nor would she ever try to. She sat on a couch, book in her hands, but her eyes staring blankly ahead, giving the illusion that her target of focus was the wall.
"Sweetheart?" Daemon murmured as he wrapped his arms around her and pressed his face into her golden hair, his Black Jewel glowing softly with the love he felt for her.
Jaenelle giggled as her husband began placing little butterfly kisses up and down her neck, Twilight's Dawn glowing with it's soft, translucent light that hinted of all the different Jewels. She turned to face him, suddenly serious, sapphire eyes containing something she must have spent long hours thinking of how to phrase. "Daemon, I'm worried."
"About what?" the playfulness suddenly left Daemon's beautiful face; worry and concern replaced it, soon replaced by an unreadable, blank mask. Whenever Jaenelle became worried, something serious or life affecting must be soon arriving, like a storm gathering over the horizon. For now, he couldn't show his worry. Not when she had obviously been anticipating his reaction. Worrying now would just cause her to stop talking and that was the last thing he wanted.
"About Reia. She's been outside for hours, standing in the rain. This must be something to do with Darian," Jaenelle said softly. She shifted uncomfortably and laced her fingers together.
"Sweetheart, Reia's just going to accept the fact that he has to go to Terreille. For reasons other than the obvious," Daemon said, stroking her hair.
"But it's more than that," she insisted, fingers twisting in front of her. "Something's going to happen, I know it! Something's not right." Daemon began kneading her shoulders, trying to keep his carefully neutral mask from shattering.
"Then we'll keep an eye on her. Nothing will happen here at the Hall. Not with Lucivar and myself here. Certainly not with you here either. There are a number of guard spells on the Hall. Stronger, since the fact that we are nursing a whole group of adolescent witches and warlords to power," Daemon reassured her, slender hands with long black nails still massaging her shoulders. Even with the strong male strength surrounding the Hall, he wasn't so sure it was enough to keep out whatever she was dreading.
"Mmm, right there." Jaenelle moaned. Daemon obligingly focused on the area where her neck joined her shoulder. "I suppose... Now I know how Papa felt when the coven and boyos arrived that summer," she mused.
Apparently he had managed to convince her that there was nothing to worry about. But as he massaged her neck, he tried to suppress a nagging thought. What had she discovered that could have made her so worried? And what kind of secrets and shadows was that vast mind hiding?
The next morning was the most difficult Reia had to live through. The thought of spending the day without her brother and best friend made getting out of bed almost unbearable. However, it appeared her dear Uncle Lucivar had other plans.
Squelching a grin, Lucivar snuck silently to the bed his niece currently occupied in her deceptively peaceful sleep. Not for long. Effortlessly, he picked her up and shoved her under the shower. Letting out a screech that made every hair in the whole Hall rise, Reia clawed at the faucet handle, desperately trying to shut off the torrent of icy water cascading down on her. Finally, the water ceased pounding on her. Fury blazing in the back of her summer-sky blue eyes, she whirled upon her Uncle, who seemed to be pulling many different muscles to keep from laughing. How he kept upright was besides her.
Lucivar rapidly composed himself. "I expect you to be at the practice circle on time, not half an hour late," he said calmly.
"Or you'll what?" Reia shrieked, water running down her hair and onto the floor. Her soaked pyjamas stuck to her, becoming a cold, dead-weight.
Lucivar merely used Craft to turn the water back on. When Reia managed to turn the handle back the other way, Lucivar was smiling a lazy, arrogant smile; his trademark.
"How dare you?! I am the daughter of Witch! You can't treat me that way!" Reia screamed, forgetting who she was talking to as fury blinded her.
"Believe what you want, little-witch," Lucivar grinned. Reia couldn't help but grin back. That was the thing about her Uncle Lucivar. No matter what, he always managed to make her smile. Besides, Reia didn't expect to be treated differently from anyone else. Daughter of Witch or not, when she was late for practice, she could expect to be soaked.
"It seems there are........ others who are late as well," Lucivar said, choking on the laugh building in his throat. "If you'll excuse me." Reia nodded as he snuck silently down the hall. No doubt one of her mother's coven had forgotten about the early morning drills.
The muffled shout that came from the room next to her startled Reia. That was where..... No! Oh, he wouldn't! Apparently, he did.
"Lucivar! What in the name of Hell are you doing?!" Daemon screamed at his brother. His voice sounded gurgled, as if he was underwater. Perhaps the sound of the shower running in the next room had something to do with it.
"You're late," came the reply.
"Damn you," her father's voice said angrily.
"That went straight to my heart. If you're quiet, you can help me wake up Cat," Lucivar grinned wickedly.
Daemon grinned just as wickedly back. "Of course, brother dear. You know how much Jaenelle appreciates cold showers."
"Then it's settled." Silently, they snuck off to the Queen's chambers, where Jaenelle slept when she had plenty of work to do and didn't want to be disturbed.
Reia heard a scream and several vicious curses hurled through the air as Jaenelle was shoved into the cold shower. Thank the Darkness Reia couldn't understand her mother's wide vocabulary of colourful words in several different languages. She struggled to change into some warm, dry clothes.
Lucivar and Daemon were hurled out of the room. This did not seem to bother Lucivar too much. "Just be on the field in ten minutes, Cat." He turned on his heel to hurry back to the circle.
Daemon just stood in the hallway naked. Suddenly, he realized what he was doing, and rushed back into his room. There was a time when it wouldn't have mattered, but his daughter was next door and he didn't want her seeing him.
Once dressed, he poked his head into her doorway. "You didn't hear any of that, did you?" he asked his daughter.
Reia shook her head.
"Good. Jaenelle's always had an impressive vocabulary when it comes to Language Inappropriate for Ladies," Daemon said dryly.
Reia's silvery, velvet-coloured laugh rang around the room. Daemon had often said that her voice was similar to her mothers. Like she had picked up how to pronounce different words from different places. Since a variety of races lived in the Hall, it was no surprise. Her father refused to tell his curious, young daughter how her mother learned the different words.
"Better get out the practice field, witch-child. Lucivar has never been a patient man," Daemon told her.
Reia raised an eyebrow in a perfect imitation of her father. "Like how he shoved you under the cold shower?"
Daemon silently sputtered. A reply dawned on him. "Hmm. Perhaps you'd care to explain how your hair became dripping wet?"
Reia muttered something nasty under her breath and hurried out to the practice field to drill the Eyrien sticks with her uncle.