DIS: I've returned with the third, and last, if I'm right, installment of the series of one-shots for the Dark Jewel Trilogy. I was surprised that a majority of you enjoyed the last one more so than Rings, since usually sequels are worse. In any case, read below and enjoy!
Summary: After discovering Lucivar's secret affair, Jared finds himself entangled in the SaDiablo family. While visiting at the Hall, he meets the patriarch of the family and learns where Daemon received his temper. Sequel to 'Winsol.'
Disclaimer: I do not own Anne Bishop's glorious series.
Notes/Warnings: Sequel to 'Winsol,' which is also the sequel to 'Rings'; part of a mini-series; final installment; Lucivar/Surreal; Daemon/Jaenelle; Jared/Lia; crossover of Kaeleer's Heart from Dreams Made Flesh and The Invisible Ring
Jared gave a soft sigh of irritation as he traveled the Red Wind towards SaDiablo Hall, where he had been informed was where he could find Daemon Sadi and his younger brother, Lucivar Yaslana. The last thing he wanted to do was deal with Daemon's provoked temper and Yaslana's marital problems. However, when he left the two siblings that previous winter, things had been laid on shaky ground. If not for Jared's intervention, Lucivar might not have survived the encounter.
He had known, by the utter politeness in Daemon's letter requesting him to come to the family's dwelling, that there had been no other chance to bring up Lucivar and Surreal's quiet affair until now. Jared couldn't understand how well Lucivar had evaded his brother for as many long months as he had. It was already in the middle of a blooming spring, nearing close to summer. Either Daemon had let it be for a while or Lucivar was a clever adversary for the Warlord Prince. Jared assumed the latter reason was more likely than the former.
As he dropped down to the landing web, he felt a prickle of anxiety as his gaze flitted around him. The looming, gray structure that was a comfortable walk away from him had to be SaDiablo Hall. When he had announced to his wife where he would be going, Lia had jumped at the notion of coming, but he had said in a firm, sober tone, "No, Lia, you will stay here." This wasn't a husband talking to a wife, but a Consort – a Warlord – to his Queen. He had seen the stung expression in her eyes and felt his own heart twinge with regret at having caused that pain. To soften his earlier words, he had assured her in a soothing tone, "It is for your own safety. Jaenelle won't be present, anyway." That had eased the bruised expression from her face and had given him permission, as his Queen, to take leave.
Now, as Jared stared up at the Hall, he was regretting his agreement to Daemon's "invitation." The only reason that Daemon had suggested he come was because he had been the one to sniff out the guilty deceit in his brother and wanted him present for the decision. The patriarch of the SaDiablo family will make the final decision, Daemon had said in his note, and I think it wise if you were here to influence such. Jared supposed, grimly, that as a companion, a student, of the Black-Jeweled Warlord Prince, he should be there for him. But then, what about Lucivar Yaslana? There had to be some sort of rational reason for the Eyrien's adultery.
Grimacing as he considered over this, he started towards the Hall. Hell's fire and may the Darkness be merciful, he thought wearily. Since when do I, a Red-Jeweled Shalador Warlord, muddle in the SaDiablo family problems? He tucked his hands in his trousers, his expression taking on a bored, neutral expression. But then, I was careful to never involve myself in anything until I met Lia. Sighing through his nose, he paused at the end of the gravel drive and let his eyes move up the steps that led to the massive doors. Shuddering at the doorknockers that were sculpted as dragon heads, he took the steps two at a time and removed a hand to slam the doorknocker against the door in three, quick knocks. He took a few steps back and relaxed his body so as not to show his nervous feelings directed towards the place.
It took only a moment before one of the doors swung open to reveal a tall, impressive butler that gave him a bland stare. Jared blinked. He had never encountered a servant who wore the Red Jewels before. Jerking his green eyes from the jewel, ashamed at his staring, he met the dry gaze of the man, saying in a mild tone, "I believe I was expected." The butler gave him a quick overview with his steady eyes and then stepped back to allow him entry. Feeling as though the man had made a silent decision about him he was unaware of, he stepped into the Hall, waiting as the door was closed. "Ah..." Jared glanced at the butler, uncertain. "How should I address you?"
A stiff smile tilted the man's lips as he responded, "Beale, Warlord." Jared nodded once and allowed a small smile to curve his lips upward. Ever since he had been trained as a pleasure slave, he had treated servants as equally as he treated any other person, Blood or landen. There were some that disapproved, but Jared was accustomed to having a less than satisfactory reputation and didn't give a damn what anyone thought of his treatment of servants. That, in point of fact, was exactly why he sought out the names of the servants so he didn't have to go around calling them their jewel or some other unsavory title.
"Very well, then, Beale. I was here to see Sadi – "
"The Warlord Prince isn't here at the moment, Warlord," Beale cut in politely. Jared blinked at him, uncomprehending, before his expression darkened. The butler merely raised an eyebrow, his demeanor as stoic as ever. Inwardly, Jared was cursing Daemon Sadi to the Dark Realm and then to the Darkness, not that it made any difference either way. From Jared's experience of cursing Daemon often in the past year or so, he had taken note that they were only words. He promised himself to take it into his hands to do something humiliating to the Warlord Prince, even though he knew well enough that he wouldn't.
"I see..." Jared said slowly after reigning in his temper. "And the Warlord Prince of Ebon Rih...?" Beale stared at him silently. "...If neither of them is here, who is?"
"The High Lord," was the vague response Jared received. "Shall I show you to his study?"
With no knowledge of whom the High Lord was, Jared made a gesture with his hand that gave assent and Beale, with a slight twitch of his mouth, moved forward with Jared trailing behind. Although it was true that Daemon hadn't given him an exact time to arrive at SaDiablo Hall, Jared had assumed by his wish for haste that he was already at the Hall. Clearly, with both brothers absent, Daemon was likely still in the act of intimidating his Eyrien brother to the point of threatening. Jared sighed softly to himself and glanced at the doors Beale opened. He heard him be announced and then Beale swept a hand towards the study, looking a bit amused. Puzzled, Jared entered the room and heard the doors snap behind him.
He took a quick look around him before letting his eyes slide to the man behind the black wood desk. The room was placed in the shape of a reversed L with the long part taking in a sort of social area with chairs and a coffee table. Behind the large desk were shelves of books and behind the desk was what Jared startled him the most besides the dark, sophisticated colours of the room. At first glance, he wondered if he shouldn't go out and throttle Beale for playing such a trick on him, because he mistook the man to be Daemon. After regaining his wits, he realized that there was no cold beauty in this man, but a rough handsomeness. The eyes, as hard and golden as Daemon's were nearly the same and the stance in which he made a steeple with his fingers – black-tinted nails and Hayllian skin colour and all – was so familiar it briefly shook him. The High Lord was more slender and his hair had graying triangles at the temples. Even the expression on his face, mild, but wary, was much like Daemon's – except he might not have revealed it.
"Warlord," the man greeted, his voice deep and rumbling. Jared hesitated and then gave a formal bow, unsure of how low to go since he had no idea of this man's rank of jewels. So he went as low as he would with Daemon. When he rose, he kept his hands in front of him, to show that he held no weapons. The High Lord was smiling at him. "You are a good judge of character." Confused, Jared remained silent, keeping his expression carefully blank, unable to give a decent response. Then those hands parted and one of them waved casually, revealing the Black-Jeweled ring on his ring finger.
Mother Night, Jared thought, his knees feeling weak, his sight going black for a moment. He was thankful, when he could see clearly again, that he was standing upright and he hadn't changed in the least. Swallowing, he queried in what he hoped wasn't an impudent tone, "Might I ask your name? It would be rude to continue on addressing you as merely 'High Lord.'"
"You may call me Saetan." Jared knew that his usually sun-kissed skin had gone pale, felt the blood drain from his face, but still, he didn't move or show any signs of distress. It was only his mind that was screaming with dismay at this sudden wealth of information. He didn't want to deal with the Prince of Darkness!
Mother Night, Mother Night, Mother Night!! "Saetan," he managed out. "How splendid."
Amusement rose in the older male's eyes and he gestured towards a chair before his desk, saying, "Please. Take a seat." Jared glanced behind him and then settled down in the chair, grateful that he had no reason to worry about his knees buckling anymore. Saetan raised a hand and two glasses appeared. "Wine or yarbarah?" He paused before asking, "Or would you prefer brandy?" The humor had entered his voice now, not only his eyes. He battled with himself over whether he should be offended by it. He decided that he could deal with his anger much more easily than the anxiety of being sucked dry by a corpse.
"Wine is fine, thank you." Saetan filled one glass with wine and floated it over to the Warlord, who took it, his eyes flashing with aggression. As he warmed a glass of yarbarah, he suspected that Lord Jared had taken some offense to his silent amusement at his shock. He had thought that, if he had arrived at SaDiablo Hall, it had been he who the male was looking for. Clearly, however, this wasn't the case or he wouldn't be so stunned at his actual name. He had seen that brief moment of confusion when he entered the room and his gaze had settled on Saetan, but he doubted it was because of who he was, but rather who he wasn't.
Then he must know Daemon, Saetan concluded as he gazed across at the Warlord. Although Daemon was officially the Warlord Prince presiding over Dhemlan, while he was away, if Lucivar wasn't available, Saetan took over. It was nice to be in his study, so unused since Daemon had made himself his own. He must have come here looking for him... The way that the Warlord held himself reminded him somewhat of his son. The temper that lay behind his eyes reminded him much more of Lucivar, but the cool neutrality he had presented Saetan with was distinctly like Daemon's. And he's a husband and Consort to someone, Saetan observed, seeing the two golden rings.
Noticing where Saetan's gaze lingered, Jared informed him, "I serve the Queen of Dena Nehele, and am her husband." The slight flash of warmth in his eyes made Saetan feel a bit more relaxed towards this Warlord. Daemon was a good judge of character.
"I have heard of her, the Lady Ardelia. She helped the cause of defying Dorothea, did she not?" Jared's mouth twitched.
"Yes," he answered, a slightly proud tone in his voice, "she did." He turned his gaze to the wine and glanced at the High Lord before probing the wine. He had watched him pour it, but the bottle itself had already been open. It was a precaution that came naturally to him after years of being a pleasure slave and having safframate slipped into his food, his water. Many times, starving or beyond thirst, he had to take that drug into his system and had to suffer the pain for hours, sometimes longer. He didn't take chances anymore.
Satisfied the wine was safe, he took a drink of it and turned his eyes back to Saetan, who had a shuttered expression. Shivering at the tension in the latter's body, he explained quietly, "Force of habit, Saetan." He bared his teeth in a feral, bitter smile, adding, "Once you've experienced the pains of being a slave in Terreille, you tend to be more cautious." Saetan's body relaxed.
"You were once a slave?"
"A pleasure slave," he corrected, his mouth twisting. "One of the worst kinds of slaves." He paused as he took another drink of his wine, unwilling to delve into his resented past life. "I must confess, I had no intention to come to the Hall and find you. Daemon never mentioned anything of the kind. He sent me a message, telling me to come here as soon as I could. I expected that he was here when he sent the message, so..." He trailed off and Saetan accepted the quick change of subject.
"Daemon was here yesterday, but then he left and allowed me to take charge of Dhemlan." He smiled at the slight crease between Jared's brows. "I surrendered the title to him, but whenever he is gone and his brother cannot take his place, I return to the seat."
"I see...And you have no idea when he'll be back? I was told this was quite urgent."
"If it were urgent, he would tell me," came the High Lord's silky, crooning voice. Jared stiffened and reminded himself this wasn't an old man whose mind was fodder: this was Saetan Daemon SaDiablo, not only the patriarch of the family, but Daemon's father, whose temper was perhaps just as bad or worse than his son's.
"Perhaps," Jared agreed slowly, with the caution of a man who knew his enemy well, "but I think it would be best that I remain here until Daemon returns. Whatever reason he wanted to see me wouldn't have been minor." Saetan's amber eyes swept over him with respect at the slight warning Jared put in his voice. He was making it clear that, since Saetan wasn't the Warlord Prince of Dhemlan, he had no actual authority as such and would obey him as a Warlord Prince whose jewels outranked him, but not as the man who ruled the land he was in.
"Very well, Warlord," Saetan replied in a too soft tone. "We will wait for my son to arrive and see what it was that his letter made seem so important for your arrival." He rose and Jared swiftly followed, floating the wine glass to the desk and setting it there. "I will have Helene prepare a room for you."
"That is very generous of you, High Lord." He bowed again just as Helene opened the doors after Saetan sent for her by a psychic thread. Saetan inclined his head and Jared followed Helene from the study. After the doors had shut quietly behind him, he settled back into his chair, drinking his cooled yarbarah and grimacing at the thickness of it. He warmed it and considered over the Warlord who had dealt with his cold rage too easily. It was clear that Lord Jared had been a bit anxious, even fearful, but he seemed to know when it was appropriate for him to speak up against one in such a rage and when not.
It will be interesting to discover what is lying behind this Warlord's arrival, Saetan decided after taking a drink of the yarbarah.
Jared found SaDiablo Hall large enough to keep more than a few families encased in its walls. The gardens outside were lovely, but the statue that overlooked one of the fountains caused a shiver to run up his spine. He knew that there was nothing violent in it, but he couldn't find the tolerance to look at it for too long. As he was making another turn around the vast gardens, he paused as a familiar presence fell over him. He slowly turned around and was met with the cool elegance of the Sadist. Despite the warmth of the season, a heavy cold fell over him and he made one, quick glance to Daemon's eyes and felt his heart drop to his waist.
Hell's fire, what caused him to rise to the killing edge? He wondered, drawing his attention from that deceptively calm, bored expression that was held on his face. "I came as quick as I could," he told the Warlord Prince, keeping his tone casual despite the trembling in his hands. "Might I ask why you weren't here when I arrived?"
"I had to retrieve Lucivar and Surreal," he answered, taking a step towards Jared. The Shalador Warlord forced himself to ignore his flee instincts and remain still and impassive. He could feel sweat form in the middle of his back, but not even that caused him to escape this horrible cold that had surfaced in the gardens. "They didn't come willingly."
Damn! So that's what set him off. I imagine it doesn't help that it's his brotherJared reflected petulantly.
Daemon was suddenly right in front of him, stroking his cheek, his smile beautiful, but with a knife-edge. "I found them explaining to Marian. She was weeping, Jared. Daemonar had no idea what was going on, blissfully ignorant. Couldn't he have left her ignorant instead of returning his battered wedding ring? Couldn't he have done that instead of causing so much pain? So. Much. Pain." Jared looked away, turning from the caress. Daemon jerked his face back to him, his nails digging into his cheeks. "But you protected him at Winsol, didn't you, Jared? Why was that?"
"Hell's fire, Daemon, why else would I?" He sputtered, his control broken by the sheer knowledge that his head could be ripped off without a second thought. "He's your brother, and it was Winsol, and there were three women in the den that didn't need to see him splattered over the walls. No matter what you might say at the present moment, you would have grieved for his death." The coldness in Daemon's eyes thawed a bit and he released Jared, withdrawing from him.
"Yes," he softly said, "I suppose I would."
Saetan's eyes touched each of the four people that were in the room. From behind the desk that Daemon had insisted he remain in, he noticed that they seemed strangely split. What was even odder was that Lucivar wasn't with Daemon as he usually would be, but with Surreal. Daemon was opposite of them with Jared, who looked wary and tense. He was the only one standing, as well, as though he was expecting to have to engage in a brawl with someone soon. That should have been warning enough, because contrary to the almost easiness in which Jared had treated Saetan with, this was completely different. "Will someone be explaining soon what the meaning of this is?" He questioned, his eyes moving from each face to the next. Jared's eyes blazed with too many emotions to guess on and he apparently felt Saetan's gaze on his face, as he turned inward so that he wouldn't be read so easily.
"It's quite simple," Daemon drawled in his silky, seductive voice. "You are the patriarch of the family and must give judgment of a sort to Lucivar and Surreal. They are engaged in an affair and Lucivar has, in what might be considered a good decision, abandoned Marian." He smiled when he was finished. Lucivar snarled at him, but Surreal remained as calm as ever.
"Marian doesn't deserve to be deceived," he hissed at Daemon. "Do you think I am proud of being unfaithful, Daemon? Do you think I didn't fight this with myself? Do you think neither of us did?"
"You tell me," was the calm response. Lucivar jerked to his feet and Jared, with tight lips, glided between him and Daemon, his expression warning enough. Lucivar stared at him, his expression dark, the fury rolling off of him in waves.
"This isn't the place to fight, Yaslana," Jared quietly said, the slight shake in his hands deceiving his steady voice. "Your father hasn't yet been able to say anything. Daemon and you can talk things out after this is settled. Is that fair?" He extended a hand warily, unsure of whether he would lose it or not. Lucivar stared at it for a moment and then lowered himself back to his seat, accepting the Warlord's words. Jared stepped back, relaxing only slightly.
Saetan rested his fingers together and surveyed his Eyrien son and Surreal solemnly. He had known, when they first met, that there had been a bond between the two that would deepen further into something more than familial love or friendship. There had always been a tug towards each other that couldn't be ignored, so he wasn't unsurprised, but felt only regret for Marian, who was the real victim in this sad sort of affairs. "There is nothing to judge," Saetan announced in a quiet voice. "I believe you, Lucivar, when you say you both struggled." He looked to Daemon. "And you should have expected, Daemon, for them to be attracted to each other, as they are so alike." Daemon didn't give a sulky pout, didn't make any signs that he was angry. In fact, he seemed more satisfied than anything.
"I knew," he agreed, "but this isn't about Lucivar and Surreal."
A pause. "Then what is it about?"
"Ah...If she allows it, Lucivar should be allowed to see Daemonar and I will provide for her as I can." Daemon smiled at that and rose gracefully and left the room without looking to anyone. Jared, with a grim twist of his mouth, settled down into a chair and let out a breath, his eyes dark pools of irritation. "Some brandy, Jared?"
"I would be grateful," he answered. It became aware to Saetan, and likely to Lucivar and Surreal who were exiting the room, that the only reason Daemon had requested Jared's presence was because of his eloquent use of words and persuasion. His own moods were so similar to Lucivar's, although hidden well, that he was able to calm the Eyrien and put himself between him and Daemon, if it was required.
After Jared took a healthy swallow of the brandy Saetan gave him, he asked, "What happens now?"
"What happens will happen," was Saetan's cryptic response. Jared frowned, but gave no comment, drinking his brandy and brooding.
Jared was glad to leave the next day. Lucivar and Surreal had left the day before to retire to Ebon Rih with Saetan to try and make some kind of consolation with Marian. Before leaving, Saetan had told him in a fond tone that he wouldn't mind if he visited more often. Jared had given a weak smile, not sure if it was a good thing that he was liked by such a formidable man. For the rest of the day after they left, he had lazed around in his room and soaked his sore, tense muscles in a hot bath.
"Thank you for coming, puppy," Daemon said as he escorted him down to the landing web. Jared glanced at him, resenting the nickname the Black-Jeweled male had adopted for him. If he had known that he was only needed to keep Yaslana's temper at bay and break up a fight, then he wouldn't have come at all. Surely someone else could have taken on such a task.
"It was not as if I had a chance, Sadi," Jared responded stiffly. Not when I have a Black-Jeweled Warlord Prince that might go hunting for me if I refuse, he added silently. Clearly Daemon anticipated such a thought because his mouth curled in a wicked, amused smile. Narrowing his eyes at him, they paused before the landing web. "Sadi."
"Lord Jared," Daemon replied with a glitter of humor in his golden eyes. "You will have to come and see the whole group at Winsol here at the Hall sometime, puppy. You and your wife."
"After what happened last Winsol, I think I will decline," he said with a slight smile. "I don't relish the idea of being so intimately involved with the SaDiablo family and their friends." Daemon chuckled and reached over and grasped his shoulder briefly.
"We will see each other again," he assured with a look in his eyes that gave Jared the impression that he would make sure of that.
Instead of responding, Jared flashed a small smile and then stepped onto the landing web and rose onto the Red Wind. Sighing slightly to himself, he focused on returning home to his wife, while wondering to himself why it was that he felt a strange assurance that he wouldn't be forgotten easily by the SaDiablo family. He wouldn't admit to feeling an odd warmth for them, with all their easily-provoked tempers and problems. With another sigh, Jared knew with some certainty that there was no way of being left alone by them, not with Daemon's queer friendship and Lia's friendship with Jaenelle.
Ah, well, he thought, as he glided along the Red Wind, at least if we're ever in trouble, we can be reassured by the thought that they'll risk their reputation to get us out of it. He paused, considering over that. Or, in Daemon's case, cause some fatalities.
DIS: Well, this was the longest one out of them all. I think I liked the other two the best. Anyway, please leave review and tell me how you liked it, if at all. Ciao!