Blood War (Blood Destiny #8)


"You will take us with you, or we will report to the Alliance that you have allowed Solar Red to build temples upon Twylec," Ringolar held his humanoid shape, as did his brothers. If Tamaritha knew what it was that stood before her, she would have dropped to the floor in a faint.

Ringolar thought about eating her and taking her place, but she had a lover on Jhirnain and he had no desire to get involved. Tamaritha had plans to share rooms with her lover. Ringolar and the others could use the extra time to hunt meals while the Queen was occupied with sex. They had their own agenda and the pathetic mortals wouldn't survive anyway. Ringolar smiled at the thought.

Tamaritha frowned at the five that stood before her. "I can only take ten, and I need my bodyguards," she snapped. "Four guards are not enough, and I need my assistant at my side."

"Ringolar, take Farthis and Dalstone with you; Levecus and I will handle the other errand," Zethias smiled at Ringolar, nearly allowing the lengthy tongue to escape his mouth.

"Very well," Ringolar nodded in agreement with his brother. "That will leave you with six guards plus your assistant," Ringolar nodded toward Tamaritha. This was working out so well; the Vampire Queen would come to the Conclave, leaving Le-Ath Veronis vulnerable so his brothers could create havoc in her absence. Ringolar wanted to laugh at how simple it would be.

"We leave in three days' time; do not be late to board ship," Tamaritha whined.

Chapter 13

Erland sat on a corner of my bed as he directed two comesuli who were packing my clothing for Conclave. My Warlock had a list of events, parties and meetings, so it looked as if half my wardrobe was going with me. Giff's baby pouch was about to pop any day and she'd not been to work since her final two months had begun. I hoped Rolfe got in before the baby came, so he and Roff could both be there for Giff. Rolfe was off fighting spawn, as most other Spawn Hunters were.

Eight of us were going to Nemizan. In addition to Heathe and Grant, Thurlow, Rigo, Garde and Erland were going. Reemagar refused to be left behind, so he was going in disguise. He was identified as Larentii on the list I submitted to the Alliance Security Detail; he just wouldn't look like a Larentii to anyone else. We were obligated to give complete details on everyone we brought with us.

It was a first for Garde, too; this was the first time a High Demon had gone anywhere near the Alliance Conclave. Kifirin hadn't come to see me for several days and he wouldn't be interested in going to Conclave anyway. My twins wanted to go, as did Gavin and Tony, but Kiarra was sending them out regularly to take care of spawn. They grumbled about being left behind, but it just wouldn't work if they had to disappear in the middle of something. Rigo's Rith Naeri were staying behind to guard the palace. I wondered if there was going to be a problem with security at Conclave due to the price on my head, but I really didn't have time to worry about that.

Reemagar planned to fold us to Nemizan—we didn't have to take normal transportation. Grant had let the Alliance know that we were going straight to the hotel where we'd be staying, once we arrived. They didn't ask questions regarding our travel arrangements and we all breathed a little easier.

What also interested me was that the Founding Member, Ildevar Wyyld, and the Grand Alliance Council seldom made personal appearances at Conclave. They sometimes attended meetings through live vid-feeds, but they didn't feel the need to be there in person. I found myself wishing I could do that. Sadly, a personal appearance by the one in charge was mandatory. If the one in charge couldn't attend, a legal representative had to be approved weeks in advance by the Grand Alliance Council in order to vote on agenda items.

The whole thing was likely designed by the Conclave itself so that every five years, a different world received a windfall from the visiting members and the ensuing tourism surrounding the event. It was like the Olympics times one thousand, complete with political gymnastics.

"I have all of us shielded," Reemagar said quietly when we landed inside the hotel lobby on Nemizan. If the desk clerk thought to give Grant the cold shoulder, he should have thought twice about treating a vampire badly. Grant only had to give slight compulsion and we had keys to our suite right away. I learned immediately what being a new and unimportant member of the Alliance meant—we had the worst rooms in the place. I knew that because I misted through the other suites on our floor, just to check. Pointedly ignoring any personal or sexual activity, I focused on the amenities instead.

It was a good thing we didn't need the toilet, too, because ours didn't work. I laughed when Grant showed me that—he stood and flipped the switch over and over, trying to make it evacuate. Nothing happened. He and I high-fived over it, too—there wasn't any need to call maintenance and invite potential spies into our suite.

The royal family on Nemizan had been in charge of handing out the suite assignments, and it wouldn't do to snub any of their cronies. The other attendees all got better treatment and nicer suites. I, on the other hand, could be snubbed with impunity. Le-Ath Veronis had no allies, cronies, political bed-buddies or ass-kissers to look out for us.

Our suite was cramped, too, with three small bedrooms instead of the five larger ones requested. Well, we were lucky to have Reemagar with us—he fixed us right up, stretching out spaces and adding rooms with a blink of amazing power. What did it matter that our suite now extended thirty feet into what was previously empty space? Reemagar shielded the addition from prying eyes and the hotel looked as it always did to anyone who might cast their gaze toward the seventeenth floor.

The other rooms had everything from fresh flowers to food or fruit waiting, and some even had servants and escorts. Well, they didn't have a Larentii with them. I could have wallowed in expensive chocolate and bathed in champagne if I wanted; all I had to do was tell Reemagar and it would have been provided. As it was, I only requested shields and those had already been placed. Don would have smiled and called me a cheap date. I think Reemagar considered it, but Larentii seldom let their sense of humor show. In addition to Reemagar's shields around us, I put up some of my own and Thurlow did as well; I felt his powerful shields vibrating against mine when I set them.

"I think we should disguise our Queen when we leave," Reemagar said as we prepared to go out to dinner. We had a meet and greet scheduled in the morning at nine, but nothing before then. I figured the folks who already knew and liked each other would be getting together that first night, to eat, drink and carouse. I didn't know anybody and felt no need to schmooze. For my evening disguise, Reemagar gave me black hair and made me taller, causing me to blink at my new image in the mirror. It was more than strange—I'd never in my life colored my hair.

The hotel was huge—six hexagonal buildings set in a large complex. Each of the six rose in a tall, architectural statement constructed of steel, concrete and glass. The buildings were connected around a hexagonal courtyard and the complex resembled a honeycomb. I saw the lush courtyard and surrounding hotels as we rode a transparent elevator to the lobby.

Restaurants lined the lower floors inside each building, and we went through six before we found one willing to place us on a waiting list. While we waited for a table, I watched as numerous Conclave attendees waltzed in, with and without reservations, and were all led inside the restaurant quickly. Someday, maybe the restaurant staff would learn not to snub vampires. Rigo stepped up to the host and in ten seconds, we were led to a table.

Lobbying was illegal with the Alliance, but that didn't keep people from trying—they just couldn't be obvious about it. They were present in droves, going from table to table and offering to buy meals, drinks or generally attempting to strike up conversations. A lot of them were successful, too.

Rigo had a word with our waiter, and that meant we didn't wait long for drinks or food. The meal was excellent and Reemagar checked it with power, first, just to make sure it was all right. It didn't escape my notice, though, that not a single lobbyist approached our table. Rigo would have sent them on their way, but somehow, they weren't even trying. Shaking my head, I finished my fish and resolved to ignore it. Reemagar didn't eat or even pretend to do so. He kept us shielded against harm as the rest of us ate and talked. When we got back to our suite, Reemagar folded away so he could feed on sunlight. I envied him, sometimes.

Heathe and Grant shared a room that had two smaller beds while Thurlow, Rigo, Erland and Reemagar all had their own rooms, thanks to Reemagar's talent for enlarging things so they'd fit. I had the largest bedroom and Garde slept with me the first night. Yeah, I like my High Demon just fine, thanks.

"Here is our registration," Grant handed information to the admissions clerks while we waited to gain entrance to the meeting hall. Heathe held the case that contained our palm-sized computers and everything else we needed during the day. I'd dressed finely in a belted cream chiffon tunic and dark green, raw silk pants that flared and floated about my legs and ankles. A low-heeled, designer shoe in dark brown rounded out the outfit, except for the tasteful jewelry—all protection jewels designed by Shadow. I'd French-braided my hair, too, so it wouldn't be too much of a bother.

A committee of employees stood behind the registration desk as we checked in—all eight of us. Erland had a hand at my back, Rigo, Garde and Thurlow were scanning the crowd and I knew Reemagar, who looked enough like Garde to be his brother, had cast what he called Nexus Echo—if there were anyone close who voiced ill feelings toward me, my Larentii mate would know it.

Nexus Echo was a trick the Larentii had; the Saa Thalarr employed it at times, too—it picked up information if their name or a topic of interest came up. That's why they would often show up to add their two cents if somebody was talking about something that concerned them. I hadn't tried it myself—it felt too much like voyeurism.

The registration took too long and I worked to keep boredom and then anger away while our identification and information was checked and double-checked. Finally, we were sorted out with the welcoming committee, who all stared at me at one time or another while they went through their routine. Finally, we were handed ID clips that stuck right to our clothing. My group breathed a collective, deep sigh of relief as we were allowed through the door and led into a very large meeting room by Alliance security.