Vision in Silver Page 5

“Anything else?” he asked. She’d already given him plenty to think about, but he sensed the girl wasn’t finished.

Merri Lee pointed to the warning about something not being too late. “I don’t think that was part of the vision. I think Meg shouted that in an attempt to warn the girl she saw in the vision.” She blew out a breath. “Both ‘stories’ about girls included a silver razor. The blood prophets are in trouble, aren’t they?”

“Trouble” might be a small word for what could be happening to those girls.

“Thank you, Ms. Lee,” Vlad said, ignoring her question. “You and Meg have given me a lot to consider. But now it’s time we all started the workday. You’re filling out orders in the bookstore today, aren’t you?”

“Yes. What orders I can fill, anyway.” Merri Lee stood up, but she didn’t make a move toward the door. “Ruth wasn’t going to tell you about the vegetable bed or the other part.”

“Then I’m glad you told me.”

Vlad listened to Merri Lee go down the stairs before pushing away from the desk and walking over to the windows that overlooked Crowfield Avenue.

Damn monkeys kept chattering about the Humans First and Last movement on the radio and in the newspaper. Humans were an upstart species compared to the terra indigene, who, in one form or another, had been walking in the world long before the dinosaurs. But humans thought they should control the world, and the speeches made by members of the HFL movement encouraged that kind of thinking.

Didn’t humans realize the terra indigene had heard such words before? Didn’t humans understand that such words were a warning that a fight for territory was building under the surface?

Didn’t they wonder what had happened to cities, and civilizations, the previous times humans had made such claims?

Fine, Vlad thought. Let it come. You monkeys have no idea what’s out there in the wild country. But you’ll find out. If you start a fight with the Others in Thaisia, you will find out.

As he idly watched the traffic moving along Crowfield Avenue, he saw a car pull up across the street. Two men got out, gathered some material from the trunk, and began pounding a sign into the yard of one of the large stone apartment buildings across the street from the Courtyard. Then they went across the yard of a two-story wood house and pounded another sign into the lawn of the other large stone apartment building.

Vlad looked over his shoulder at the index cards sitting on the desk. He studied the FOR SALE signs that had just been put up across the street.

Can’t wait to discuss this with Simon, he thought as he returned to the desk and sent a quick e-mail to all the Sanguinati living in Thaisia. What Meg saw is already in motion, which means the blood prophets, the sweet blood, are already in danger.

He closed the e-mail program and left Howling Good Reads, not even stopping long enough to tell Merri Lee he was leaving. Shifting to his smoke form, Vlad raced to the Chambers to report to Grandfather Erebus.

To: All Sanguinati in Thaisia

Subject: NWLNA

Read the want ads in human newspapers. Look for the letters NWLNA. They stand for ‘No Wolf Lover Need Apply’ and are a strike against humans who are not enemies of the terra indigene. Make a list of the businesses that placed those ads. Also, check for those letters in rental ads for apartments or houses. Gather information but do nothing else. The real prey are two-legged predators from a pack called Humans First and Last. They hide among the rest of the humans, and seeing NWLNA is a sign of their presence in your territory.

The Sanguinati will call these humans Venom Speakers because they poison other humans with their words.

Keep watch and report. Let the Venom Speakers come out into the open. Then they will be easier to kill.

—Vladimir Sanguinati on behalf of Erebus Sanguinati

CHAPTER 2

Thaisday, Maius 10

Simon Wolfgard parked the minivan in the lot designated for passengers taking the ferry to Great Island. He started to open his door, then turned to his companion, Henry Beargard. “What did Vlad want when he called?”

“He wants the Business Association to meet as soon as we get back to the Courtyard,” Henry replied. “He says we should set up meetings with Lieutenant Montgomery and Dr. Lorenzo as soon as possible. Maybe Captain Burke as well.”

“What happened?” Simon growled, feeling his canines lengthen to Wolf size.

“Nothing of immediate concern, but many things have to be talked about and dealt with. Meg is fine,” Henry added. “Vlad went over to the Liaison’s Office and checked before he called.”

He knew how to interpret those words. “She cut herself and saw prophecy.”

Henry nodded. “Meg is concerned because Merri Lee didn’t want to tell her what was seen, but Vlad says both girls are fine. The cut was carefully made and well tended. In fact, despite being concerned about the prophecy, Meg sounded cheerful and relaxed and said something about a symbol for a new beginning but waved off Vlad’s attempt to find out what that meant by saying it was a girl thing.”

Simon didn’t want to poke his nose into a “girl thing.” Potentially dangerous territory, that. But the words did indicate the cut physically wasn’t a cause for concern.

If there was something wrong with Meg, Vlad wouldn’t be dismissive, especially when Grandfather Erebus, the leader of the Sanguinati in Lakeside—and perhaps the leader of the Sanguinati throughout the Northeast Region, or even the whole of Thaisia—took a personal interest in the girl he called the sweet blood.

Not technically a girl, Simon thought as he and Henry locked the minivan and walked to the booth that sold tickets for the ferry. Meg was twenty-four years old. An adult female. But cassandra sangue retained the sweetness of a child’s heart, which was one reason they were considered not prey.

The other reason was that blood prophets were Namid’s creation, both wondrous and terrible, and far more dangerous than anyone had realized. That had been the reason the Others had demanded what humans called full disclosure—reveal anyplace that housed blood prophets or face extermination of the entire town that conspired to keep the girls a secret.

The whole continent had been shaken by the terra indigene hunting down a man known as the Controller. The Others in the Midwest Region, where the compound was located, had not only destroyed the man and those who worked for him; they had shown human authorities what the laws allowing “benevolent ownership” meant to the cassandra sangue who were kept in compounds like that.

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