Vision in Silver Page 75

Henry blew out a breath. “Now, if humans weren’t around to tend what they’ve made, those things would not quietly become part of the world again. At least, not for a long time.” He turned his head so the air blew his hair out of his face. “Is that why you’re so interested in this River Road Community and nurturing a pack of humans at our Courtyard?”

Simon nodded. “It’s going to happen again. Humans are going to push until the terra indigene destroy them. The drugs that were being made from the blood of the cassandra sangue were just the beginning of the trouble. Even without the drugs, trouble is still spreading. It’s like catching the scent of smoke but not being able to locate the fire. None of the terra indigene who work around the farms we control can understand why humans are claiming there is a shortage of food or why they’re going to go hungry this year. There is no reason why they should go hungry, at least most days.”

“That is true of all of Namid’s creatures, including us.”

“We know not all days end with a full belly. Everything in the world except humans knows that. But fear of hunger has humans looking toward our lands, and the anger that they can’t take what isn’t theirs is building. At least some regions of Thaisia are heading for a fight for territory.”

“So you’re trying to figure out if terra indigene can be sufficiently human to replace humans without losing who we are?”

“Yes.”

Silence. Then Henry said, “This explains why you’re interested in helping the Intuits on Great Island and the Courtyard’s human pack. They’re an experiment.” He paused. “Is the time you spend with Meg also an experiment?”

“No,” Simon said, swallowing the desire to snap out an answer. Wouldn’t be smart to piss off Henry when they were in a moving vehicle and he couldn’t dodge a swat. “Maybe it is. She’s learning from us; we’re learning from her. And she and I . . . We’re learning together.”

Another silence. “Good,” Henry said.

CHAPTER 36

Moonsday, Maius 14

Jackson Wolfgard took a couple of steadying breaths before he opened the door to the scarred girl’s room. When he didn’t catch any scent of blood, he entered and set the plate of food on the desk before he studied the girl sprawled on the bed. She blinked at him, then yawned, showing a mouthful of dainty, healthy teeth.

“I brought you something to eat.” He took a step toward the bed, curious about the pictures she had made. The first one looked like a drawing of the patchwork quilt. He wasn’t sure what the second one was supposed to be. But the third picture . . .

“What is this?” he asked, pointing to the third picture.

“It’s what I heard last night.”

Jackson looked at land lit by moonlight. Two Wolves had their heads raised in song. Smoke drifted out of their mouths, rising to the night sky, where it took the shapes of bison and elk, moose and deer, mountain goats and rabbits.

“You drew our song.”

The girl tucked her hands into her armpits, as if needing to protect them. “Did I do wrong?”

“No.” He picked up the drawing and saw her eyes fill with regret. “I’d like to show this to the Wolfgard elders. I’ll bring it back.”

“Could I . . .” She wouldn’t meet his eyes. “Could I put it on the wall?”

“Yes.”

Now she looked at him. Just a puppy frightened of being punished for following her instincts. Which meant the humans in the compound had punished her for drawing pictures. Why?

He needed to say something. “Grass is not the same color green as leaves, and water can be different shades of blue. I can go down to the trading post today and see if they have more pencils . . . if having more colors wouldn’t be upsetting to you.”

“I like colors.”

He turned to go.

“They were going to cut off my fingers. In that place. They were going to cut off my fingers because I needed to draw pictures and they wanted me to need the cuts instead.”

He walked out of the room and gently closed the door.

Grace looked at him, her smile fading as she studied his face. “What’s wrong?” She sniffed the air.

He turned the drawing around so she could see it.

“How did she know?” Grace asked, staring at the drawing.

“That’s something I’ll ask Meg, the Trailblazer. Right now, I want to show this to our elders. Then I need to make a trip to the Intuit trading post.”

“You should buy a frame for the sweet blood’s picture.”

“Come with me to pick it out?”

Grace was a white Wolf who had come down from the High Northwest as a juvenile and eventually found her way to Sweetwater. She could pass for human, but her hair remained white with strands of light gray. Combined with a youthful face, she looked distinctive and drew attention that made her uneasy.

“There were strangers at the trading post when I went there last week,” she said. “I didn’t like their scent. I don’t think the Intuits liked it either.”

He stepped closer. “You should have told me.”

“I told the elders. I think the Crows are keeping watch on the village, and the Hawks and Eagles are paying attention to the road and the vehicles coming our way.” She ruffled her hair. “I’ll go with you. I don’t think any of us should visit the trading post alone. Not for a while.”

He wanted to be her mate, and she was thinking of accepting him. He’d hoped she would go with him to spend time with him, but he didn’t want her to go because she thought a lone Wolf would be in danger. If there was trouble at the Intuit village, she would be in danger too.

But the Intuits had said nothing about strangers in their village when he’d responded to their plea for help with the scarred girl. That was something else to think about.

Jackson carefully rolled up the drawing and left with Grace. He stopped long enough to assign another Wolf to stay in the cabin so that the sweet blood wouldn’t be alone. Then he and Grace went to see the elders before taking one of the settlement’s two vehicles and driving down to the trading post.

When he returned, he would send a message to Simon Wolfgard, asking if the sweet blood could reveal visions and prophecies in other ways besides cutting their skin.

CHAPTER 37

Moonsday, Maius 14

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