CROIX AND I WAITED OUTSIDE THE DOME. Rubbing a thumb across my powerglyph, I realized I would need more Days from Rick before I left for Nevis. My breath caught and skin prickled at the thought of Rick.
Am I eager to see him or anxious to take his Days?
The wind kicked up powdered snow a bit but wrapped in fur, I didn’t mind. To meet Rick, Yukiko had helped me into my own clothes—a long white sweater, leggings, and my Sash as a muffler—and I’d braided my hair with a Water Knot, much to Saba’s harrumph. I thought I looked rather attractive and somewhat normal, especially in knee-high three-strap boots—well, except for the wheelchair.
Croix pointed to the sky first. I tucked blowing hair into place, licked lips, and shaded eyes. From miles away, I noticed three figures mounted on the irondoves—two males and one female. Who came with Rick? But as they landed, the one I thought to be him was Gallegos settled behind Bequia holding the reins. Donar rode alone on the second irondove, but no one from Westhaven. My cheeks fevered with a sudden terror.
What happened to Rick? I stared at my lifeless legs. What will become of me?
I RECOGNIZED THIS ROOM. This was my room once.
Then I caught a glimpse of eyes, my violet eyes, within the face of a statue. They stared back within the painted earthenware sculpture crowned with golden morning glories and blue butterflies. Her face, pierced with jade rings at ears and nose, had a definite yellowish cast. Water pooled in one cupped hand and dripped to a patterned skirt. Shielding her chest, a turquoise butterfly hid my lifecollar, and a silver sash tied between the shield and skirt nestled a weapon—Windiamond.
Watching me admire her, Saba paused at the entrance, apparently wanting me to remember something from our past. And I waited, too, yet nothing emerged but an excitable joy. “Take me to her,” I said. He pushed a chair to it but I insisted, “No, help me stand.”
With a smile, he nudged the chair aside and held me around my waist from behind to be as tall as the statue. “My pleasure, Great Goddess,” he whispered in my ear. When I frowned he added, “The New World people worshiped us. They called you Great Goddess, the name I gave you. And I was the Storm God. We were happy then. As happy as two refugee Stealers can be hiding from Nevis among humans.” He stroked the statue’s three fangs and chuckled from the memory. “They worshiped us, but feared us. I told them that if they didn’t sacrifice their Days to you and Nights to me, we’d kill the sun and moon.”
I slapped his hand. “You’re shameless.”
“I’m a survivor.”
I WOKE WITHIN HIS ARMS. I had to admit I was getting used to this Saba-substitute—arms the bulk of Rick’s, shoulders just as broad, skin a tad lighter—but when I fully woke and looked into his open eyes, I knew Saba had deserted me, leaving the human paralyzed.
Saba abandoned me. Again!
But this time he’d promised he would stay—well, he said these arms would stay. My teeth brought blood to my lip, realizing he’d trapped me in another of his loopholes. I felt like pounding the poor guy beside me, but he wasn’t to blame. Through the possession, he’d given Saba a Night. I checked the back of my right hand. My powerglyph had already turned from gold to yellow. One Day gone. But I felt secure in Rick’s unique Crossbreed Day, life essence equaling three of an average human. While Saba’s donor twitched, slowly emerging from paralysis, I planned a weak strategy—somehow bribe someone with something to take me to the Kings’ Dome.