The Covenant has been destroyed and Crossroads' way of life along with it. The Masari face starvation in the depth of winter. Without Crossroads' tithes, the Basc Yata are equally helpless. In the midst of famine, Promontory and Destiny Farm prepare to conquer the valley. A secret and uneasy alliance remains the only option. Unwillingly thrust into power, HigherBrook must now trust Gria, the very person who had led the massacre of Crossroads' hunters. Another partnership proves even more disturbing. As Gria and TripStone plot to destroy Destiny Farm, what began as a fringe militia has expanded into a fullblown Yata army. Destiny Farm's meat keeps Crossroads alive, but every sale bankrupts Crossroads further and increases the risk of Basc's Yata becoming livestock. TripStone's ticket into Promontory is the meat trader BrushBurn. Each seeks to manipulate the other, but their mutual attraction and unsettling intimacy place both at risk. Unaware of the fate that has befallen Crossroads, TripStone's comrade Ghost and his pregnant wife Piri search for a home where they can raise their hybrid child in peace. But no place is safe, and Piri risks giving birth in the deepest heart of danger.
TripStone tried to shut out the sounds of retching and the stench of dysentery. Ignoring the wails of fresh grief proved harder.
She had carried her father home, stunned at his thinness. Now he lay dwarfed and alone on his marriage bed while she checked and rechecked what meat remained, smoking and preserving slabs that only seemed uncontaminated.
Her keen nose might deceive her. An incriminating blemish might escape her eye. Then she and NightShout would join the newly fallen, succumbing to death that continued not at the hands of Yata but from creatures she couldn't even see and in which only a few believed.
TripStone would have been a disbeliever as well, except for Ghost and his animalcules. She counted the days. He must have run out of meat by now. She should cut into her own sparse ration and spirit something to him.
The battle's smoke would have been visible from the cabin. He would know