Hilaj fears victory today, Nehan knows, as much as she fears defeat. The Buskruten terms would leave the Watuk a corner of their nation, a fragment of their former glory. Copper, tin, and silver mines would fall within the borders the Buskruten viceroys had drawn for themselves. With a stroke of a pen, Nehan might guarantee today that no more lives would be lost. With the same swift strike of ink, a proud people of traders would become beggars.
She took the seeds he counted out, five this time, into her hand and ate them all together. The fire did not know words, so she did not use them. She tried to fix in her mind with the same flashes it had shown her last time. She thought of arrows flying, leaping wolves, a hand pulling Hadi from the saddle, the tent around them burning. The vision burst on her tongue, sweet, tart, and peppered.