Pyramie jumps off the altar and stands looking at Acka. She stares back and does not take her eyes off of him until her face fractures against the hard stone altar. . .


When that happens, he backs away and looks at the Leader, who is standing erect beside Dahtah.

They both watch Terreo kill Acka. All the men, women, and children present fixate on Terreo; all except for Theo, who is shouting at Pyramie.

“Run!” she says to Pyramie when she reaches the side of the platform. “Why aren’t you running?”

The Mother follows Theo’s progress with her eyes.

“Run!” she screams again. And he does.

He heads for the opening; for the trail he has taken every day since he was able. A few Hunters watch him go.  With Terreo wounded they are in a confusion. Then Kakoaw steps forward. Beside him stands a Warrior, Meckle, who holds a stone-headed club and spear. When Pyramie enters the forest, they run after him.

At that moment, the Leader leaps onto the platform with Dahtah. They grab Terreo, slumping, his mouth dripping blood, and hold him while the Gatherers herd the platform and look upon the daemon they never dared look at before. Terreo convulses. When he does, Dahtah shouts to his Followers, who turn and run back to his hut for the ointments and balms.

Running in fear, they return with the items. Dahtah stands waiting for them. The Followers must push their way through the throng of confused and frightened Gatherers to reach him. When they do, he stoops down and takes the hollow gourds they brought and immediately begins stuffing Terreo’s wound with the jellies of leaves, sticking his fingers into the gushing hole to make him heal. Terreo then strikes him across the face bruising the witchdoctor. The Followers grab hold of Terreo’s arms and restrain him.

The Terror shouts again. It is a scream they have never heard: all fury, with a power that echoes through the village. At the platform edge, the Gatherers duck; others run toward their quarters in fear and confusion.

On the altar, Dahtah mixes the ointments together. He then takes a thick glob and juts it deep inside the wound, planting the healing potions from the forest while the Followers stand around. Men are holding Terreo’s limbs and he briefly lifts a man from the platform with a single arm, shouting in rage and agony. But others quickly jump onto his arm, pinning it so he can no longer interfere with Dahtah. Terreo then relents and lies still, looking at Theo who stands at the platform’s edge and glares at him.

Her women around her are trying to comfort her and coax her back to the Mother, but Theo does not want to move from the spot she is on. She does not care to be beside the Mother now.

But the Mother’s preferred woman is in front of her, talking loudly. Theo moves the woman to the side with her hand and continues to watch the rostrum. His body is level with her eyes and he focuses on her. She stares at him until he looks away.

Beside Terreo, the boy with big teeth kneels by the stone altar, praying. He is stone-faced, and remains there in prayer as she watches him, wondering why it is that this Gatherer should be so bold as to climb onto the platform and pray. But she does not say anything to him or tell him to get down from where he does not belong.

Off to her side, she notices another Gatherer boy looking at her. She has never seen him before and is angered that this boy would openly stare at her. He looks something like Pyramie. As she is about to have one of her women strike him, a Gatherer woman grabs his shoulder. “Stop looking at her, Nahane!”

He does not, and she tears him away bowing and apologizing to Theo.

Theo then turns to leave, but the Leader pulls her up onto the stage.

“Kneel beside him and be seen to pray,” he demands. She does not move at first, so he pulls her along to where the boy with big teeth kneels and forces her down. “Stay there,” he says. “Do not move!”

After the Leader walks away the boy beside her introduces himself. “Nonna,” he says, pointing at his chest.

“Shut up!”