The sound of my name brought me up short and caused my hands to go for the Colts. I’d nearly drawn the heavy revolvers when I saw who had called to me.
A boy looked out from the window of a small home, and a woman sat on the ground outside the doorway, paused in her weaving.
I let the Colts drop back down and nodded a greeting.
“What word from Cross?” the boy asked.
“How do you know of Cross?” I could not keep the surprise from my voice.
The boy, instead of answering, giggled and ducked back into the darkness of his home.
The mother smiled at me and bade me sit.
Settling down across from her, she spoke in a soft, beautiful voice.
“We have been here since the beginning,” she explained.
I processed the information.
“We do not see many of your kind anymore,” she continued.
“People?” I asked.
She offered up a polite smile and a small laugh. “No. Bloods. We see more people than we wish to. Bloods, however, are truly rare. It’s been long and long since any found the passage on your home. Your cousin Patience Blood did, of course. She visited for great stretches of time. Is she still in Hell?”
The thought of it caused me to wince, but I nodded. “Aye, she is.”
“She’ll tire of it eventually,” the woman confided. “And when she does, she’ll wreak so much havoc the dead will be glad to see her go.”
I smiled at the image.
“Why are you here, Duncan Blood?” the woman asked. “Your place is the Hollow, not this.”
“This isn’t the Hollow? I thought it was?”
“No,” the woman replied, “though your mother has found her way in. She has come in to twist the minds of the headhunters, but she cannot twist them to her will.”
“Where will I find her?”
“You find only her voice here,” the woman informed me. “She is not so strong as to bring a body through.”
The woman smiled. “You are free to hunt still, Duncan. The hunters have bred too much. I would be obliged if you could thin the herd for me.”
“That I’d be glad to do. They irritate me some.”
The woman leaned forward and winked. “You are not alone in this.”
I laughed and got to my feet. There were still scalps to take.