Publisher: Charles de Lint | Date published: 07/04/2000
At first, Jaime knows them only as women with the faces of animals -- mare and deer, wild boar and bear, raven and toad. And others. So many others. Following her.
They smell like forest loam find open field, like wild apple blossoms and nuts crushed underfoot. Their arms are soft, but their hands are callused and hard, the palms like leather. Where they have been, they leave behind a curious residue of dried blood and rose petals, tiny bird bones and wood ashes.
In those animal faces, their eyes are disconcertingly human, but not mortal. They are eyes that have seen decades pass as we see years, that have looked upon Eden and Hades. And their voices, at times a brew of dry. African veldt whispers and sweet-toned crystal bells, looping through the clutter of city sound, echoing and ringing in her mind, heard only from a distance.
They hold Jaime in their soft arms, touch her hands with their callused palms. Fairy godmothers in animal guises, bestowing their dangerous gifts.