"Another wolf?" Mat said, eye-brow lifted in silent question. "Not the Xu clan. Different spoor."
I could see the swirling golden-red lines before me, interweaving through the paths and greenery. It started at the gate, following an uneven trajectory, before pausing at the end of the lane as if the wolf rested during its hunt, looking back at the house.
"Yes. Not a Vargr," I nodded. "Different feel altogether. Vargr feels more feral. This one... is more circumspect."
Right. Now a Lang was sniffing at my doorstep once more. The last time we had one lurking around, she brought in a raving werewolf monster, her cousin apparently, hexed by Dark Claws. Great. Now we had a new Lang pack possibly angry at my clan and me.
"You have a lot of problems," Mat noted. "I wish I could help."
"I ingin anda boleh , tetapi ini adalah silang saya menanggung," I said. "My father left this task to me. I have to finish it."
"You can call your sister and Madam," the old Malay man started his walk back to the house. "You have kin you can trust and rely on."
"You don't trust Filipe?"
Mat's dark eyes twinkled. "He didn't eat at my table."
Filipe had not improved. In fact he had gotten colder, his face now corpse-white. The only positive thing he did was to wake up, stare at me with his accusing eyes, and then rock back and forth on his chair. I brought him food from the kitchen: hot clam chowder and coffee, which he proceeded to gobble down with some appetite.
"I have a shard of ice in my heart?" Filipe's hands shook on his coffee mug. I had to admire him. The coffee was blistering hot.
"That's what Mat said," I slumped against the wall. "A common Dökkálfar move. He had seen it done before."
"The lady still wants her blood price," Filipe muttered.
"I can't blame her. Meanwhile, we all non-human groups are happily conforming to our stereotypes."
"Can you get this thing out of me?" Filipe's voice had an edge of panic now.
"Not when we fulfil our half of the bargain. Sigurd wants us to hold on to our promise."
"So I have this stuck in me."
Filipe sipped the rest of the coffee. I thought about the wolf at our door. We had problems. "Filipe, there is another wolf lurking near the house. I think there's another Lang pack involved."
"Now the Singaporean wolves are concerned."
"They have always been concerned. They don't really like our politics. Or us."
We sat together in the semi-dark room, companions in misery. Filipe seemed to adopt a cheerful demeanour, making snowflake patterns with the frost radiating from him with an idle finger. They resembled intricate spider-webs. By the end of the day, he would have made snowflakes on the floor and the wall. At least he had something to occupy him with.
I still had Dark Claws up to my nose. They wanted my blood. I just wanted to get rid of them.
If they wanted a war, they would have one, fang and claw.