I’ve never been so cold, which is saying something after all the Scottish winters I’ve known since I was forged from a block of Moorish gold. I’ve seen a lot of new things since I was slipped off my last finger and on to this one, starting with the amount of blood splashed around when it happened. Who would have thought he had so much in him?
I’ve never seen so little wax, either. Some of my fingers couldn’t decide how much grain to tithe without having their scribe scribble it all down and jamming me in the hot stuff. Not this one. He just tells someone to get the grain, and they know better than to show their face again without a full cartload. My last finger belonged to a man who would never do that without making sure there was enough left to feed the clans, but he didn’t get to choose which finger I went to next. That was the clans’ loss. No doubt they’ll be coming for me soon, with another finger in mind. Not tonight. Tonight I just have to endure shrinking with the cold of this frozen heath.
I have a nasty feeling I know why we’re here, and I know I’m right when the woman appears before us. I can’t tell you how I know there’s a woman under the cloak, or why any doubt about her sex is impossible.
The hand that emerges from her cloak is impossibly old, and even colder than the finger I embrace. The calluses scrape across my signet as she takes his hand.
The cackle from beneath her hood is even colder, as though she’s robbing the air of heat I would never have believed was there in the first place.
“By the pricking of my thumbs,” she says, “something wicked this way comes.”