There were times when she regretted that the Mara could not shift their sex the way the Daeva could, and this was one of them.
The colonies were still wild, of course; that was why she had come. She was craving a challenge. She was craving a frontier.
She kept running into men who wanted to put her in a house. Put her in a house and put her in her place. And that – that was not what she wanted, not a house-man with house-soft hands, not a house-life with curtains and furniture. She wanted a frontier.
If men would not stop treating her like something to have, then she would stop being what they wanted to have. She put on men’s clothing, trousers and a waistcoat over bindings and a Working to do something about her breasts and her hair pulled back men’s-style. She hung weapons on her belt the way any man might and she went off into the woods to learn what this place had to offer.
She ran into men who eyed her askance – too fresh-faced, beardless, too pretty. Mara were not supposed to be pretty, but there was more than one Grigori, more than one Daeva, in her ancestry, and she cursed them all every time someone saw through her disguise.
The fourth time someone tried to bring her home, she pinned his hair to a tree with her axe and stalked away. She was going to have to go further. She was going to have to tread close to other people’s territory.
She was still stalking away, still angry, when she came across the hunter. He was wearing a breechclout over leggings and carrying a bow and arrows; his expression was intent andh looked just barely suprirsed to see her. The deer, she had a feeling, was his real goal.
She got out of his way and stayed quiet, waiting, watching. He was probably a quarter of her age. Unless they had Ellehemaei over here, unless there had been Ellehemaei over here for a long time.
Watching him move, watching him hunt, she wanted him.
This was slightly ridiculous, she told herself. You couldn’t just go off and join the savages. There were still skirmishes and real battles roiling up throughout the land; it wasn’t like wandering over to Germany where you just picked up the language and pretended you were German and after a month nobody knew the difference.
She shifted until she had her spear and pinned a meaty rabbit to the ground with an easy throw a half-second after the hunter caught his deer. When he looked at her, she had dropped the illusion Working on her breasts.
If she was going to catch his attention, she might as well do it under no false pretenses.