"You have failed yourself too often of late," Grandmother Worm said, tapping the contents of her pipe into an old horned skull.
"You mean I fail others too often." Jeneive was sullen, but her feet were rooted to the floor as though nailed.
"Same thing, same thing." The old woman filled the pipe with willow bark. "We serve ourselves that serve others. You ain't learned that yet." She stared at the pipe, all the fury of the sun scrunched up in that aged face, until a curl of smoke arose from the stone bowl. "But by-and-by you might."
There was a long moment of silence as Grandmother Worm sucked on her pipe, and Jeneive said nothing.
"I told you to carry the bucket of blood to the crypt," the old woman said.
"There was a girl there, behind the bars. She was so thirsty." Jeneive said.
"And what did you do then, my girl?"
"I left it there, just out of reach." The young eyes were bright. "And waited there all night, as she stretched and stretched. And when it looked like she would give up, I took the ladle and gave her a sip...but that just made her thirstier."
"Because of the salt. And when the sun rose?"
The girl smiled. "She burned."
"Silly girl." The old woman tch'd. "When you take the bucket to her tonight, just leave it close to the bars. Or else have enough sense to cut off the head and finish the job." She paused to suck on her pipe. "And mind you not to get too close, she's apt to be angry at you for your little trick. There's things you have to know, and she's the one to tell it. You'll have to be extra sweet to her now."