So Ver was gone. Sangria had offered to take Cherrywine to the Veil whenever she wanted, but that was not the same as having Ver in her home. Cherrywine was used to clinging to her mother's leg, asking to be carried around, muttering to her about whatever questions she had and always getting an answer. While Cherrywine loved Nadine, Ver was always out and about with her; Nadine sometimes had to go do other important stuff that just didn't involve her. Now that steady presence was gone, and she was furious. Jace had wanted Ver gone. Some of the ruiners had disliked her. She had been driven out, really. Cherrywine had tried to ask her to stay, but it hadn't worked. She guessed that was what happened when one didn't feel welcome anymore. Cherrywine hadn't wanted to leave with her. The Sanguine Ruins, even if it was filled with awful, disloyal fools who couldn't understand how smart her mother was... it was her home. She had been born and raised in it. She was certainly not going to live in a place called Shadow Veil. That sounded dark and nasty, a perfect breeding ground for her joints to ache and her eyes to hurt in the darkness.
She knew she could still make the decision on whether or not to dual-alliance. But she also knew that Brandy and Arya (even if she wasn't much comfort) were going to stay, and she knew that Kirsch would stay wherever she did. If Nadine had gone as well, Cherrywine would have sucked it up and gone to that gloomy place, but if one mother and most of their family was staying in the Sanguine Ruins, she felt compelled to stay. Plus, she hadn't even completed her Red Trial yet! She couldn't let Hebe and the Red God down. The priestess had told her to make creative little offerings, so she would. She would pour her tiny, strange little heart into that activity and hope that all thoughts of her own indecisiveness and Jace's stupid face would fall out of her head and shatter on the ground, like glass. Like the bones she was carving would, if she threw them hard enough against a pyramid.
Hebe had given her many ideas for what to make as offerings, and Cherrywine was eager to create them. She had collected a few bones, some delicate and small as the ones in her own body, some almost the length of her. She wanted to carve them. That was where things turned difficult. She flexed her shaking paws, hoping that claws would magically appear, but they didn't. How she cursed her genetics for giving her such a weak body. She could try to carve with her teeth, but that would be awkward and she wouldn't be able to look at what she was doing. So she borrowed a dagger from an older clanmate, and gripped it between her teeth. Some of her clanmates might have been able to hold it with their paws, but hers were trembling too badly. They always trembled, but the shivering was worse the past few days.
So she held the dagger in her mouth, gingerly, and slowly carved a design into one of the smaller bones. It was loose and sweeping and strange, the cuts in the bone uneven and varying widths. But when she dropped the dagger to look at her handiwork, she was proud. It was of the Nile, with long lines signifying the rush of the tainted water. The little cuts in the bone that became blobby were figures, perhaps merely admiring the river, perhaps about to be sacrificed. Cherrywine was sure that the Red God would like it, but she still had more bones to get through. She could not only make one offering, after all, so she rolled the bone away from herself and gripped the dagger again.