Suliana does not know there is a new Patternmaster until three days after Jason is killed in the ensuing fight for dominance in Coransee's absence. On the fourth day, Jackman remembers her—his new position returned to the status quo, rather than rising as is typical for these kinds of House reorganizations—and finds her barricaded into the back room of Jason's quarters, knife in hand and nearly bled to death. Despite his advantage, she nearly kills him anyway, though she has enough presence of mind to know it is not Jason coming through the door.
She does not feel guilty about trying. She does not feel regret at not succeeding. She does not feel resentment that she was stopped. She does not feel relief that this particular torture is over. She does not feel. She can not feel. She is not allowed to feel. And this does not bother her either.
For some time after, she is content. The new healer does not arrive for several weeks, but one of the wives has enough skill to fix the worst of her breaks and internal bleeding. Still, mute though she is, Suliana knows enough to know that bruises and bones are not all there is to a healed being.
Coransee's lead wife, Reneesee, emerges as the Head of the House. She is not as powerful as Coransee, nor as adept at managing the compound, but neither is she cruel nor, more importantly, ambitious enough to seek more power than has already come to her. She had little to do with Teray when he had been in the House, and this worked to her favor. Few Household interactions with Teray had been positive, save with Amber the healer and briefly, with Suliana.
Suliana knows who it is who became Patternmaster, as soon as she becomes aware that Rayal is no longer. It is not at all strange to think that the man who had controlled her life only days previously, now controls those of the Patternists.
When the new healer settles, she causes Suliana to miscarry. Suliana is not a mute assigned to breed, and the House is not so close to a mute school to make transporting any mute infants anything more than exceptionally dangerous. All mutes are made sterile upon being acquired by a Household, but any Patternist with a modicum of healing ability—which is all Jason had had— could alter that.
One week later, Suliana is kidnapped out of her station in the orchard by Clayarks.
They infect her immediately—later, she understands that they can't help it, but all she remembers at the time is being scratched and petted for a few minutes while gagged and unable to call for help or raise an alarm, and then carried at great speed out of the Patternist sector that had been her home most of her life. Because of the healer, her time with Jason does not come to her mind.
The Clayark that carries her is named Mina. She has two sons, which means she's young—Claryarks are extremely fecund—but not reckless with her own or their lives to have survived at least this long. They do not speak much of the same language, but when they arrive at the dilapidated string of mansions along the Pacific Ocean (mutes teach their own children the Old Names in their schools, one of the few spaces they have left for themselves) some of the other Clayarks can speak to her with heavy accents.
They explain that she is about to become very ill, but that if she survives, she will not be kept against her will. Her programming holds and it does not occur to her to feel fear.
She is lead into one of the buildings, more structurally sound on the inside than it looks from outside. She is met by a man, thin and sickly-seeming, but upright and fully clothed. Mina pushes her forward gently, and he takes her hand. He walks them to a room at the end of the hall, and shuts them in with a bed and a chair.
They do not speak.
One hour passes, and his breathing sounds to Suliana to be impossibly loud, and difficult to ignore. Two hours, and she is ravenous in more ways than one, and all her needs are met without reprisal or comment. She does not remember the third hour and after, as she drowns in memory and emotion, alternating in her belief that this is an elaborate game Jason has set up and that her mind has finally snapped, as is common for older mutes who were not treated with care or skill during their lives.
She awakes two days later, screaming.
"What is your name?" the man asks softly, when she finally goes hoarse.
She tells him.
His is Danilo and he used to be a mute from the sector closest to Red Hill. He had been traveling with a party from his House and injured by a horse. Having no healers on hand, they left him to die, rather than risk slowing their pace to accommodate him. The Clayarks had found him crawling down the road away from his House and taken him, much as they had Suliana.
He explains what she is now, the changes her body has undergone. How her mind is now forever protected from the Patternists'.
"But," she interjects, "Rayal had the Clayark disease for years without losing his grip on the Pattern." Everyone knows this.
He smiles, "We infected him, yes, but not with this." He gestures to their cuts. "That would have cut him off from the Pattern, killing him, and a new Patternmaster would have risen in his place." So, he was infected with a different sickness, one that would weaken but not kill him, and keep the Pattern from growing in strength. He tells her this like a story repeated and ritualized, passed between comrades. Clayarks, she learns, have a strong oral tradition.
She also quickly discovers that they told her the truth—she will not be prevented from leaving by the Clayarks but instead, that her own body will turn on her and prevent her from killing herself by walking out of their territory alone. She eventually comes to realize that in some ways she has traded her mental bondage to become a sometimes slave to her own biology, and becomes angry. She threatens Mina's son Hana with one of the rifles she finds behind the compound she shares with their family and adopted kin. Danilo fights her for control of the gun, and she loses, as she has little experience channeling her emotions into action.
This, they teach her.
Soon, she is pregnant and finds herself unafraid to take responsibility for another's life though she is only beginning to learn how to take care of her own. She finds in herself protectiveness and vengeance, twinned. Mina leads her to the warmaking clan, some miles away in an underground fortress. There are more former mutes here than with Mina's scavengers and Suliana also finds home.
The day her daughter turns one, she leads a small group of Clayarks into the heart of Red Hill at the tail end of an annual festival that will leave the House inebriated and inattentive.
While the others guard the entrances and raid supplies, she scratches Jackman a little, as he sleeps, and the mute woman in bed with him because she can't stop herself and it's not like it will matter in the end.
And then she slips out the door and into the moonlight, silently.