"Stranger Blood" is a short story featuring Jame that is set several years further on than any of the other works. It is collected in the short story collection Blood and Ivory: A Tapestry and is considered canon. The entire story is narrated from the point-of-view of Arie, a young Min-drear Kendar at with a crippled leg who has more of a skill at song and knowledge than at the rough survival skills of a border keep.
The story begins with Jame, accompanied by Kracarn and Terribend (referred to here only as Bender or Hellbender), arriving at the High Keep, home of the Min-drear. They carry a command from Torisen that Lord Min-drear come to council at Gothregor. Lord Min-drear, however, is nowhere to be seen, and his Kendar warden, Kethra, refuses to allow the visitors to talk to him. Only the Lord's sister, Nessa, appears, and she seems out of touch with reality.
Jame's senses tell her that something is gravely amiss, and she soon learns that things started to be strange when Rangers from the Keep brought back an "almost human" creature from near the Barrier. Then Nessa is discovered, dead, followed by her servant and two guards. Jame quickly works out that a Changer is loose in the Keep, out for vengeance for its slaughtered kin. It is also inadvertently revealed that Lord Min-drear has been dead for months, but that nobody wanted to tell the Highlord and see the dissolution of their House.
Kendra wants to mobilize the entire Keep after the intruder, but Jame insists on the full rites to welcome her into the Keep, to say farewell to the dead Lady Nessa, and to sanctify the hunt. The reason for this unusual foray into tradition are revealed when it turns out that the ale for the rites was drugged, sending the Kendar into deep sleep, sparing only Kendra, Arie, Bender and Jame. Jame explains that the Changer cannot be fought with steel and that this ensures no more unnecessary death.
They track down the Changer in the basements, Arie following along. It proves strong and cunning, but eventually Jame gets it pinned, and drips her blood into its mouth. Since she is a blood-binder, her blood proves torment to the creature; its bones snap in the strength of convulsions it suffers, until it begs Jame for death. They set it afire with a torch, and it burns up as do all its kind. Jame is bitter about the manner of its demise, mentioning that "perhaps, after all, there isn't that much to choose between two shades of darkness." Kethra, however, wraps Jame's injured and bleeding hand in her scarf of office, saying that she makes her choice.
The story concludes with Jame suggesting that there is a chance that Arie—who is, it turns out, Kethra's son, fathered by the old Lord Min-drear—could be confirmed as Lord Min-drear by Torisen. Kethra is dubious, but takes the offered hope. She and Arie will attend the council in a month's time, and Arie will stay with Jame for a while, and learn from her, whether or not Torisen confirms him.
Featured or mentioned in the story:
- ↑ www.pchodgell.com, "Stranger Blood," Ace, 1985. Artist: Tom Canty
- ↑ www.pchodgell.com, "Stranger Blood," Imaginary Lands, ed Robin McKinley, Greenwillow, 1985; Artist Peter Sis.
- ↑ Blood and Ivory: A Tapestry, "Stranger Blood"