This is the last of “The Universe of Xuya” stories currently listed on Aliette’s website, where it’s mentioned as being “… in a completely different corner of space”. And yes, it most certainly is.
It’s got some sci-fi-ish things going on but at the same time it has beings carved out of rock that are breathed life into by their breath sisters who are then needed to breath life into their breath sister’s new born babies else they’re still born. So in a lot of ways it feels far more of a fantasy story than a sci-fi one. It’s certainly a very different thing to the rest of the Xuya stories, but it’s really quite enjoyable and i would give it the award of the most stand alone story in the Xuya universe. If you are just wanting to grab a quick read without needing any background stuff then this would be it.
And that, as they say, is that: all current Xuya stories read apart from one.