The Art of Mirriam Neal

//snippets, etc.

  • You may have noticed that I didn’t post a sketch winner last week. I didn’t forget, but I decided that posting a sketch winner during weeks where I only write one or two posts seemed a little silly. So, I will relegate sketch winners to weeks when I write three or more articles – which I’ll be attempting to do far more often.
  • We saw The Man from U.N.C.L.E. last night and I adored it so perfectly that halfway through I leaned over to my babysis and whispered, “Did I write this and forget about it?” She said, “If you had, you’d be a lot richer,” so I suppose I didn’t. But it contained every element I loved – particularly Illya, who has joined the hallowed ranks of characters I can unabashedly call ‘my baby.’
  • I have over 5,000 words in The Color of Truth, my pet project, and I couldn’t be happier with it. I honestly think this is my best dramatis persona yet. I’m so excited about it that I decided to post some snippets – it’s been a while, after all, and I want to introduce you. I hope you enjoy.

Roses bloom and wither, flies multiply and die before the sun has set, and infants are born every day as the old turn to dust. It is a blessing to humanity that most children are not set apart at birth; that they come into their fate with time. It grows with them like a second skin.

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“It will be known! The world has been preparing for his birth, can you not see?” Sugi’s eyes were wide in her frightened face. “It has rained all year, and the cold came so early – we are starving in our houses. Already your child has killed thousands.”

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Fumi’s largest worry was in the form of her unnamed son. He was perceptive. He was too perceptive – too keen and observant in a way that unsettled her deeply. It was as though the truth was water, and he a water-finder; following the signs and recognizing falsehoods with disturbing accuracy.

A neighbor would promise to pay back a handful of precious rice, and Fumi’s child would say, “They have no plans to return the rice, mother,” without looking up from the designs he traced on the floor with a finger.

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Snow fell across the blade of Asano Tatsuya’s sword, coating the blood-slicked metal as he paused, watching the man in front of him.

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Tatsuya knew Iseo’s violent nature well. He was a bloodthirsty killer, but never a murderer by law. Every killing was ordered or allowed by the law, by the Emperor or Shugun personally. His ki, or spirit-energy, was the ability to paralyze anyone who met his direct gaze, and he had no qualms about cutting them down where they stood, helpless.

Beyond these, Tatsuya knew Iseo to be a decent person, sometimes even good – but in moments like these, surrounded by the dead and dying, Tatsuya wondered if there was anyone truly good left in the world, or if people were simply bad or worse.

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Without looking away from his blade, Whisper said, “They’ll be here.” He gave the tip of the blade a final brush with his coat before reaching back and sliding the longsword into its sheath. “Kiro is already here.”

A giggle floated down from above, and Tatsuya tilted his head back. Kiro perched on the roof of the theater behind Whisper, his face hidden but his maroon-streaked hair clearly recognizable as he wound coils of wire in his hands.

“Killjoy,” called Kiro.

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Tatsuya frowned at their conversation. It was easier to enjoy the taste of blood and the heavy feel of flesh giving way to steel – yet the lighthearted air made him want to edge away. Somewhere away from the corpses quickly disappearing beneath the snow; a respite before he was called out again to quench another riot, or another uprising, or another burglary or assassination for the emperor.

He was tired, and he wanted to sleep.

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Kiro smirked. “As the proverb says, just because a rose has thorns does not mean it feels the need to grow an ugly blossom.”

“You made that proverb up,” said Shino, drumming her fingers on the rail.

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“Gichn isn’t here,” said Whisper, straightening as he adjusted the supple leather gloves on his hands.

“Yes,” sighed the samurai in question, “he is.”

“You’ll scare Shino lurking like that,” Iseo began, but Shino smacked him, and he laughed.

Gichin sat at the end of the wooden walkway lining the storefronts, hidden in the shadows. His sheathed katana leaned against the wall next to him, and his eyes were closed. “I was here first.”

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“You all did well! You’re alive and in one piece – I’m so glad to see it!” Miura stopped ten feet away, his hands clasped behind his back. As an ayakashi – a powerful, immortal mountain-spirit – he always seemed genuinely happy when the Swords survived whatever task they were given. His title as Sword was ironic, as two hundred years before he had made a vow never to kill a human being, and he carried no blade.

The other immortal sword, Shunji, was an unpredictable kitsune, but physical beauty and immortality aside, he shared no traits with Miura. He approached, clutching his right arm and batting Asako away. “Tatsuya, make the girl leave me alone.”

“I can see his bone,” Asoka exclaimed, her eyes narrowed. “He should at least let me bandage it.”

“I don’t need your bandages,” Shunji replied, irritated. He shook snow out of his silver hair, but it only dusted his bare shoulders. “Get away.”

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