I’ve written so much about writing this week, I thought it only right to follow up the previous posts with some snippets from The Dying of the Light. This book has had most of my focus since I began it in November, and now – at 65,000+ words – the gang still isn’t together. Still. It may have to be two books, but hey; sometimes you just have to roll with it. These hellions have stolen my heart and I hope, once the book is finished, they steal yours, too.
“So what, you had your fill of killing and decided you could become someone else? You thought you could change just because you wanted to?”
“That’s the only way any of us change,” said Winter. “Because we decide to.” He was doing his best to keep his voice even, to remain calm and cool even as his pulse beat quicker and his blood grew heated. “I wanted to change, so I did.”
“You think you can become someone else because you let your weapons fall?” The bars rattled again. “You’re a bigger fool than I am.”
“Perhaps.” Winter did not move, but he opened his eyes. “But you seem content to remain a fool. That is what separates us.
He heard something fall over and glanced toward the desks, where Shun, the officer assigned to secretary duty for the day, had just dropped a stapler on the floor.
“Sorry, Commander,” he apologized, picking it back up and setting it carefully by the edge of the desk.
“You’re new,” said Haka, after a brief moment of recollection.
Officer Shun sat up so quickly his chair rolled into the wall. He bowed, trying to inconspicuously reach behind him and pull the chair back. “Um…three months, Commander.”
Haka blinked. Three months and he still didn’t recognize the man’s face? That was awkward.
Officer Shun apparently knew better than to point it out, because he added quickly, “I have a forgettable face. Nobody remembers it. Even my mother sees me sometimes and asks, ‘are you my son?’ That’s how forgettable it is.”
“What?” Shotgun barked, straightening. “You’re just bouncing us from one safe house to another? What’s the point? Saizou, we don’t need this guy.”
Hiro clasped his hands in front of him and regarded Shotgun with an icy calm. “Thus far, your safe house has been temporary. However, I’m sure I could find a much smaller, far more permanent safe house, roughly six feet deep and slightly longer.”
Shotgun’s eyebrows drew together. “Are you threatening me?”
“Yes,” said Hiro.
“Do you believe in spirits, Kiba?” Tsuki asked suddenly, leaning back on her palms. A shaft of pale, white-gold sunlight filtered through a thin patch in the clouds, shining across the scene of bare trees in the distance.
“What kind?” he asked, still crouched and ready to spring up, his elbows resting on his knees.
“Yokai. Oni. Angels, demons.”
“Do you believe in fate, then?”
Instead of answering her question, Kiba replied, “You’re too young to have an existential crisis.”
“I wouldn’t call it existential. More like a garden-variety crisis.”
For a long moment, Kiba was silent. Then he said, “You wonder if you should have left Saizou alone when he came here? If perhaps you interfered rather than aided.”
“I do. He might have had a chance.”
“No. He had no chance, and you know that as well as I. A war-ravaged daimyo, returning from a long absence? Long absences create speculation. His case was over before it began.”
Kirikizu faced the cell that held the prisoner. Winter did not look overly concerned, if he was concerned at all. He sat on his knees in the middle of the room, his hands at his sides and his eyes closed.
Kirikizu tapped the bars with a finger, and Winter opened his eyes.
“Ah,” said Winter blandly. “I assume you’re the one supposed to wring answers out of me via pain infliction. I’ve been looking forward to this.”
“Most people don’t,” said Kirikizu.
“No,” admitted Winter, “but the sooner you start, the sooner you realize I know nothing and the sooner you either kill me or set me loose to contact my supposed partners in crime.”
AND THE SKETCH WINNER IS…Tracey!
Tracey, shoot me an email [the-shieldmaiden(at)Hotmail(dot)com]!
A brief note to say that I’m holding an art sale – you can commission a sketch portrait (see examples in picture below) for $20 + shipping through tomorrow night! Shoot me an email or a Facebook message if you’re interested!