Tomorrow marks the first day of June. It also marks the beginning of my ninth ‘Writing Month.’ (Once NaNo rolls around, I’ll feel respectable. Ten is a good number to have tucked in your belt.) That being said, this is the first time that I’m continuing my NaNo novel (The Dying of the Light) into June. It’s currently sitting open at 73, 609 words, which means I’ve only had time for roughly 20,000 words since December. I’ve been busy and haven’t had the mental energy or the time to give it the attention it deserves, so I decided to shove other projects aside and add a minimum of 50,000 words to the manuscript during June. It’s going to be an exciting month and I’m jazzed – here’s to buckling down and doing what we love.
“I know you can’t feel physical pain.”
Kirikizu’s muffled, buzzing voice cut through Winter’s haze.
His mouth and throat felt dry and rough, as if a sandstorm had swept through. He could not remember taking a breath through the last half hour. He lifted his eyes to the Emperor’s Hand as the other man said, “Fortunately, your baby brother can.”
Riza might be asleep. Any sane person would be.
He placed the cuff around his ear. “You’d better be there.”
He flicked the cuff with two fingers. “This isn’t Shotgun, this is Saizou. Wake up.”
“Isn’t there a fugitive curfew?” Riza’s voice came through the speaker, loud and clear. “Don’t you people have bedtimes?”
“You don’t seem to.”
“You have a real gratitude problem, you know that?”
“Tell me where the Dog is.”
Riza’s loud sigh nearly deafened him. “Fine,” she said. “See that building toward the back left corner? You should have a clear line of sight from where you’re standing.”
Saizou was hardly surprised that Riza’s ear cuff doubled as a tracking device. “I see it.”
“That’s the dog-house.”
“Are you positive?”
“I repeat my gratitude remark, but I’m going to give you a warning anyway – that’s also the Royal Poisoner’s home.”
Saizou tried to wrap his head around the idea of a Royal Poisoner. The concept was simple enough, but the fact the Prince-Regent blatantly employed one without hiding it – that was startling. “The Poisoner keeps the Dog in his house?”
“Lots of people have pets, dear.”
“Most pets aren’t human beings.”
It would be locked, he thought, and it was – but locks were of little consequence. He switched the reizaa-naginata on and cut through the wood, searing the lock away from the rest of the door. Lasers, as it turned out, were very effective lock-picks.
Immediately the snake darted forward, a warning strike so close Saizou felt the brush of its tongue.
“I wouldn’t move, if I were you,” said a calm voice. “Nor would I speak. She’s very sensitive to strangers.”
Saizou dared not move his head, but he glanced out the corner of his eye and saw a young man shut the partition door behind him and stand, his hands in his pockets. A patch circled his head and covered one eye, a morbid accessory for someone so young.
This must be One-Eye.
The young man smiled. “You must be Saizou Akita. I had the feeling you’d come back when I saw pieces of your accomplice stuck in the Dog’s teeth.”