//October snippets + a small announcement

After a brief period during which I drew more than I wrote, I managed to get some actual writing done between flurries of editing, watching James Patterson’s MasterClass, and plotting NaNoWriMo ’15. I realized I hadn’t posted any snippets I about a month, and felt they were overdue.

TODAY

my weekend

He was no longer the scrawny, lanky boy in the cage. Now she understood the rumors, the reason behind the muttered curses and far-flung tales of bewitchment and devilry. The boy had become a tall, graceful man who no longer hid the tell-tale eye. His long, oily hair hung in his face, but did not obscure the frost-colored iris and hard, black pupil. His gaze never seemed to settle; it probed and roamed, seeking out weaknesses, chinks in the armor of everyone it saw.

His face was still gaunt, his cheekbones and eyes haunted by shadows, but he wore a permanent half-smile like everyone he saw was a private joke, and he the only one who understood it. This was not necessarily what unsettled her – it was the hungry air about him. He was a starving wolf in deep winter, and anything was prey, waiting to be taken down and ripped to pieces.

• The Color of Truth

The door opens and in the mirror’s reflection I see Ice take one step into the room. I take one look at his boots, jeans, sweater, and scarf before scoffing, “You look like a bag lady.”

“Wow.” He scowls at me. “Fine, maybe I won’t give it to you.”

I sigh again and begin to massage the foundation into my skin. “Give me what? Spit it out or leave. I see enough of you as it is, don’t I?”

He walks up and sets something down by the pot of charcoal-colored eyeshadow. “You left it at Theo’s, you moron.”

• Acceso

“I asked you.” There was an edge to his voice; faint but clear. “Tell me?”

He posed it like a question, but Angelica felt that refusing to answer would be a pointless endangerment of her person. “Darling. Angelica Darling. That’s my name, whatever it means to you.”

“Angelica Darling.” He said her name like it was both a poison and a balm; like a prisoner savoring a deadly last meal. “You know of Wendy Darling?”

• Never, Never

“Hey, ‘Kizu, this room is for employees only. What are you…hey.” Honey’s voice softened as she crossed the room in four quick strides and crouched in front of him. “You okay?”

Kirikizu sighed. Company. Perfect. He nodded. “It was too loud out there.”

Her mouth tilted. “I swear I’m never going to get used to that.”

He drew his eyebrows together. “Get used to what?”

“That monotone voice of yours.”

He sighed again. “My voice isn’t monotone. The filter in the muzzle-”

“I know, I know.” She nudged his right hand. “I work with an android who sounds like a human all day, and then I get you, the human who sounds like a robot.”

• The Dying of the Light

Odd-Eyes started out of his daydream so violently Matoko may as well have thrown a rock at him. His pale eye seemed wider than the dark one, but both took her in with an intense dislike and he hissed, drawing back like a disgruntled hunting-cat.

The unexpected reaction slowed Matoko’s steps. “Hissing isn’t polite,” she told him, torn between amusement and offense. The offense faded quickly as she remembered the way he looked in the cage, defenseless and humiliated. He did not look much better now; dripping wet, his breath creating clouds in the cold air.

• The Color of Truth

She could hear the sneer in his voice as he said, “Your great-grandmother had more life in her and by the look of you, she probably still does.”

“She’s dead.”

“Just so.”

Angelica closed her eyes so she could roll them without him seeing. She opened them again and said, “I think it’s probably wise not to ask you too many questions.”

“Yes,” said Pan thoughtfully. “Yes,” he continued, a gloating tone in his voice, “perhaps you are cleverer than I thought.”

• Never, Never

She grinned. “You’re interesting tonight. Well,” she continued, cocking her head to one side again, “you’re always interesting.”

He gazed down at her, his own curiosity piqued for reasons he couldn’t explain. “Am I?”

“Oh, very. You have mystery down to an art.”

“I don’t mean to.”

She laughed quietly. “I don’t think you can help it. It follows you around like a lost puppy. Which is funny, when you think about it. A lost puppy following another lost puppy.”

• The Dying of the Light

“Well, who is this?”

Bisu straightened and twisted around in the same motion, drawing a knife from the sheath around his ankle. He remembered the Shogun’s words. Do not make yourself known. Do not kill anyone. He had already disobeyed the first order. He lowered the knife.

Of all people to have discovered him, it had to be the flowery one.

Kiro smiled. “Tsk, tsk, tsk. Thinking you could sneak about here, of all places-” He gasped. “What happened to your poor face?”

From below, Oboro called, “Kiro? Who is it?”

The concern left Kiro’s face and he smiled again; a slippery curve of his mouth below keen eyes. “It seems a palace rat found his way to our barracks! How shall I dispose of him?”

“Palace rat?” Oboro’s voice was laced with disgust as her footsteps sounded on the stairs, closely followed by several other pairs.  “Which one?”

“I don’t know,” Kiro answered. “He must have trouble smiling. It seems he attempted to cut one for himself, but…” The Sword cocked his head to one side, studying the scar that ran from the left corner of Bisu’s mouth up to his cheekbone. “It seems he didn’t finish.”

• The Color of Truth

“I can read you now, girlie.”

“Really?” Tsuki began to arrange the money into piles. “I don’t suppose you’d read me aloud to myself.”

• The Dying of the Light

There’s a reason I want to see Leila. It’s the same reason why I hate it when I do see her. Her wide-eyed naiveté and near-tangible warmth are everything I’m not, and remind me of what I am – broken, tired, and cold. Seeing her is like ripping a Band-Aid off tender skin – painful, but I think, maybe it’s a good pain.

• Acceso

He did not step into the light; rather he strode around the edge, circling Angelica and coming to a stop behind her. He was close now; she could feel his presence pressing against her back like breath on her neck. Her skin prickled with uncomfortable awareness, waiting.

• Never, Never

She was a ward of the Emperor, engaged to a Daimyo, and in love with another man entirely.

He was merely her protection.

Overworked and underpaid protection, he thought with a stifled sigh as he un-crossed his arms and shifted his stance.

Tsuki pushed her chair back with the toe of her boot and crossed over to Kiba’s corner. “Another win,” she said, presenting the money. “Congratulate me.”

“I’d feel more congratulatory if I was surprised,” he replied. “As it is, routine doesn’t surprise me.”

“Heavens, Kiba.” She clicked her tongue. “What’s the matter? Are you bored?”

“Boredom would be a nice change.”

• The Dying of the Light

And oH, yeah…Paper Crowns is getting published.

So there’s that.

Advertisements

//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.

__________________

“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.”

__________________

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.

__________________

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.

__________________

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.

__________________

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.

__________________

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.

__________________

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.

__________________

“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.”

__________________

“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.”