Squirrels are not creatures of the night. So sitting there on that stump in the dark trying to mend embroidery—trying not to stab myself with the sharp needle while keeping my ears pricked for any strange sounds—wasn’t easy on my nerves.
I fetched Masugu’s short sword from where my bedroll still lay, warm and inviting. The black lacquered sheath made a nice, hard surface for me to work against.
As I picked out the orange threads, cutting them with the tip of the needle, my mind worried at our destination. The capital.
Could I kill him?
Did I hate him?
I knew I hated the idea of him. I hated what he had done to my father, to Emi and Toumi’s.
But to kill him?
By the light of the waxing moon, I removed the threads of the Hōjō mon. One by one, I dropped them into the soot-covered embers of the fire. There they would briefly catch flame, writhing like snakes as they burned.
I was left, finally, with the blank white disk of the Mochizuki. The Full Moon.
A convenient emblem for a clan of spies and assassins.
I was just finishing the top blue stripe to the mon on my kimono when one of the horses snorted. I responded with my own snort of amusement. Do horses dream? What do they dream of? Running? Long, green grass and clover? Stomping on snakes?
Another sound broke my reverie, however—whispers. The sound was barely audible above the smooth rush of the water and the gentle rustle of the night breeze in the leaves overhead. But I was sure it wasn’t my imagination. Low voices came from the direction of the horses, like stones rumbling down through a stream.
I found myself on my feet, the beautiful robe forgotten in the dust, and strode toward the riverside with my sword drawn.
So much for being a cautious coward. Continue reading Kano Sneak Preview: Creatures of the Night