Wolf's-own Deleted Scenes
Author's Note: I know that
when a world and its characters interest me, I want to know
everything about them--what they had for breakfast, whether or
not they need a haircut, what they were doing while the
exposition followed other characters, etc. I always want the
extended version director's cut, and I always buy the new
release when an author puts out an uncut version of an old
favorite book (though that doesn't happen as often as I'd like).
However, I do recognize the lack of practicality in forcing that
on those who are just not interested, and so I sometimes end up
cutting things that perhaps offer a tiny bit of insight to a
reader who might have wanted it. Most of the time, it's a
paragraph or two of extraneous exposition or dialogue, but
sometimes it's entire segments. Thus, these outtakes.
I do ask you to note, however,
that these were all cut long before an editor got hold of the
manuscripts, so... well, the only editing benefit they enjoyed
was my own, which I won't pretend compares. They are what they
are. They won't give you any real 'Ah-ha!' moments, but they
might give you an 'Oh' or two.
*This is from book one, somewhere in
chapter eight, referred to during the confrontation between
Jacin and Asai, when Jacin confesses he'd gone to haunt his
family. When I cut this out, I rewrote that bit, so this
never actually happened, but I like to think it did and Jacin
just flat-out lied to Asai about it.
“We shall not meet
again,” his mother whispered, leaning out from her bedroom
window, staring up at the moons, eyes dreamy and glinting
silver; Jacin didn’t know if she knew he was there, or if she
thought perhaps she was talking to her spirits. Didn’t think it
made much of a difference. “We are all our own redemption,
though even the gods use all the tools in their grasp.”
She paused, wiped a
tear from her cheek, though she smiled, soft and kind like he
remembered her. He had to wipe his own cheeks, as he stood
there and watched her. And then she dipped her head, looked
right at him through his shadows, held out her hand, and he knew
she was seeing him. He went to her without even thinking,
silently guided her hand to his cheek.
“Ah, my own,” she told
him, “don’t cry, love.”
Jacin kissed her palm,
whispered, “Mother,” choked and thin.
“There is love for you,
my lost, beautiful little Ghost.” She’d never called him that
before, and yet somehow, when she said it, the way she
said it, it didn’t sting. “You draw it to you all unwitting,
and then you let it hurt you so.” She shook her head, her eyes
gone somber, intense. “Your other Self still keens in his
heart. Him, you mustn’t fail. Promise me.”
Jacin swallowed, nodded
without thinking. “I promise.”
His mother sighed a
little, smiled again. “Your test will come, my own. I so wish
I could tell you what it will be and how to win it.” She patted
his cheek. “Your spirits shout down mine even now, and I was
never gifted at foresight. And now, my mind… wanders.”
Because she’d tried to
save him and couldn’t. He could have dropped to his knees and
“I’m sorry,” was all he
could manage, hoarse and hollow.
Her hand slid from his
cheek, pinched his ear until he jolted back. “None of that,”
she told him sternly, jerked her chin up at the sky. “You
mustn’t let them see you moan so. Show Wolf if you must, but
none other. You are his, he took you apurpose, though
they all vie for you.” She paused, leaned down with a
mischievous smile quirking at her mouth, turning her moonlit
features young and achingly beautiful. “I know you, little lost
soul, Wolf’s Incendiary who will light the lamps of the sky and
set the world afire. So many lives hunkering inside you, but
I’ve known you from the first time you woke within my womb, and
then I knew you when you woke in me again. They thought I
wouldn’t know, but I recognized my own. Twice-born, you were,
snapped your neck the first time because I couldn’t bear to let
them have you, but you…” She shook her head, changed the grip
she had on his ear to a gentle pat. “You were determined. You
would be born, and Wolf would have you.”
Again, he set his hand
over hers, only just resisting the urge to cling. “Mother,
“None of that,” she
said again, though it was soft this time, no rebuke. “We’re all
made for sacrifice. It’s only that…” Her smile crimped and fresh
tears coursed down her cheeks. “Some sacrifices are so very hard
to make.” Abruptly her hand jerked away and she straightened,
her face hardening as she brusquely dashed the tears away. “Go
now. You must be what you are, Wolf’s-own. You cannot be that
*Book two, chapter eight. This is
the tail end of the conversation between Jacin and Joori that
starts the chapter.
He didn’t know what to say. It had been
like talking to Shig for a minute there, and it threw him. He
couldn’t make sense of any of it. So, he only sat, stared at the
couch across from him, let his head whirl out into nothing at
all while Joori kept braiding, until a soft call from the
hallway brought him back.
“Helloooooo?” drifted up from the
direction of the stair, a male voice pitched deliberately soft,
a little bit singsong, then the pad of bare feet on the floor of
the hall. Jacin recognized the young man, though he couldn’t
think from where for a long moment. Soft dark hair framing an
angular face set in friendly lines, gentle brown eyes lightly
kohl-lined, and kind, but swollen and a little red—he’d been
weeping, just like everyone else here.
“Madi?” Joori put in behind Jacin, and it
all clicked. The boy from the Girou, the one Jacin had planned
to torture and maybe kill, before he’d been set upon by Malick
and dragged from one shitty life and into another. “What are you
doing here?” Joori wanted to know.
Madi was staring between them, blinking,
his pretty face scrunched up into a frown as he leaned against
the wall of the small foyer that led into Malick’s sitting room.
Jacin saw the moment when his eyes landed on the braid in
Joori’s hand, saw the moment when the meaning of it registered.
Madi’s eyebrows shot up, and his mouth
opened a little slackly. “Oh,” was all he said, pushed out on a
heavy sigh, and he slumped harder into the wall. Said, “Oh,”
again, with feeling this time, then shook his head. “I… see.”
His eyes went to Joori. “So, it wasn’t you,” he murmured,
thoughtful, then turned his glance to Jacin. “It’s you. No
“Do I know you?” was all Jacin could think
to say. He’d been led to believe that Shig had altered the boy’s
memory, that he wouldn’t recognize him. Jacin tried to figure if
he cared and decided he didn’t—he had no intention of hiding
The boy sent a sharp look at Joori that
held some kind of reprimand Jacin couldn’t fathom, but he shook
his head. “I’ve met your… twin,” he said, his mouth turning down
into a slight frown, then he shook his head again. “Now I
see. A crying shame, really—you two could be the stars of this
place, but I guess Malick wouldn’t approve anyway.” He sighed.
“An Untouchable. Bloody hell. Are you what all the chaos is
“Madi,” Joori put in, his voice low, an
almost-threat that Jacin recognized—the tone he used when Caidi
was being obnoxious but he didn’t have the heart to shout at
her—and it almost wrenched new tears to Jacin’s eyes. “You’re
not supposed to be up here,” Joori said. “And we’re not good
people to know right now.”
“I came to see if you were all right,”
Madi said, shifting his eyes away from their scrutiny of Jacin
and softening a little when he sent his gaze to Joori. “There
are all kinds of rumors floating about downstairs, but when I
heard someone say the little girl who—” He cut himself off,
looked between them, his soft gaze gone sympathetic. “I heard
Malick had been hiding the little girl up here, so I thought of
you. I couldn’t find you downstairs, and I didn’t want to make
the rumors worse, but I wanted to…” He trailed off, shrugged,
uncomfortable now. “I dunno. I wanted to help.”
Jacin chanced a quick glance up at Joori,
noted the renewed pain on his face, and so quickly looked away
“I don’t think…” Joori’s voice had gone
thick, and he paused, cleared his throat, collected himself.
“Thank you, Madi, but there’s nothing anyone can do. It was kind
of you to come, but you shouldn’t be here, and I don’t think—”
“Yes,” Jacin cut in. He reached back and
set his hand to Joori’s arm, squeezed it. “Yes, Madi, there is
something you can do.”
And do you trust me, Jacin-rei? Do you
believe? and it might have been Beishin’s voice, or it might
have been Malick’s, and he thought, Yes then No,
and I don’t know, and it didn’t matter, because he
couldn’t trust himself. So, he slid the ring off his finger then
back on again, just to see if he had the nerve to try.
He turned to peer at Joori over his
shoulder, searched his face, but whatever Joori was feeling or
suspecting, he kept it hidden behind a blank mask of vague
expectation. Be the Ghost, Joori had said, only moments
ago, permission, and Jacin didn’t quite understand what the
permission was for, and he didn’t quite believe Joori meant it,
but he was trying to mean it, and that in itself was somehow
wrenching and freeing, all at the same time. He squeezed Joori’s
arm again, tried to give him a smile, but didn’t quite make it,
then he turned back to Madi, dipped his head.
of contacts have you in the city?"
*This one is from book two, chapter
nine, just after Joori and Shig have their little... talk.
Samin had never been comfortable with the
idea of magic. He’d been even less comfortable watching it
used. He had approved of it where Malick and Shig were
concerned, because, he admitted to himself, they used it in ways
he would like to think he’d use it himself, if he had it. They
took wrongs and made them right, and even then, the magic was a
last resort. Well, perhaps not for Shig—Samin supposed perhaps
Shig couldn’t not use hers—but Malick relied more on his
deadly skill with his hands; until just recently, Samin had only
ever seen Malick use his magic when he couldn’t manage with just
his physical skill to get someone else out of a tight spot.
Mostly Samin himself, now that he thought about it.
He hadn’t been aware that he’d been living
all this time, quite literally, in the heart of a coven.
Invisible beneath Malick’s veil, all of them, and shrouded from
the probes of the hunters. It almost made Samin laugh—the Girou
had a very favorable reputation and received quite a lot of
custom from a good portion of the Doujou. And he really should
have twigged about Van and Bone—twins, after all—but he hadn’t
been paying attention, had only really noticed Bone recently
because Shig had a crush on him, and they’d been here longer
than Samin himself had been. He should have seen. He should
have bothered to look.
Bloody Ragi, for pity’s sake.
Mouth tight, Samin watched the motley
assembly gather about Malick on the street in front of the Girou,
all their attention focused on him as he explained what he
intended to do, invited them along but didn’t ask, didn’t
demand, made it clear the choice was theirs and there would be
no fallout if they chose to keep to the home Umeia had made for
them and Malick had protected for them. Samin knew how it would
go. Every one of these people knew it could easily have been
them, captured and bled, or one of the others they’d come to
love and know as a looser sort of family than the one Samin had
watched rent from him only a few hours ago. And who knew what
they’d already seen that had driven them here in the first
Some might stay back—fear for which Samin
couldn’t blame them, self-preservation for which he could,
though he acknowledged that was likely less than fair—but the
bulk of them would follow Malick now, even though they’d had no
idea what he was until today, and despite the fact that they
knew now. Mortals had no fondness for either Temshiel or
maijin, and plenty of fear and distrust, but Malick had shared
drinks with most of these people, shared a bed with at least
half of them if not more. Samin had always watched the way
Malick attracted people to him, acquired loyalty without even
trying and mostly without knowing it, and Samin had feared for
Malick because of it, feared for those he drew to him; now, he
thought perhaps he’d been profoundly wrong. About a lot of
“So, how did you lose Morin?” Shig
murmured to him as they both watched Malick nab a bottle of uzin
from someone Samin didn’t recognize and take a healthy swig
before turning back to shove a map at the person nearest him.
Shig was still wearing that soft, flat smile she’d been sporting
since this afternoon, though the redness and swelling of her
eyes didn’t make them any less sharp. Joori was standing beside
Malick on the cobbles, listening intently, watching everything,
his expressionless face reminiscent of his brother in a way that
made Samin weirdly uneasy.
Samin’s mouth turned up at one corner,
sardonic. “You already know the answer, girly,” he rumbled.
“And you know I lose nothing I mean to keep.”
Shig snorted and leaned into Samin’s
shoulder. With a long sigh, she wrapped herself around Samin’s
arm and went quiet again. Samin didn’t mind. It seemed, after
all, that he was the only one out of all of them who hadn’t lost
an actual sibling today. Shig wasn’t especially touchy-feely,
but she’d never had a problem with hanging all over Yori when
the mood struck her. The two of them could go at each other
like screeching monkeys sometimes, but five minutes after a row
that could threaten to turn Samin’s hair white, Shig would have
Yori curled up on her bed, her head in Yori’s lap—just snuggling
quietly, or maybe kipping like two puppies in a basket.
Samin’s eyes grew hot, stung, so he
blinked quickly to clear them.
“I won’t tell Fen,” Shig murmured.
Samin thought at first she was talking
about his lapse in manhood, and wondered what the hell Fen might
have to do with it, but then he remembered what they’d just been
talking about. It made Samin smile—a real smile. He might need
that promise later, because if Fen found out Samin hadn’t lost
Morin—found out he’d in fact armed the boy before he’d watched
him follow after his brother, watched him slip into the back of
the curtained carriage just as Fen snapped the horse’s reins—Yakuli
might not be the only one in Fen’s sights today. Samin wouldn’t
be sorry for it, though, not even if Fen did find out. He
understood Fen’s blind, almost pathological need to protect what
he had left, but this was Morin’s right, Joori’s right, just as
much as it was Fen’s. Try telling Fen that, though, he
thought with a muted snort. He liked his head where it was too
much to try.
A crowd had gathered, which didn’t really
surprise Samin. The working day was nearly at an end, traffic
had picked up, and too many things had happened today to attract
attention. A few of the Doujou were loitering about—Samin
recognized one of them: a steady client of Mika’s—but with
Malick’s veil obscuring even a hint of magic, there was nothing
overtly suspicious but for the gathering itself, and that was to
be expected while they were all in mourning.
This… war meeting, whatever it was, had
started in the Girou itself, only moving outside when Madi had
arrived with the hired cart to take Umeia, Yori and Caidi to the
Shrine. Malick had seemed oddly pleased when Madi had told him
that there was rampant talk about the Giroulein District about
an Untouchable who’d driven through in a horse-drawn carriage,
who spoke sanely and had the sense to halt the carriage and wend
carefully through the barrier of gawkers who gathered to see.
Some were apparently even professing to have carried on actual
conversation with the Untouchable, which made Malick bark a
smugly-satisfied laugh. Joori had only tightened his mouth and
kept silent, but Malick had sent Ragi to warn Judges Canti and
Hirosui to get themselves away from the city before any real
“That’s it, then,” Malick said, more
loudly than before so as to reach the ear of everyone present.
“I’m off. Stay or follow, as you will. Either way, you’re
veiled until you leave Ada, but don’t take chances—it’s not a
There were more here than what Malick had
started with, some Samin knew damned well didn’t work at the
Girou, and he really didn’t bother to wonder where they’d come
from. All of them, apparently, more than willing to move to
Malick’s command, so it couldn’t actually matter, except to the
good. They dispersed—some to get where they were going by means
of whatever magic they possessed, and some to get there any way
they could, but Samin had no doubt that at least three-quarters
of those who were here now would be at their designated meeting
place just a mile before Asai’s lands turned into Yakuli’s.
Either way, they’d all be there by nightfall, though Samin knew
that Malick would be getting him, Shig and Joori in place before
anyone else arrived.
This was it, then. Whatever happened
today, a reckoning was coming. He just wished he could be sure
it would be for Yakuli. It didn’t matter in the end. Whatever
way it went, if Samin went down, he would go down bloody, and
with a damned impressive swath of mayhem left behind him.
No one fucked with his family.
Samin nodded to no one but himself,
dropped a kiss to the top of Shig’s motley head.
“That’s us, lovie,” he said, smiled a
little when Shig straightened, adjusted Yori’s bow on her back
and gripped the hilt of the short sword Samin had shoved into
her belt earlier. “You ready?”
Shig smiled back, leaned up and in, and
laid a soft, warm kiss to Samin’s cheek. “See you on the other
side,” she murmured to him then simply pulled back, patted his
cheek then turned and walked steadily over to Malick.
Samin only watched her for a moment,
trying not to wonder exactly what she might have meant by that.
*And this one directly follows the
previous one. This one was very hard to cut, because I felt like
it gave a lot of insight into what Jacin's life was like--what
it used to be for Untouchables and what it is now. But in the
end, it didn't move the plot or add any definitive character
development, so out it went.
He would’ve waited for Malick. He
probably would have kept waiting for Malick until the
next promise fell through, and the one after that. Except there
had been Xari. And there had been not-Vonshi. And Jacin
couldn’t wait anymore.
It had been easier than Jacin had been
thinking it might be. He’d ridden in the carriage before—hidden
in the back when Asai’s business took him to the city and he
didn’t fancy leaving his Untouchable to his own devices—but
Vonshi had always driven, made the ‘excursions’ more bearable.
No, it had been Husao; Vonshi had never
Husao had driven the carriage. Husao had
soothed him and taught him, helped him and spoken to him like he
was an actual person, and none of it had been real.
Nothing’s ever been real, Jacin-rei.
They tell you what you want to hear, because it makes you
theirs. You hand yourself over to them for a kind word or an
affectionate touch of the hand. You make it so easy for
them—why shouldn’t they use it when you give it to them with
Jacin clenched his teeth, gloved hands
tightening on the reins.
Dani. He could see the blue eyes,
sparking with equal parts mischief and disappointment, and it
wasn’t fair for Dani to be haunting him—Jacin hadn’t killed him.
No? Are you sure?
Yes. He was sure. Knives had been
foreplay with Dani, they’d hadn’t turned lethal until…
Urgent kisses and eager hands, and the
first blissful taste of another’s touch, wrapped inside a
split-second of heady silence, and he’d forgotten to pretend it
was Beishin, and Beishin says it’s for the best and the
look in Beishin’s eyes hadn’t had anything to do with love, but
jealousy and possession, possession of a thing, my little
Ghost, and the anger had been real, but the disgust had
been, too, Cover yourself—
He could swear he could feel every stitch
in his leg, and they were all on fire. Malick had been
preoccupied, maybe even angry, hadn’t pushed that spice-heavy
tea on him, or one of those elixirs, and Jacin had no idea why
that made him feel the pain that much sharper. His head thumped
and his stomach churned, and he only now noticed it had begun to
rain harder again, and he was soaked through.
“He is, I tell you, look at the
Jacin blinked, peered up and around
himself, startled to realize the carriage had halted, and a
crowd had gathered about it.
He hurt, ached, pain singing
through him with high-pitched, jagged edges. It had always
helped him focus before, brought his mind back to his body, but
now it was turning him muddled, ramping through the silence with
its own voice, joining the others’ with singsong glee.
Pay attention to what you’re doing,
boy. Perfection demands concentration.
I’m not perfect. I’ve never been
perfect. I’ll never be perfect.
He looked about anyway, paid attention.
Stopped in front of a sedate
tearoom—peeling rose-colored paint trimmed in white, stenciled
paper screens covering the windows, and the eaves curled in the
Jin style of architecture—its patrons drawn by the novelty of a
horse then captured by the rarity of the Untouchable who sat the
box of the obviously rich carriage.
The carriage had been pointing the wrong
way when he’d taken it, the streets too narrow to steer it in a
turnabout, and he hadn’t known how to make the horse back up.
So, he’d simply urged it forward, navigated a little deeper into
the District so he could circle about to the Gates. Many had
stared, but none had approached, not until he’d apparently lost
himself inside his head and allowed the horse to stop in the
middle of the street and attract a gawking horde.
He supposed he should be grateful he
hadn’t trampled anyone. He hoped he hadn’t trampled
“What’s he doing?” someone asked, and
another answered, “Something crazy, no doubt. Back away, Pag,
“…all them knives. Are they supposed to…”
“…believe he’s actually driving…”
“…looks calm to me…”
“…where he could be…”
He’d had no intention of hiding, but then
again, he’d had no intention of sitting in the middle of the
Giroulein District on display, inviting speculation, inviting
the stares that weren’t quite stares, more like quick glances
that skimmed over him, trying not to actually see him, trying
not to catch the eye of the Ghost. None of them blocked his
path; none of them interfered—only watched and shared conjecture
You’ve heard the voice of your god,
Jacin. Caidi. He could’ve wept. Shouldn’t you be
Wolf’s Voice, too?
He couldn’t trust Beishin’s voice. He
certainly couldn’t trust his own. He couldn’t even really trust
Dani’s, though what Dani had said had rung like truth, but Dani
had left him behind, too, used him in his way, because Jacin had
made it easy. But Caidi…
Right, then. Perhaps not quite what he’d
had in mind, but… it might do.
Jacin cleared his throat, winced a little
at the roughness, like there was a lump of gravel blocking it,
and he stood slowly in the box, peered down at the crowd.
Looking at them, letting them see he was looking at them,
and watching them back away a little, anxious beneath the eye of
“Lord Yakuli…” His voice was much too
hoarse to carry, but they shushed instantly when he spoke,
eyeing each other in surprise, looking at him like he was an
imposter, because surely an Untouchable couldn’t actually speak
coherently, couldn’t drive a carriage, couldn’t stand calmly
amongst them and address them reasonably. He allowed his hand
to reach up, pull the braid to swing heavily over his shoulder,
the tail bumping lightly against the top of his boot. “I go to
He waited. It didn’t take long.
“…know why he would…”
“…does Lord Yakuli have to do with…”
“What business does an Untouchable have
with Lord Yakuli?” one braver soul asked, ostensibly to the man
standing next to him, but he’d raised his voice so that Jacin
could hear him over the rest of the rabble. Because one did not
address an Untouchable directly, one did not acknowledge a
Ghost, because the wrong word, the wrong look might interfere
He is no one’s brother, Joori, and
his father hadn’t actually said it out loud, but the He is
nothing was implicit, and Jacin wasn’t really surprised his
father would choose to haunt him tacitly through the not-gazes
All-in-all, Jacin still preferred the
invisibility of the shadows to this.
We’re all Wolf’s, Jacin, and he
peered down into the crowd, found golden curls not stained with
blood, and hazel eyes not blank in death, and a smile that made
his heart hurt much worse than his leg and his arm and his head
and his gut.
“Lord Yakuli defies Wolf,” he said, slowly
and clearly, because it wouldn’t do to stumble over words now.
“Lord Yakuli mocks your laws.” He leaned down, trying to catch
gazes, but they were too intent on not letting him, so he
focused in on Caidi. “Lord Yakuli uses stolen magic, bled from
the full-Bloods poached like animals from the dungeons of your
Courts, sold to your counselors and lords and prefects and
judges. A Counselor in your own Courts commands the
Disappeared, abetted by Lord Asai, a maijin of Raven.”
The silence was by no means complete, but
it was heavy, weighted with disbelieving whispers he supposed he
should have expected, but they pissed him off anyway. They’d
been waiting for him to start babbling nonsense, and he’d just
fulfilled their expectations.
Because you’re an abomination. Because
Two women nearest the carriage flinched a
little and hastily flicked their gazes away. He must be
Perhaps, Father. Then again, you
couldn’t save her, either. So, what does that make you?
Jacin settled himself back on the bench,
flicked the reins a little until the horse began to nose slowly
forward, parting the crowd.
“I go to Lord Yakuli’s,” he said again.
“I mean to cut his throat. So, perhaps you’d best alert your
No one moved except to back away a little
to avoid being run over. They only stared as the carriage drove
slowly past the teahouse, some faces blank with confusion or
surprise, some twisted with fear or anger, but no one tried to
stop him, and still, no one looked directly at him. Their
silence was complete this time, the light patter of rain a soft
counterpoint to the rough clop-clop of the horse’s hoofs
on the cobbles as it wended its way through the narrow aisle
they’d made, until:
“Untouchable, perhaps,” said a bold voice,
“but still Jin.” Jacin turned his eyes towards the voice, but
the man wouldn’t look at him, his gaze roving the rest of the
crowd, looking for support or agreement. “A Jin threatens an
Adan!” he furthered, more strident than he’d begun.
Jacin stopped the carriage again. Turned
directly to the man, though still, he kept his eyes on those
around him. “And you would interfere?” he asked, the rasp of
his voice making it more threatening than he’d intended.
The man paused for a moment, swallowed
heavily, but turned to the man who had been standing next to him
and was now backing discreetly away. “What right has a
“I’ve heard the voice of my god—have
you? What right has an Adan to imprison another?” Jacin’s
teeth were clenched now, his anger rising. In truth, he had
very little patience for the Jin anymore—too many of them were
just as weak and waiting to be led as his father—and saving a
people who were so easily enslaved had lost its luster, since
he’d begun to see Asai for what he was.
But then again, how long had Jacin been
his beishin’s willing prisoner? How much force had it really
taken for him to become Malick’s willing pawn? How was he any
different than the people from whom he’d come?
“What right,” he went on, “have the Adan
to hunt their brothers, imprison them, sell them to each other
like chattel, drain their Blood until they’re sere husks? I’ve
seen it. They don’t allow them pyres, you know, they
bury them, bind them to the earth to haunt us all—your seeds
feed the souls of those you’ve allowed to be sacrificed
to the greed of your masters.”
A soft gasp rippled through them at that.
Very little frightened a person more than the threat of becoming
what they both pitied and feared.
“You’re just as enslaved as the Jin,”
Jacin said, his throat sore and raw now, his voice little more
than a rusty whisper. “I don’t expect you to take my word for
it—go and see for yourselves.” He leaned down, squinted against
the rain, but he couldn’t find Caidi amongst them anymore; it
made him feel strangely lonely.
It hadn’t always been like this. His kind
had been revered once—their gazes met and returned, their advice
sought, their presence hoped for and hosted willingly. Strange,
that both the Jin and the Adan had kept the ‘Untouchable’ part
of their traditions, and yet had abandoned their pitiful
Catalysts so quickly to their too-predictable fates. Surely
cutting them loose and watching them starve and rave themselves
to death in the streets had to be some sort of transgression in
What had he wanted here? What had he
expected? A riot of Adan defending Jin? A march on Yakuli by
the city’s citizens? An Untouchable inciting a crowd that
not-quite-stared at him with revulsion and fear and doubt and
hostility? They expected him to be insane—everything he
said would be heard through that filter; they would believe
nothing because it was what they wanted and that was just how
people were, Adan just as much as Jin.
“I mean to have a look,” rumbled low from
the edge of the crowd. A tall, rangy man with a cragged face
and beak-like nose, his lank brown hair plastered to a brow
twisted permanently into the shape of a frown. The kitchen
whites of the Girou hung on his whip-cord frame, and Jacin
recognized him as the man who’d been hovering about Von—
hovering about Husao and that woman as Malick had stalked the
alley with the snap and snarl of ozone all around him. “Every
Adan shares blood with the Jin,” the man went on, stepped
forward and looked right at Jacin, met his eyes and let everyone
see him meet his eyes. “How many of us have paid the midwife to
give a squalling newborn a quick end?” He paused, peered about,
catching gazes and keeping them. “How many of us have paid her
not to?” He smiled a little when they looked away; it wasn’t a
nice smile. “The Untouchable says he’s heard Wolf’s voice. The
Untouchable says our Courts are corrupt and our Judges trade in
magic for which they’d hang us.” He smiled again, crueler this
time. “Your complicity allows your government to grow their
magic. How long d’you think before they use it against you? Or
d’you fear the Untouchable more than you fear magic?”
Jacin almost smiled. He’d been appealing
to their senses of justice, but what did they really have to
avenge? Those they feared were locked away, the eyes of the
hunters trained on the camps, not on them and the smattering of
small magicks in their own midst. Perhaps these people didn’t
like what happened to the Jin, but they could certainly live
with it, if it meant the persecution never turned on them. It
had been too long since any of them considered any Jin their
kin, even if they all had at least some Jin blood in them.
This man played on their fear. This man
reminded them why they’d risen against the Jin in the first
place, and it didn’t matter what their motives were, so long as
what was being done in the shadows of their Courts was dragged
into the light.
The man was still talking, but Jacin had
stopped listening. He snapped the reins again lightly, and
urged the horse on. He didn’t look back. They would follow and
see for themselves or they wouldn’t; either way was fine—he had
a job to do and he didn’t necessarily fancy having to do it
around them. Or through them. But they knew now. And they
It was a start.
*There will be a few more for books
three and four. I'll post them when those books are out. Er,
okay, I'll somehow find the time to look at them to see if
they're suitable for posting, at least.