Cold rain washes runnels of blood past her feet.
Having survived her first sword battle and killed a would-be assassin and a sword master, Yamabuki finds herself moving through a different world. Or is it she herself who has changed? Her warrior mother’s words ring in her ears: “You must prevail. That is the only allowable outcome. No one who you can truly trust will be there to offer you solace. It is something you will bear alone.”
And now, alone, wary and weary, trapped by an unseasonable snowstorm in a lawless town, Yamabuki tries to bring order and peace back to her life, if only for a night. But all is not what it seems.
And others do not seem content to leave her be.
The acclaimed series that began with Cold Blood continues with Book Two of Sword of the Taka Samurai.
Even if it were already twilight, which it was not quite yet, the boy would have known by habit where to dodge to avoid boulders, and where to weave so as not to take a misstep. Though not the fastest route, it skirted around small fences and bypassed fierce dogs.
“She’s here! She’s here!” he shouted as he ran.
He arrived at a building flying tall, red banner flags. Breathless, he almost leapt to its main door, abruptly stopped, and rapped firmly.
“She’s here! She’s here!” He did not need to yell so loudly, for his voice already pierced the walls.
“Who’s here?” demanded a resonant voice from inside. The weathered wooden door abruptly slid open.
Had it been Yamabuki who ran to the door, and not the boy, she would have described the man inside as young—about her years. Not yet able to sprout a beard, it made him handsome in a boyish way. He was old enough to have a full mane of hair that fell past his waist, which he had tied in a man’s light-blue hair ribbon. He was as tall as Yamabuki. Slender yet muscular. The body of a natural swordsman. He had twinkling eyes that secreted mischief. If Tomoko had a dashing older brother, this could well have been him.
But all this was lost on the boy who stood outside. What the boy saw and noticed, instead, was a well-built and regally dressed older man who spoke with a melodious baritone voice that gave him an air of authority, a reputed young warlord who traveled without his guards.
“The woman samurai. She just rode in! Riding a battle horse, just like a tai-shōgun,” said the boy.
“Like a tai-shōgun? Fair of face?” the young warlord asked as he stepped onto the small outer porch.
“Beautiful. Just like you said. And she’s been in battle. Her armor’s bloody and she’s been cut. Here.” The boy drummed his fingers on his own cheek at the spot.
“I think a scratch. She’s spattered in blood, but it’s not hers … and she’s angry. I think it’s because her armor was damaged. It’s torn,” said the boy as he drew his finger in a line across his own breast.
“What color armor?”
“Green?” The warlord seemed startled.
“Dark as mountain hardstone.”
“What color mount?”
The warlord’s eyes narrowed.
“Black with a white blaze. Here.” The boy moved his finger in a circle on his own forehead. “The rest is all black, right down to the hooves.”
“Does she fly a clan banner?”
The boy stretched both hands out, making an “X” pattern with his fingers. “Feathers. Like this.”
“Where’s she now?”
“She’s gone to Kōno’s to fix her armor. She was angry, but when I said Kōno fixed armor, she was happy.”
“Well. I think I shall have to pay my friend Kōno a visit.”
—from Cold Rain, by Katherine M. Lawrence. ©2017 All rights reserved.
- Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-943194-04-9
- Paperback ISBN: 978-1-943194-03-2
- EBook ISBN: 978-1-943194-05-6