This is part 6 of an ongoing story series. You can read the first part here.

Fumi sat cross-legged on the wall of a minor noble’s yard. Her hair was pulled back in a messy bun, though several strands had already escaped. A fist-sized leather pouch was suspended between her palms, buffeted by the wind she used to float it in front of her face.

“Are you sure we can’t open it?”

The pouch jerked from her hands into Iruka’s outstretched palm. The senior Dagger sat on the edge of their cart, legs kicking idly. “Absolutely not. The whole reason people bring us in is for secrecy. If they wanted a bunch of meatheads asking lots of questions, they would have hired Heroes.”

“Please, don’t trouble yourself.” Moto pushed Iruka’s leg aside as he heaved a large bundle into the bed of the cart.

“You were just as eager for the bet as the rest of us! It’s not our fault you were the first one spotted by the guards.” Fumi turned a pout back to Iruka. “A quick look isn’t going to hurt anybody! All this fuss for a bag of jewels barely worth more than our contract fee. There must be something more.”

Keta was leaning against the wall below Fumi, his arms crossed. “Perhaps they are family heirlooms.”

Moto hefted the last bag in place and turned to face the group. “I’ve never known a merchant to be sentimental. Not when coin is involved.”

Keta’s mouth dipped into a frown as Moto spoke. The shapeling was doing that a lot lately. “There is a first time for everything. If we’re ready to go…” He pushed himself off the wall and started walking down the street.

Iruka glanced between Moto and Keta, then shrugged and scrambled to the front of the cart to set the horses moving. Moto fell in beside Fumi, who was grumbling about unsatisfying endings to stories.

They walked down a wide, cobbled stone boulevard. Neatly manicured beech trees lined the street, casting their shadows into the walled gardens on either side. Multi-story stone manors nestled far back from the road.

Nearly everyone on the street was a shapeling dressed in brightly colored robes. The few interspersed humans were walking in a bent-over shuffle, trying to match the shorter stature of the majority.

Moto and the others received more than one disapproving glare as they walked. Iga’s Champion was ultimately pledged to Tsukuyomi, even if the Daggers maintained a neutral stance. And Tsukuyomi’s followers belonged in Jidoka’s slums, not within the walls of the High City.

Moto hunched his shoulders. Even if they hadn’t worn the jet black of Daggers, three humans had no chance of blending in. They stood out like a cutpurse at a gala.

Fumi bounced at his side, her head held high as she looked around. The earlier argument with Iruka was already forgotten. She could never hold onto a frustration for more than a minute or two. Fumi gave a low whistle.

“And I thought some of the senior Daggers were rich. I’m glad you convinced us to take this mission. I’ll be telling stories about all this wealth for years!”

Moto grunted, his eyes down to avoid insulting any nobles.

Fumi shoved her face into Moto’s field of view as they walked. “Hey! Are you listening?”

Moto tried to shove her away but she danced back and reappeared at his other side. She threw an arm around his shoulder and Moto surprised himself when he didn’t pull away instinctively.

“Will you and Keta quit moping and make up already? Heroes are supposed to be… well, cooler. Not sulking like a pair of mountain cats who fell into a lake.”

Moto bristled. Fumi knew just how to get under his skin. “I’m not moping. And there’s nothing to make up about! I’m not mad at Keta.”

“Well, he’s mad at you. Have you two talked about what happened to those soldiers in the cave?”

Moto turned his head away. “There hasn’t been a good time to bring it up.”

“No? Not a single moment on the entire journey here? Two weeks from Iga to Jidoka, and you never had a moment to pull him aside?”

“He’ll come to me when he wants to talk.”

Fumi groaned. “I knew you were prickly, but I didn’t know your were a fool too. You’ll never feel the breeze if you wait for the summit to climb itself.”

She laughed as he pushed her away, then left him to walk with his own thoughts.

The buildings became more plain as they approached the merchant’s district, clustered around Frost Gate. All of Jidoka’s High City was wealthy, but the military officers and merchants did not splurge on ostentation like the nobles did.

Moto shifted his gaze to Keta. He expected the shapeling to be as enthralled by the city as Fumi. The two of them were of a kind when it came to their love of spectacle. But the dancer’s gaze remained forward.

Moto shook his head. He was used to keeping his distance. But space didn’t seem to be making things any better. He hated to admit it, but maybe Fumi was right. He pretended not to see her grin as he trotted forward to Keta.

The shapeling looked over his shoulder as Moto neared. “Yes?”

“I… I was thinking we should talk about what happened in the cave.” Moto rubbed his hands along his pants. “Are you still mad?”

Keta faced forward again as they continued walking. “I am not mad.”

“Oh. It seems like you’re mad.”

“Well, I am not. So you may rest easy.”

Moto hesitated as he discarded several followups. It was hard to think of something to say when he wasn’t trying to manipulate. “I thought… well, you know what happened with the other prisoners. I’m sorry we couldn’t save them.”

“Yes, you have made it clear that was not possible.” Keta’s tone was frosty.

There was a pause, long enough to be awkward. Moto soldiered on. “I don’t know what was possible or not. But things looked bad.” Moto laid a tentative hand on Keta’s shoulder. “I didn’t want to risk you getting hurt.” He paused again, uncomfortable with what he was saying. “Not for anything.”

Keta shrugged off Moto’s hand. “Except the mission, of course. Anything could be sacrificed for the mission. Even three men’s lives.”

Moto pulled his hand back as if stung. His face darkened. “When the spiders attacked, I threw myself on you, not the kid. And when you wanted to save the prisoners the first time, I helped even though I thought it was risky. So don’t say I would put the mission above you.” He didn’t mention how much that fact scared him.

“Fine. You care for me.” Keta waved a hand angrily. “But what of those people? Do not try to say that you cared for their fate.”

“What do you want from me?” Moto threw his hands up as he shouted.

“Hey! Keep it down rock heads.” Iruka gestured to the surrounding neighborhood and the handful of people looking up at Moto’s outburst.

Moto lowered his voice, stepping closer to Keta. “What do you want from me? There was too much going on and I prioritized. I cared about you, and the squad, and the kid. I didn’t care as much about the other prisoners. I’m sorry. Would you rather I let you get hurt? Or the kid to die?”

“I would rather you not care so little about condemning three men to death.”

“I’m not going to torture myself when there was no other option. Your resonance was tapped out and we were surrounded on all sides. How were you going to save those men?”

“We would have thought of something!”

“No, we wouldn’t. You can talk all you want about saving everyone. But those are just words. In the real world people die if you refuse to accept reality.”

“Oh, and you’re keeping everyone alive?”

“Fine, more people die. You know what I mean!” Moto ground his jaw, forcing his tone to soften. “Keta, I didn’t want to leave them. If I thought there was a reasonable chance of saving everyone, I would have tried. But I did what I thought would save the people I care about. Is that really so bad?”

“When we met, I thought that you were distant because you were afraid of loss. But now I fear that you are just… distant. Like a dancer who rehearses the forms but cares not for the performance. I do not want to be with someone who is so cold.”

Moto stood with his mouth open. Keta’s words hurt. Too much. “Fine, then I won’t burden you with my presence any longer.”

Moto stomped back to the cart and pulled his pack free. “I’m going to explore the city by myself for a while.”

Iruka looked at him over her glasses. “Are you sure? This mission was your idea. You don’t want to be there for contract completion?”

“No. I’ll meet you at Frost Gate in the afternoon to leave.” Moto cut down an alley without looking back.

“Watch it.”

You watch it.” Moto stared ice at the street performer laying sprawled along the ground. The man saw Moto’s jet black robes and scrambled back, nodding deferentially as he clawed his scattered coins from the mud and fled.

Moto knew it was his fault. Wrapped up in imaginary arguments with Keta, he hadn’t been watching where he walked. But he was in a foul mood and didn’t feel like controlling himself.

Keta was always saying he was too cold. Too reserved. But now he was berating Moto for caring about him too much? Suddenly loving him was the wrong answer too?

Moto nearly missed a step at that last thought. Those words were dangerous. He was just overreacting. Feeling sentimental after Keta’s harsh words. But his chest burned when he thought of their last exchange.

Moto muscled his thoughts aside with a growl as he rummaged in his pouch and pulled out the copy he made of their last contract. The one Sounstealer tried to hide. At the bottom of the paper was an icon of two hands exchanging a coin for a mask. It was the sigil of the merchant who requested the contract. The current mission was just an excuse to travel to Jidoka so he could investigate further.

The merchant’s office was likely in High City. But if there was anything to sniff out, he wasn’t going to find it there. Talking to the merchant directly would get back to Soundstealer anyways.

Moto wasn’t sure what he was looking for yet. But if there was more to this merchant, something wouldn’t add up in the day-to-day details. He planned to start by talking to the workers and poking around the warehouses. And that meant a trip to the Icepackers Ward.

Jidoka surrounded Sanshimai, a massive lake who’s shore was cut by three rivers. Each area served a different function for the city. Hundreds of years before, the districts had been distinct domains, but Sadashi conquered the other two cities and folded them into his own.

Covering the north and west shores, was High City with it’s stone wall, snooty wealth, and military facilities. It was the original seat of Sadashi’s power. To the east were the Pleasure Gardens. Once a wild forest city brimming with primeval splendor, now a perfumed luxury district with rock gardens, tea shops, and any other service a wealthy Jidokan desired.

On the south shore, the Icepackers Ward suffered the most under Sadashi’s rule. Shiori’s domain used to be consumed by the arts. It was now Jidoka’s slums. The town was littered with theaters converted to icehouses for High City’s favored lake fish. Still more served as cramped living quarters for the many gangs and beggars who didn’t work the lake.

It was hard to tell which stank more: the rotting fish-guts of the Mud Dock, the perpetually muddy and refuse-laden streets, or the unwashed residents who moved through it all.

Moto approached a woman playing the harp on a street corner. The hat at her feet was devoid of coins. Her tattered, faded robes and scrawny limbs suggested this was a regular occurrence. Moto pulled out a copper and tossed it into the hat, keeping a tight grip on the rest of his purse. He knew how these operations worked.

“Another if you can tell me which tavern the workers frequent.”

The woman laughed, but cut the sound off quickly at Moto’s glower. “Any tavern sir… there’s not much in Kumadori that isn’t given over to feeding the brutes behind those walls.”

Kumadori was the old name for the Icepackers Ward, before its conquest. Moto took another look at the woman’s harp. It was old, the painted wood was chipped and faded, but it had been a fine instrument once. He guessed her ancestors had been important before Sadashi took over.

Moto pulled out a pair of silvers, stepping closer to the woman and dropping his voice conspiratorially. “I feel I can trust someone who treats an instrument fine as that with such care. I’m looking for someone who’s gotten a little too cozy with the lords and ladies behind the wall. These are yours if you can show me the place I’m looking for.”

The woman nodded approvingly as he spoke, but mostly she eyed the silvers like she might just skip a step and eat them directly. She nodded and snatched them out of his hands. “What are you looking for?”

Moto held out the contract, folded so only the sigil showed. “Have you seen this sign before? I’m looking for a man who works in the warehouses for this merchant.”

The woman made a show of squinting at the paper for a good while. Moto thought she might ask for a few more coins to jog her memory, until he saw her gesturing with the fingers by her side. He didn’t bother turning. In some nearby alley, a greasy cutthroat was certainly drawing his daggers to follow wherever they went.

“Perhaps I should be dealing with your friend, then, if you feel the need to call them along?” Moto pulled on the silver coins in her hand, harder than he needed to. They snapped out of her grasp and flew back to his palm.

The woman’s eyes widened. “No sir. I– sorry sir.” She was not at all chastened at being caught, but Moto thought she wouldn’t try anything now that she knew he had a resonance. He held the two silvers back out to her.

“As long as we’re understood. Save the blades for your real enemies. Or at least a softer mark. Now, have you seen the sigil?”

“I don’t know the name, but I’ve seen a warehouse that bears the mark.”

The woman led him through the muddy streets, working toward Sanshimai. She grumbled when he refused to take the dark, narrow alleys she claimed as shortcuts. The smell of fish grew until it overwhelmed all else long before they reached a two story building that spanned an entire block on the lake’s shore. The merchant’s mark stood above the building’s wide front doors.

Moto drew out another silver and offered it to the woman.

“What’s this for?” She snatched the coin without waiting for an answer.

“To forget you ever saw me.”

The woman nodded, spinning on her heel and disappearing down an alley without another word. Moto turned his attention back to the warehouse and settled on a barrel to watch.

A muscular pair hauled baskets full of silver fish from the docks to a set of tables outside the front door, where a line of dour faced men and women with blood stained hands and aprons gutted the day’s catch. Small children ran along the line, grabbing finished cuts and ferrying them into the warehouse. A man, his back hunched with age until his long beard nearly touched his knees, sat outside a small smoking shed.

Hadn’t this merchant relocated to Jidoka recently? The son they rescued was supposedly following soon behind the father. So how did he already have such a large operation? Perhaps they purchased the business from someone else, but the sigil over the doors was not freshly painted.

And while the area around the workshop was bustling with activity, there weren’t nearly as many workers as he would have expected given the size of the building.

A pair of dangerous looking women approached the building and greeted the fish carvers, laughing as someone cracked a joke. The kids running up and down the line gave the women a wide birth, as though they had suffered a few kicks for getting too close in the past. The two women carried on to the side of the building, looking up and down the street before they slipped into the alley.

Curiosity piqued, Moto ducked out of sight and pulled himself to a nearby rooftop, then snuck to the alley the women had entered. He dropped to his belly and peered over the edge.

Empty. The women hadn’t had time to reach the end of the alley and turn out of sight, which left the plain door on the back half of the warehouse.

The women might be nothing more than warehouse guards. Or a pair of thugs hired to shake down the neighborhood for some extra cash. Moto didn’t care if they were up to no good in the general sense. He only cared if those schemes might bring the merchant into conflict with a village like his own.

A half hour passed and three more armed individuals, two women and one man, entered through the side door. Abnormal, but no more suspicious than any of the other crime in the slums. If Moto didn’t know this merchant was connected to Soundstealer, he wouldn’t have looked twice. He needed to see more.

Moto crawled back from the ledge and rose into a squat. The alley was no more than a pace or two wide. Getting to the warehouse roof was trivial. As was slipping through one of the narrow windows toward the top of the wall.

Inside, the building was a single story. Crates were stacked almost to the top of the double height ceilings, forming a maze of wide corridors. Wooden cranes were placed on sliding tracks for loading and unloading. The room was cold, probably from the ice used to pack the fish.

To Moto’s left, a solid wall divided the building in half. To his right, in the far back corner, a set of stairs led to an enclosed office, standing on stilts halfway to the ceiling.

Moto pulled himself into the shadows of the building’s rafters, moving in quick bursts and otherwise holding still to avoid drawing eyes.

None of the crates came near the windows at the top of the building. If not for his resonance, sneaking in through the roof would have been tricky. But still, it felt too easy. Maybe they didn’t have much to hide.

As his eyes adjusted, Moto saw the warehouse floors were clean and dry. Unexpected for a building whose sole purpose was holding ice and dead fish.

Now that he looked, he couldn’t see anything that suggested fish or ice. Perhaps this was the equipment room, and the fish were stored in the other half of the warehouse? He scanned the wall dividing the building. No doors connected this side to the other.

Along with the five people who entered recently, there was only one other person in the room. All six of them were clustered in one of the crate corridors. Four of them were loading open boxes while the other two were hooking a closed one on to a crane. Moto moved closer to get a look.

Weapons. The three crates being loaded were neatly packed with swords, arrows, and other armaments. The thugs had a practiced efficiency that suggested they had loaded crates like these many times over.

These people were obviously up to something. If even half the boxes in this room were filled the same way as those he had just seen, this warehouse could outfit a small militia. But for what?

Were they planning an uprising in the Icepackers Ward? Moto dismissed the idea. There was no way someone would have access to this many weapons without also having better security.

Only six people, with no one on guard. Unlocked windows, and a warehouse split in half without even a fake door between. This place couldn’t hold up to the barest amount of scrutiny. A couple hours had already found this much.

Whatever it was, they had to be connected to the government. That was the best explanation for why they cared so little about being discovered. But there was some attempt being made to hide. So it was unofficial. Moto saw two likely explanations.

Someone in Jidoka, someone with enough clout to cover if the Blades ever found the warehouse, was planning a move against the other lords. Or Sadashi had plans that he didn’t want seen by passersby and leaking out of the city.

Based on how the boxes were packed, Moto’s best guess was the former. Each crate had a wide variety of weapons. If it was some central government work, he would expect them to be more systematically loaded. All swords or all bows, not a mix.

Moto slipped through the rafters again, using his power to fly through the beams without making a sound. It was hard to imagine how he had ever managed to go unseen without it. He came to rest against the office on the side that faced away from the thugs. The wall was smooth, but he stuck with ease.

He peered through the small window on the side of the office. It looked plain enough. A simple table stood by the door, littered with paper and writing instruments. Beside the table was a few boxes filled with records.

But at the center of the room was a man with hands and feet bound to a chair and mouth gagged. His clothes were ragged and his face was badly bruised. The man’s chin rested against his chest, his eyes closed and his breathing steady.

Should he try to wake the prisoner up? They might have useful information. But they would probably make a scene if he didn’t help them escape, which Moto wasn’t planning to do. He didn’t want the merchant knowing that someone was investigating.

After the argument with Keta, Moto wasn’t feeling particularly charitable anyways.

Keeping an eye on the prisoner, Moto eased into the room. He pulled against the ceiling to keep his footsteps light as he tip-toed to the box of records. He slid his fingers along the dividers sticking out of the box, wondering what to look for. What might prove this merchant was the one who set the contract to destroy Moto’s village?

Business near the village would be a start. Moto scanned to a section of shipping records, then pulled out a few sheets and slid them into his robes.

What about motivation? Maybe the Hero who founded Moto’s village was raiding this merchant for supplies. Or the hideout could have been on some valuable resources. That might show as a dip in profits for a time before Moto’s village was destroyed.

Moto found the section on payments and started flipping back through the years. But the financial records were only for shipments made from this office. The records went back far longer than they should have for a new merchant, though.

The man at the center of the room groaned as he woke. Moto spun, racing towards the window without hesitation. He was only halfway through the room when the prisoner’s eyes came open.

In the moment it took the battered man to process what he was seeing, Moto had reached the window. The man moaned, unable to do more through the gag in his mouth. There was pleading in his voice and the whites showed around his eyes.

Moto held a finger to his lips, but the man kept making noise. He slid his chair towards the window in desperation. Moto cursed under his breath, then threw one leg over the windowsill. When he saw Moto was leaving, the man gave another frantic cry and tipped the chair sideways with a loud thud.

“Did you hear that?”

“Sounds like the fox friend is awake again. Who wants to take the next turn?” There was a groan from whoever was selected.

Moto slipped out of the window and clung beneath the ledge. He wanted to keep running, but the man had gotten a good look at his face. If he gave the guard a description, Moto might need to do something about both of them.

The door to the office opened and Moto heard heavy footsteps enter. “What did we say about making such a ruckus? Makin’ more work for us.” There was a grunt as the prisoner’s chair was righted. Then a soft thud paired with a whimper from the prisoner. “Next time I won’t go so easy. Are we clear? Now, since you’re awake, have you decided to be any more cooperative?”

The prisoner gasped as his gag was removed. Moto pulled a dagger off his belt and got ready to move.

“Where is your boss hiding?”

“I’ve already told you, we haven’t seen him in years! Breaker abandoned us as soon as he made it into the Sanyaku.”

“I’m getting tired of playing these games. Those beasts knew exactly where and when to strike. Somebody let Breaker know that shipment was coming. If you keep taking us for a bunch of fools, we’ll just have to get someone who’s going to be more cooperative…”

“Please, I swear by the Nine Tails that I’m telling you the truth.”

“That doesn’t mean squat.”

“Well, it does to me.” A hint of defiance entered the man’s voice. “Just because you’ve let High City buy your loyalty, doesn’t mean I have.”

There was a loud slap. “I told you! No more of that high and mighty crap. You watch your tongue.”

No wonder the prisoner’s face was such a mess, provoking the guard like that. Why be such an idiot?

Moto paused. The prisoner had seen Moto’s clothes. Did he recognize him as a Dagger? Was he hoping Moto would help if he knew the prisoner was loyal to Tsukuyomi? Moto shook his head. The man might as well ask for coin from a cutpurse.

If he was going to tell the guard about Moto, the prisoner probably would have by now. He might say something later, but that risk seemed less than leaving bodies that would certainly be found. Moto eased past the window toward the rafters.

The interrogator let out a theatrical sigh. “Fine, if you’re not going to be any more cooperative then we’ll just find another. This time we won’t bother being subtle. Nobody cares if a tiny village in the mountains disappears anyways.”

Moto stopped.

“Wait, please!” The prisoner sounded desperate. “We haven’t done anything against you. You have to believe me. We don’t want anything to do with Breaker. We just want to be left alone.”

“The way I see it, you’re all tainted whether you’re working with Breaker or not. You followed him at some point. And we’ll know the truth of your allegiance once we kill the rest of you. See if Breaker keeps striking half so accurate.”

“Please! There are kids up there. Families. My family. Don’t you think I would tell you anything if I could?”

“We’ll take a few alive for questioning. Maybe you’ll get lucky and–.”

Another dagger was in Moto’s hand before he realized he had thrown the first. The blade took the interrogator at the base of the neck, silencing any cries. The big man stumbled as his hand reached to the wound, his eyes widening with fear. A wet gurgle bubbled from his lips and he crashed into the writing table.

One of the women shouted from the warehouse below. “Everything OK up there, Bako?”

Bako was dragging himself up the wall, blood-covered fingers leaving streaks on the wood. He raised his fist towards the window. Moto buried another dagger in the man’s back, but it was too late. Bako brought his hand down and shattered the glass.

“Hey! What’s going on up there?”

Moto leapt back into the office with a curse. Idiot. Losing his temper like that. Was he some stupid kid? He ran to Bako’s wide-eyed corpse and pulled his knives free.

“Thank you! I knew you followed Tsukuyomi when I saw the–.”

“Shutup!” Moto’s voice was a hiss. “Are you trying to let the whole lot of them know who I am? It’s bad enough you got me dragged into this.” Moto walked over to the man and quickly slashed through his bindings. “Can you get yourself out of here?”

The prisoner stood unsteadily. Should he kill the man? Just because he’d lost his temper didn’t mean he needed to keep digging the hole deeper. He lifted one of his blades.

The door burst open and Moto wheeled, throwing both daggers. One buried itself in a woman’s forehead. The second woman ducked beneath the missile aimed at her face. Her eyes widened as she saw the scene. “Daggers! It’s the fox lovin’ Daggers!”

Moto braced his stance and pulled. The woman came stumbling forward, caught completely off balance. He sank another knife in her stomach right as the one she dodged buried itself at the base of her neck.

Moto’s face was a snarl as he turned to the prisoner. “I got you untied and I’ll deal with these goons. In exchange, you never saw me. You managed to cut your ropes and take them by surprise. Got it?”

“But, if they think I did all this they’ll come after my–.”

“Do I look like I’m in a mood to negotiate?” Moto shouted at the man, voice laced with venom. Things were already out of hand. This man did not realize his life rested on a knife’s edge. Moto’s knife.

The man took one look at Moto’s hands, dripping blood, and nodded.

“Good, now get yourself out of here.”

Moto launched through the doorway in time to see a man and a woman at the bottom of the stairs with swords drawn. The last man was running toward the exit. Moto pulled on the ceiling and flipped over the two below. He landed on top of the crates and ran after the fleeing man. No one could escape.

A gout of flame arced over his shoulder. Moto turned as the man on the stairs shot another blast, but the woman grabbed his wrist and pulled it wide.

“Idiot! Are you trying to light the crates on fire? We don’t know what’s packed in that column!”

Moto turned back to the exit, but the man had a big head start. Moto took two big, arcing leaps, pulling on the crates to increase his speed. At this rate he wasn’t going to catch up.

Moto pulled himself into the rafters, then turned and pulled on the crates behind. The wooden beams under his feet groaned from the strain, but they held long enough for the tower of crates to topple. They crashed forward into the next row. And the next. Until a chain reaction was crashing toward the door.

There was a concussive shock, followed by a wave of heat as one of the columns exploded on impact. A few more rows fell and then another column detonated. Moto stared on, mouth hanging open. They were storing more than just simple weapons.

The crates fell all the way to the door, splintering into a heap of rubble that blocked the exit. But the fires from the crates were spreading, and every third or fourth column held more explosives.

Cries of alarm from behind drew his attention. A set of crates had exploded near the office and the resonant who shot at Moto lay unmoving, an arm’s length of wood impaled through his chest. The remaining guard and the prisoner were both trapped behind a wall of flame.

There was no time to help. With the noise and fire, guards would be here any second. Moto turned and ran through the rafters, launching through a window and onto the roof of a nearby building. He went a block before dropping to the ground, feigning nonchalance as he angled away from the burning warehouse.


A dagger leapt into Moto’s hand as he spun. Standing at the end of the alley, flames dancing in his large eyes, was Keta.

You can read the next story in this series here.