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451 pages, Paperback
First published August 21, 2012
"That is more than fair." [...] "Ameterasu bless your kindness, sama."
"I want for nothing. Thank you, sama."
"He slew Boukyaku, young sama. The sea dragon who consumed the island of Takaiyama."
"Honor to you, great sama."
"What is Raijin song, sama?"
"These cloudwalkers were men of the kitsune clan, hai?"
"I have no doubt of your success. The man who stood beside my father as he slew the last nagaraja of Shima will not be trouble by a simple thunder tiger, hai?"
"You must keep it secret." [...] "It is a gift, hai, but it is not one to be squandered..."
"The solitude is pleasant, hai?"
"I can get into the trees, hai."
"Just deck-hands on a sky-ship, hai?"
"Sama, please. Enough for one day, hai?"
"Impure." Yukiko whispered the word [...] It was such a simple thing; two syllables, the press of her lips together, one on another, tongue rolling over her teeth.
"Arashi-no-ko," she heard them whisper.
She could feel Buruu frown in her mind, puzzled by the word's shape.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
She smiled, embarrassed, turning her eyes to the floor.
She kissed him, stood on her tiptoes and threw her arms around his neck and crushed her lips to his before he could finish the sentence. She didn't want to listen to those three awful words, feel them open her up to the bone and see what the lies had done to her insides.
Someone please make it stop....
DNF @ 20- what the heck was I thinking- %
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“The thunder tiger looked at her like an avalanche looks at a butterfly.
Kin watched them mutely, wondering what passed between them. He couldn’t help but feel jealous of the beast, to know the inner workings of her mind and heart, to speak volumes without ever saying a word. What a strange thing for the Guild to want to exterminate. What a wonderful gift. To never be alone. To know the truth of another’s soul. Maybe that was why they were afraid. Truth in the Guild was a dangerous thing.
“Without his oath, without his Lord, a samurai is nothing. Honesty. Respect. Loyalty. Honor. This is the code of the warrior. I am samurai before all, Yukiko. To wield the long and the short sword and to die. This is my purpose.”
“Someone once told me ‘To be a servant can be a noble thing, but only as noble as the master served.’”
Dying is easy. Anyone can throw themselves onto the pyre and rest a happy martyr. Enduring the suffering that comes with sacrifice is the real test.
‘I have seen myself riding amongst the thunderclaps astride a great arashitora, leading my armies to war overseas against the round-eye gaijin hordes. Like the Stormdancers of legend. A vision sent from mighty Hachiman, the God of War himself.’
She remembered the wolf coming down from the mountain with a belly full of hunger, so many winters ago. She remembered the friend who rose to defend her, to save her life without having ever been asked. The sense of safety she felt when he was nearby. Her protector. Her brother.
’Then I will call you Buruu.’
Occasionally, he would glance over at her and watch her curled in her miserable little knot, shivering uncontrollably. … At last, he drew one great, deep breath and sighed; a bellows that sent the dry leaves skittering across the cave floor. Yukiko watched as he wordlessly lifted his wing, inviting her closer. She blinked and stared for a long moment, meeting the even gaze of those bottomless eyes. Crawling across the stone, she snuggled down beside him, wrapped in the tremendous heat radiating from his body. He folded his wing about her, a blanket of down and sweet warmth tinged with the scent of lightning, the smell of blood. She could hear his heartbeat beneath inches of pale, velvet fur.
’Thank you, Buruu.’
‘QUIET NOW, MONKEY-CHILD. DREAM.’