Sword naked and held high in her grip, Haku rushed Yuko. The little woman did a summersault, landing behind some underbrush.

She had arrived late. The White Feather had arrived late in the middle of a scuffle between the assassins and the Imperial Army escort. She had barely caught sight of the prince’s body, his sister cradling his cold corpse when she spotted Yuko in the trees.

The White Feather jumped over the large-leafed vines after the assassin’s accomplice. She was fast, faster than Haku as she ran up and over the hill into the trees. She pursued the woman, but when she crested the small hill, she was gone.

Someone came up behind her. She turned, blade raised. Haku narrowed her eyes as Urhaggha came up short. “What are you doing?” she snapped.

“What I was told to do.”

He almost turned to leave, but Haku stepped forward, her katana at the ready, a warning that if he did not desist, she would battle him along with the others. The assassin paused.

“I never leave a contract undone,” he added.

Was the contract some holy thing he venerated? “I told you, Daimyō Sakuraichi no longer wishes you to slay the Emperor and yet you disobeyed me—and now you pursue the heirs?”

Something cracked behind her, but Haku was faster than the whip. She pirouetted as she swung her blade in a short arc, cutting the end off of Yuko’s whip. She was facing the hurg again before he could lunge for her.

“I see,” she said. “You’re Hukama’s creature. You have been all along.”

She could tell the hurg wanted to attack her, but he flinched at the sound of troops coming from behind. Yuko, fast on her feet, travelled a wide arc around the two of them to face the enemy.

Haku narrowed her eyes, ready for the coming attack. It came. The assassin was fast—very fast, but Haku was able to parry every one of his blows with her katana.

She jumped back, creating space between them, but he came forward, closing the distance again with a kick, his powerful foot strong enough to break her leg.

She dodged his attack and sliced for his back, but he turned and parried her blade with his vambrace.

She jumped back.

Had she not been winded from her excessive traveling about the city, he’d have been no match for her speed.

Shouts and explosions erupted from behind, and Yuko came rushing through the brush. “Too many,” she shouted.

The Hurg didn’t waste time—he too ran, Haku jumped out of his path as he ran deeper into the forest.

The White Feather lowered her blade when Lawrence came into view, flanked by two dozen Imperial soldiers.

“We need to regroup,” the mage said. “The Prince is dead. Assassinated.”

She nearly stepped back in shock at the confirmation. Haku nodded somberly and they regrouped with the rest of the column. It seemed the Prince wasn’t their only casualty, as ten or so Imperial samurai lay dead, along with two of Arduani’s knights from the Winged Blades.

“Where are they?” Haku asked?

“Arduani pushed on ahead while the assassins were distracted.”

“Let us meet them at the ship, then.”


About the author


Bio: "I’m a businessman. My family has a seat in the Dwarven Merchants Guild. Merchants buy and sell goods. Businessmen buy and sell stores. In my spare time, I manage a spy network. And occasionally, I write books."--Varric Tethras

Wakiagaru is complete.
The Reconnoiters is complete.
More stories on the way.

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