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Only men can join the Guild of Tailors. Only women can be Mechanists, and to trade their secrets is ugly death. When Swan binds her breasts and queues her hair each morning, and when her sister Fei-Li helps with the Automated Seamstress by night, they are playing with knives.

Most people can handle two blades. It’s juggling three that gets you cut.

Lon Lao is sharp and always laughing; Swan keeps him close, as one does with rivals. She worries when she feels his following eyes as they part at dusk.

Fei-Li’s eyes in the window follow him back.