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Reaching the West Reaches

The Loveblind Bird plumes dust, skidding down the wall of the canyon on a single foil. Bolts shatter the water. The Heavenly orbs are spinning shards of hot metal; one slices through See Me’s sail.

“You’re all clear, kid!” roars Dog Shouting.

See Me leans forward and drives his proa toward the tunnel, down into the heart of the moon.

Deep below, turning slowly, Reaching the West Reaches breathes hazy clockwork air. Something goes bright above him; seconds later, the water picks him up and carries him away at impossible speed.

He shuts the lacquer lids of his eyes and Wishes.

Ratio Tile

“Strike me down,” says Ratio Tile calmly. “I shall become more than you can imagine.”

Reaching the West Reaches drives his sword deep into the old man’s chest. Ratio’s hands scrabble on the blood-slick blade; he chokes and sags to his knees. Reaching the West Reaches draws back and raises the sword high.

“No!” screams See Me.

“Kid! Bolt the door!” screams Dog, pelting along the gangplank.

See fires wildly; the portcullis rattles shut. Reaching the West Reaches is behind it, but the Born Breathing are pouring onto the dock.

“Run, See Me!” thunders a voice in the waves. “Run!”

See Me

“Aren’t you a little short for the Born Breathing?”

“What?” blinks the man wearing the death’s head. “Oh! The armor.” He pulls it off and offers a naif’s grin. “I’m See Me! I’m here to rescue you!”

“Is that really your name?” says the Princess Leaves.

“I’ve got your cogwork slave. I’m here with Ratio Tile.”

“Ratio Tile is here?” she says sharply.

“And the Wish Power is with him,” says a man in a darker death’s head, far above.

“Then he must not be allowed to escape,” says Government Cat.

“Escape is not his plan,” says Reaching the West Reaches.

See Me

“Your father was a good friend,” says Ratio. “We fought together against the Backstroke. Like so many of our order, he was betrayed and murdered by Reaching the West Reaches; now the Hopeless Warriors are all but extinct.” He’s rummaging through a chest. “But when you were old enough, he wanted you to have this…”

“Is it a war-name?” says See Me eagerly. “A bolter?”

“Bolters are clumsy and random.” Frowning, the old man draws out a long blade of steel–knifelike, but impossibly long and slender.

“What is it?”

“An elegant weapon,” says Ratio, “for a more civilized time.”

Reaching the West Reaches

“Reaching the West Reaches,” says the Princess Leaves coolly. “Only you could be so bold.”

“You are a member of the Mjish Binn Alliance and a traitor,” says the lord in black. His death mask has eyes like some great insect, and it hisses when he breathes.

“I’m a member of the Council on a diplomatic mission!” snaps the Princess.

“The Speaker has dissolved the Heavenly Council,” chuckles Reaching the West Reaches. He extends one gloved hand, and electricity arcs from the obsidian sphere hovering above it. “And now, your Highness… we will discuss the location of the Mjish Binn base.”