Blade of Glass: Chapter 3

Geneve cracked an eye. Her room was dim, but Cophine’s light reached pale fingers through a curtained window, letting her see well enough. She saw Israel and Vertiline’s cots were empty, sheets cast aside. The height of the Three moons suggested she’d been asleep a handful of hours at best. She sat up, teasing out red hair, fingers arguing with the stubborn knottiness of it. By the Three. I’ve slept only a few hours and my hair’s tangled worse than a briar patch.

A quick inventory showed Israel’s armor stacked as he’d left it. It was polished silver-bright. Geneve looked to where Vertiline’s armor should sit and found it empty. She glanced back to Iz’s armor. His sword’s gone.

She was on her feet before her mind finished processing, snaring Requiem from the foot of her bed. Geneve kicked aside her pillow, grabbing Tribunal from its place of rest, and was out the door, leaving it banging in her wake. The Yellow Mug’s private rooms were on the second floor. It took her a moment to clatter down two flights, bare feet slapping on the smooth, worn wood as she went. The common room was full of drunks, but all appeared still.

Geneve stopped to listen. She heard deep breathing and snores. The terrified, shrill cry of cut metal came to her. Outside, someone with a glass blade fought against one with steel. She sprinted for the main door, barging it aside.

Light assailed her. The magnificent flare of a bottled dragon burned against the cobbled street. Israel stood, tall and strong, against a hooded man who held half a sword like he couldn’t believe his bad turn of luck. Iz’s eyes were shut against the brightness of the flare. The hooded man gave a frantic yell, lunging with his blade. The sheared end would be sharp enough to kill, especially as Israel wore no armor.

The Valiant turned aside, eyes still closed. His massive glass sword moved as if it had a mind of its own, sweeping a giant arc through his opponent’s body. The hooded figure split in two, blood fountaining across the thirsty stone. Israel finished his swing, sword point resting at his feet as the two halves of his opponent slicked to the ground. “Geneve.”

Geneve padded to him, scattergun and blade both held low. “Where’s Tilly?” She didn’t waste words on are you okay or is the prisoner gone. Both of those were self-evident. Israel wouldn’t be on the street, blade naked as a newborn, if the prisoner was secure, and it would take far more than a common thug to bring a Valiant of the Tresward to his knees.

He cracked an eye as the dragon bottle’s glare faded. “Buying you some time.”

She growled. “Another test?”

“Life is a test.” He offered a half-shrug, as if in apology, his massive shoulders rising and falling with the slow roll of an ocean swell. 

“You could have stopped him!”

“But then what would you have done? Slept through it?” He stepped to his opponent, turning the pieces over. “Assassin. Poisoned blade.” The weapon tinked to the cobbles as he rummaged through the dead man’s clothes. “No coin. Light armor. Oh, my.” He held up a hand crossbow. “Watch out.”

Geneve rolled her eyes. “Thank the Three you warned me. An arbalest like that could really do some damage.”

His lip quirked. “It is also poisoned.”

“There’s something else going on.” Geneve looked toward Calterburry’s keep, the dark tower nosing above the rest of the township’s buildings. In the night, it seemed to brood, fires set in the upper windows blazing like ember eyes. “It’s not just a sinner.”

“That’s right.” Israel stood, stepping back from the fallen assassin. “Now, work out what it is.”

“You could tell me.”

“That doesn’t sound like much fun.” He squinted at the sky, as if measuring time. “Hurry. There’s only so much time Vertiline can buy you.”

Geneve gritted her teeth, then spun toward the Yellow Mug. Armor, and a horse. Israel cleared his throat. She cast him a glance. “What is it?”

“No armor. You don’t have the time. And saddling your horse will take far too long.” He watched her process that. “You’ve half a turn of the hourglass left at best before he’s a dead man.”

“Fuck!” She spun, sprinting for the keep. Geneve wanted to scream at Israel, but it would waste time and breath she couldn’t spare. A word lay in her mind: Harvest.

He called to her back, “Everything’s a test, Gen! Remember the mantra.”

Geneve skidded into an alley, losing the dimming light of the dragon bottle. The mantra, huh? ‘We train hard, so life is easy.’ I don’t see him sprinting through unfamiliar streets at night.

She lowered her head, charging like a bull. The sinner’s fate was the Tresward’s to decide, and if Israel was right, Lord Symonet would do a terrible thing this night.

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[First Chapter] | [Previous Chapter] | [Next Chapter] (Live 4 July 2024)

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