Happy Friday, everyone. Congratulations on surviving another week. It was tough one for me, and probably for many of you as well. Give yourself a friendly pat on the back (if you can reach).
Since I was a big old meanie on Wednesday and didn't keep my world building post promise, and since the reason for that was Big Secret Project, and since everyone wants to know more about Big Secret Project but I can't really give you any details yet...
That's right - today I offer a special, exclusive sneak peek of Big Secret Project, just for you faithful blog readers. And this really is a teaser, because I'm literally on chapter three of the first draft and every single word I post here is likely to change later on. But the response to the FF teaser was so amazing that I thought you'd probably like to see this anyway, so here goes. Let me know what you think.
I’d been up in the attic a few times since Sofu brought me there, helping mum fetch down decorations or bits of furniture. It wasn’t spooky, even if it was dusty. I knew what everything was. The twisty shape on the left was an old hat wrack that used to be in the waiting room in the basement, the grey jumble under the window was my crib, filled with old toys that I’d grown out of early.
I edged carefully between the cobwebby leftovers of Yamato family life and went to what looked like an empty space in the corner where the roof sloped down.
Crouching carefully – because despite what I’d said to Jack, I didn’t want to have to spend twenty minutes getting dust off me – I reached out into the shadows, my fingers searching for the shape of a metal box with a broken latch hanging off it.
“Got it,” I whispered. I didn’t stop to ask myself why I was whispering.
I pulled the box out and opened it, ignoring rattle as the broken padlock fell off, ignoring the fine tremble in my fingers. Carefully I peeled back layers and layers of yellowing silk, covered in stiff embroidery, to reveal Shinobu.
He was just like I remembered. In a way that seemed wrong, as if I was meeting a friend that I’d known years ago, and they hadn’t aged a day. His saya – sheath – was black lacquer, with delicate golden cherry blossoms drifting across the surface. The grip was black, with black silk wrappings. Golden cherry blossom menuki, designed to create a better grip, peeked through the intricately folded diamond-shapes of the silk. The guard was circular, chased with more of the golden flowers, as was the hilt cap. I stared at him for a long, breathless moment, shivers of excitement tightening my skin. Then I lifted Shinobu from the box and drew him from the sheath.
The cutting edge of the blade was shining silver, almost too bright to look at. Long, flame-shaped ripples marked the many folds in the metal, shading up to deep black on the blunt edge. Both sides of the katana were marked by a long grove. People called it the blood-letting grove, but its purpose was to make the sword both light and strong. When a warrior struck with perfect precision, he would hear three whistles from the blade. One from the cutting edge slicing through the air, and two from the air moving along the groves.
I lay down the saya and put both hands on the grip, taking hold of the katana as if to strike. I drew in a deep, awed breath that felt endless. Under my fingers I Shinobu breathed in as well, a gentle shudder of life, like a dog stirring under a stroking hand. The grip heated until it felt the same temperature as my skin.
The single bulb overhead winked off, on, then off again, and died with a tinkling noise, leaving me in pitch blackness.