the smuggler’s bible


Gisela follows the nineclaw to an old deer slip that cuts through the woods. It’s overgrown almost entirely in places and she forces her way through, scratching her hands on brambles and sweating with the effort. Always he is waiting patiently on the other side, considering her carefully.

“He came to me,” the nineclaw says once while she is resting. “Told me to expect you.”

“Oh, yeah? Probably chasing some kind of deal.”

“He made no offers. He made no threats. What would have been the point?”

“Why then?”

“I think he simply wanted an excuse to say your name.”