Minstrel? Spy? Witch? What is Mirin, really?
She’s a young girl. She’s a boy. She loves her sister. She loves a man.
More important, who is she?
The gods have given her a task, to save a realm, to save a queen.
In a brutal world where the young are forced to grow up fast, Mirin’s story is about coming of age too soon, about love and betrayal. It’s about the heavy costs of standing for a cause but standing for it anyway because it is the right. About finding the lost and finding yourself along the way.
First part of CHAPTER NINE
Playing for Time
By morning, I had a bad case of jitters. I could see Wat did, too. After we breakfasted on some of the scraps we had managed to snag during our march the night before back through the kitchen shed, Wat sat thinking a long time. I tried not to interrupt, although I was itching to do it.
Finally, he looked up at me. “We’ll go in together.” He sounded certain, but his eyes betrayed him. I could tell he was far from certain. Wat’s eyes were a clear azure, like a cloudless noontide sky. But when he was angry or worried, they turned. They became somehow duller and sharper at the same time, as if you were to stare into a pond reflecting a clear noontide sky at the moment a cloud passes over. Or as if you were to sight down the blade of a sword made of fine-tempered steel. As you see, I’d had a long time to study Wat, and at close quarters, too. I knew how to read him, and I read that he was sick with worry.
“How? How will we manage that? Master Charlo is on to you now. He won’t allow it,” I said. “Probably thinking I’m looking the place over to see what I can steal,” said Wat. “Yes, you’re right. But I’ll manage it.” He summoned up a smile. “You’re modest. You know that? You’re too modest to bathe in front of strangers. I need to be there. That’s what I’ll tell them.” “Will it work?” “Maybe,” he said. “What if it doesn’t?”
“I’ll create a diversion.” “How in the Nine Spheres will you do that?” The corner of Wat’s mouth quirked up in what passed for one of his enigmatic smiles. But people were starting to drift down the road in our direction. They wanted to be entertained. Wat didn’t answer me. He headed over to our wagon and disappointed them by slapping a large NO PERFORMANCE TODAY sign on the outside of the wagon, and shaking his head firmly at the many who couldn’t read. I wanted him to tell me about his plans, but he wouldn’t talk about it. Instead, he made me go back into the wagon box bed.
“Otherwise every young girl in the Hundred is going to come crowding around to see if she can catch your eye,” said Wat as he shuttered me in. “I look like a girl,” I shouted through the slats. “I think that may be the point,” he said in a reasonable tone of voice that sent me into a suppressed fury. “You’re not threatening. The mothers don’t fear you’ll run off with the daughters. You’re like a pet. But they can pretend to dream about you. Girls that age. That’s what they do.” He was sitting on the wagon seat, leaning back against the box bed, so we could have a conversation just as if we were face to face. “No, not today. Sorry,” I heard him call out to someone. “I’m a girl that age. I don’t have thoughts like that.” “You haven’t had time to. If you were home with your mother, you’d be having them about now.” “That’s a lie,” I said between gritted teeth. Why was I getting so angry? Maybe so I wouldn’t think about what it would have been like, if I were home with my mother. Maybe because Wat hadn’t bothered to answer my question. “Not a lie. It’s just the truth,” said Wat. “And keep your voice down. Sorry, no performance today,” I heard him call. “How would you know what girls think?” I muttered.
Thank you, Jane Wiseman and R&R Book Tours
About the author
Jane Wiseman is a writer who splits her time between urban Minneapolis and the Sandia Mountains of New Mexico. Her interlocking fantasy series include HARBINGERS (I Blackbird Rising, II Halcyon, III Firebird, IV Ghost Bird), the prequel series STORMCLOUDS (I A Gyrfalcon for a King, II The Call of the Shrike, III Stormbird), the eerie BETWIXT & BETWEEN duology set in the Stormclouds/ Harbingers world (I The Martlet is a Wanderer, II The Nightingale Holds Up the Sky). A tenth book, Dark Ones Take It, is a stand-alone novel about the origins of the series villain. The Harbingers series has a YA-into-NA feel. The other books are many shades darker.