Offer prayers to dispassionate gods, with the ground you walk and the blood you trade. Hear, in the calls of the night and the sighs of the snow, the silence in their answers.

I was fascinated; silence as a measure of something, or of nothing at all.

But Sato was shaking his head. “You have a strange sense of humour Gen, if you were trying to be funny. That is not a book I like.”

The worn cover might have indicated otherwise, but I closed the book and folded it into my lap. Beneath one hand I still traced the sword upon its bindings, thin and crude when compared to the graceful characters traced on the pages.

“Do you believe in gods, Gen?”

I said that I did not know.

“Then at least you do not pretend.”

The ache in my conscience waxed, but so it would wane. I brought towels to him. As the water slid off to make lakes and rivers on the tiles, he pointed at the bottle of jasmine.

“You can still smell it, can’t you? He stank of soiled coins and sedition.” The crimson man, in his wide sedge hat. “All his clan did. After years and years, perhaps never touching the coins himself, he still counted himself one of them. So the smell remained.”

I held the robe up behind him, noting grey hairs as his muscles slid under silk.

“Choose your family, choose your name well.”

His eyebrow quirked gently upward with the irony, he with his second name hanging silvery in the night. He chose everything for himself. When he was gone the small dark book stayed tucked under my arm, leaving my hands free as I moved towels and restored order, draining the lakes that he had left behind.


The above is an excerpt from my newly-published, debut novel, Orison. I have posted bits and pieces on this blog before, and the support I received here helped motivate me to make this the first book that I have ever finished writing!

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