“The Shogun’s guards – one of those unavoidable ‘courtesy’ escorts, you know how it is to be a foreign diplomat – tried to get us out of there. But Tremane and I… well, we were, quite frankly, curious. Shocked, yes, but curious. Most of the fighting hadn’t taken place near the foreign sector. We wanted to know what Yamato were capable of when they weren’t being diplomatic. And after all, we were an Imperial Adept and a Master! What did we have to fear from native swordsmen with only primitive magic?”
:You know what they say about pride and falls,: Altra said privately.
I think he knows that, Karal answered wryly.
:Now.: The Firecat flicked an ear, amused as only a cat could be, seeing a predator suddenly turned prey.
“We tried to summon light,” the mage went on. “Nothing worked. It was if someone had laid a hand on every ley line in reach, bidding it silent. Finally Tremane dug into his personal power and summoned a mage-light – just as lightning flashed, enough to see the bodies on those rooftops. The Shogun’s ninja.” Sejanes drew a sharp breath. “Captain, if you would be so kind as to turn that Mindspeech of yours to our advantage… I think you should see this. I think you should – all of you – see this.” He looked hard at Karal and Altra. “It won’t be pretty.”
Kerowyn frowned. “If you’re sure….”
Karal swallowed. “All right.”
The room vanished, blurred away by Sejanes’ memory.
Rain. Shifting and fluid as the subtle aura their Sight almost, almost couldn’t sense was there, quiet and steady as a sea breeze over the rooftops. Warm and wet and tanged with copper as light flashed off a blade arcing impossibly high-
And red blazed down, a flow of soaked topknot like bloody rain, as a slight figure in Choshu-blue dropped out of the storm-torn sky. Trailing faint blue light, his katana cleft a guard in two from shoulder to hip, whirled to slash the throats of two more before his feet even touched the ground.
Even a war-trained mage needs a moment to react….
And in that moment six men were dead, the ley lines were still unreachable, and half the guards left were surging forward while the rest were dragging the Imperial diplomats away, running like fury-