Chapter 10.1: Half Mast

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Part 1

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The air has a bit of a nip to it near the docks. I wrap my coat tighter around me; I should've known I'd end up doing another job sooner or later. Why did I even bother to wear my social jacket tonight? Fortunately, it's just past the hottest part of the year, right before the leaves start to change. Unless you're near the cliffs at night, it's not too bad.

The waves lap gently against the old wooden docks as the boats shift back and forth in the soft breeze. Wood creaks and masts ripple around me; I can't help but shiver. Karha controls the area around the docks, and we didn't part on the best of terms.

I yank out my one remaining kusarigama—I really need to get a new pair—and spin to my left. Something is out there. I'm really getting tired of people sneaking up on me.

From the shadows, a hooded figure slowly approaches. That's probably the contact Maximón told me about. Or, with my luck, it's an assassin. I grip my weapon tighter—I'm not taking any chances.

"Namonai, I presume?" The figure throws back their hood. A small woman smiles, her pointed nose twitching. Lady, just because you flash a very cute smile doesn't mean I'm putting my weapon away.

"And you are?"

She reaches into her cloakm and I point my kusarigama at her. She holds up her hands, pulling out a folded piece of paper.

"My name is Shi Xian," I cautiously snatch the paper from her hands. Finally, I get to be the one that does that! "But you can call me Xian. Maximón sent me." I scan the paper and slip it into my pocket. Everything seems to be in order: confirmation that Xian isn't an assassin, insults at my character, subtle threats should I fail—the usual.

"Nice to meet you, Xian," I say. I sheathe my weapon and shake her hand. "What will we be doing this fine evening?"

"A bit of this and a bit of that," Xian replies with a shrug. That's not very descriptive; I like it. She points to a small schooner tied to one of the docks, its small sail flapping weakly in the wind. "We'll be taking that to intercept one of Tomrius and Finn's ships. It's transporting cargo Maximón and his partners are very interested in." Ah shit, it's a suicide mission.

I take a step closer to Xian, leaning in and whispering softly. "I, uh, don't know if you noticed, but," I look doubtfully at the small ship, barely bigger than a rowboat, "That's a very small boat. Tomrius and Finn own very big boats."

Xian smiles. "I know."

I sigh and shake my head. Okay, maybe it's not so bad. Maybe there's a bunch of Fae mages waiting to provide backup.

"Where will the crew sit?" You need a crew to overthrow a ship.

Xian's smile grows even wider. "Just us."

I crane my head back and let out a long breath. Do it for the boy, do it for Naiomi. Come on, Namonai. Just break onto a ship with one small woman in a boat that could be swamped by a medium-sized wave and get off without being spotted. With no backup. Easy.

"Of course it is," I mutter.

"What was that?"

"Nothing!" I brush past Xian, ready to be done. "Let's get this over with."


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Inspired by: "Just Like You" by Celldweller

Sure, it's slow, but it makes sense. It's  the perfect song for sneaking onto ships. Guess what'll be happening in the next part?

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