Dragon Sword

A blind swordswoman in China seeks revenge on the cunning and deadly Manchu general who killed her parents.


33. gone


Then it's the boy's turn. He cleans the sides of the pot with his fingers. They have eaten. That was breakfast. When you're poor you will eat anything because you must. The boy puts the pot and spoon away and kicks dirt on the coals. He puts on his pants and shirt. Nods at Zu and he's gone, padding down the corridor.



Where's he going? Edward asks, his voice high and thin. Weak.




To the stables. To feed, water, and brush his horses and mule. Then to walk them, riding the mule and leading the horses by a rope through Dragon Gate, under the broken arch out into the wastes. He's a natural rider. He's a horse and mule boy. That's all he will or should ever do.




He can cook, Edward says.




She smiles. Her teeth are still good, he sees.




Yes. He can cook, sew, clean, bandage wounds . . .




Silence. Zu gets up, pads over and crouches beside Edward, pulls the quilt away. Touches the bandages. There are spots of blood on a few. Zu's fingers touch the dampness. They can be left alone for now. The skin of his chest is strangely soft, also his arms. She smiles mysteriously, almost ironically he thinks, and covers him up again. Gets her sword cane.




Where are you going?




To the marketplace. You need real food.




Edward's hand searches his clothing, finds a leather pouch. Tosses it at Zu's feet. The coins clink.




Use that.




She nods. Picks it up.




Drink more water, she says. As soon as you can bear to drink.




I will.




She goes.






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