Really pleased with the current project, a continuation and expansion of A Seed on the Wind:
He took a landing towards Neryon neighborhood, a narrow outjut of stone augmented with board and rope buildings dragging at the stone, which was carved with a sinewy overlay of snakes and bees. In midday, it seemed to be drowsing. In a few hours it would begin to stretch and yawn itself awake. The caffeine vendors, selling chai and kaf and a dozen teas would range about filling cups and mugs or doling out thick cups that could later be chewed to mushy fiber for a quick thirdmeal as the evening began in earnest.
He made his way to a sleepy tavern, and slouched in a rear table, nursing leedink, mind thumbing through the possibilities as he fingered the wicker and wood puzzle centered on the table.
He could always go back to Poit. Or Ellsfall. Either of those choices itched him wrong, though.
A being sliding onto the bench across him in the wall niche. The stone shelf under its elbow as it leaned forward. “Pleasance, chum.”
Expensive clothes. Rasp-skinned, narrow-headed, not-human. Flat dark eyes, cold as shadowed caverns. Smile tied on with insincerity.
“Fuck off,” Bill said.
The smile widened, deepened, showed pointed teeth, filed sharper. Gold inlay in the closest one, a design of fish and flowers, a spray of rubies in a line down the front. “An asking for you, Mr. Bill.”
Panicked question stabbed through his stomach. Why did this stranger know his name? He sat back. “What’s that?”
“You know a guy, cook at Fleur, name’s John.”
Chef John. One of the possibilities that had been flickering through his minds. He shrugged. “Don’t ring no chime.”
“All I want is you to takespeak a word or two.”
Bill waited. In the room, the clackclask of pool balls, two youths playing, dressed in leather and thorns. The electric light flickflickered on arcs of white and jasper plastic, stacattoing light.
“Tell him the big companies don’t mind freelancers trading bittybit on the side. But he’s getting bittybig. Needs to step back.”
He hunched his shoulders in a shrug. “Happen to run into him, may say. What’s the what if I do?”
The stranger’s fingerscales were pointed, each tipped with a flower of gold, a stinger of steel, as it spread them as though to smooth the shrug away from the air.
“Bittybit money for you, friend. Just come here an asking.”
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