The day before the money finally ran out, I did come across a tantalising possibility which, one of these days, I really must get around to following up, since it might just be the missing ingredient that would make all the difference; but of course I was in no position to do anything about it at that time, so I sold the glassware for even less than I paid for it and wandered into the centre of town, trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.
I hoped this was more than pretense, since our survival might soon depend on her. Father could conceal his peachwood sword easily enough, but there was no way I’d be allowed to bring my jian into the magistrate’s presence. I took my own precious bawu for no good reason that I could think of. I knew only Mei Li could reliably conjure a weapon out of hers at need; so far all my attempts at this transformation had come up short.
The perceptive kobold peered around the corner and, seeing me, grinned, exposing quite a lot of pointed teeth. "Nom de solelh! My good friend! My friend Mr. Swift! I did not expect to see you so soon!" I set down my glass and crossed the hall to her, taking her hand in both of mine.
I struggled with the thought that one day my anger would emerge. Perhaps my father had been sweet as a boy and even as a young man; perhaps his true temperament had arrived with the first pains to plague his back or his first gray hair or the placement of a crown upon his head. I dreamt myself a monster, half bear with long claws, half serpent with two poisonous fangs behind my lips. I slept less and less for fear that I would wake and the nightmares would have transferred themselves into the waking world.