By sheer force of will, Sen forced herself upright. She hadn't won; that much was clear. If that had been the Grandmaster's test, then she'd failed, and this had all been a waste of everybody's time. She couldn't look at Kerestel, at Criel, at anything other than the Grandmaster's feet. The silence stretched out, harpstring-tight. And then he spoke, his mild voice betraying nothing more than it had before.
I do not want his scrutiny now, with the cool blade of the dagger pressing against my thigh. On the nearest dance path, a woman laughs as a fat prince covers her ears and throat with wet kisses. I feign interest as he spins her across the path, through the starlight that pours into the atrium. Unbidden, I picture our last dance together, on a night so similar and so different.
Marie Brennan explains the writing of her novella "Dancing the Warrior" in BCS #66-#67, which is a prequel to her novels Warrior and Witch, set in the same world and featuring several of the same characters, including Mirage, Eclipse, and Jaguar.
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