In Cardominia, they say many things about my homeland. An arctic wasteland devoid of light, where the kingdoms are made of ice, and where the people are pale and silvery like snow foxes, able to change their skins at will. They call us devils and perhaps there is the truth in those words.
I trudged downstairs from the kitchen into the workroom, where Mother was working on an antique foot-operated Singer, tailoring a hem, while my sister was savagely stuffing the body of a ragdoll. My mother has always been eccentric. My sister insisted that using technology would save our mother from straining her eyes and back from leaning over the old-fangled machines all day, but Mother wouldn’t listen.
I woke with the strands of my thoughts twisted like a cat’s cradle and slowly realized I was not dead. Although, considering the agony in my head, being dead may have been favorable.
The ronin lay still momentarily, just breathing. He turned his head to look up the stranger, who cocked his head curiously. The sunlight behind him turned his hair into a corona of fire. No man had hair like that. He couldn’t be real. “You…you’re that kitsune.”
Dying, Tamaril said, was easy.
In fact, Simon was certain that he’d never laid eyes on anything so beautiful that it had literally taken his breath away. At least until he met an infamous man once known as Mama Hydro.