Week 24.4 – UXM

Previously: Yi Fan left Twain alone with instructions not to go out. And now…

An hour later, Twain was hiking out of town toward the ridge where the City of the Moon was located. He had used the supplies in his bags to disguise himself as best he could. His hair was cropped short and dyed black, and he had darkened his skin. He wore the clothes the servants had given him, to blend in, and though he couldn’t completely disguise his height, he slumped and kept his knees flexed, which the baggy clothes concealed.

Walking like that was hell on the quads, though, so as soon as he was out of town, he faded into the trees, straightened up and started making better time.

He wouldn’t be able to make it all the way there and back before before Yi Fan returned, but today was mainly about learning the terrain between here and there. He would move faster on his next trip and do a proper recon of the site before trying to get in. He had been too impatient before. He wouldn’t make that mistake this time.

Something crackled behind him, and his hackles raised. He kept walking forward and resisted the urge to turn. He could hear a stream off to his left, so he headed that way. The trees would be thicker there.

[blockquote type=”blockquote_quotes” align=”left”]Twain grabbed him, spun him around and slammed him against the trunk. He jammed the slim handle of the steel baton into a very painful spot on the man’s neck…[/blockquote]He ducked into a grove of trees, flattened himself against the nearest trunk and listened. Footsteps crunched behind him, hurrying to catch up. Twain withdrew the baton from his right pocket as he slipped his finger into the brass knuckles in his left. AS the man following him stepped past the tree, Twain grabbed him, spun him around and slammed him against the trunk. He jammed the slim handle of the steel baton into a very painful spot on the man’s neck. “No, don’t hurt me!” the man babbled in Mandarin.

Twain recognized him: the servant who’d held onto him as Yi Fan was leaving that morning. He released his grip on the man.

“Why were you following me?” Twain asked.

“So we wouldn’t get killed,” the young man said, rubbing his neck.

“I thought there was a manhunt on for me,” Twain said. “Seems like next to me is the least safe place there is.”

“We were supposed to keep you from leaving,” the young man said. “But once we learned you’d gotten out, I had no choice but to follow you and try to convince you to come back.”

“And if I didn’t, you’d be killed.”

The young man looked down. “I don’t know what she’d do. She’s been acting strangely for a while now. Which is why you’ve got to come back with me right now!”

“Hang on, back up,” Twain said. “Let’s take a breath here. Okay, first, what’s your name?”

“Kipchak Ariunbold,” the man said. “Everyone calls me Ari.”

“Okay, Ari, I’m Twain. And I promise I’ll go back, just as soon as…”

“No!” Ari shouted. “You’ve got to come back now, or the bald man will catch you and kill you!”

Who is the bald man? Be here tomorrow for our next episode!

To read from the beginning, click here

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