A short Threats of Sky and Sea prequel—
Once, Lady Katerine was simply Ekaterina. Once, she was not a countess, but a girl who cleaned fireplaces. And once, she had a sister...
After passing sixteen summers, I know not to expect that life will promise me any more.
The city’s watchmen thunder past me, clouds of dirt billowing behind them. Tiny grains fly into my eyes and I blink at their intrusion, but I’m accustomed to it by now.
The watchmen have slapped red onto the back of a man who struggles to keep his feet beneath him, wrists bound by ropes strung to the steeds’ saddles. The horses won’t slow for him if he fails to keep up.
Others in the market avert their eyes, knowing the man’s trespasses. Knowing his fate. The red he wears tells us all we need to know. He’s spilled the blood of another. Taken a life.
But I don’t look away. My sore eyes stay locked on the man’s stumbling path until long after his steps lose the battle. In the distance, his figure sails over the dirt and rocks like a limp rag doll until he disappears into the dust, the clouds swallowing him whole. I can’t summon pity for the man—or his victim.
The only promise life fulfills is its end.