Ramshackled * 7ERYNN LEHTONENONEMasanoriSAPPHIRE and ivory paper dragons spiralled through the Tsukiko market, suspended within semitranslucent clouds of blue. They spun in tune with a procession of dancers who jumped through the dragons’ elegant coils, earning the applause of onlookers.A small child wove through the crowd during the performance, procuring valuables from distracted festival-goers. She drew the attention of a city guard and made a run for it.Masanori Genshu had the opportunity to stop the girl as she rushed past, but he couldn’t risk being recognized, not with a blade at his side. The unnatural warmth of the stolen katana made shivers crawl up his spine, and was enough, despite the cool afternoon, to make him sweat under his haori.I shouldn’t have taken it.He resumed pacing in front of the dragon fountain at the market’s centre. Water spurted from the mouth of the statue crafted of navy blue stone, a likeness of the Dragon Goddess, Shirashi. The tribute appreciated each graceful curve of her serpentine body, and the translucent fins on her back appeared to ripple in the water’s reflection.Masanori hardly cast the statue, or his brother, a second glance, and was instead on the lookout for familiar faces in the crowd. Getting noticed by someone who knew him would spell disaster.Nobles in vibrant azure and crimson kimonos strolled in and out of the gardens to the east of the courtyard and groups of teenagers in casual yukata robes crowded around stalls serving street foods. The musk of people, fried fish, and baked sweet potatoes wafted through the endless waves of people who came to town for the midsummer festival and fireworks later that night. Many moved between the local sweets shop, the stalls, and the weapons market.