Where the moon's threads touched the forest canopy the leaves were manic although the air was still. Tapic's shoulder scraped on the shuddering branches as she climbed. A long keen dagger swung at her belt. Light bent strangely against its edge so that it seemed to curve away from the eye, or sometimes towards it.

Lantern light swam in the underbrush below. Their owners muttered. They whispered among themselves. She heard: 'Douse the lantern! Give me that.' A rattling. Shadows swept in underneath. Tapic froze.

A gunshot tore open the trunk behind her. Bark sprayed. She leapt, wrapped her arm painfully around another branch, swung there. Another shot sent a twig whipping across her cheek. It nearly slashed her eye.

Shuffling down below. Something metal jangled. Bullets pooling in the palm of a hand.

Tapic pulled herself closer to the trunk and tested the branch's strength. It held. With a grunt she clambered atop the thing, ripped off her coat, and flung it into the night air. As the moonlight caught it, the fabric seemed to dance.

It exploded in a haze of thread and scraps.

Someone whooped. Booted feet bashed toward the place where the ruined jacket fell. In the noise Tapic scrambled upwards, digging clawlike into old bark, a wild grin on her face as leaves like shivering hands grazed and tugged at her.

She steadied herself on one of the tallest branches and raised her head above the canopy. Light drowned her face. She batted debris from her short hair, breathed in and bent her gaze up.

That pale unspooling yarn peered down. Moon. Its threads dangled wherever she looked. They puppeteered the forest.

Tapic's eyes drank in the light, deaf to the shouting down below. She'd judged her spot rightly. One ghost thread swayed nearby, languid. Twigs and leaves blurred in excited motion all about. They exalted. Strained higher. Tapic felt her hair begin to stir. She felt her fingers close about the hilt of that strangely turning blade. Her hand shook as she clutched it, or maybe it was the dagger that moved.

Soon it would be keen enough to cut a thought.