Hatter leans out over the wrought-iron rail of her office balcony.
Before her unfolds the flat expanse of the chessboard, pale but for the blackened scar of the Anonyme Forest in the center and the sludgy-grey ribbon of the Wabe wending across the fifth rank.
A whiff of fresh steel and wood smoke pervades the cool twilight breeze, overpowering the salty bite of the Fitful Sea.
She breathes it in deep. She’s always adored the smell of progress.
“There’s still plenty left to do, of course,” she says, turning to beam at the Eight of Diamonds.
His reaction to this pronouncement is impossible to judge; nature cursed him with a dour set of lips and deep-set, downturned eyes, which together give him the appearance of perpetual petulance.
He might be about to cry or merely bored.
Deciding that it isn’t important, she continues, “With construction at a close—”
The Eight coughs.
It’s the cough of a suit too polite to voice his objection but determined nevertheless to make it known; Hatter has heard it dozens of times from dozens of throats. She breezes merrily on.
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