WORD LISTS

"A Thousand Steps into Night" by Traci Chee, Part I: Chapters 16–33

October 26, 2022
After receiving a curse that causes her to slowly transform into a demon with a deadly touch, Miuko embarks on a quest to find a cure so that she can return to her normal life.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Part I: Chapters 1–7, Part I: Chapters 8–15, Part I: Chapters 16–33, Part II: Chapters 1–15, Part II: Chapters 16–31
filigree
A silver coin landed in her palm next, followed by five others, a glinting snarl of thread, a copper incense holder, and something that looked like a decorative fingernail, scrawled with golden filigree.
pilfer
She pressed the jumble of pilfered goods back into his hands.
impertinence
The proprietor frowned at her impertinence.
unsullied
White, like the moon or the featureless face of Amyunasa, was the color of purity, unsullied by mortal affairs.
blight
"A terrible calamity occurred there this morning—all the priests have been massacred, and the temple was burned to the ground. Some say the mountain has become an oyu.”
A blight. A place of death.
unadulterated
To give him the unadulterated truth, she thought, would be like feeding her hand to a wild beast.
protracted
She flapped and struggled, but he was much stronger than her bird form, and while Miuko watched in horror, he began to drag her into the trees, as if she were no more than a sled of firewood or a prize carcass he'd claimed after a protracted hunt.
uncanny
In the dim light, her legs and feet seemed to glow an uncanny blue.
defile
I SHALL SPARE YOU ONE MORE MINUTE IN THIS HOME YOU HAVE DEFILED.
pensive
She slid on her sandals and turned from the cabin, not noticing, in her pensiveness, the blackened footprints she had left in the grass.
seditious
It was true that for a long time, she'd had to repress what she wanted, for all the spaces where she might have stored her desires had been occupied by duty, responsibility, obligation. To want was dangerous. To want was seditious—a betrayal of the values of Omaizi society and everyone who lived in it.
limpid
Miuko yanked him to the gray mare, who surveyed them both with limpid brown eyes.
farce
"We should have bargained for a hat as well as clothes," she muttered. "Then I could have hidden my face and made this farce more convincing."
officious
Then, after breaking Aleila's hold, he laid a proprietary arm about Miuko's shoulders—which reduced her gratitude significantly—and addressed the assembly in the officious tones of a practiced politician or a street performer: "Else the poor girl will think us inhospitable!"
simper
In an instant, her expression turned from hard and panicked to soft and simpering, her round face so transformed that for a moment Miuko suspected her of being a shapeshifter.
haphazardly
Geiki, in boy form, came racing haphazardly out of a nearby alley.
intersperse
"Why have you not invited Geiki on this little adventure of yours?" Tujiyazai asked as they climbed the forested hills, where several sturdy houses, finer and larger than those below, were interspersed among the groves of pine and bamboo.
strident
His voice had changed—it was no longer strident but smooth—the same slippery politician's voice he'd used on the townspeople the day before.
beholden
"You're not just here because I saved your life, and now you're beholden to me until you save mine?"
obstinacy
For a moment, Miuko wanted to continue glaring at him out of sheer obstinacy, but, despite the things she'd said, she still considered him a friend.
verdant
Five stories below her lay a courtyard and a verdant garden, at the center of which Tujiyazai stood, still as a stone.
coalesce
Startled, she leapt back as the smoke rolled across the bedspread, coalescing into the form of what appeared to be a very small, very adorable kitten.
gambol
She laughed, delighted, as it gamboled away from her, pouncing at sunbeams and flecks of dust.
calico
Outside, another cat—a real one this time, with golden eyes and beautiful calico spots—had appeared on the roof, meowing through the shutters.
unseemly
Injured, maybe.
Or dead, said her demon-voice with unseemly cheer.
petulant
"Why?" His voice grew petulant. "To run, begging, to Amyunasa's priests? To get rid of the only thing that makes you worth anything?"
revel
She felt powerful, and, reveling in that power, she knew he'd made a mistake.
truss
Leaving the kyakyozuya trussed up in the creek, she had vaulted into the saddle and ridden easily up the slope while Geiki leapt into the air, transforming into a giant bird, his wing healed, just as the girl had told him it would be.
convivial
Instead, they rattled their prayer beads, dip-dyed in a variety of indigo hues, and chattered at one another in a flurry of excitement before settling again into their more subdued (although no less convivial) expressions.
sonorous
Once they reached the temple compound, they left Geiki at his room with another priest, a hei with a gap-toothed smile and a sonorous laugh they could hear even as they crossed the gardens to Miuko's room.
countenance
Despite Meli's friendly countenance, however, Miuko still could not bring herself to relax.
gallivant
Together, they watched the tseimi prance across the veranda, gallivanting after insects and stray leaves, but it was not long before another cat appeared, drawn to the tseimi as the calico at Ogawa Castle had been.
relegate
Meli nodded, and while Miuko splashed some water on her face and donned the borrowed robes, the young priest spirited the orange tabby away and returned with supplies to pack up the tseimi's container, which was then relegated to the confines of Miuko's pocket—a reminder that she may have reached the House of December, but Tujiyazai was still intent on claiming her...and so was her curse.
confines
Meli nodded, and while Miuko splashed some water on her face and donned the borrowed robes, the young priest spirited the orange tabby away and returned with supplies to pack up the tseimi's container, which was then relegated to the confines of Miuko's pocket—a reminder that she may have reached the House of December, but Tujiyazai was still intent on claiming her...and so was her curse.
recourse
A tragedy. But we are not without options. I will send a messenger bird to Keivoweicha-kaedo—the librarians may have some recourse for us.
untoward
Despite these untoward thoughts—and others Miuko found herself entertaining whenever the priests annoyed her—by the end of the day, she found herself exhausted but satisfied.
efficacy
She tried to concentrate (really, she did) for she knew the efficacy of the treatments depended upon her mental fortitude as well as the priests' magic, but she could not stop herself from daydreaming of adventures with Geiki...
fortitude
She tried to concentrate (really, she did) for she knew the efficacy of the treatments depended upon her mental fortitude as well as the priests' magic, but she could not stop herself from daydreaming of adventures with Geiki...
providence
By some act of divine providence, he appeared to be conscious—and in boy form again—flailing in the waves.
imperious
"Stop there, Ishao," he said, his imperious tone carrying easily over the distance between them, "or I will have him killed."

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