6000 words, which I count a great victory (the snakelet being a major force for distraction). Temp title: “Days of the War, as Red as Blood, as Dark as Bile” (just until I find something slightly less unwieldy).
In the old days, the phoenix, the vermillion bird, was a sign of peace and prosperity to come; a sign of a just ruler under whom the land would thrive.
But those are the days of the war; of a weak child-Empress, successor to a weak Emperor; the days of burning planets and last-ditch defences; of moons as red as blood and stars as dark as bile.
When Thien Bao was thirteen years old, Second Aunt came to live with them.
She was a small, spry woman with little tolerance for children; and even less for Thien Bao, whom she grudgingly watched over while Mother worked in the factories, churning out the designs for new kinds of sharp-kites and advance needle ships.
(am aware Thien Bao is a man’s name in Vietnamese–there’s an in-story reason for it, but am struggling to manage the related exposition. Might just give up and go for a more traditional woman’s name)
Hoping to level up into progress on the novel after that (but not wholly optimistic).