Hok tilted her head down and dropped her shoulders, sending Seh sliding forward off the slippery white silk of her dress. Seh landed hard on his knees.
Hok grabbed her little sister, and Sanfu scooped up Fu.
“But—” Seh began to say.
“MOVE!” Mong hissed. He grabbed the back of Seh’s collar and heaved him forward. Seh stumbled, but someone grabbed his arm and held him steady until he regained his stride. Grateful, Seh looked over and saw that it was Hok’s mother.
“Run,” she said in an eerily peaceful tone. “You must run.”
“I know,” Seh said as he picked up his pace. “But they have Malao—”
Hok’s mother nodded.
Seh knew Hok’s mother was right. There was nothing they could do right now. Seh thought about his own mother and ground his teeth. He adjusted the scroll at his back and felt the snake on his arm tighten its grip.
“Thank you,” Seh said to Hok’s mother. “I really mean it. My brothers and I have so many enemies, it’s difficult to know who to trust. Thank you … ah … ah … I don’t even know your name.”
As they ran, Hok’s mother folded her hands like a Cangzhen monk. She spoke with an icy calm.
“My name is Bing.”