"I need someone keeping an eye on the investigation. Go."
With a sullen nod, the former Guardsmen departed.
"Investigation?" Despite herself, Widders.h.i.+ns felt her voice quiver.
"Why, yes, into the deaths of William de Laurent and Alexandre Delacroix. Which will, of course, eventually be pinned on you."
She couldn't weep again, not so soon-it was just too much. Only Olgun's strength kept her on her feet as the world swayed around her.
But inside-inside she cried, not merely for the loss of friends, of love, but of a future she had almost thought she might regain.
"I don't understand," she whispered. "G.o.ds, Claude, do you truly hate me so much?"
"You?" Alexandre's former servant actually laughed. "My dear child, this was never about you at all. This is about your friend." The hatred suffusing that last word was nearly heavy enough to cast its own shadow.
And Widders.h.i.+ns saw it all as clearly as though someone had painted her a diagram. "You knew!" she accused. "You knew about Olgun all along!"
"Of course I did," Claude told her, suddenly snarling. "I knew from the moment Alexandre betrayed our G.o.d for that barbarian idol! He couldn't hide his heresy, not from Cevora and not from me!"
Widders.h.i.+ns's jaw hung slack at the fanaticism she saw in his eyes, blazing to shame the lanterns. And it wasn't even his own household G.o.d!
"After all Cevora had done for him, for his family, to turn away over a few years' misfortune? The b.a.s.t.a.r.d! Ah, but I knew better, didn't I? I knew the lion could never be tamed. I knew from the old texts that Cevora was a hunter, a predator, from the days before the Pact! And I knew that he had laid upon me the task of shedding the blood of those who had drawn Delacroix from his embrace!"
"And your pet demon, Claude?" she demanded, ignoring the creature's rough chuckle at her description. "How does Cevora feel about that?"
But the Apostle merely shrugged. "Those G.o.ds hostile to the Pact were cast down into darkness, and their servants with them-but not all those servants are so content to remain in h.e.l.l. How does Cevora feel about me calling one of them up? So long as the demon remains loyal to him, rather than its former master, I doubt he cares one way or the other.
"It shouldn't have been necessary," he continued, a bit more calmly as he realized that even Jean Luc and his hired thugs were gawping at him somewhat askance. "I'd hoped that when you and your ilk were dead, he would turn himself back entirely to Cevora."
"But he did!" Widders.h.i.+ns protested. "He abandoned Olgun!"
"His heart was never truly in it. I don't think he'd ever have accepted his part in restoring Cevora to his rightful glory. I suppose I should thank you, in
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