Every muscle in Widders.h.i.+ns's body locked up. "Excuse me?"
"My dear, I'm an archbishop of the High Church. I've been known, on occasion, to ask a favor of the G.o.ds, something the common man might think of as magic. A nudge of good luck here, a flash of insight there. These events are not the result of sorcery, but neither are they simple manifestations of chance. Sometimes the G.o.ds even nudge things for me without my knowledge. Little coincidences-such as, for instance, a thief appearing at just the right moment to save my life from some particularly bold a.s.sa.s.sin.
"I know the presence of the divine, my dear. And you have a G.o.d looking over your shoulder."
"His...his name's Olgun," Widders.h.i.+ns admitted, uncertain how many more surprises she could stand in her life.
"Olgun. He's not a G.o.d of the Pact, or I'd have heard of him."
"Do..." She swallowed. "Do you have to, I don't know, report him or something?"
De Laurent smiled. "Wors.h.i.+p of a pagan deity is frowned on by the Hallowed Pact, but it's not forbidden. So long as he doesn't work against the Pact, or flaunt the fact that he's not abiding by all of its strictures, I see no reason why either the Church or our G.o.ds should see him as an enemy."
She nodded. "I sort of picked him up at the same time I...stopped being Adrienne."
"Do you want to talk about it, child?"
Without entirely knowing why, for the first time since she'd told the whole b.l.o.o.d.y and painful tale to Genevieve, she did.
"It was about six years ago," she began, her voice fading, carried back across the sea of years to a far but never forgotten sh.o.r.e. "I was just a pickpocket on the streets, really. One day, I was watching the shops in the marketplace..."
Claude maneuvered through the front door as best he could, arms laden with parcels, and glowered at the servants who had taken so long to admit him. "Find a place for these," he demanded, shoving the packages into the chest of a startled doorman, and suggesting by his expression just where the fellow might stick them. Barely waiting long enough for the man to take the weight, he spun and strode up the stairs, taking them two at a time in his long-legged stride.
Even as he approached the master's office, his scowl deepened. No doubt the old coot would have something else that needed doing, some new ba.n.a.l task that would occupy time Claude really didn't have. But he wasn't about to overtly disobey, and he certainly didn't want anything to go wrong with the archbishop's arrangements...
But Alexandre was neither hard at work on the books, nor shouting instructions to this servant or that. He sat behind his desk, staring dreamily off into s.p.a.ce, a strange grin flittering about the edges of his mouth.
"Sir?" Claude asked, gently shutting the door behind him. "What's wrong?"
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