"No further problems?" Julien asked, still standing in the doorway.
"Would your men not have told you if there were?"
"They would. Still..."
"Yes, still. No, nothing untoward. Won't you come in for a moment?"
"I can't, Your Eminence. Too much to do. I just wanted to make sure you were well, and to apologize that I haven't been around much personally these past few nights."
"Quite all right, Major. Your men have been more than satisfactory. They-"
"Excellent. Good night, then, Your Eminence. I'll check in again tomorrow."
Brother Maurice appeared in the doorway even as Major Bouniard, looking back over his shoulder, pa.s.sed through it. "He's looking a bit ill, don't you think?" the young monk asked.
But the archbishop, his face pensive, shook his head. No, not ill. The major was beginning to look exhausted.
And perhaps more than a little frightened.
"Widders.h.i.+ns," Renard whispered, voice m.u.f.fled behind his scented kerchief, "were you able to get-G.o.ds above!"
Genevieve raced forward, grabbing her best friend by the shoulders as the young thief staggered. "s.h.i.+ns, what happened?!"
Widders.h.i.+ns bled from a dozen sc.r.a.pes and splinters inflicted by the collapsing floor, perspired freely from her flight down the rickety stairs and her terror at her worst nightmare returned from the Pit.
Her vision swam. The grimy, filth-encrusted alley twisted and warped beneath a second, transparent image of her friends and fellow congregants spread in oozing chunks across the floor of Olgun's shrine. It wasn't enough that the Finders' Guild wanted her dead. It wasn't even enough that they'd summoned some fiend from the deepest dark to hunt her down. But now, to learn that they were responsible for the worst chapter in her life, that it was they who had forced Adrienne Satti to vanish with the stain of murder and worse than murder besmirching her name, ignited a fire in Widders.h.i.+ns's soul.
"I am tired," she told Genevieve, voice colder than winter, "of running." Her hard stare flickered to Renard, who mumbled something under his breath and looked away. "You'll see she has a safe place to stay until the tavern opens, yes?"
"I'm not sure you should-"
"Please, Renard. I need you to do this for me."
"Of course," he said softly.
Widders.h.i.+ns took several steps before Genevieve's hand closed on her shoulder. The thief peered at it as though not entirely certain what it was.
"s.h.i.+ns, wait! You can't go running off by yourself! You're-"
"Going to the guild, Genevieve," Widders.h.i.+ns whispered.
The barkeep blanched visibly. "What?"
"They're sending demons after me now, Gen. This has to stop."
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