Claude was good, but he wasn't that good; not as skilled as Lisette had been. But in that earlier struggle-G.o.ds, had it been so recent?-Widders.h.i.+ns hadn't been weighed down so terribly, by grief, by exhaustion, by the pain of her vicious wound.
She hadn't faced a foe who, just perhaps, had his own G.o.d guiding his hand, even as she did.
And she knew, she knew, that this was a fight she could not win.
Widders.h.i.+ns spun, wincing at the pain of her injury even as she ducked under a slash that would have opened her scalp had it connected. Dropping almost into a crouch, she reached out with her empty hand and-struggling not to think about what she was doing-scooped up a handful of the semiliquid remains spread across the floor and hurled it at her foe. Claude saw it coming, turned his face away to avoid getting the horrible stuff in his eyes and mouth-but it was enough to halt him in his tracks, if only for the briefest instant.
Widders.h.i.+ns was off at a limping sprint, standing at the door before the Apostle had taken a single step. With desperate speed she hauled it open, sliding it into its stone moorings, and came face to startled face with the guard Claude had left outside.
For a heartbeat they stared, she having utterly forgotten he was there, he having heard nothing of the conflict within, thanks to the heavy walls and door. And then he was yanking his flintlock from his belt, bringing it up and around with expert speed, finger already tightening on the trigger...
Widders.h.i.+ns hissed Olgun's name, and the deity reached out to caress the weapon-not to stop it, not to blow it to splinters, but to ignite it early. The flint slammed down without the trigger's urging; black powder flashed and sparked. The thug's eyes had only begun to widen as the lead ball hurtled harmlessly past Widders.h.i.+ns's shoulder-and sank, with a dull tearing sound and a horrified grunt, into the chest of the man charging up behind her.
The soldier stared in growing horror, Widders.h.i.+ns in shock, Claude down at his chest in bewildered disbelief.
"I don't understand," the Apostle whispered, tears forming in his eyes. "Cevora..."
And then he fell, first to his knees, then facedown in the putrid carpet.
Widders.h.i.+ns stepped forward, kneed the remaining guard in the groin as he stood stunned, and cracked him over the head with the pommel of the rapier for good measure.
"Nice shot, Olgun!" she crowed, laughing through her pain. She felt the G.o.d within beamin
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