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familiesinzion > Thief\'s Covenant > Part 18
The room echoed, as though a rain of nails had suddenly fallen from the night-blackened skies. Over and over, the taskmaster's rapier lashed at the black-clad intruder. Her dagger was the flickering sting of a scorpion, seeking any opening the rapier might leave.

Nothing connected. Widders.h.i.+ns pivoted impossibly fast, twisting to face any direction from which Lisette could attack. Her arm flashed up, out, to either side; her wrist turned at impossible angles, whipping the thin steel into the path of the taskmaster's weapons.

They moved swiftly across the chamber, Widders.h.i.+ns deliberately falling back before Lisette's furious a.s.sault, concentrating entirely on defense, refusing to take so much as a single stab at the foe. Though gilded in a veneer of style and civility, trained into her during her years as the ward of a n.o.bleman, Widders.h.i.+ns's swordplay was, at its core, brutal, direct-not fencing but street fighting. Nothing in her experience should have allowed her to turn away blow after blow as she was, yet she kept her lone blade constantly interposed between both Lisette's weapons.

The taskmaster was good, very good. But Lisette, for all her faith, didn't have a G.o.d watching over her shoulder and guiding her blades. And slowly, slowly, she began to tire. She found herself flinching from counterattacks that never came, her eyes drifting dangerously to follow Widders.h.i.+ns's footwork when they should remain focused elsewhere.

And then, as their path took them past the towering idol of the Shrouded G.o.d, Widders.h.i.+ns lashed out with the tip of her blade and scored a thin line straight down the stone deity's crotch.

Lisette froze, shocked to the core of her being, more horrified at Widders.h.i.+ns's blasphemy than she could ever have been at merely mortal suffering. And in that instant of paralysis, when Lisette's jaw and fingers had both fallen slack, Widders.h.i.+ns stepped in and slammed her rapier down on the taskmaster's sword, knocking it from her fist to skip and skitter across the carpeted floor. Even as Lisette turned, cognizant once more of the danger, Widders.h.i.+ns grabbed the taskmaster's left wrist with her own free hand and, with only a modic.u.m of exertion, drove Lisette's own dagger deep into the woman's upper thigh.

"If we're through playing now," Widders.h.i.+ns told the woman, now lying curled around a growing pool of blood, "I'd really like to ask you a few questions before you bleed to death."

"Go to h.e.l.l!" Lisette gasped around broken sobs. She tried to crane her head, to look up with some last show of dignity; but her leggings, already plastered to her skin by the torrent of blood, pulled rudely at the gaping wound, and she couldn't so much as s.h.i.+ft her weight for the pain. "Killing me won't stop them! They'll come after you, no matter what!"

"I don't know, Lisette," Widders.h.i.+ns said thoughtfully. "I think I'd be doing them a favor by popping whatever

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