'Is it too much to ask that he honor the memory of his dead brother?' I turned, glaring at the Amonite before settling my gaze on Barnabas. His eyes were old and tired. 'That his scions treat the Cult of Morgan as something more than a curious relic from antiquity?'

'He honors us. Without him-'

'Honor? He drags us out for parades and holidays. He has his court jester write poems in Morgan's memory, then he steals our recruits and dedicates them to his own Cult. He's strangling us with bloody honor, Fratriarch.'

Barnabas winced. The crowd around us had slowed, gradually becoming aware of who was standing in their midst, and what these rare individuals were arguing about. The Fratriarch bent his head to me and spoke in a furious hiss.

'He does not steal recruits, Eva. Morgan is dead. Amon is dead. Of the three Brothers Immortal, only Alexander remains. Parents do not dedicate their children to the service of a dead god.'

I looked around at the silent crowd.

'Mine did,' I said, then marched off. The pedestrians melted away from me, anxious and afraid.

'Aye, girl. We know,' Barnabas said quietly, then glanced at the Amonite and motioned her forward. 'Come on. She'll leave us if we let her.'

I made them struggle for a minute before slowing so they could catch up. I was a little embarrassed to have walked away from the man I was supposed to be guarding, but I was a little more pissed that he'd lectured me in public. We walked in tense silence for a while, then I drew up next to the Fratriarch.

'So why are we doing this?' I asked, nodding at the quiet girl in her black robe and dull chains. 'We've had no need for an Amonite for one hundred years. Why now?'

'It is a matter for the Elders, Eva.'

'Well. Let me know if this one is lacking. I can be persuasive.'

The girl looked up. Her face was impassive. 'I will serve you, scion of Morgan. But not out of fear.'

I snorted. 'As you say. Just keep in mind that-'

'We're being followed,' Barnabas said under his breath.

And we were. Of course we were. Damn Barnabas's fault for calling me out, and that damn Alexian's fault for being a windbag and giving me a good reason to get in trouble. That was my first mistake of the day, I think. Probably not the worst. I pulled our little group to the side of the road, grabbing the girl by her thin shoulders and pretending to shake her. Like we were arguing.

'Where are they?' I asked. The girl kept staring at me, indifferently. Barnabas pulled my hands away from the girl.

'They've passed us now. Probably more around and they're just handing off the tail.' I looked up at his face, then followed his eyes down the street. Two men in bulky overcloaks, the hoods up, were strolling casually along. They turned a corner and one of them spared us a glance. His face was cowled, a ventilated metal mask covering his nose and mouth. His eyes were much older than his body suggested, and there were strange markings around them like tattoos. The pair disappeared behind a building. I looked back at Barnabas and the girl. She was still staring at me.

'Distinctive couple,' I said. 'Not terribly sneaky.'

'They snuck up on you,' Cassandra said.

I grimaced, but ignored her. Barnabas was looking up and down the street.

'They were pretty obvious. Maybe just trying to spook us?' I asked.

The old man shook his head. 'There was something different about them, right up until they passed us.' He twisted his staff in his hands like he was wringing a towel. 'I didn't see them either. Not at all. For all that they stuck out, I didn't see them.'

'Invokation of some kind?'


I looked at the girl again. 'Maybe the sworn rites of Amon the Betrayer?' I asked. She flinched, but her eyes did not leave mine. 'One of your assassin friends, come to collect his girl?'

'The Betrayer's invokations are proscribed,' she answered. 'They are not recorded, they are not practiced. They are not known, to me or any of my brethren.'

'Sure, honey. Everyone believes that. You're all innocence and knowledge. We get it.' I turned to Barnabas. 'What do we do?'

'There won't be any more. The Amonites' shadowkin work alone, or in small teams. If those are truly Amonites of the Betrayer…' He trailed off. 'We should find a Justicar's post. Get an escort.'

'What happened to not causing a scene?'

'That was to avoid attention.' He gathered himself up, holding the staff in front of him like a plow. 'We seem to have attracted attention.'

'Nearest post is five blocks. North, north, west, follow the iron stairs,' Cassandra said, as though reciting scripture. 'We can be there in two minutes.'

'You just happen to know that?' I asked.

'We maintain the city. We know the streets.'

'Very well,' Barnabas said. I put a hand on his shoulder, then made my second mistake.

'North is out of our way,' I said. 'The Strength is east and south.'

'The nearest post-' Cassandra began.

I interrupted her. 'We're going south and east. There are posts along the way.'

Barnabas shrugged. I unholstered my bully and quickly invoked the Long Reach, the Iron Teeth, and Balance of the Songbird. The cylinder hummed as the etched rounds in the revolver glowed with power. Weaker invokations, but they were the only bullistic rites I had. I was a girl of the blade, but this wasn't the place for that much steel.

'We'll move fast. Elder Frat, you and the girl move side by side. Stay ahead of me. If I yell, you drop. Unless I yell something about running. Then you run.'

'Shouldn't you be in front?' Cassandra asked. 'Leading us, or something?'

'Bitch Betrayers come from behind. If I can see them, I can shoot them. It's a pretty simple system, really,' I said, then crossed the bullistic over my chest and nodded. 'Let's get going.'

We moved out into the crowd, which was rapidly dispersing. Crowds smell trouble. In this case, maybe the crowd saw a heavily armed Paladin of Morgan with her bully out, escorting an old man and an angry girl, all of them looking nervous and a little trigger-happy. Barnabas invoked as we went, something I didn't know. An almost invisible force washed out in front of us, lapping around our legs and trailing in our wake. I had no idea what he was doing, but it made me feel better to hear the old man chant and see the blessing of Morgan around us. It made the crowd nervous, but that was okay.

Four blocks, six, then ten. The old man's voice was faltering. There really should have been a Justicar's post by now. Barnabas finally stopped invoking and just moved, taking long, deep breaths that shuddered as we walked. I hadn't seen any more of the Betrayers, but I didn't expect to. The crowds were pretty much gone. I kept looking up at the buildings we passed. Betrayers were blade-men, but what if they hired help? What if they hired a sniper? I was jumping at shadows now, and the empty streets were not calming me down.

We stumbled into an empty square and the Fratriarch stopped by the dry fountain at its center. He leaned against the concrete and hunched over. His breathing sounded bad. The girl stood next to him with her hand on his shoulder, looking for all the world as if she cared. He couldn't go on, though he would try if I asked him.

'We aren't going to make it like this,' I said. Barnabas didn't answer, his thick shoulders heaving as he tried to get his breath. I looked at the girl. 'Where's the nearest post now?'

'Same post. It's just twice as far away now.'

'There's got to be one closer. Why the hell am I asking an Amonite where I should go to hide from another Amonite?' I started to pace around the fountain. The buildings surrounding us were part of the old district, tired and stone and settling into themselves. Faces in the windows quickly disappeared. 'This is ridiculous.'

'There have been a series of post closings in the last six months, mostly for maintenance issues,' Cassandra said, again as if she were reciting holy writ. 'The southern horn of Ash has been particularly hard hit, as the base level of that part of the city has been settling into the lake at an unusual-'

'Stop it. You don't say two words together all the way here, and now you're giving a lecture. I don't need a

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