any wrongdoing, but not everyone was eager to let the matter lie.

On the other hand, Widdershins had spent days planning this heist, there might not be another plum opportunity to match this one for a while, and-most importantly-there was more than just her own avarice riding on this.

With a grumble, a sigh, and an angry pout (which, she would have been mortified to learn, was really far more cute than it was menacing), she dashed once more for the roof's edge.

Not even a boost from Olgun would have allowed her to cross the entire boulevard separating the estate from her current vantage. Instead, she dropped over the eaves and clambered down the wall, her fingers finding holds as easily as if someone had placed a ladder for her convenience. A quick dart across the road, so thickly concealed in shadows that they might have been sewn to her outfit, and she was at the property's outer wall. A quick leap, a yank with both arms augmented by Olgun's strength, and she'd vaulted the wall to land smack-dab in the midst of the other larcenous newcomers. This close, she recognized the lot of them, and had no doubt whatsoever as to who the leader was.

“Evening, Squirrel,” she said, hands well away from the hilt of her rapier (but near enough for a lightning draw if necessary). “Out for a walk, maybe?”

Simon Beaupre-or “Squirrel,” to most people in the Guild or the Guard-very nearly toppled over in a tangle of long, gangly limbs and equally long, black hair. A lengthy stiletto, essentially a prepubescent rapier, was halfway from its sheath before he recognized the phantasm that had just dropped in on them.

“Gods and demons, Widdershins!” He brushed the dangling hair away from a youthful, narrow face and glared as menacingly as he could (which wasn't very). “Are you trying to get yourself stabbed to death?” The other miscreants with him-all roughly his age, but of a wide variety of builds and miens-grumbled their agreement and sheathed their weapons as well, all pretending that their hearts weren't beating so hard as to bruise the insides of their chests.

“If I were,” Widdershins said primly, “I'd have thrown myself at people who were actually, you know, dangerous. What are you doing here, Squirrel? Little boys should be in bed by now.”

The various “little boys”-several of whom were actually older than Widdershins, and none of whom were more than a couple of years younger-glowered at her once more.

All but Simon himself, who, having now recovered his breath, allowed his attentions to roam, as they so often did when the two of them met, everywhere but Widdershins's face. She repressed a brief shudder and wished she could take the time to go scrub herself bloody in a hot bath; she swore his gaze left a trail of slime across her skin.

“I'm sure it's the same thing you are, gorgeous.”

If Widdershins had rolled her eyes any harder, she'd probably have sprained something. “Enlighten me.”


“Uh, Simon?” This from a tall, broad-shouldered thug of a thief whose name was-actually, Widdershins couldn't for the life of her remember what his name was, and would have to have been unconscious or dead to have cared any less. “What we're doing right now is standing around waiting to get nabbed.”

“You're right. Go on ahead, guys. Stick with the plan; I'll catch up.”

“Wait!” Widdershins hissed, trying to spin to face all of them at once and making herself vaguely dizzy for her trouble. “Don't…” But they were already gone. “Oh, figs.”

She thought briefly of chasing after them, but Squirrel was still here, eager to talk-and oblivious to how uneager she was to listen to him-and besides, what would she do if she caught them, anyway?

“You were saying?” she prompted, her voice chilly as a snowman's backside.

“Well, I mean, it's obvious, right?” He grinned wide, eager to impress. “Gods forbid any of the ‘aristo-brats’ be reminded of just what shitty shape Davillon's in, so you know all their parties have to be all fancy. This is the first party Rittier's thrown since the archbishop was almost killed here last year, so it's gotta be even fancier, right? This is probably one of the biggest accumulations of wealth the city's seen in months, and at this time of night, most the guests are gone and everyone's tired, so…” He shrugged, palms spread wide. “Best time and place for guys like us. You obviously had the same idea, right? So work with us. Plenty to go around.”

“This,” Widdershins growled through a cage of teeth, “Was. My. Caper!”

“I don't see your name on it.”

Her jaw dropped. “Did you really just say-?!”

“Besides, Shins, you're one to talk about stealing a job out from under someone. Not after you swiped the d'Arras Tower job out from under Lisette.”

Widdershins swallowed the bitter medicine of an angry retort, and Olgun-despite the outrage and frustration he shared with his worshipper-couldn't help but chuckle.

“I hate to break it to you, oh master schemer,” she said instead, “but you didn't think this through. Yeah, Rittier should have a lot of coin on hand, but not enough to make the score worthwhile once you split it seven ways-let alone if you bring me in! The risk's not worth it! You-”

“Coin? Shins, who said anything about coin?”

A second time Widdershins's jaw hung loose-this time, she was sure, low enough that she'd probably have to pick soil out from between her lower teeth. “You can't be that stupid!” It was barely a whisper; perhaps a prayer.

But she knew, even as she spoke the words, that he could be. And it explained why he needed so many thieves for the task.

“The table settings, the art, the jewels…You have any idea what those'll bring, even on the street? Hell, Widdershins, you can have the coins if you want!”

She was just about squeaking now. “There's no way you can sneak out with that much loot without being spotted!”

“And who,” he asked, his hand dropping once more to his blade, “said anything about sneaking?”

It was a perfect cue, and sure enough, that last word was punctuated by the shattering of glass and a sudden scream from the manor.

“Come on!” Simon insisted, turning toward the commotion. “We're missing all the-”

He never got to explain what they were missing, because at that moment Widdershins hauled off and punched him as hard as she could in the jaw. It wasn't all that impressive a blow, really; young and slight, Widdershins tended to rely more on speed and stealth than on strength. But with Olgun adding a touch of divine “oomph,” it was more than enough to drop Squirrel like, well, a squirrel.

“We need to go!” Widdershins hissed to her unseen ally. “We do not want to be around when this fiasco decides exactly which of the ten thousand possible ways it's going to go bad. Also,” she added, shaking her hand, “ow! Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow…”

And indeed, she was several paces nearer the outer wall, already tensed to leap, when the next batch of sounds escaped the manor and caught up with her. The sounds not of a forceful robbery or frightened victims, but the clatter and clash and shouts of…

“Combat?” Widdershins yanked herself to a halt so abruptly that the muscles of her back and legs twinged in protest, and Olgun let out a startled yelp. “Who in…?”

Then she was running once more, this time toward the heavy stone structure-and through an ever-thickening wave of strenuous objection from her divine partner.

“I know, I know!” she argued between gasping breaths. “But I need…to know what's…going on!” And then, grinning despite herself, “Kind of like…old times, yes?”

Olgun spent the next moments explaining, in no uncertain terms (well, emotions and sensations), exactly what he thought of “old times.” But at least it kept him occupied.

Another leap, a scuttle up the side of the wall that a circus-trained spider would have been hard-pressed to match, and Widdershins was peering in through a window overlooking the dining room.

No trace of the marquis himself, or any of the remaining guests. Instead, she saw four of Squirrel's

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