…There were more bangs, and a voice came, smothered by the thick oak. “We know you’re in there. Open up.”

She fell to her knees, sobbing.

She must defend herself.

The bangs became thumps, as a heavy shoulder shook the door in its frame.

Now is the time for the Sword. What’s wrong with her?

The moan became a litany. “I can’t kill. I can’t kill.”

Inspired by the splintering of the doorjamb, the Sword’s patience ran out.

All right, I give up. EIRLIN, You don’t have to kill anyone. Just draw the sword.

“I can’t kill. I ca…what?”

We don’t have to kill them. Wound and disarm. But draw the Sword. Quickly!

“Who’s talking to me?…Kitten? Is that you?”

There is no time for this. Draw me, for the Fire’s sake.

The door was half broken now. A leather-clad arm stretched in to undo the latch.

Draw the Forge-bedamned sword, woman!

With a gasp, Eirlin clutched the hilt, and the Sword shrugged smoothly from the scabbard, humming with a fiery joy.

Good evening, gentlemen. Sorry, no time for chit-chat. Shall we move straight to the part where you run away screaming and bleeding?

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