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The question went from her head the next instant, driven out by a wail of demand from below.

Zeffer threw back his head, and caught hold of the edge of the door with his unmaimed hand. He had his eyes fixed on Tammy as he did so, as though he was drawing the power to do whatever he was planning to do from her. There was a long moment when in fact he did nothing; only teetered on the threshold, his eyelids growing lazy. Then-summoning one last Herculean effort of will-he gave Tammy a tiny smile and closed the door in her face.

For an instant, he lifted his eyes, and his eyes met Tammy's. They had a moment only to look at one another. Then Duke Goga came at Zeffer again and drove his sword through the middle of his back.

Five stairs up, Tammy chanced a backward glance, but Katya was still standing in front of the door.

Six steps now; seven, eight, nine.

Indeed, if she had ever been in love with Todd Pickett-which by many definitions she had-she fell out of love with him at that moment, comparing his face with that of Duke Goga, and finding it wanting.

That was not to say that she didn't want Todd safe from this place; from the house and all its inhabitants, especially Katya. So she hauled on his arm again, yelling for him to get away from the door, and this time her message got through to him.

What was she thinking, Tammy wondered. What have I done? Did a woman like that ever think-'what have I done'? With Zeffer gone, she would be alone in Coldheart Canyon. Alone with the dead. Not a pretty prospect.

It was like being woken from a dream. One moment Tammy had been staring into Zeffer's stricken face, while the men closed in on him from behind, and the sky seethed overhead. The next the door had shut this terrible vision out, and she was back in the little hallway with Todd at her side.

Now the escapees were on the half-landing. Through the window off to their left Tammy could see the sight that had held Zeffer's attention just minutes before: the occupants of Coldheart Canyon pressing against the glass.

Todd retreated, and as he did so Katya caught hold of Zeffer by the hair and lifted him up. Tammy was too concerned with reclaiming Todd from the threshold to do anything to save Zeffer. And Zeffer in turn did nothing to save himself. He simply let the woman he had adored pick him up, and with the same nearly supernatural strength Tammy herself had felt just moments before, Katya pitched Zeffer through the open door.

By now Tammy had recovered sufficiently to grab hold of Todd's arm and pull him back from the threshold.

Tammy didn't give her a chance to snap out of the trance. She started up the stairs, pulling Todd after her.

Only now, as he stumbled across the ground before them, did Zeffer raise his arms to protect himself against the swordsmen. Whether the Duke took this harmless motion as some attempt at aggression, and reacted to protect himself, or whether he simply wanted to do harm Tammy would never know. The Duke lifted his sword and brought it down in a great swooping arc that cut through the meat of Zeffer's right hand, taking off all four of his fingers, and the top half of his thumb. Blood spurted out from the wounds, and Zeffer let out a cry that was one part disbelief to two of agony. He stared at his maimed hand for a moment, then he turned from his mutilator and stumbled back towards the door.

For an instant, he lifted his eyes, and his eyes met Tammy's. They had a moment only to look at one another. Then Duke Goga came at Zeffer again and drove his sword through the middle of his back.

The question went from her head the next instant, driven out by a wail of demand from below.

Why didn't they simply break in, she wondered? They weren't, after all, insubstantial. They had weight, they had force. If they wanted to get in so badly, why didn't they simply break the glass or splinter the doors?

The question went from her head the next instant, driven out by a wail of demand from below.

Perhaps she was regretting. Just a little.

Come away, she urged him.

He looked round at her. She was probably more familiar with his face, and with his limited palette of expressions, than she was with her own. But she'd never seen the look of stupefaction he wore right now. The veins at his temples were throbbing, his mouth was slack; his blood-shot eyes seemed to have difficulty focusing on her.

She tugged harder on his arm, in the hope of shaking him out of his stupor. Behind him she could see the horsemen approaching the door, their step more cautious now that they were almost at the threshold. Having stopped the door from being closed Katya had stepped away from it, leaving Todd the closest of them all to the horsemen. So close, in fact, that had the Duke so chosen, he could have lunged from where he stood, and killed Todd with a single stroke.

Now the escapees were on the half-landing. Through the window off to their left Tammy could see the sight that had held Zeffer's attention just minutes before: the occupants of Coldheart Canyon pressing against the glass.

Only now, as he stumbled across the ground before them, did Zeffer raise his arms to protect himself against the swordsmen. Whether the Duke took this harmless motion as some attempt at aggression, and reacted to protect himself, or whether he simply wanted to do harm Tammy would never know. The Duke lifted his sword and brought it down in a great swooping arc that cut through the meat of Zeffer's right hand, taking off all four of his fingers, and the top half of his thumb. Blood spurted out from the wounds, and Zeffer let out a cry that was one part disbelief to two of agony. He stared at his maimed hand for a moment, then he turned from his mutilator and stumbled back towards the door.

There was a terrible cracking sound, as the blade cracked Zeffer's breastbone and then the point emerged from the middle of his chest.

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