Scar Night Page 0,1

they will die too!” the Presbyter snapped. Yet he recognized a lack of conviction in his own voice.They’ve managed to hurt her . In a thousand years, no one had accomplished as much.

“Sacrifice is inevitable.”

“Sacrifice?Look at this blood! Look at it!” Scrimlock stepped back and lifted his cassock clear of the blood pooling around his ankles. “Hell will come for this blood, for these spilled souls. This courtyard is cursed! Evil will linger here for centuries. A hundred priests could not lift Iril’s shadow from these cobbles. Nothing can be saved here. Nothing.”

The Presbyter could not decide which horrified him more: the thought that their Lord Ulcis, the god of chains, would be denied the souls of so many of his Church’s best assassins, or that hell might be lurking somewhere close by. The Maze was said to open doors into this world to take the souls from spilled blood. Scrimlock searched the gloom around him frantically. Perhaps hell was already here? Were these souls passing even now through some shadowy portal into Iril’s endless corridors? If so, what might come through the other way? What might escape ?

“End this hunt now,” he said. “Let her escape. It’s too dangerous.”

“You wish her to survive?” the Adept said.

“No, I…” The Presbyter’s shoulders nudged against something, and he wheeled round in alarm. A chain. “I only wish to preserve the Spine,” he said, clutching his chest. “Pull your men back before it’s too late.”

A howl of laughter came from above.

“Reinforcements have reached the window,” the Adept said.

Scrimlock looked up. Smoke leaked from the jagged watchtower roof and spread like grease over the stars. The stone falcons and battlements had crumbled inwards, exactly as the sappers had promised, blocking access to the roof and thus blocking escape. The sulphurous smell of blackcake lingered. Halfway up the tower, the assassin nearest to them squeezed through the window.

A sword clashed loudly.

Scrimlock moistened dry lips. “She’s armed,” he said. “God help us, she’s defending herself with steel.”

“No,” the Adept replied. “Barraby’s stairwells and passages are narrow. Combat in such confines is treacherous. You merely heard a Spine blade strike stone. She remains unarmed.”

“I don’t understand.” The priest cast another glance over the corpses piled to one side. “There must be abandoned weapons in there. You cannot have removed them. Why does she not arm herself?”

A scream—followed by terrible laughter. Scrimlock felt nauseous. Both scream and laughter had seemed to issue from the same throat.

“We believe,” the assassin said, “she wishes to be defeated.”

“But that makes no sense. She—”

A noise from above distracted the Presbyter and he looked up in time to see a body being forced through the narrow watchtower window. Bones snapped, and then the body fell till it struck a chain. Arms and legs twisted around the massive links, and for a heartbeat it hung there, limp as a straw doll. Then it slipped free, bucked, and snagged on the chains further below, until it crumpled to the ground. Spans of iron tensed and shivered. Four more Spine had clustered around the outside of the tower window. They clung to bolts and hooks in the walls whereby the chains gripped stone. Others were climbing closer, from below. The assassin nearest to the window, a lean man, eased himself inside, after his sword.

He called down: “She’s cut, she’s—”

A wail, half torment, half rage, pierced Scrimlock’s heart. There were sounds of sobbing, like those of a frightened child, followed by a hellish cry. The assassin’s broken, bloodied body reappeared at the window and dropped a dozen feet before its neck snagged on one of the tower’s protruding bolts.

A third Spine peered in through the window. “She’s coming down.”

“What?” Presbyter Scrimlock retreated from the watchtower door. “We must get away from here. Now, quickly, we—”

“She cannot break through this door,” the Adept said. “Nothing can break through this.”

Scrimlock’s sandals slipped on blood-soaked cobbles. His lantern shook, dimmed, then brightened. Shadows clenched and flickered around him. Above them, Spine were climbing, one after another, through the window: three, six, eight of them.

“She will die now,” the Adept said flatly.


Something struck the watchtower door from within, with the force of a battering ram. Dust shuddered free from its thick beams, and the Spine Adept pushed against the door brace.

“Get away,” Scrimlock said. “Leave her now, I beg you. This is her night.”

“Her last night,” the Adept said.


The brace jumped. Wood cracked, splintered. The Adept pitched backwards, then lunged forward again and threw all of his weight against the door.