|Chapter 18: Surrender|
With his half-hand, he struck her a blow that made her whole face burn.
The Kemper recalled him. He obeyed, as lifeless as a marionette. Kasreyn was still gazing at Linden. Malice bared his old teeth. In a voice of hunger, he said, "Do you see that my command upon him is complete?"
She nodded. She could not help herself. Soon Kasreyn would be able to instruct her as easily as he used Covenant.
"Then witness." The Kemper made complex gestures; and Covenant raised his hands, turned his fingers inward like claws. They dug into the flesh around his eyes.
"If you do not satisfy me"--Kasreyn's voice jumped avidly--"I will command him to blind himself."
That was enough. She could not bear any more. Long quivers of fury ran through all her muscles. She was ready now.
Before she could acquiesce, a prodigious effort tore a howl from Honninscrave's chest. With impossible strength, he ripped the chain binding his left arm from its bracket; and the chain cracked outward like a flail. Driven by all the force of his immense exertion, it struck Kasreyn in the throat.
The blow pitched the Kemper backward. He fell heavily on the steps, tumbled to the floor. There he lay still. So much iron and strength must have shattered every bone in his neck. Linden's vision leaped toward him, saw that he was dead. The fact stunned her. For an instant, she hardly realized that he was not bleeding.
The First let out a savage cry. "Stone and Sea, Honninscrave! Bravely done!"
But a moment later Kasreyn twitched. His limbs shifted. Slowly, stiffly, he climbed to his hands and knees, then to his feet. An instant ago, he had had no pulse: now his heart beat with renewed vigor. Strength flowed back into him. He turned to face the company. He was grinning like a promise of murder.
Linden gaped at him, horrified. The First swore weakly.
The infant on his back smiled sweetly in his sleep.