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“I owe you my life,” says Nez, shivering.

“I’ve already got it.” Luck rubs the pain out of his arms. “Thanks anyway.”

Nez thinks he understands. “I’m your man then,” he says. “Your bondsman, your loyal servant–”

“I don’t think you take my point,” says Luck coldly. “Every murder costs a life. A certain man killed; he’ll die to pay for it. My killing him, in turn, will cost the life I just saved. Now go away.”

Luck walks. Nez stands and stares. Blot breaks away and scurries back to him.

“Plus,” she says, “you owe me five knots for helping.”


Nez sighs with relief after the guards take his few coppers, spit on him and throw him in the ditch. He’s through the gate. He still has them.

The barber told him it was all right, gold was good medicine anyway, this would only help it heal! Nez understands now that this was untrue, but he’s almost at the end. The fever doesn’t matter. The patterns under his skin don’t matter. Soon he’ll be at the plaza; the next barber will open up the stitches on the inside of his thigh, and out they’ll come: nine coins. His debt. Luck’s freedom.