“I’m going to murder you,” he said. “A shame,” said Terra. “It seems we must do this the hard way. Again.” And she began to speak the words of a geas: “I command thee, by the binding of thy name, within the arms of Cataclyst, God of Numbers. Here now I recognise thee by the name--“ She stopped. She had to stop. Her lips had knitted themselves together with stitches made of flesh. Now they fused over and her mouth, with its pert, rosebud lips, disappeared completely. Fear bloomed in her eyes. She clutched at her mouth, desperately, trying to find it behind the sheath of smooth, unbroken skin. She appeared to be trying to scream, but the only noise that escaped her was a high, grunting sound from her nose, like the snorting of a pig. Her wild motions caught the attention of passers-by. Some stared in horror as she fell to her knees. Others ran, calling for the guard. “Was that you?” Ward asked, as Terra writhed at their feet. “It felt kinder than incinerating her alive, which I assume was your plan,” said Nero, chewing his nails. “I didn’t expect it to turn out like that. I just wanted her to stop.” Ward sighed again and dropped the remains of their illusionary spells. There didn’t seem to be much point in keeping them up. A group of guards rounded the corner ahead of them; more streamed out of a door on the other side of the courtyard. A line of them formed across the street behind them, cutting off this avenue to escape. Helmeted heads rose above the parapets of shops. Sunlight flashed off silver arrowheads, off drawn swords, off whitestone-plated armour. “What do we do?” Nero asked. “I told the princess I wouldn’t run. Not again.” Nero hugged him tightly. Ward hugged him back. The guards advanced.