The night dragged on, long and bloody, and Gwendoline didn’t return to the cottage until dawn. She collapsed into a nearby chair, exhaustion in her bones.

Gwendoline didn’t wake until evening, and had drawn her weapon before remembering that the danger was gone now. Susanna was there in an instant, taking the sword away. “It’s okay,” she said gently, “we’re safe now.”

Gwendoline sat upright, still groggy. “Don’t know how you manage to be so alert already,” she mumbled.

“One of my many charms,” Susanna said, smiling. “When you’re ready, get cleaned up and have dinner; you need to eat.”

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