4 iv) Cang squares his stance as the preacher threatens him

Cang squares his stance as the preacher threatens him with the knife. The scowling preacher, chanting about his faith in a way that reminds Cang of Fassn’s most egregious excesses, puts himself between the princess and Cang. “You can help us, little man,” he says. “The ritual is all but over. We just need to plunge the knife.”

At that, the preacher springs from his toes and closes the distance between himself and Cang. Luckily for the latter, he’s the more experienced knife fighter, and his stature throws the preacher off. When the knife passes his ear, Cang strikes like a snake and pops the preacher’s forearm with his palm. A ghastly cracking erupts from the pressure point, followed by the preacher’s pained screams.

Outside, a few more peasants are in the dust, gripping their bruised and battered bodies. Shyan’s breathing hard, exhausted. When the remaining dozen or so folks hear their preacher’s scream, they share a brief, bewildered glance, and scatter.

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