Chapter 4

I hunted Dredgen Yor for decades, first at Jaren Ward's side, then alone. I was obsessed. Driven. I hated the man. Still do. The difference between all the moments before I lit my fire and put rounds into the bastard and every moment since is what I learned in the instant I pulled Last Word from its leather…

Yor never fired. Never even moved to draw. He just stood, straight and calm 'til my infernal lead tore through him. Then he dropped.

It didn't register at first. Once he fell, the moment kinda hung there. I walked over—the world was quiet—and I squeezed off two more. To be sure. I remember a hint of joy well up inside me as I thought back on Jaren. I'd avenged him. I'd avenged Palamon. And Durga. And North Channel. And all the rest. But my mind hung on Jaren. And my joy became tainted with an uneasy feeling.

The moment of Jaren's death played on repeat in my mind. Rapid fire. Jaren's cannon, then Yor's. Then silence, long ago, in a nowhere forest out west.

Jaren never missed. Yet he did. Yor, then, didn't. But Jaren was no easy target. Was Yor? He hadn't flinched when I pulled steel. No movement. No change in his tone or words. I gunned him down mid-sentence, as if he didn't care. He knew I would. Knew I'd draw. Knew I'd fire. So, why the talk? Why have words when he knew mine would be loud, mine would be death?

Maybe you'll understand this without further explanation. Maybe you won't. But the answer is—and it set my course for every moment after—

Because he believed in me.