Richard saw the point of a sword blade sticking out from between the man's shoulder blades. He spun back toward Richard after throwing the woman out the opening, ready to attack. It seemed impossible, but the man looked unaffected by the blade that had impaled him through the chest.
It was then, in the weak light from the fire pit off to the side, that Richard got his first good look at the killer.
Three knives were buried up to their brass cross-guards in the man's chest. Only the handles were showing. Richard saw, too, the broken end of a sword blade jutting out from the center of the man's chest. The point of that same blade stuck out from the man's back.
Richard recognized the knife handles. All three were the style carried by the men of the First File.
He looked from those blades that should have killed the big man, up into his face.
That was when he realized the true horror of the situation, and the reason for the unbearable stench of death.