Father ducked beneath the beast’s sweeping claws and, as if choreographed, slashed out simultaneously with his own. As they spun apart I swung my hammer and heard the splintering crunch of it connecting to the beast’s skull. Whatever damage I may have done failed to slow his rage. He pushed the tool aside with such force that I, still holding on, staggered three yards before catching my momentum. Then I felt the weight of him upon my back and I was driven to the ground. I smelled the stink of meat and blood and, behind it all, the gardenia perfume of Madame Fabron’s whorehouse.