As Cathak Shao Dun and Tepet Sanzo discuss the nature of ghosts, the Maiden of the Mirthless Smile, the Mask of Winters’ most feared general, descends upon them, and battle is joined.
Sanzo draws first blood, striking the Maiden with what appears an improbably lucky blow, leaving her bloodied and enraged. Shao and the Maiden’s first exchange ends in a terrific clash that grants no advantage to either of them.
Peleps Maera sees the abyssal’s terrible anima and races to help her kinship.
Believing the Dragon-Blooded to be overmatched, Shao tells Sanzo to run, intending to sacrifice himself to help his friend escape. While Shao’s blow strikes her armor, the Maiden’s strike severs his arm.
Sanzo refuses to run and fires a storm of needles at the Maiden.
The grievously wounded Shao launches a final relentless assault against the Maiden, driving her to the brink of death.
As the enraged Maiden berates her enemies, the poison from Sanzo’s needles takes effect. She falls and is no more.