Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful

Chapter Fifty-Seven

Raine drifted through the city like a phantom. His heart pounded. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t lose the trepidation. Every street he turned down, it tagged after him, intent on never leaving his side.

He avoided the trams, instead sticking to the alleys and routes he’d perfected over the years. The streets felt desolate, empty except for the occasional scavenger. The unease grew with each turn he took.

Fergel’s cryptic message repeated in his head and, as the tower spires of Na Creidmhigh appeared, Raine knew he’d missed something. Most of the lights that highlighted Oki’s former temple had shut off, draping the building in a gloom. Slowing as he came to the final set of steps, he took them with the clarity that he couldn’t call this place home anymore. He’d lost that right somewhere in the past week. He recognized the landmarks, he knew all the small details, but it’d lost its connective tissue.

Forcing his way through the cloud of nostalgia, he noted that even the sentries had vacated their posts. He still spotted no activity. Questions kept mounting and all his answers lay in wait inside the foundations of this foreign building.

With his heart giving him a beat to his anxiety, he crossed the open courtyard. The lights washed his face in yellow for moments at a time. He pressed his hand against the cool glass, tapped in his code and the door opened.

His shoes echoed against the tile, leaving him all the more alone in the abandoned lobby. He resisted the urge to call for anyone. The glass offices above stared down on him with a disapproving glare, as if to question why he’d come back, now of all times. He left the room with all due haste.

He followed the winding hallways, hoping that someone, anyone would walk out and reveal themselves. Hell, even Carrick at this point would be a welcome sight in this vacated portion of Na Creidmhigh.

Voices stopped him in his tracks. Fear shot into his joints, making them ache. He slowed, doing his best to eliminate any noise.

As he crept forward, he pinpointed their origin — the chamber leading to Keir’s elevator. He shook his head as if trying to clear his thoughts, but nothing made sense. He wondered if Carrick had gotten here before Urban, but even that didn’t explain the feeling he had.

The stench of liquor wafted past him.

Spinning on his heels, Raine flinched back at the sight of Dion. He tried to speak, but Dion held up a hand. “I couldn’t let you face them by yourself,” he said, creaking like a tree. His features, a rough bark of lines and worry, seemed carved out of an ancient oak.

Raine clapped the god on the back, relief flooding through him. “I’m glad you came.”

The voices leapt up in agitation, focusing Raine once more. He nodded, motioning for Dion to follow. Dion stopped him. “Are you sure about this? They can still kill you.”

“So can every man in the city.” He flashed a bitter smile. “If it’s gotta be someone, why not a god?”

Raine opened the door to Oki’s chamber.

 

Carrick sat, hunched over the desk, the gun waiting. He picked it up, testing it in the scabbed hand Theon had left him with. It felt odd at first, the weight lighter than he remembered, but after a few seconds of toying with it, it felt as good as new.

Now, he just had to wait for the signal.

Theon wanted him to kill a god, not Raine. He had to hold off for the moment. He had to kill a woman.

The water goddess.

He refused to speak her name. Even with all the relics of their former leader, he still hated Keir’s way, the disapproving glares, the way Carrick never quite measured up to the ideal. He had killed for the family, doing everything he could to put them before himself, but his lack of belief had been a dark stain. That didn’t stop people like Raine from moving past him. If Keir had only known—

Anger flushed his face.

“What’s taking so fucking long?” Carrick looked for a guard to take out his frustration on. None stood outside his door.

The pit of his stomach dropped as he stood, the gun in his hand, tapping against his pants with each step.

This is how Keir died.

The thought was there without beckoning and, now that he’d recognized it, it wouldn’t leave. His hand sweated as he approached the doors and placed a hot palm against the cool glass. He didn’t dare close his eyes. He had to be ready.

He pressed it open, slipping through a small gap. His footsteps echoed with each step he took toward the elevators, looking left and right into empty hallways.

Carrick slowed as the lights dimmed to almost nothing, their buzz increasing despite the darkness. A loud click broke through the silence then the power faltered, bathing him in the blue of Oki’s Veins.

Then they started to shift.

Carrick watched in awed silence as the world stained red.

He’d been given his signal.

Now to kill a god.

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Justin D. Herd

Justin D. Herd is a purveyor of the weird and strange. He occasionally squawks at friends and family, but does so only under the cover of night. Okay, that's not true. He squawks in full daylight. Drinking games have been built around his peculiarities, but the truth of it is this: he is a loving husband, with two wonderful dem--children. One growls at things he likes, including pretty women. The other has started to learn hand-eye coordination. Neither had made it to the tender age of three. From there, things will only get more interesting. He spends most of his writing time either at a coffee shop or sitting at one of his many desks around his house. Any other place makes it nearly impossible for him to write. He uses horror movies and rock music to help get the juices flowing. His favorite authors are Jeremy Robert Johnson, Alan Campbell, Terry Pratchett, Justin Cronin, and Patrick Rothfuss. He consumes most of his books through audiobooks, but still loves his personal library and getting lost in the printed word.