Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful

Chapter Fifty

Another of her veins withered.

Oki suppressed a scream, fighting the urge to lash out, to struggle against some hidden enemy. Helpless, she surged into the center of her old temple.

At first, the glass layer held her back, distorting her vision of the veins that stretched to the top of the cylindrical chamber. She screamed, pressing against it, and it gave, forming against her body.

She closed her eyes, saw her ascent from a thousand angles as the film covered her. A crack appeared along her face as she craned her neck, searching the room, then another when she moved her arm. Finally the glass burst, pelting the ground, but the water held its place, dancing around her like a dress made of silk. Her vision returned to its seat behind her eyes. She rubbed the bridge of her nose, pain slipping in as she regained some modicum of control.

In the low light of the chamber, she stared at the familiar veins, all swooping and swollen with water. They stood as her eyes, a part of herself to lend out to the world. Framed by the light pouring from them, she let out a breath as a sense of ease spread.

Her eyes flashed and a pulse left her, a beacon for the other gods.

The spiraling lanes of water slowed as if pausing to admire her. She broke from the pedestal, glass slicing into the soles of her feet. Blood swirled into the open fount, but disappeared as the wisps fell victim to the strong currents.

“That’s a fine dress.”

Oki turned into the words, her whole body shifting toward the intruder. Her body relaxed with recognition.

Bathed in the blue light of the chamber, Liam draped his arms over the back of a pew. His burning red hair settled in messy curls. Without a book in his hand, he looked miserable. “Surprised? It’s not hard to figure out where you’re going to show up. I just happened to arrive early.”

“How enterprising of you Liam.”

He shrugged with his hands, lines of a smile forming around his mouth. “You haven’t been here for a long time. Why the sudden interest?”

“I would hate to ruin the surprise.”

“So dramatic.”

Oki turned from the other god, inspecting the inner chamber. “At least they’ve maintained the place.”

“Sure, as long as you stay in this room.” Liam smirked, making him seem arrogant and impish. “Take a step out and you’ll find the lines aren’t for you, they’re for Family. Na Creidmhigh has replaced you, I’m afraid to say. Do you think they’ve realized the Okitsugu River is named after you?”

“Not likely,” she whispered. A current of agitation flickered through her. The shattered vein she left behind bubbled, seeping out as she lost her control over it.

Liam’s gaze flicked over to her display of irritation. His features softened and he sighed. “Ignore me, losing mine still stings.”

“I understand.”

“How long before the others show?”

“They will be here soon.”

“Great.” Slumping back in the pew, he reached for a book, found none there. The silence stretched between them. “This should be fun.”


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.