Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful

Chapter Forty-Seven

A flash of eyes greeted the two men.

It had been far too long since Theon had seen Dawber as a skinny twerp, but if he’d had any misgivings, that display of power would’ve set his mind at ease. Whenever a god encountered another of their kind, their eyes would catch the light, appearing to flash. It was a small thing, but something they all had in common.

“Dawber.”

“Theon.”

“Nice body you got there.” Theon motioned to one of the many fresh cuts that crisscrossed his exposed arms and face. While none of them were outright bleeding, many had begun to scab over. The one that stretched from his forehead to his jaw looked particularly fierce.

“It’ll work,” he said. The deep timbre from his old body slipped through, a bare whisper in the furthest reaches of his voice. Yet another indicator of the monster he had been before his recent death.

“Pity about that fight.”

“Fucking kid.” Dawber grimaced. “Cheap shot.” A smile crept over his face. “I’ll get him though. Already on my way up.”

“I’m sure you will.”

“It’s nice to get caught up and all that bullshit, but what’d you need?”

“Can’t I come by to see a friend get slaughtered?”

Dawber, his chopped face turning terse, considered Theon. “We’ve never been friends. Not by my histories at least.”

Theon shook his head, removing a strand of hair from his face and placing it behind his ear. “Unfortunately, I’m in need of your unique services.” He rubbed the moisture between his fingers with disgust.

“What’s the score?”

“There’s a fresh one coming along.”

“Have you got to him yet?”

“No. I tried to approach him, but he turned me down.”

Dawber laughed, his whole body shaking with the burst. “I would’ve loved to be there to see your face.”

“I did get a bit impatient, but I thought better of it and let him be. That’s when I came to see you.”

“Then where is he?”

“He’s with him.”

Dawber nodded, face sullen. He picked at a scabbed over wound. “What’re we going to do?”

“I don’t know. Things have spun out of control.”

“What’ve you got up your sleeve? I can’t imagine the Trickster would be completely without a plan.” He smiled, an odd display of ill-fitting teeth. “However loose it might be.”

“I suppose we need to enlist the aid of the other gods, as much as I hate to say it. Someone has to know where Pryor is.” Theon’s smile pressed at the edge of his lips. He tried to contain it but Dawber knew him all too well. He breathed, “Journey.”

“She’ll never come to town.”

“She will be now. Everyone else is coming here. Can’t you feel them?”

“I don’t care much to know where the others are,” Dawber admitted.

“Then believe me when I tell you, they’re all here. Even Oki visited me during that storm.”

Dawber stared, shaking his head. “You’ve been courting an unlucky streak.” His cruel smile appeared. “You been chasing her temple?”

Theon didn’t reply.

Dawber laughed, a throaty, sinister eruption that filled the square. People turned and looked at them, but Dawber didn’t appear to notice. “You haven’t changed a bit. Can’t believe you’re going after the old bitch’s house.” He fell silent, his eyes narrowed, focused. “If she knew, you’d be dining with the outcast tonight. Why’d she come to you?”

“I’m the one who made him.”

Dawber let that one sit in the air between them. It was in that instant that he seemed to become aware of how exposed they were. He motioned for Theon to follow. As they began walking, he said in a much lower, more conspiratorial voice, “How’d you do that?”

“Wish I knew,” Theon said in his normal voice. He didn’t much care if the mortals around them were paying attention. “I combined a few bits of arcane texts, along with a book I found in an abandoned temple. You know, that sort of thing.” He shrugged it off as if it were nothing. “In the end, the boy did most of the work himself.”

“Boy? Did you make another fucking Kanya?”

Theon rolled his eyes, head vacillating back and forth. “No. He’s in his twenties. But might as well be a child. I’ll try to keep myself all accurate and proper for you, Old Warrior.”

“Just want to make sure,” Dawber said, holding up his hands. “At least that makes some more sense. All Kanya is good for is playing in the mud while everyone else deals with the real problems.”

“I’m glad you have such a high opinion of me.”

Dawber sneered. “That is the least you have to worry about. How are you going to bring this up at the meeting?”

Theon shrugged. “Speaking of which, do you want to start heading that way?”

“We don’t know where she’s going to have it. At least, I haven’t felt anything.”

“Don’t we?” Theon pointed to her old temple in the distance. “What do you want to bet?”

“Fine. But I want to have a little more fun on the way.”

Theon looked over the Warrior god. “It should be an interesting trip across the city if nothing else.”

“The Trickster and the Warrior on a romp through their old city? What could go wrong?”

“Well, I’ve already stirred up more than a little trouble at the docks.”

“What’ve you been up to, Theon?” Dawber asked, the levity in his voice dying.

Theon smiled. “Let’s just say the city’s old Stalker has come back to play.”

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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.