Of Gods and Madness: The Faithful

Chapter Eighty-Six

Sandhyanen would not be rebuilt.

At least, not in any recognizable form.

Urban stood at the edge of the broken glass, staring at the hollowed-out tower jutting from the harbor. The wind let out a mighty gust, spraying him with bits of rain. He almost wished he was out on the seas right now, but he’d chosen to stay.

Na Creidmhigh needed him.

For the past few weeks, the storms had not stopped. At this point, he wasn’t sure if they ever would. Many of the lower sections had flooded, most of the city lost. Add to that, the lost children, all ink had been erased, and all — and he did mean all — paths out of the city had been turned inside out; Sandhyanen had become a pariah. Even the government hadn’t opted to send assistance.

Carrick was still at large. He’d received all sorts of conflicting reports, that there was a monster stalking the streets, that Carrick had been transformed and gone insane. While he believed the latter part of the story, he wasn’t one to give into fancy. All the odd events could be rationally explained, though he hadn’t spent the time trying to the explain the erratic weather. Despite the wild reports, he would find the truth at the heart of it and discover where that bastard was hiding.

Even if it took shredding what little remained of his humanity to do it.

“Urban!” a man shouted, arm raised in greeting.

He drank in the shattered temple, then turned down the hall. He approached the man, hands slipping into his pockets. “Sern, I told you, call me sir.” He ran his tongue along his incisors.

“Yes, sir.” Sern said, his voice hushed. “Follow me.”

He walked down the familiar steps, peering down empty halls. They’d done well in ridding the building of all the corpses, but he still found himself dreading each corner — that another one of those things would pounce and it’d be all over for him. The dark oak had warped, stained with constant rain. Sern led the way with his head bowed, deftly skirting the destroyed passages. In such a short time, he’d found the swiftest ways to any part of the headquarters.

They stopped. Sern turned on his heel, standing beside a door. “They’re here.”

Urban patted Sern’s arm. “You can go. It won’t take long.”

“If it’s all right with you, sir. I’d like to stay.”

Urban shook his head. He didn’t smile. “You know my position on this. They shouldn’t be remembered. And I need to know where Carrick is.”

Sern nodded, his gaze scraping the floor.

Urban pushed the door open to five pleading faces. He turned to Sern once more, closed the door with a firm click.

 

Cale couldn’t be sure the Stalker, Theon the Trickster, was dead. He’d felt the body crumple, was awash in the blood of his target, but . . .

He’d seen Raine return from the dead. He’d seen a man tear himself apart to become — well, he still wasn’t sure what that creature was. In the weeks since, he’d used his admittedly sparse resources to track each of the gods, going back decades even. They never really changed their names, maybe using different variations of their names. He was even to able to trace Sandhyanen’s city planner back to Oki: Pelageva Feoktista . . . the weaver of the gods.

He’d thought about going to Gurnam with his evidence, but he doubted the obsessed man would believe him. It was hard to believe. The gods still lived and were walking amongst us.

And Keir Cuilthinn’s little prodigy had joined them.

Cale let out a sigh as he hunkered on the remnants of the warehouse district. It would be months, perhaps even years for Sandhyanen to get back to where it was before this . . . disaster. Already, Na Creidmhigh was operational and had taken a darker bent. The rains had not abated and he wasn’t sure if they ever would. He hadn’t reported back to the Officers and, he suspected, he would not be missed. He flexed the fingers in his scarred arm, now rife with little marks from all the glass he’d pulled out haphazardly, and thought of Terach.

Maybe one day he’d be able to leave this city, but, for the time being, he’d keep a vigilant eye on its restructuring. He wasn’t sure if he’d ever get an answer as to whether or not Theon had survived their encounter.

Until he did though, Sandhyanen was his home.

 

Once the screams finally stopped, Urban stepped out of the chaos of the room, not caring enough to hide his blood-soaked sleeves. He left Sern without a word. He walked past the abandoned halls, haunted by the steady thrum of rain, took the elevator to Keir’s old office. Blood stained the glass doors, the carpet, the old volumes.

Alone with his thoughts, Urban mourned his friends.

 

Water.

When Theon opened his eyes, he heard rushing waves.

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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.