Shokkol regarded the corpse of his former comrade a bit wearily. “Now that Kiriad is dead, authority devolves on you, Mistress. What would you have us do?” he asked.
Daine threw her long braid over her shoulder. She, too, stared at Kiriad’s body, thinking. “We return home for further orders. Perhaps the circle will wish to have Kiriad resurrected so that he may complete his tasks.”
“So we will not pursue the thieves?” Yatmir asked, startled.
“Not yet. He never told us what he wanted that mask for, and getting further involved in this matter could compromise whatever plans he had. I will pray and seek advice from the Lord of Fire on this matter.”
“And what will we do if he tells us to go after the mask?” Peligres asked.
“Obey, of course,” Daine spat. “The will of the God takes precedence over the will of the wizards. Never forget that.”
“In your eyes, perhaps,” Peligres persisted, “but I doubt that they will see it that way. I have no wish to make enemies if it can be avoided. Surely there is no need to return home in order to raise Kiriad. We have defeated a great foe this day, surely your god will look upon you with favor.”
“Do you think that you can bribe the Lord? We do his bidding, not the other way around,” Daine snapped.
“Then perhaps we can find another that can perform the deed.”
“Seek help from members of another faith, you mean?” Shokkol demanded. “You go too far, Peligres. We will not sully ourselves with such.”
“Bah,” Peligres spat. “God-ridden fools.”
Daine grabbed his throat and lifted him off his feet with one hand, slamming him forcefully against a building. “Am I the fool, Peligres? Or is it you who fail to understand who has the true power in these realms?”
“The age of gods ruling the fate of mortals will not last forever. You would be wise to align yourself with the new powers before you are crushed. Remember that,” Peligres croaked.
Daine spat in his face. “Get ye gone, blasphemer! Before I feed your corpse to the flames.” She hurled Peligres to the street, where he struggled to his feet.
“I’ll go. But I’ll not be gone for long,” he snapped, and fled. Yatmir watched him go, the monk’s eyes full of concern.
“Will you follow him?” Daine demanded.
“No, of course not,” Yatmir replied. “Yet there was something to what he said, nonetheless. Have you not sensed it?”
“The gods are . . . uneasy,” Shokkol said quietly. It was a hard thing to say, like doubting the stability of the pillars of the world.
“Nonsense.” Daine said.
“No, they are, Daine, whether you would believe it or not. Look at the city. Do you think the gods wish this? That they brought it about?”
“The gods have always striven, one against another,” Daine said.
“Yes,” Shokkol replied patiently. “But do you see the hand of any god in this? Do you feel it? Sythillis obliterated Yoag with hardly a thought, and do you see the followers of Bane leading the battle to avenge their fallen? I have only seen one, that ‘prophet’ of Magsaid’s.”
“Bane is a weak god, he has few followers,” Daine said, but her certainty was wavering. “I must pray. I must seek the Lord’s council.”
“Let us all pray.” The three Thayvians bowed their heads.
“Lord,” Daine intoned, “we stand at a crossroads. We have failed to achieve Kiriad’s objective, but we are uncertain how to proceed. Is it your will that we pursue the thieves and retrieve the mask Kiriad desired, or should we return to Thay and seek council with the wizards?”
A long moment passed in silence while they waited faithfully for the words of the god. Slowly, a sense of terrible perplexity filled them.
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- In Color
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