The Last Lantern

Chapter 15 - Meeting A God

@copyright Jean G Hontz 2009

"So," he said, putting his feet up against the fire.  They'd retreated to the 'best' room in the inn. It had a nice fireplace, two feather beds, and a seating area.

The fellow, man, er, god, groaned as he sank back into the best chair in the room. Vaal was feeding the fire for them and Phillip was charged with spicing the hot wine. Phillip, however, was so profoundly shocked he wasn't certain he could manage the wine his hand was shaking so much.

"Here, let me," the Heretic said, taking the implements from Phillip. "Don't look so terrified, son. I won't poison you."

"He's never seen a living god, Bastard. Don't tease him too badly," Vaal commented looking around to judge just what sort of state young Phillip was in.

Phillip, if anything, was beyond speech at that point. The Bastard laughed out loud. "Now you've truly shocked him, Vaal. You called me a Bastard to my face."

"You are a Bastard, sending us out in this filthy weather," Vaal retorted.

"Think of it as a test of faith," the Heretic suggested.

Vaal snorted.

What he'd seen in the public area, the Blessings, had been shocking enough for Phillip, but this... a god sitting, warming his feet on the fender and handing him a mug of hot spiced if he were merely a man.

"Didn't you tell the boy anything?" the Heretic asked Vaal. "What do I pay you for?  Aren't you supposed to be spreading my word, or something?"

"Oh, you do that quite well all by yourself. Tell us where Molly is and whether or not she's all right," Vaal suggested, sinking down into a chair and putting his own feet up on the fender next to his god's.

The god's face went blank for a moment and his eyes focused somewhere very much else. After perhaps 30 seconds he replied. "She's tucked up quite snugly.  She's not happy, true. And she thinks she's in danger, although I've told her several times she's quite safe."

"You talked to her?" Phillip asked, his mouth, perhaps not surprisingly, dropping open.

"Yes. She seems to think she's imagining my voice in her head. It's really  quite annoying to be ignored."

Vaal burst out laughing. 

The god frowned at him.  "You're setting a bad example for the boy. He thinks you should treat me with due dignity. Not laugh at me." The god looked over at Phillip. "You see what I have to put up with?  The bloody Black Brothers are ungovernable, I swear. I should fire them all.  This is what comes of familiarity.  None of the Father's or the Mother's Priests treat them the way the brothers treat me."

"You'd hate it if we did. How many times have you whined about the clergy. Its formality and false piety, its self-delusion, its ignorance of the world around it."

"True, damn you, Vaal," the god conceded, sipping thoughtfully on his wine.

The fire crackled the only noise in the companionable silence.

"So, if you know she's safe," Phillip finally ventured, wondering if he would be turned into kindling, "Molly, I mean, why are we following her?"

"Oh, it isn't that we're worried about Donal and Emily or their crew hurting her. It's.. Well, everyone expected Vaal here to escort her out of King's Cross. This way anyone who might have been planning an ambush was thwarted." The god looked over at his priest. "They've taken shelter at a cabin - the family is sympathetic to the cause. Have you heard anyone remarking on Donal's party or Molly since you arrived??

"No, which is somewhat reassuring. If pursuers are here already, they're keeping a low profile too,"  Vaal replied.

"And they'll follow us, thinking we might know where they're taking Molly?" Phillip asked.

"It's possible," Vaal admitted. "I warned you this would be dangerous.  They may well assume the Bastard here let me know where she is. As, of course, he has. Therefore they may attack us on the road to try to get that information from us."

Phillip nodded, staring down at his wine. "I've never really... I mean, I've never had to use my sword beyond ..."

"With lucky you won't have to use it now. Of course, I could leave you here," Vaal suggested. "You could travel back with the next Courier to come through."

Phillip looked up. "Please don't send me back."  He wasn't sure if he should be pleading with the god or with the man.

Vaal and the Heretic exchanged a look. Phillip felt his hopes go south to his toes.

"Your father and Lord Rosslyn won't thank me if I bring your body back to them to bury," Vaal replied.

"But at least I'll have helped to keep Molly safe," Phillip replied stubbornly.

"All right then. So be it," Vaal conceded.  The god raised an eyebrow. "Be careful, young Phillip. You might find yourself wearing the Black some day."

Phillip as he settled into his bed later once the god was gone, thought, as he began to fall asleep, that wearing the Black might not be all that bad a vocation.


Home    |  Next Chapter