Advertisement
Remove

A note from Trollmore

Welcome back!  We got hit with some troll reviews over the weekend, so if you could take a moment to rate the serial or give it a review, that would be awesome of you.

We had a ship, but now we needed pilgrims, and Kives was apparently doing her best to block us there. Fine. She could try. Information supremacy isn’t everything.

As far as realspace is concerned, there are many possibilities, but only one future. There is exactly one chain of causality that will happen, that was always going to happen. The future is the final result of everything you do to change it.

Kives could spend an eternity developing the perfect strategy to counter us, but at the end of the day, we were on the ground and she wasn’t. No strategy is truly perfect, and in this case it was more expensive for her to pre-empt us than for us to react to her. For example: she could get the port blockaded. Mission accomplished, right? Except then we could go to another city. Or maybe we don’t—how long does Elsinat survive without trade? She could try to persuade the people who end up on the Friend of Heaven not to go on the ship, but why bother?

There’s only one future. If she knows who they are, it’s because she knows they made it onto the ship in spite of her efforts.

Let her do her worst.

*

After an evening of attempted pilgrim recruitment, I started wishing for an angel attack. But rather than, like, fight us, Kives had elected to be fucking annoying.

“All were warned against laying eyes on the Great Tree, for not all are worthy,” said Abby, whose presence was downright ethereal despite not having a cloak augment herself. “But the goddess has chosen only a few to witness its mysteries.”

“What must I do?” asked the mark.

“There is a ship at the wharf, which by the goddess’s favor will leave with the tide tomorrow,” said Abby. “There is scant time to search your heart, my child, but it must be destiny that we meet thus.”

“I don’t need any time,” said the mark, eyes shining. “How could I refuse—”

The door burst open. An Oathkeeper in jangling armor covered with strips of white cloth stepped through, followed by—seriously?

“She’s the one!” shouted master hairstylist Gemyrne, pointing straight at the back table where I was watching the con go down. “This thief was seen wearing my Seven Waves, and I certainly did not touch her filthy scalp.”

“What the fuck, Gemyrne!” I said. “How do you keep finding me? I don’t even look the same!”

The Oathkeeper stepped forward, making the ritual gesture of closure for the third time today. “In the name of Javei, I shall now reveal that which was hidden. The criminal fled from us by disappearing into the market, yet upon the sacred questioning of witnesses it was observed that a cloaked figure made her way along an alley. Guided by He Who Makes Plain, I investigated the local inns, until the suspect was before me.” She bowed her head. “Suspect, do you have a statement in your defense?”

“Yeah, sure,” I said. “Fuck you, Gemyrne! No one owns hair!” There was a collective gasp from around the room at my rebellion against fashion.

The Oathkeeper tilted her head. “Was that statement supposed to exonerate you in any way?”

“Exonerate this,” I said, and activated my cloak.

Lilith!” the commander hissed subvocally as the room erupted into chaos.

“I’m fine, I’m fine,” I said, excepting her from the cloak effect. I started walking for the exit. Gemyrne was screeching like the fucking Karen she was. “Meditations have been going great ever since you made Val babysit me. I’m not going overboard again.”

Be. Careful.”

“Yeah, yeah,” I said, ducking past Gemyrne as she gesticulated violently.

“On second thought, I think I might need more time to think about this,” said the mark.

“Let the goddess guide your path. Perhaps the message was truly meant for someone in your acquaintance,” Abby said serenely. “Shit. Lilith, we may need to keep you back so this stops happening.”

“For fucks’s sake, doesn’t she have a job?

The commander didn’t answer me. “Markus, Val, how’s it going?

I think we got two?” Markus said. “We were working on another group, but then one of them got engaged.

“Like, while you were talking to them?” I said.

Yeah, it was a surprise for everyone involved,” said Markus. “They look really cute together. We’re invited to the wedding, by the way.

“That’s such a fucking trap.”

We are not going to the wedding,” said the commander.

Figures,” said Markus. “You never take us anywhere nice.

“Goddess of legacies my ass,” I said. “Goddess of stupid-ass consequences, more like. Val, you’ve been quiet.”

He’s fuming,” said Markus.

And I quote,” Val said in clipped, precise tones, “‘I think the goddess is trying to tell me that what I truly need is to follow my heart.’”

You can’t make this shit up,” laughed Markus.

“This bitch needs to die,” I said.

At this rate, we’ll still have enough people to lean on Erid to make the trip anyway,” said the commander. “Keep circulating.

*

“Warden! The Great Mother bids you release any prisoners that wish to make pilgrimage to the Holy Tree!”

“No, she doesn’t,” said the warden, not looking up from her paperwork. “A priestess came in a half-thessim ago, said you’d be in here saying that.”

“Huh,” I said. “And you’re not arresting me or anything?”

“She said I wouldn’t catch you,” said the warden. “Bye now.”

“Fair enough,” I said, fading to invisibility.

*

... the sheer statistical improbability of it! They were on separate continents at one point! And she wouldn’t even have known she was abandoned if her estranged foster mother hadn’t also happened to have been in the room right at that moment!

Val, did you consider framing the pilgrimage as an opportunity for them to get to know each other?” asked the commander.

Obviously,” said Val. “But her birth mother, in an act of pious desperation, had just donated her last few drobol to the poor.”

“Okay, she’s just mocking us at this point,” I said.

*

“You!” shouted Gemyrne again.

“Are you freaking kidding me,” I said. “Hey Gemyrne, I bet you’re not important enough to have an invitation to the Great Tree pilgrimage!”

“Oathkeepers!” she shouted, ignoring me. “Oathkeepers! The hair thief is right here!”

You probably didn’t want that to work anyways,” said Markus.

“You can’t tell me you weren’t a little curious if it would,” I said.

Shouldn’t you be getting out of there?” prodded the commander.

“The way I see it,” I said, “if I stay near her, she can’t pop up unexpectedly somewhere else.”

Get out of there, Lilith.

“Yes’m.”

*

The sun was reaching its peak as Markus and I staggered to the Friend of Heaven. We were all at the end of our ropes. I was emotionally exhausted from looking over my shoulder all the time and kind of hazy from cloaking myself—not too much! I swear! It’s just draining, that’s all, I was totally fine. Val had stopped speaking to any of us except to deliver extremely to-the-point updates on his mission tasks. The commander’s patience was running thin, and even irrepressible Markus was less than chipper.

Friend of Heaven was just as much a piece of shit as last time I’d laid eyes on it, but now it was bustling with activity. Sailing was mostly a male profession here, like back home. Burly men wearing what looked like actual, honest-to-god shirts were hauling crates of supplies onto the ship, and some of our pilgrims were already milling about.

Val was around here somewhere with a sniper rifle and a moirascope. Go ahead, assface, send someone to call off the expedition. We were done fucking around.

I tried to summon the persona of Danou and mostly succeeded. I found myself subconsciously emulating Gemyrne at times, which pissed me off every time I noticed it happening. I was wearing her Seven Waves again as a general middle finger to, well, everything. At least she wasn’t going to be a problem this time. I’d tracked her down and pulsed her right before coming here. Like I said, we were done fucking around.

We probably weren’t getting our alternate revenue stream, either. Val and Abby had negotiated a bounty on the Sons of Horcutio, as our targets named themselves, but after the clusterfuck that this trip was becoming, it was doubtful we’d be able to show our faces again to collect it. Fucking Kives hadn’t even done anything to stop us from doing that, either, she’d just let us waste our time.

“You look like shit,” a voice interrupted my inner kvetching.

“Godsmile, captain,” I said without turning my head from the woman whose coin I was collecting. “I see your friend came through.”

My words don’t waste away over fine food,” said Erid, stumping around to my right and watching the preparations on her ship. She moved stiffly. I guessed hip issues; I had an aunt who walked like that. Her hair was bushy, and—shockingly for polite society—unstyled, dirty blonde curls bouncing off a deep blue sea cloak as she moved.

I forgot myself for a moment. “Yeah, well, they’re fuck-ugly words,” I said, drawing a disapproving stare from an elderly woman who was making her way toward the gantry.

Erid turned and gave me a smile, revealing several missing teeth. “I knew there was fire in you, girl. It’s why I took the job. Which reminds me, we’re due another quarrel.”

“Should have guessed,” I said.

“You promised a hundred pilgrims,” she said. “There’s eighty here. That’s not coming out of my cut.”

“Let’s not be so gauche as to negotiate in front of these faithful travellers,” I said.

Erid snorted. “Have your man handle the coin. Let’s talk in my cabin.”

It was a beautiful day. Gulls called above the hubbub of people, near, and far, shouting to each other or engaging in conversation. Waves rolled noisily under the docks. Above us, the sky was a bright blue, with fluffy, pristine clouds. I eyed them suspiciously. A gentle breeze blew the scent of salt and rotting fish inland.

Friend of Heaven was crowded now, pilgrims getting in the way of sailors preparing to catch the tide. I followed Erid belowdecks to a room that was much smaller than I’d been led to expect from a childhood of watching pirate movies with my brothers.

Once we were inside I drew my knife and slammed her against the wall. She was in good shape, but so was I, and I was a couple decades younger with the element of surprise.

“Alright, listen here, you pirate fuck,” I said, laying the blade against her throat. “I have had a day, do you understand?”

Erid laughed. I felt a sharp point against my stomach.

“We’ll both die, girl, but you’ll die slow,” she said, her missing teeth showing through her smile. “And you’re too soft to watch me bleed out.”

A vision of Arguel suddenly flashed in front of my eyes and I suppressed a flinch. Something changed in her expression; she’d seen.

“The thousand’s non-negotiable,” she said. “Pila won’t accept less.”

“Convince her,” I said, increasing the pressure on the knife.

“Not a chance in Horcutio’s fucking deeps, girl. My legs aren’t shit, but they’re the only ones I got.” The pressure on my stomach increased. “I’d rather take you out here than die a cripple.”

I made a face to concede the point. “Alright, then your stupid commission. We’re down to six hundred after Pila gets her cut. Five hundred’s ridiculous. We split it two ways, even.”

“Maybe I’ll just let you knife me. It’d be kinder than what the crew would do to me if I didn’t pay ‘em. Better prospects for revenge, too. Four hundred.”

“Dying slow just means I could get treatment. Katabades could find me.”

Erid grinned crookedly. “How much you want to bet he finds you before my crew? After clearly knifing their captain?”

“What makes you think I’ll be lying helplessly on the ground?” I said. “I’ll fucking stab everyone who comes in this room. Three hundred.”

“Deal,” said Erid. “But only because you remind me of myself when I was younger.” She pushed me off her, rubbing her throat. “Foolish girl. Anyone with sense tries not to get stabbed. Only an idiot draws a knife when there isn’t need of one.”

“This idiot’s a hundred drobol richer,” I said, fuming internally.

“My treat,” said the captain. “Take an old woman’s advice and spend it now, because you won’t last ‘til thirty.”

I didn’t have a response to that, so I left, biting back the anger. All around me, people were settling into place for a voyage of almost a month. Within the hour, the anchor was up and we left with the tide.

Ship is leaving the harbor,” said Val. “Last chance to abort. Moirascope readings confirm a violent encounter of some kind in the near future. Commander, I’ll circle back to rendezvous.

Acknowledged,” said Abby. “I am confirming no mission abort. Repeat, no mission abort at this time. Good luck, Lilith, Markus.

“They fall,” I said.

They die,” came the response.

The Friend of Heaven sailed off to its date with destiny.

Behind us, underneath the water, a dark shape followed.

Advertisement
A note from Trollmore

This was such a fun chapter to write. 

As you can see, we're sticking to the previous update time, as per the results of the poll.  Chapter 1.15 will post on Friday, which means you have until then to guess Val's plan.  You can make your guess here or over in the discord.  Come hang out and speculate with us!  Well, not us.  Them.  I already know what's going to happen.

Also, information that might be relevant for you: Beneath The Dragoneye Moons is moving to Kindle Unlimited on May 1st, and the RR chapters will be stubbed at that point.  If it's on your list, now's a good time to hit it while you can.


Support "Godslayers"

About the author

Trollmore

Bio: A psych nerd and philosophy shitposter who occasionally writes things.

Achievements
Comments(14)
Log in to comment
Log In

Log in to comment
Log In