The Skybound Sea

Page 58

Still, I must urge you to look at this as a gain for us. Ulbecetonth is dead. This is certain. And her brood and consort and prophet followed her back into hell. I can sense no more of her taint in this world. It is of little consequence that Sheraptus’s hand was not the one that struck the final blow, as was intended.

It may even be to our boon that it was not. I know you were originally skeptical of my decision to send adventurers as insurance should Sheraptus fail—and for this, I will expect more deliberate thought given to my ideas in the future—but I presume you take no issue with the results of their handiwork, admittedly sloppy.

Regardless, the item is once again in my possession. I make for Cier’Djaal at once and shall rejoin you in ample time.

I anticipate the guise may have to be left behind, unfortunately. While Toha is far enough removed from civil society that the nation of the House of the Vanquishing Trinity is easy enough to believe, it will be harder to masquerade as a Lord Emissary of a nonexistent organization in a more populous area.

You will have questions, undoubtedly. I will provide answers. With one more obstacle removed, our goals are that much closer. I can speak only for myself, as I ever do, but I view any loss as acceptable so long as it brings us closer to our goal of awakening these mortals to the reality of their situation and the blindness of their gods.



When he was done, Miron set aside his quill and inkwell. He neatly folded his letter into thirds and placed it in an envelope. He dripped a bit of wax upon it and let it dry before holding it to his lips and muttering something in the old words from the old speakers.

And then he turned to his window.

The creature perched there looked at him without eyes. A woman’s face, gentle and curved, rested on her hands. Behind her, a bulbous abdomen quivered beneath a pair of moth wings. Those wings rose, the eye spots upon them blinked. She spoke through teeth contorted into a permanent smile.

“It goes?”

“It goes,” Miron replied, handing the letter to the creature. “Far away and you know where.”

“I cannot forget. Ever.” Its eyes drifted to the book, the flat black square upon the table. “This goes?”

“This stays. You go.”

“I go.”

And with that, the creature took the envelope and fluttered away into the night. Miron did not bother to watch it go. He had watched it go many times and always had it found its way. The Laments had their way of going unnoticed.

That was no worry for him, either. He had more pressing concerns.

The book. The tome. The key to everything. Despite everything else he had ever spoken of, he had been earnest when he said he doubted the adventurers. Even knowing Lenk to be what he was, he had doubted the man’s ability to deliver.

Maybe it had been that inside him that had delivered it. Maybe it was something else, something mortal.

Little problems for little men.

He had a vision.

And now, he had the means to realize it. He slid his hands over the tome. The change came almost instinctually, reaching out to the words in the book as they reached out to him. His skin slid off of his hands, his fingers suddenly too large for it. Gray flesh shone stark like stone in the firelight. He felt his lips peel over themselves, his teeth too large for his mouth.

He felt his hands tighten around the book as it whispered to him. As it told him all the great things he may accomplish, all that he was doing was good.

It spoke to him.

And Azhu-Mahl answered.

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