I grit my jaw and marched on. 'This isn't the time.'

'It's not. It's a terrible time. But I have to know what I'm seeing, don't I?'

'I don't know what you're talking about.'

'You don't,' he said. He waved a hand behind us. 'But they know. They can feel it.'

I stopped walking, and the Amonite walked past me a couple steps before coming back. He was still smirking.

'Let's get something straight,' I said. 'I've got a hell of a lot on my mind. We have two gods, and they're both dangerous. My Cult is the last unspoiled Cult in the city of Ash, the last holy house in the divinity of man. And my god is dead. I don't have time for games, old man.'

'No,' he said, quietly. 'You don't.'

'I've already threatened one divine being today, Amonite. I'm on my way to maybe kill another, or maybe forgive him his life. I haven't decided. So do you have anything else you'd like to say, or can I be about the Warrior's business?'

'Of course.' He bowed and held his hands out, palms to the sky. 'Do what you must. Do what you were raised to do.'

I grimaced at the formality of his pose, glared at the crowd behind me, then stomped off. The crowd followed, flowing around the old man like a river. When I turned the next corner I looked back. He was still there, unmoved.

Alexander had his own crowd. Mostly whiteshirts, from initiate Healers to patrolmen to Electors and ArchPaladins in full battle gear. A scarred valkyn lurked at the edge of the crowd, its glimmering eyes watching me, hissing steam from its neck. They were quiet as I approached. Past a certain point my followers held back. Some unconscious calculation of blast radius, I suspected.

I walked with intent, and without forgiveness. They parted silently to let me pass, closing up behind me, patrolmen and priests looking at me with eyes that ran from disbelief, to horror, to hate, to fear. Most of them looked lost, and furious at their loss. Near the inner edge of the crowd I passed Owen. He nodded to me, and I put a hand on his arm and squeezed. He looked shocked.

Near the center there was chanting. Arcs of light danced over the crowd. When I got there, I saw five High Healers standing around Alexander, hands joined, chanting the rites of fulfillment. I clambered down into the crater, so much like Amon's landing spot, and put my hand on the shoulder of the closest priest.

'What he has can't be cut away, Doc.'

He stumbled in the invokation, and the arcs of light fell away. Murmurs rippled through the crowd, but the Healers split and faded back. Alexander was alive, awake, sitting up. When he saw me he winced and struggled to stand. The Betrayer's mask was nowhere to be seen.

'You would have a word with me, I suppose,' he said. His voice was cracked and weak. I nodded. 'Then have it. I have a city to rebuild.'

'I want it from your mouth,' I said, and shocked myself with the cold anger in my tone. 'I want it in your words.'

'Who are you, to demand-'

'Who are we, to demand. The city. The generations of Amonites who have suffered, the legions of Morgan you have thrown into battle. These, here, who have sworn words to your name, and knew not to whom they were swearing. Who are we? Your Brothers Immortal, Amon, Morgan. We demand it, Alexander.' I raised my arms and turned to the silent crowd. I saw some who had followed me filtering in. 'In your words. From your mouth.'

He set his jaw and clenched his fists. Back stiff. Head high.

'I don't know what-'

Blade in hand without thought, metal against the softness of his neck, heavy against his blood. The skin parted and wet the steel.

'How many, just today? How many have died? I have emptied the Ruin with my own hand. You can feel it, feel the loss of power. The divinity has been spread, Alexander. There will be new gods. The sky will turn, and maybe it will fall to the Rethari, or maybe we will hold on. We can't lose a single divine body, not with things so delicate, but I swear to…' I stopped, trembling with sick rage. 'I swear in my own name, if you breathe one more lie to me today, on this day, in this city you have ruined, among these bodies, I swear I will end you, Alexander. I will spill your holy godblood across these stones without a second thought.'

Long breaths without movement, his eyes burning cold and bright. Eventually, he nodded.

'I, Alexander, Brother of Morgan and Amon, godking of all Ash, last of the Brothers Immortal… I killed my older brother, and cast the guilt on my younger. I am the Betrayer. But only for the good of-'

I pulled the sword away, slicing lightly through his flesh. Enough to sting. He gasped, then I wrapped my fist around the pommel and punched. Holy teeth and a divine nose crumpled.

'That's enough,' I said as he fell to the cobbles. I flicked the blood from my sword, sheathed it, and turned to leave.

No one got in my way.

* * *

I gathered the bodies myself. Cut each one down, carried it, and laid it to rest in the charred ruins of the Chamber of the Fist. Tomas, Isabel, and Simeon. Stories were being told of the walking Barnabas, seen leaving the city shortly before the cataclysm of divinity. I swore to find him later, and offer him the quiet of the grave. The Strength was a ruin, but the stone still stood. The high halls were smoldering. It would be days before I could walk them, and gather the rest of my brothers. And then I would stand their watches, and lay them away in the Last Rest. Fire hadn't touched those cold stone walls under the monastery.

A crowd gathered around the plaza. None getting too close, but none going away, either. They watched me as I performed the duties that were my burden. When it was done, I sat in the nave and cleaned my revolver and my sword, clearing a space in the ash to lay out the rituals.

I went to the door and looked out at the sea of faces, burned robes, charred faces, and bewildered eyes. Behind them the city smoked in its ruin. The impellors were silent, burst in the might of their divine siren. I stood in the doorway of the Strength of Morgan, and they waited for me. They would continue to wait.

I turned away, closing the mighty doors of the Strength behind me. I had a church to clean, and then a city, and then a godhood. There was ash in our blood, ash deep in our flesh, a history of tragedy and betrayal that could not be denied, but that we could not discard. It was our history; they were our gods. A divinity of ashes and death, and we would have to burn them clean. The Warrior stands.

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