The area around the southern gate of the city of Reis was a riot of sound and activity. People moved through the gates, into and out of the city. Oxen lowed. Horses whinnied. Merchants hawked wares and beggars cried for alms. In the shade of the city wall, two women stood away from the bustle and noise, near a horse, saddled and packed with gear. One was a tall, lean human with red hair. The other was shorter, stockier, with the dusky complexion and horns of a tiefling. Their conversation went unnoticed by nearly all, drowned out by the cacophony of city life.
Amne Isa Zara checked over her saddlebags one last time, then turned to her unlikely ally.
“I cannot say it was a pleasure, but I’m proud of what the two of us accomplished.”
Suisan Kinnon nodded in reply. Her expression much more sober than usual.
“Now I leave to report success to my superiors, to let them know the murderer is dead and will trouble us no more.”
“No plans to take me in anyway?”
“No, Suisan Kinnon.”
“Why not? I may not have been the murderer, but I’ve certainly done enough to raise your ire. I might even be looking forward to testing my mettle against you.” Her voice was teasing, but her face remained impassive, no hint of humor on it. Zara, however, smiled.
“No. You are at a crossroads, and I’ve deemed it wise to let you choose your own direction. It would hardly be a fair fight, anyway, with Khayne having stripped you of your powers.”
Suisan’s mouth dropped open. Oh, I will savor this, Zara thought. This moment, and the look on her face, will sustain me for a long time. Suisan recovered from her surprise enough to speak, but Zara interrupted before she could say anything.
“Don’t try to deny it. You were an antipaladin of Khayne. Able to inflict terrible wounds with a touch, to strike fear into the hearts of the bravest warriors, to call down Khayne’s dark blessing and bind it to your sword, turning it into a weapon of deadly power. Yet not once did you call on any of these powers during our task. The vampire, the Khaynite, named you “forsaken.” He meant that Khayne has forsaken you. You have fallen from his favor.”
Suisan finally recovered enough to put on a smirk.
“One word from a vampire helped you put all that together?”
“No. It was when you used my holy symbol to hold the creature at bay. That only works when the one holding the symbol has faith in it.” Suisan jerked as if struck, but said nothing. “You have put your faith in Makash, for whatever reason, and jealous Khayne has denied you.” There was a long pause before Suisan replied.
“I want to have a child. I’ve been trying. Khayne is a destroyer, so prayers to him would do no good, but…”
“Prayers to the Green Mother, whose blessings bring offspring, would,” Zara finished for her. Suisan nodded.
“For all the good it has done. Khayne has forsaken me, and Makash doesn’t listen.”
Zara mounted her horse, turning it towards the line of people exiting the gate, before turning back to look at Suisan.
“You called me an idiot once for not understanding Khayne’s religion. I could say the same for you. Makash is the protector of mothers. Her symbol protected you from the vampire. You and your child. You’re at a crossroads, Suisan Kinnon. Choose your path wisely, for the Green Mother watches. Farewell.”
At that, the cleric nudged her horse towards the outward flow of traffic. Suisan watched her go, a faint hint of the wolfish grin coming to her face as her hand strayed to touch her belly.
— End —