Even the mightiest of old gods grow concerned with imminent danger. Where the disciples Cian and Cynthia saw an opportunity to celebrate the coming of their Lord, the Thunderer Taranis, the god saw a countdown ticking down to doom. His host was all but dead inside him, his mind scorched away by fear and the blinding lightning that scorched the woods all around them.
“We need to secure a host for the true Lord,” Taranis told them. Through the voice of his host, his power rumbled deep and brooding. Cian and Cynthia looked at him worryingly. “My brothers remain caught in the void, their voices muted against the veil that pulsated around this foreign land. I hear them as I hear the sea storm and the trees break against the oncoming tide of darkness, trapped and in need of your assistance.”
Cian stumbled forward, the black robe that was his favoured clothing for the sacrificial rite of his Lord now torn and muddied and soaked with rain. “But, you are our Lord. You and you alone.” The Thunderer glared at him with a ferocity that hadn’t been witnessed in centuries. Cian stood his ground. “I am here only to serve you.”
The only other remaining disciple of the god, Cynthia, stepped away from Cian. “His wish is to save his brothers. That’s how we serve him.” She turned her eyes to Taranis. “Do you know where to find the next sacrifice, my Lord?” She placed a hand on his bare chest. Sparks danced along his skin, partly the aftermath of his thunderous arrival, partly a demonstration of his unchecked power.
He lifted her hand away gently. “There will be time for flirtations, my child, but it is not now. Not while the darkness hovers on the horizon.” He breathed in the air deeply. “There is a feeding station nearby. My brother’s sacrifice is there.” He led his mismatched disciples through the woods and the rain.
What Taranis called a feeding station was in fact a garage. It sat within a small town that seemed to materialise out of nowhere as they walked. The god smirked as Cian and Cynthia looked back to an open field. “Where are the cars?” Cian asked.
“Where you left them,” the god replied. “But we are nowhere near them, now. We have passed along the width of the storm.” He raised a hand and pointed to a man refilling his car. “There. His name is Dermot. You will grab him.”
Cian rid himself of his robe, wearing his regular clothing underneath, and together with Cynthia they marched on Dermot. “Please, we need help,” Cynthia announced as they drew closer. She sobbed against the rain, earning a sympathetic frown from Dermot. “Our car, it broke down a few miles from here. We’ve been walking in the rain this whole time. Our phones are dead.”
Dermot approached them, getting just close enough that it became too late for him to escape when Cian pounced. “Jesus Christ,” the man screamed. He punched Cian roughly, but the disciple’s determination held still. Cynthia was less fortunate.
“Get off my husband,” a woman screamed. She tackled Cynthia to the ground. “You picked the wrong man to mess with,” she sneered. Cynthia scratched the woman’s face and tumbled her over. The woman’s jacket opened in the struggle.
“You’re a Garda,” Cynthia gasped. “You have to understand. This is for the greater good.”
Dermot finally escaped Cian’s grasp, shoving him to the ground. “Jessica, run for God’s sake,” he cried. He tried to walk, only to find his ankle trapped by the clawing hands of his attacker. Cian yanked at him, dragging him to the ground.
“I can’t leave you here,” Jessica shouted. She received a brutal punch in the face for her words, and a cut from a stray ring. The rain washed the blood to the road with a cold sting.
Finally seeing his opportunity, Taranis entered the fray. He grabbed Dermot’s jacket roughly with one hand, close to the base of his spine, and heaved him into the air. “I always forget how weak humans can be,” he sniped, stepping over Cian. “Grab your ceremonial garment. It has a more appropriate use.” He fashioned Cian’s robe into a noose, wrapping it around Dermot’s neck while his wife watched on helplessly.
The bundles rope that was Cian’s robe stretched into the air as if pulled by a giant, lifting Dermot off his feet. Taranis recalled the efficiency with knots that his disciples had previously displayed in the binding of his host. Cian hadn’t let him down, in the end.
The man’s wife screamed as the life left him, his last breaths failing, catching in his tightened throat. For a few minutes he hung there, to the small audience. Cynthia climbed to her feet, leaving Jessica sobbing on the road.
“Is it done?” Cian asked. Taranis frowned. “What went wrong?”
The Garda staggered upright. “You killed my husband,” she exclaimed. “He was the only person I loved, and you killed him.” She rushed at Cynthia, stopping only when Dermot’s body began to emit a soft light. With an explosive force that knocked the rain from the sky, the light erupted, crashing into Jessica with the weight of a truck.
She was thrown off balance, but caught herself with impossible poise before falling. Dermot’s body collapsed to the ground as a smile grew on Jessica’s face. She ignored him, looking to Taranis. “My brother, you did well.”
Taranis dropped to his knee. “Esus. I was worried I had failed.”
“This is your brother?” Cynthia said with a laugh. “He’s in a woman’s body.”
Esus glared at the woman. “The gender of my vessel means nothing,” she stated plainly. “But mockery. Violence against the true vessel. Those are things that matter dearly to me. I am the Lord. I am the Ruler of the Three.” She stood nose to nose against Cynthia. “We can do without it,” she added,” grabbing the disciple’s neck and twisted roughly in one quick movement.
The Thunderer sighed, the sky rumbling. “I wish you hadn’t killed her,” he groaned.
The Lord shrugged. “It is of no consequence. We have another.” Cian gulped and shrivelled up behind Taranis. “The hour draws near, brother. We need to move on from here. We need to find Teatates, before it is too late.”