Alioth Navi had always been a loyal servant of Vinaserat. But it was not until now that the full weight of service pressed and remade him into a true vassal. He was now fully invested in his work and to ensure that service was adequate, he was also invested by the monstrous spirits he served.
He had known the strange winds whipping through the old shuttle station were not from the storm. Or if they were, they showed an uncanny quality. When those winds tightened around his guts like an iron fist he decided not fight it. Anything power of that magnitude was worth submitting to, wasn’t it?
He blinked. His eyes burned as the spirits took hold. An odd clarity infused to his vision. A gruesome mission took shape in his thoughts. This helped him understand that the benefits to his new indwelling came with consequences. Like having to murder your best friend.
She was calling his name.
Alioth. Alioth! What happened? What is that wind?
Jinn did not realize the weight in that name was gone. It floated past Ali’s eyes and evaporated.
He turned toward the other of his new prey. The girl was staring hard at him, slowly realizing his intent was to hurt her. The same girl who had run to him for help, out of breath, yanking him down corridors to save Jinn Bellatrix. That had been an amusing event. For a man who had the job of slaughtering sacrifices, saving a life was a bit foreign. But as he worked to mend the knife wound he found his knowledge of organ location had served well to heal her.
Just as he must now serve Vinaserat by killing her. For some reason the time had come to slay an entire city’s populous. Who could say why. The gods were capricious. But it had come down to him, a simple gutter and slicer of sacrificial meat, to make one last investment to the savage moon of Vinaserat. One final sacrifice.
All this knowledge had entered him in one fell moment. The icy grip had peeled a hole into his deepest parts and a dark thing had poured itself in. It was like the scalding water used to scour the embalming tools of his trade.
The girl was screaming at Jinn now. She was tugging at her arm. She had figured out Alioth was no longer Alioth. But Jinn was not ready to believe this because of the emotion. The memories. Paladin and priest. An unlikely pair. But friendship is never built on likely statistics. It is forged in hot moments of circumstance and bonded in the power of need. The two had needed each other. They needed someone to help cope with the mind-breaking job of taking innocents and killing them on cold, hard tables.
But that, at least, was over now. This was the last killing he would have to do and he was glad of that. In the end he would turn the knife on himself. He would free them of the secret torment that took them in their beds each night.
So he grabbed Jinn with one hand and found his ceremonial curved blade with the other. Her eyes finally showed horror. She saw the monster inside him.
“This is for the best,” he said.
“Who are you? What have you done with Ali?”
“I am the storm of Vinaserat.”
“What do you want?”
“Times have changed. It is time to be on the move. I’m just so hungry, and I don’t know how much time is left. You understand.”
Her eyes widened. Fear gave her a burst of strength and she broke free.
The two women sprinted hard through the labyrinth of corridors. Jinn seemed to know where she was going so Joelle followed close. They heard Alioth calling after them. He was laughing, the sound carrying like a thousand voices. Then a new sound mingled with it. A sound like twisting, suffering steel.