Pathfinder: Circumscribing the Locust Part VI

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here besides the news of holy war and holy need ours is just a little sorrowed talk  -Duran Duren, Ordinary World

sat around the table,  deputy Augham and sheriff Shavas with hands
clasped and eyes on the paladin Nara. She was the only one actually
praying, while they were waiting for her to get on with it so they
could start eating their less than appetizing meal. In fact she herself
looked down in disappointment when her prayer was complete, choosing
not to see that the others had had their eyes wide open the whole time.

"No meat?" She asked, sighing, already knowing the answer. It was
the same in all the local towns. Shavas grimaced, and deputy Oggy
looked away with a memory of disgust in his eyes. Nara shared both
disgust and memory. The squirm-feel in the mouth, between one's teeth.

"Maggots set in not matter what we do. Put it in an icebox, cook it
right after the kill. Some folk wanted to cook them alive but I
wouldn't have it. Seems like something they'd do." Shavas said, voice
telling that he was still shaken.

They have done it, just not to animals. Nara thought of the charred
child corpses on pikes, but thought better of mentioning it. The matter
at hand was bad enough.

"Communal spells have been coming
through. In the last day there were two more. Nothing similar about
either one though the girl had apparently been around for months. Even
had a thing going with one of the local hands."

"He dead?" Oggy asked, new disgust fast taking old. To lie with something like that...

actually. Bent on taking his life after seeing his bride to be from the
inside out. Got him tied to a bed in hopes he'll come around and give
us some clues."

Shavas snorted at that.

"Clues? They look like us,
apparently can even act like us 'til the bugs come out. Why can't the
gods reveal them?" Nara looked hard at him, then away. Shavas had been
ranting at the gods since the incident, unable to understand that he
was chipping at Nara's own faith and thus her strength. Augham coughed,
trying to break the growing tension.

"Maybe Galfrey oughta take the native Mendevs into custody. Nothing
cruel like, just keep them under watch. Devil's beard, I wouldn't mind
being put up by the Queen myself." Oggy let out a half-hearted laugh,
though it was hard to tell since it sounded almost exactly like his

"They'd never do it," Nara said, "Not after the witch hunts." The
pagan worship of the Mendev tribes was seen as dangerous blasphemy to
those worshipping gods more common to modern civilization. As the
demons grew stronger, the number of crusaders willing to blame the
native population rose along the same tide. Demonic infiltration had in
fact spelled the end of the Third Crusade and now threatened to

We make it so easy for them. The paladin thought.

blame them - churches gotta scape goat somebody." Shavas muttered. Nara
pretended not to hear, though her heart went out to the man. He'd been
a genuine convert, hoping to save the world for his children only to
find that war, no matter in the name of man or god, was always beset by

But of course it was the witch hunts, and Galfrey's recent
unwillingness to risk the war effort by confronting the zealots, that
truly weighed heavy on Shavas's mind. The Order of Heralds, designed to
control the inquistion, had recently been reigned in to avoid a
backlash that could only stymie the war effort.

His wife, after all, had the blood of a Mendev inside her. The
woman he forgets sometimes when he looks at me. Me, of all people. Nara
was muscle and squatness, and she had no illusions of her place in the
hierarchy of men's attraction.

"Wizards and churches, don't any have a plan?" Oggy asked, once more trying to turn their talk away from folly.

caught a few of the locusts before they vanished into the Abyss. We're
hoping to use them to detect Deskari's meat puppets. But they require
more...samples." Shavas smiled grimly, but this time only shook his
head. Oggy too looked uncomfortable. The attacks had already convinced
many non-combatants to leave, and more attacks would further buckle the
weak economy that had been set up around the crusade.

"We can't worry about the big picture," Shavas said with
resentment, "we - meaning Oggy and me - just need to keep this town
going. You can help Nara until your god brings new orders." His voice
told them it wasn't just the town that had to be kept in motion, but
the sheriff himself who needed something to work on, work toward.
Anything to keep thoughts of that little boy away.

The boy had smiled, like he had a secret.

He died happy,
without any cares or concerns. That was the trick, wasn't it? Deskari,
the Locust Prince, is sending innocents to murder the world.

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