The Deicide Files : Fade Triumph, Chapter 6

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I ended up in my favorite diner for low profile meetings. It was the kind of thing that made me ask myself just how much of me was me. This place was the kind of thing I’d expect, the kind of setting you’d see in some mortal novel that probably didn’t show up that much in a real detective’s life. There I was though, and I felt comfortable. Aggie sat across from me eating a cheeseburger. The most popular item on the menu was called the hinduburger. It gave him a perverse sort of thrill, eating a burger fashioned from the devotion of mortals who would never eat beef.

We waited just long enough to wonder what we were really waiting for. Then she showed up. I saw Aggie notice her over my shoulder. He shrugged at the fact that she wasn’t much to look at, then he went back to eating. If someone is fascinated with a burger, it’s hard to tell just how much of their mind is on the subject. He liked to use food to cover his interest. It was a good technique that really wasn’t necessary right then.

She sat down next to me, stubbed out her cigarette, and picked up a menu.

I had to ask her, “Why are you here?”

“Hopin’ for a free meal, I guess, and maybe a nectar. Also, Triumph was a good god. He was someone who didn’t owe the world anything, but he was out to do everything he could anyway. I hope that I can be that way after I start to decline.”

Aggie and I both hid our humor. If this hollow cheeked thing wasn’t already declining, then I didn’t know what time looked like. The waitress was right there then, so our new friend got her wish all right. At least she ate cheap.

“You got a name?,” Aggie asked.

“Arati Chaff.”

Aggie thought about that. “I don’t think I’ve met an Arati.”

“Imagine if all your devotion came in the form of avoidance.”

“What?”

“Believers don’t worship me. They stay away from what they think I represent. Negative devotion was what Hinduism Three called it a long time ago.”

“I’m kind of familiar with that,” Aggie said. “People worship my concept when they’re not supposed to worship anything at all.”

I turned us back to the conversation at hand. “No one worshipped Fade Triumph. Any drevens he got, he earned through work.”

“Or charity,” Arati corrected me.

“Right. So you knew him by name when Muse White didn’t even recognize his picture.”

“Fades that leave the sanctuary don’t usually go back for anything. They go there when they’re forgotten, and they’re forgotten when they leave. He didn’t have a name until he left anyway. Triumph. What a joke. I don’t know if that was his idea or some pain in the ass, smiling Temple do gooder.”

“What made him such a good god?,” I asked.

“The money.”

“He stole a shitload of stockpiled devotion from the Temple, and that made him a hero? What are you, one of those anti-religious nuts?”

“Naw. Maybe. I don’t know. I guess not. Other gods want to believe in bigger gods and causes, then what do I care? It’s the here and now that has me.”

“That’s why you help gods who need it.”

“Triumph would have done more for the city than I ever have. Look, I don’t really know what he was up to. I can guess a couple things though.”

“Such as?”

“No one reported the missing money, did they?”

“That takes credence from your story. Even if it is true, an unreported robbery is still a robbery.”

“He wasn’t going to keep it. He was going to use it to prove something about the Temple. You think some idiot killed him over money? Well she might have. But if the temple knew that their hidden slush fund was being raided, then he had enemies a lot more dangerous than the one you’ve got locked up.”

Aggie played the skeptic even though I could tell he was interested in the story. “You’re trying to sell us some conspiracy theory? The Temple had some lowly fade killed over a fortune that no one knew about?”

She shrugged. It was hard watching her eat. How could anyone that unhealthy put away food that fast? When she got to a breaking point, she admitted, “I don’t expect you to believe it. But look into it, will ya? I mean, what do ya got to lose?”

“Our lives,” I said, “if Triumph’s fate is any indication. Tell us what you can about it though.”

“Don’t know much,” she slurred around a bite. “I know that Triumph told me that he found out something. He didn’t want to tell me much, I guess. Or maybe he didn’t trust me as much as he wanted to. He wouldn’t even tell me where the money was. All he would say was that he had it in the safest possible place.”

“You have any idea what place he would have thought was that safe?,” Aggie asked.

“Hm-mm,” she said. “But he said it a few times. The money’s in the safest place possible. I guess I was hopin’ you two would know what that meant.”

“Did he tell you how he was going to get the money?,” I asked.

“No. He ran errands for the Temple, I know. He even made deposits for them. They didn’t trust him with actual cash in any big amount, but they let him run checks and stuff like that.”

“What about the girl?,” Aggie asked her.

“The killer?,” Arati asked. “Don’t know. I never heard of her before. Look, there wasn’t anything like that between me and Triumph. We were just friends. I don’t got many, and he didn’t have any, so that’s that. I don’t know why he told me about it. The money, I mean. I guess he wanted to hear someone tell him he ought to do it. He was alone. He had to do it on his own.”

She told her story a few more times. She didn’t know much, but both Aggie and I noticed that she was consistent. She wasn’t adding anything or changing anything. That was enough for us to take her seriously.

Aggie still had some french fries left, so we had some sitting to do before we could move on Arati’s tip. My partner asked me, “You think there’s anything at all to what that scraggly broad was saying?”

I stole one of his fries, but before it could make its way to my mouth, it conducted the music of my thought process. “Well, I don’t know. I know a couple things though. First, I didn’t go to her. She came to me. She heard me talking about Triumph, and it was the  name that caught her attention. She never even saw the photo I was waving around. No one else there knew his name. No surprise. He wouldn’t have had a name until he arrived at the Temple. Unless he ever went back, none of them would know him by name.”

“Yeah, Boss, but what if she’s just someone wantin’ to talk, makin’ up a story. We run into those.”

“All the time. This one said something that piqued my interest though.”

“What’sat?”

“She asked if he was really dead.”

“Really?”

“You and I have been asking ourselves that. What made her say it?”

Aggie said what I was thinking. “She didn’t ask about that here though. It already looks suspiciously set up. You want her followed?”

I nodded. “Be careful in that area, Agnosticism. Make sure you’re carrying. Some of those fades will slit your throat for a drime. They say that you can die easier around a sanctuary. They say that when there are that many faded gods around that mortality is a lot closer. I don’t believe that, but you know my motto.”

“Always be superstitious. Just in case.”

“It sure as hell can’t hurt.”

“Where are you gonna be, Boss?”

“Don’t know until I get there. First stop in the morning is going to be the Southwest Library.”

“What are you looking for?”

“I remember the last time the DemiUrge Temple was robbed of a big sum. The last time it made the news anyway. You know the way we work, Aggie. We should have looked into this already, but we were kept busy with immediate, easy work. Now I want to look into the Temple’s recent past. This happened ninety years ago.”

“I’d a been a kid, Boss.”

“If I remember right, there’s a guy that went to prison for pinching a pretty sum off the Temple. He kept saying he was innocent though. I want to see if that’s what he still says.”

The mortals say that history repeats itself, but they only know that because they study it. In Pantheon City a lot of us were there for the history. It comes in handy in my line of work. The same people are around now that were around when I started. The things they did then can be a part of their lives now. It’s something I learned early on. Anything I can remember that might impact my case, even if it was a century ago, was something I could use.

Pantheon libraries were well funded. They were like temples in a way. If you were caught destroying a piece of literature, then the penalty was heavy. You didn’t take anything from a library without authorization. Most of us did our reading right there in the building rather than go through the hassle of checking anything out. There were private shelves for those of us who spent a lot of time there. I didn’t even have to pay for mine. After I did that favor for an alderman seventy years ago I was granted a special dispensation as a city asset. There wasn’t anyone like me doing what I do, or at least not nearly half as well. So they wanted to make sure I had the resources for it. There was a bit of talking, I’m sure. Did they really want to fund a business like mine that might work against them? Well the fact is that a politician’s worst enemy is not the public or the press. A politician’s worst enemy is other politicians. They want to be able to keep tabs on each other when they have to, so I got a free set of shelves, a private reading room and V.I.P. access. The librarian that I usually went to, old Saraswati Leaves, she was a sour old bitch whose age showed that she was closing on fading. She held on though. To be honest, I’d bet she’d be haggard but still whole long after I wasn’t even a memory.

She liked me about as much as I liked her, but she did her job so well that she was my go to girl. And as much as she might complain, she had to enjoy the challenges I threw her way sometimes. “How can I help you, Mister Axiom?”

Damn, those eyes were ferocious. There was a rumor that she had broken a god’s finger for dogearing a page. “I need a news story.”

“Glad to help.” The fact that she sounded only annoyed showed me that she was already warming to the task.

“About ninety years ago or so there was some scandal. Some guy ripped off the DemiUrge Temple.”

She leaned back and ran her fingers through her hair and her memory. “Yes. That was a big story that was overshadowed by some bit of celebrity gossip or something. You could look into criminal records to find it.”

“It’d be healthier for me to look for a particular name than a particular kind of crime. Do you remember who it was?”

“Not offhand. I can locate the story if you’d like.”

“As many papers as you can find, Sara. I’ll be in my room.”

Her upper lip curled again. “Would you like me to bring you a glass of christening brandy and a cigar with that?”

She never took too long, so I didn’t have a lot of time to consider the case. Not that it mattered. I only had a few questions. Was I chasing a false lead? Was Fade Triumph really killed over money? How did Bible Lighter know to look for him and his ill gotten gains?

When Sara got to me with a bundle of newspapers and a magnifying lens, I handed over a couple dreven notes. “I don’t want anyone knowing what I was looking for.”

Without a trace of her usual bitterness, she pocketed the money. It was a lot more than I usually offered for privacy. “Why the generosity?”

“Insurance, that’s all. I’d appreciate it if you’d earn it.”

I went over the old news stories carefully. It wasn’t quite as far back as I remembered. Seventy nine years. Not a lot of people would want to steal from the DemiUrge temple. According to the news, it was the first time that it had happened in four centuries. Here it was a mere eight decades later, and it had happened again. Triumph’s story wasn’t nearly as tragic though. That’s what overshadowed the older theft. There was another story linked to it that consumed attention. The headlines didn’t shout about the embezzlement. The headlines read, ‘Death in the Frontier,’ ‘Disaster at the Three Buddha Bridge’ and ‘Six Dead in Train Collapse.’

The Temple was a power because it was involved in the city’s works. Most major churches were, one way or another. The Temple had believers in the actual city government, but there were strict policies that inhibited their interaction. In the private sector things were different. Churches were allowed influence of kinds if they had their adherents in certain positions. Like corporations, banks and the like.

The banks were a great investment for a Pantheon City church. Put one of your people in a position of power or better yet of some public work for good press, and you had the formula for a growing congregation.

It could go wrong though. If a fade like Triumph could slip away with a big sum of money, imagine what a real bank bigwig could do. The Temple liked to fund city projects and also frontier works. That’s where things went wrong all those years ago.

Some corrupt banking official had diverted Temple drevens to his own account. That embezzlement would have been story enough, but the reason he could do that was because he was in charge of a construction fund for the frontier. There are gods that live between the city limits and the boundary of our reality. There are even small towns out there. Sooner or later they’d end up annexed by the city when the limits extended that far. In the meantime, to get there you had to pass over the highways and the bridges. It was a bridge that failed. It collapsed at a busy time of day when a lot of gods were traveling back home after work. Twenty two gods were terribly hurt. Six gods were killed. Cosmos! Six dead gods in a day! Back during the bloody times Ares loved it happened, but in the modern city? I shuddered at the thought. I hadn’t seen anything like that in centuries. I still had dark dreams from the one double deicide I had investigated.

Six deaths, all at the feet of a greedy official who diverted a portion of the funds. To keep the project going while he lined his own pockets, he changed work orders to use less material, and substandard stuff at that. The news stories were a bit confused about his title. That was about par for the course. The sexier part of the story was what mattered to gods who read the news. What was important was that I had a name and some history. Was there any link to today’s crime? It didn’t seem like it right off. I had a hunch though. The part that made me wonder was that the man in prison pled not guilty. He maintained his innocence the whole time he was in the news, and even after he went to prison. As far as I could tell, that hadn’t changed. What would he have to tell me about his theft? I had to go visit Ganesha Walker.

He was a famous prisoner, so of course they had him at the Tartarus Prison. The guy in charge there demanded that his title was not warden, but I don’t know what the hell else he was supposed to be. He wasn’t happy at all with my request. “Mister Axiom, I don’t take issue with you wanting to visit an inmate. Any inmate. But you’re requesting a private audience. We usually have a guard present or at least someone watching the room.”

“Well, Mister Snow, I don’t think you understand. I’m not requesting a private interview with the inmate. I’m going to have it.” I passed over a visitation certificate.

His eyes went big at the dark red color of the document. It wasn’t just a press pass or something like that. It was the rare, limitless certificate. He had a weasely squint. He desperately wanted to find fault, a bad date, a missing signature. The wind whistled in and out of his nostrils. “Mister Axiom, this certificate is seventy two years old.”

“I’m well aware of that. They’re good for a hundred years. You know that.”

“We don’t often see these. We certainly don’t see them this old. Why have you held onto it this long?”

“I suppose I haven’t had any need for it.” The truth was that I had a few more. I’ve done work for the prison guild. I’d been to Peter Flood’s home as both a detective and a friend. The prisons paid in cash and in privileges. A limitless visitation certificate was a guarantee to see a prisoner of all but the strictest security, and to do so without interference or observation. I had one that was older than the one I showed to God Snow. I didn’t plan on using it until it was over ninety years old just to annoy the hell out of some uppity clerical worker in a prison block. Either that or to bring media attention to an investigation that needed it. For now my second oldest certificate would do. I just loved that sour expression when they realized that they were obligated to do as I ask. That wouldn’t stop the obvious question.

He asked me, “Is there any way I can persuade you to allow us to monitor your questions?”

“Mister Snow, I’m an investigator. I need answers from Ganesha that are as direct as possible. I can’t get them if he thinks he’s talking to you.”

“If you say so. It might take a little time to get him to a visitation room.”

“Actually, if you check the clearance on that certificate you’ll see that you can’t leave me waiting.”

“This certificate is seventy two years old!”

“You can call the city offices if you’d like.”

He groaned. “No. No, I’ll get the prisoner for you. I expect you to tell me what goes on in that room.”

“Hold on to those expectations. A god’s reach should exceed his grasp, you know.”

Why do they hire so many of those shuffling, power hungry morons to run the prisons? What difference could it make to him? I suppose it wasn’t my problem since I had a get into jail free card. Before long I was there, face to face with Ganesha. You could tell he was a real white collar criminal. The orange jumpsuit looked completely wrong on him. We were alone in a room with just two chairs, a little table and an ashtray. I pointed to that. “I’m surprised the warden put that in here for us.”

“He’s all heart,” Ganesha said sardonically, “unless you call him a warden where he can hear.”

“I’ve gotten that already.”

“Even if he weren’t in charge of this place I still wouldn’t like him. I just can’t trust a god so poorly defined that he doesn’t have a real name.”

I was never bothered by that kind of thing. “It’s the fault of the mortals who have vague concepts of their gods. I guess for a lot of them not knowing the first thing about the being you believe in is acceptable. You want a cigarette?”

“Sure,” he said.

When he took it, I noticed the tattoo on the back of his hand, an elephant’s head. “Your file didn’t mention that.”

“I got it in here.”

“It’s pretty good quality.”

“You’d be surprised at the talent that ends up in prison.”

“Why’d you get that tattoo? Just in case you forget who you are?”

He looked at the mark on the back of his hand. “It’s to remind me of who I’m supposed to be. I stopped being an Urgist before my trial was over. The Temple is completely corrupt. Now I’m an Iconist. When I first got this elephant, I was considering having it tattooed onto my forehead.”

“I think it’s better where it is. So you got it out of religious obligation.”

“Not so much obligation as sacrament.”

“It seems to me that an Iconist wouldn’t have built the bridge that landed you in here. That seems to me to be something that a true, mortal conceived Ganesha wouldn’t do. You can tattoo your hand if you want, but that doesn’t make it okay to build a substandard bridge that kills other gods.”

For a moment there was fire in Ganesha’s eye. Then he calmed down. It looked to me like he was reminding himself that I had to believe the story. So I took the chance at hearing the truth. “How much was true in the news reports? Are you really guilty of misappropriation of Temple funds?”

I guess Ganesha was tired of explaining himself. “Why are you here?”

“I’m here to find out what happened.”

“You think you can do something about it? I’ve been in here for nearly eighty years. I’ve got a lot of time to fill before they let me out. You know they don’t let us read the papers in here. What’s the city like out there?”

“Well we’re still behind mortal technology in a lot of ways. Motor vahanas are all over now. The radio plays are getting pretty stupid. Vishnu Wind is the Mayor again.”

“What about the Temple? Is it still strong?”

“The temple?”

“You know which one I mean.” He took a big drag of his cigarette. “THE Temple. The DemiUrge Temple. The one that wants to control the city.”

“And here I was worried I might start hearing conspiracy theories.”

“The prison shrink thinks I’m a delusional paranoid. I can’t blame her. That’s safer than listening.”

I chuckled. “I don’t know which bothers me more, gods that need shrinks or gods that are shrinks.”

“Yeah, well they make me go. Part of my sentence. If it makes you feel any better, the shrink hates me. Gets tired of hearing the same story over and over. She always wants to find some flaw in my story. Isn’t it funny that she can’t.”

“Ganesha, if the Temple wanted to control the city, they’d donate to political campaigns. Oh wait. They do.”

“Yeah yeah. There’s a difference between backing a politician for office and making up your own rules. The guys that run the temple, the ones that really run it, Moloch Winter’s group. They’ve been there a long time, and they aren’t going anywhere.”

“Change is not the nature of Pantheon City.”

“That’s Tiamat Star?”

“Horus Tall actually.”

“I wouldn’t have taken you for someone who reads philosophy, Detective.”

“It was either that or go to a shrink.”

“Funny. You’re a funny guy.” He looked wistful for a moment. “We can still read their words. We know their names. But those two, Tiamat Star and Horus Tall? They’re long gone.”

“There are still Tiamats and Horuses out there.”

“Not as many. You know that if you fade you still have to serve your prison term? How screwed up is that? Can’t remember who you are or what you’ve done, but you keep on paying anyway.”

“It’s not so bad in here considering the alternative is a sanctuary.”

“I’m not sheltered, Detective. I’ve seen how fades live. This is worse. It doesn’t last forever though. I just wish I could clear my name.”

“So tell me about it.”

He looked hopeful for just a moment. Then he hardened. “Why? I mean, why do you care?”

“If you’ve been telling your story for eighty years, then you can tell it once more. Why do you care what my interest is?”

He sighed. “It beats the shit out of listening to cricket in the rec room. Okay. I’ll tell you. The story you read in the newspapers was all wrong.”

“I can believe that. I’ve been in the news myself. I never went to jail for it.”

“I never stole anything. They claim I was putting Temple funds into my account.”

“There was an account with your name on it.”

“Exactly. Do I strike you as an idiot? Would I put stolen funds into an account with my own name while working at a bank? It was a dummy account, Detective. It wasn’t mine. I can see the skepticism in your eye, and I can’t blame you for it. Ask yourself this though. If someone had a lot of pull at the banks, could they open an account under someone else’s name and deposit into it? And I know how hard it is to forge a god’s signature, but if you’re a detective, then you know it can be done.”

“Who do you think has that kind of pull? You wouldn’t want to get caught.”

“You don’t know much about the city’s banking system, do you? You can’t get caught if a bank’s account liaison and funds officer are appointed by the board of your own organization. That’s true for three of the top five banks in the city. Imagine that.”

“Who appoints them?”

“You don’t know? Well why doesn’t that surprise me? Most people don’t, even though it’s public record. It’s a tradition that’s so old people will defend it without thinking about it. You know the kind of crap. They’ve always done it and there’s never been a problem.”

I already knew the answer, but I wanted him to say it. “Who appoints those people to the banks?”

“I don’t care about other banks. I only care about the Draupnir Bank where I had my name attached to a fake account. The Temple, Detective. The DemiUrge Temple appoints the funds officer at that bank. If the funds officer doesn’t order a thorough investigation, then there isn’t one. Not even the police or the trading commission can do it without special dispensation from the Mayor’s office.”

“And he gets elected through the Temple.”

“Not the Temple alone, naturally. They don’t have that kind of power. They do have some sway, and if the papers are already reporting on the issue before the facts are known, then why would the Mayor bother to tell the gods of the city that the news that makes them feel safe is wrong? They had the nefarious bridge builder behind bars. An investigation might have proved me innocent without giving them a better suspect. Oh, and if you want to look into it, the Caduceus Paper broke the story. Their chief editor at the time was Catholicism River, a devout DemiUrgist.”

“Really?”

“It’s easy enough to look into. The prison shrink did, and she won’t talk to me about it anymore.”

“So tell me, Ganesha, why would the Temple set you up? Are you trying to tell me that they’re responsible for the bad bridge? That the Temple, richer than Y. Desert, just cut corners instead of investing in a good will project that would make them shine in the public eye?”

Ganesha let out another grateful breath of sin smoke. “It wasn’t laziness or greed. It was built that way on purpose, I think.”

He was losing me. I would check all the facts he handed me, but it was starting to sound unreasonable. “Why would anyone want a bridge to collapse? Why, especially, would the Temple want it to fall?”

“Keep an open mind, Detective. Imagine that the gods who maintain their positions in the DemiUrge Temple like the power that goes along with it.”

“I can imagine that without a lot of effort.”

“Now put yourself in their place.”

“I’d like to, but I’m just the average Joe.”

“Tell me about it. They understand something though. As the city’s territory increases, the population can expand.”

“Well naturally. That’s why we continue building. It’s why we have gods outside the city on the frontier to scout it out and determine where we can push at the boundaries.”

“Everyone knows that. The more gods there are, though, the less power the Temple has. The smaller the population, the easier it is to control. As it grows, new institutions and religions are formed. Not even an old group like the DemiUrge Temple can keep that from happening. They can slow it down though. What happens if there are fewer settlements outside the city? What happens when city funding to the frontier decreases?”

“How would you do that? Bribe the whole government? I don’t think even the biggest businesses in town could do that.”

“They can’t. But the Temple doesn’t bribe anyone in the city. They bribe frontier officials. There aren’t that many, and more than half of them have a background that you can link to the Temple. Check it out if you doubt it.”

I can admit that the idea was exciting, but, “Wouldn’t someone have noticed the changes to the work orders or material orders or anything?”

I’m pretty sure he thought he’d lost me, so he didn’t even bother to remove the cigarette from his mouth. It just flapped with his theory. “That’s the thing. I was the fall guy, because they’d need one. Whether the bridge collapsed or was just deemed unsafe before it was used, they needed someone to blame. Someone who made the mistake, or better yet, didn’t make a mistake. Right? But they also needed someone to actually change the material orders.”

I didn’t need him to explain it. “So they had someone working for you do it?”

“My assistant did the calls. It was funny that he was never charged with a crime. He testified in court that he only did what he was told. Like he couldn’t have told the difference. Last I knew, he took my old job. That was a while ago, so maybe he’s moved up in the world. Brahman Square. Find out if he’s doing all right. If so, then ask yourself why he stayed where he was. It makes sense he could cut a deal and get a light sentence or even no sentence if he was lucky. But how did he stay with the Draupnir Bank? Why wouldn’t they fire him? I’ve told this to a few people. They tend to get annoyed when there isn’t a real answer to that question. It’s not proof though.”

“Is he an Urgist?”

“Nope,” Ganesha said. “He would have done it out of sheer greed.”

I was intrigued. I didn’t really believe him, but I wanted to. And if his story was even partly true, then the Temple might have more secrets that they were hiding today. I asked Ganesha for details, evidence. He told me that if he could prove his story that he wouldn’t be in jail. That was true enough.

I parted company with Ganesha, promising him to check back in if I had anything that could help him. I had to hit the hall of records. I didn’t need any of the pull I had there. Munkar Eyes knew me well, and he liked me. He liked to think that one day he could follow in my footsteps, I think. That made it hard to get rid of him while I was there. For over an hour I researched unrelated material, building permits that might help an upcoming piece of potential business. As soon as Munkar’s duties pulled him away, I got to my real work. I slipped into the rows of older records. It took me a little bit to find the stuff on frontier construction and frontier officials.

I took notes and doublechecked them. Fortunately the names of the officials were of enough importance they were easy to find. I had a list of names that I could check against religious affiliations. Most small businesses in the city ignored the rule, but big institutions had to keep employment records that became available to the public after enough time. The names checked out. Ganesha had underestimated the Temple. It wasn’t half of the frontier officials that had ties to the DemiUrge Temple. Nearly two thirds were involved with businesses that were partly or wholly owned by Temple interests. Urgists are common, so no one noticed it then, I’m guessing. Or maybe, if Ganesha’s story was true, he was railroaded before anyone spotted anything fishy. Pantheon authorities tended to leave solved problems solved.

I wasn’t done. I kept looking through the old records for more information. Frontier expansion had gradually slowed about a hundred to two hundred years ago. The bridge wasn’t the only disaster. It was just the only one with a criminal story attached to it. Everyone knew that some gods just went missing out there. Everyone knew about bad roads and the lack of building codes. Everyone knew that the frontier had become dangerous. The scouts and pioneers that the city employed didn’t always return. More often than not, no one knew what happened to a god who went missing out there. The problem that I saw, that I doubt anyone else did, including Ganesha, was that the missing frontier gods were rarely ever connected with the Temple. Strange since there were so many Urgists out there.

I was already convinced. That bitter goddess from the sanctuary had put me on the trail of the biggest conspiracy I had ever encountered. Just by knowing about it I was in danger. I had to get back to Aggie

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