With No Sign to Save

They would have flung their torches and let the ship’s deck light around her as a pyre had Jaraeden not strode to her side.

The crowd, the residents of the Graveyard, shouted at her.

“Burn our homes?”

“False paladin!”

“Insane!”

Yet there were some in the crowd. The ones who had seen her light. They didn’t scream for her blood, but they didn’t protect her, either. They merely watched, morose.

Jaraeden held his arms up for silence. “Let her god save her if he can.” He prodded her toward the rail.

“You’re going to make me walk the plank?”

She felt rather than saw him nod.

The crowds on the decks booed and cheered and laughed and cried over their lost hope.

“I checked your calculations last night. You’re right; another few boats, and the buoyancy caused by the rising mists will be lost. It can only push up so much. But if you burn enough ships all at once, the force will push the remaining boats up like a cork.”

Jaraeden set is hands on her wrists as he marched her to the side of the ship. “You didn’t need your god to save us.”

“He’s the one who blessed me with the intellect to figure out your scrawling.”

“They’re screaming for your blood. They wanted a miracle.” He shoved her, gently, against the rail.

“My God doesn’t need miracles to save you. He just needs fire.”

The crowd’s screams grew.

Jaraeden muttered, “There isn’t enough buoyancy to keep you up once you go over.”

“Doesn’t matter. I don’t matter. God’ll raise up another.” She pressed her lips together to hide the quiver in her voice.

He will. He promised. He won’t leave the world without a light. I don’t matter.

She clenched her jaw.

Father, you created me. Brother, you cleansed me. Spirit, you claimed me. Keep those I leave behind.

“Why’d you tell me?”

“Because even if I die, I don’t want to see the rest of you die.”

“If you perform a sign, I might be able to save you from the crowd.”

“I told you, I can’t do signs. My God uses me, not the other way around.” She closed her eyes. Father, do as you will.

“Get up on the rail. If your god won’t save you, if you’re that worthless to him, I can’t help you.”

She tried not to listen.

The crowd cried out for her blood. Men spat at her.

Her hands took the rail, worn smooth with age. Her knees creaked a little as she climbed up on it, taking a line from the rigging to steady herself. She breathed. Another breath.

Fine.

Your will be done.

She dove face-first into the abyss below the Graveyard. She embraced whatever awaited below with one last bitter laugh.

Thus continues the Graveyard at the Bottom of the World.

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