- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 1 – The Spear and the Sword
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 2 – The Candle
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 3 – The Stones
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 4 – At the Foot of the Stairs
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 5 – The Price of Entry
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 6 – The Grand Melee
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 7 – The Broken
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 8 – A Lively Feast
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 9 – Hospitality
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 10 – A House with a Big Hole in it
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 11 – The Art of the Sword
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 12 – The Bearer of Bad News
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 13 – A Farewell to the City
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 14 – The Leader of the People
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 15 – A Dark Place
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 16 – Into the Abyss
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 17 – The Deadlock
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 18 – The Art of the Deal
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 19 – What Was Seen in the Darkness
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 20 – Graveyard of a Thousand Unburied Demons
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 21 – In the Twinkling Stardust
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 22 – “Ass Water”
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 23 – Crossing the Line
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 24 – The Tables of Death
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 25 – Waking the Son
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 26 – Arrival (Part 1)
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 27 – Arrival (Part 2)
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 28 – Departure
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 29 – Two Arms!
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 30 – Something Foul in the Air
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 31 – Chaos and Order
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 32 – Dal Segno al Coda
- The Apostate Saint: Chapter 33 – And Then You’re Gone
Ever since he had regained his legs, Art had walked himself straight from one disaster into another. He was beginning to think that his new legs were, in fact, cursed, and that it would have been better if he had never regrown them in the first place. When he considered the mysterious nature of the Gifts that the Son had used to regenerate his legs, he began to consider that something more foul was in the air. The fact that he had inexplicably been incapacitated right around the time that Alaric’s mother died really sold him on the fact that, perhaps, he shouldn’t have looked that gift horse in the mouth.
Art was thankful for the begrudging hospitality provided by Valoricus. Art could hardly blame Valoricus for his reluctance to host him. The man was in mourning, after all. For all they all knew, Valoricus had not only lost his wife, but likely his only son in the same week. Art knew it was best to stay low and keep to himself, or he could very easily find himself on the receiving end of the wrath of a man who had lost his entire family. It was unfortunate, then, when he discovered that the path to the main latrine of the house was crawling with very important-looking men wearing togas. Art really had to find a place to take a shit – a greasy, odorous one that he knew was likely to be the envy of livestock everywhere.
If only he knew of another latrine that wasn’t so close to the group of loud old men.
Art peeped his head out of the guest room where he had been sequestered since he arrived at the manor. He had managed to keep to himself fairly well, all things considered, and kept his head down. Knowing that the alternative was being cast back into the streets where the guards of a psychotic magistrate were likely to spot him and bring him back in for round two of whatever evil plans the man had for him, Art had no issue with staying quiet – even though it was well outside of his character.
Since the time he had arrived, the lord of the place had occupied himself with other things, so Art figured that as long as he made himself scarce, his chances of staying out of danger were much greater than if he made his presence known. Valoricus would hopefully be too busy with his funeral arrangements and secret meetings to bother himself with throwing Art out of the place. It was a really nice place. It was very fortunate that the building had an open air courtyard in the middle of it; that made the smells that were definitely going to be arriving soon more likely to be carried off with the wind.
Art overheard one man raise his voice in apparent frustration, but he couldn’t really catch a hint of what he was so worked up about and, honestly, Art really didn’t care. Whatever they were discussing was clearly not as pressing as the matters to which Art needed to attend.
Think, Art, think.
There was simply no way that he was going be able to reach the latrine without walking right by the group of men, so Art tried to conspire about what his options were. He spotted a large urn and for one brief second he considered dragging it into the room and unloading into it.
No, they will surely sniff it out.
He thought about sneaking out a window and perhaps finding a nice spot by the horses to mask the smell, but they were most likely attended to by a stable boy who would certainly not be happy to see him do it. Besides, Art had determined that he would never lower himself to squatting in public again, now that he had been touched by godly hands and made whole again. No, he needed a proper latrine to maintain this new standard of life for himself. He was above squatting in the streets now.
Art thought about how Valoricus must feel about himself, being of high pedigree and fancying himself an important player in the City’s leadership. There was no way that that man would share a latrine with guests – he would surely have one all for himself somewhere private where no one else would be able to disturb him while he did his very important business. Since the master of the house was preoccupied, now might be the only opportunity Art would have to seek it out.
It will be a fast one, I know it. I’ll be in and out, like a cat at a fish monger’s stall. He’ll never be any the wiser.
Making sure that everybody’s eyes were upon each other, Art slipped away, down the corridor toward the master’s quarters. He passed a slave girl along the way, but she was too busy tending to the flowers in the garden. Under normal circumstances, he would have tried to get her attention, with her being pretty good looking with the exception of eyebrows that were a bit too bushy. But these were no normal circumstances, and he would need to avoid detection if he was to pull off this great act of deception.
Just as he thought he had managed to sneak by, however, his sandal hit the stone floor just a little too hard and the lass turned toward the noise. Art played it off the best he could, knowing that if she detected any hint of what he was truly about, she was likely to rat him out. Worse yet, if she knew what he was about to do, or, Namer forbid, happened to smell it, she would never look at him the same way again. Of course, they had never once spoken, but Art didn’t want to lose that opportunity if he could.
He locked eyes with her, smiling and waving sheepishly with one hand. She looked at Art with suspicion, then turned toward the group surrounding Valoricus and then back at Art.
“Why are you sneaking around all suspicious-like?” she whispered. Art exaggerated his surprise and responded low. “What? Me? I’m not acting suspicious. I just needed to stretch my legs a bit and didn’t want to bother the guests. Sorry to both you.”
She brought her garden knife back to the plant in front of her and continued to prune it, still watching him with distrust. Art almost whistled to seem more inconspicuous, but stopped himself as that would have surely brought the wrong kind of attention. Instead, he pretended to adjust and stretch his jaw, making himself yawn in the process. On the outside, he felt that he was as cool as a cucumber. Inside, however, his guts were launching a crusade against demonic forces of their own. There wasn’t much time before the flood of demons arrived.
He clenched his cheeks together and tried to play it cool as he walked away, not going directly for the master’s quarters, but rounding a corner instead. Once he had struck a balance between waiting to make sure she was no longer watching and running as fast as his new feet could carry him into the chamber, he tiptoed back where he had just been and slipped, he hoped, silently and undetected into the lord’s bedroom.
Surely enough, there was indeed a private latrine connected to the master’s chamber, built right into the room, even. Art spearheaded himself into the fanciest crapping place he had ever laid eyes on, ripping off his pants and reaching his deliverance at long last. The seat was made of marble – marble! An artisan had actually taken time to chisel expensive marble into the shape of a latrine seat, and someone actually purchased such a ridiculously decadent thing. Art almost felt bad about what he had to do in it.
It came almost instantly, so fast that Art was amazed that he actually managed to not soil his breeches on the way. “Thank the Namer for that,” he thought, and then his gut gave him another go, this time producing a comically fun sound to go along with it. Along with the sweat and the smell, Art was granted a great boon of relief as the battlefield of his bowels was at last put to the history books.
He was quite proud of himself, if he had to admit it. So much so, that when the door opened suddenly, he had a big cheeky smile on his face. It was undone immediately, as he feared that the nice little slave girl would never be able to look at him the same way again. But it wasn’t the slave girl who opened the door.
Valoricus stared at Art in shock. Art understood what that look meant. He had given it himself to other vagrants on the street when he awoke to find them rummaging through his personal belongings. It must have felt like an incredible intrusion of the master’s privacy, and Art knew that without Valoricus saying a word.
“Sorry, sorry,” Art said hastily, terrified. “I didn’t want to interrupt your meeting, so I-“
“You went into my chamber without permission!”
“I’d have asked for permission if I-“
“The whole room will have to be thoroughly scrubbed to get this menacing stench out of it.”
“I- yes, sir, I am truly sorry, it’s just that-” His bowels gave another, involuntary push to clear the remaining sewage.
“I don’t care! Get out! Get out at once, I don’t even want to look at you!”
Art didn’t know whether he meant out of the room or out of the whole house. He decided not to have him clarify, as he didn’t want to give the master any ideas. Art barely had any time to apply the wiping thing to his bum, before he had to yank on his pants and rush out of the room.
He heard Valoricus growl loudly in anger and disgust as he left. On the way out, he spotted the slave girl, whose hand covered her mouth and nose as he passed her. She looked like she wanted to throw up, and Art knew that it would take a lot of sweet words to balance out that first impression – if he would ever get the opportunity to do so. For now, he was destined back to his containment in the guest room for summary judgment and, perhaps, execution.
You’ve really done it now, Art. You dumb bastard.
Art waited for an eternity in the room, knowing full and well that nothing good awaited him. When at last the time came for his punishment, it came in a form that Art was not expecting. Valoricus stood at the door and stared at him.
“Again, I’m sorry about that, truly I am, it’s just that-“
“Enough,” said Valoricus, stoicly. If he was still angry with Art, Valoricus had either let it go, or had let it fester past recognition. It turned out to be the latter.
“It’s time that you are put to use.”
“Yes, anything at all. I’ll scrub the whole room, just as you said. Top to bottom, not a problem.”
“No,” Valoricus said, sternly. “What you will be doing concerns the safety and security of this City. You may even be the savior of us all.”
Art didn’t like the sound of that. He could smell conspiracy from an even further distance than the slave girl could smell his shame.
“I suppose you’re going to say that I don’t have a choice.”
Valoricus simply stared at him, eyes speaking volumes.