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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Dust and Sand – Chapter 26 – By Sean P. Wallace

Penelope nearly fell over when she saw it was Eleanor Naismith. Eleanor was relatively clean in a rough cotton dress that she wouldn’t normally even touch. Her tied-back hair was dishevelled, many of the strands snaking away from the main bunch, and she looked scared. She couldn’t have been captured too long ago as she still looked healthy, well-fed.

The dark man led Eleanor into the circle of cultists and dropped her off, this time roughly and without ceremony. Penelope imagined he didn’t like being summoned by Mahrey if there were some power struggle between them.

Once more he disappeared but Penelope wasn’t paying him any attention. “Eleanor?” she asked.

“Penny!” Eleanor shouted before rushing over and embracing Penelope.

Weak though she was, Penelope hugged her back fiercely. The girl did not reek like Penelope; she’d definitely only been captured recently.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Eleanor whispered. “Are you?”

Penelope nodded, tears in her eyes.

Her friend, the last person she would have expected to see here, pulled away. She patted Penelope on the shoulder and gave her a bright smile, incongruous and worrying. “Good. I am so very glad that you have decided to join us, Penny,” she said.

The chanting grew louder. Penelope blinked. “Pardon?”

“Well, I say us; I do not worship That Which Sins. Omnis is my deity.”

Penelope took a step back and out of her friend’s reach, unable to believe what she was hearing. “Eleanor, you’re…?”

Mahrey stepped behind Penelope and put a hand on her shoulder. “Eleanor is a sister worshipper of the Triangle,” the priestess said. “She had been helping us in a… certain matter.”

Eleanor stepped forward and grabbed Penelope’s hands. “Penelope, I know what you are going through right now. I was dubious and conflicted when I was first presented with proof of Omnis’ power, of its grace, and I too compared this intervention against the relative laziness of Yahweh. My education indoctrinated me to believe in him and reject this new, wondrous being. But I made the right decision.”

“For you,” Mahrey hissed.

“For me,” Penelope nodded. “Omnis is not for everyone. Besides, you have already taken your first step to worshipping That Which Sins and I wish you would take the next one. It is not permanent; you can repent and go back to your former life. But Penny…”

Eleanor reached up to her cheap dress, which Penelope noticed was barely held together, and undid a clasp just below her throat. The material fell to the floor, revealing Eleanor’s lithe naked body; a body covered in complex and unholy tattoos that made Penelope feel ill.

The naked girl, this cultist, stepped forward and cupped Penelope’s face. “Trust me when I tell you that you will never want to turn back.”

Sean is an editor, writer, and podcast host at Geek Pride, as well as a novelist. His self-published works can be found at all good eBook stores.

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