Swamped Chapter 132 Page 21

The hidden path will guide you true
When even gods abandon you.

Grandmother was never very big on the gods, but you don’t think that was literal. What could it mean metaphorically?

Well, you’re in a crypt in a church’s cemetery. Pretty obvious connection to gods there. So what if it means what you’re looking for isn’t at a church? Or perhaps one that’s been abandoned…

Wait. It’s no church, but you do know one place in this town that’s abandoned. Arlene told you about it all the time.

“Arlene,” you ask. “Just had a wild thought. Where was the old theater you used to work at?”

She brightens up. Probably because she wants to see whatever you’re about to pull.

“It’s right here,” she says, pointing at Marian’s map. “Mind sharing what you’re thinking?”

You look where her finger is, and at the last symbol. It’s definitely in line with the symbol, though it’s quite some distance. The other symbols are definitely closer to what they’re pointing at.

“It’s a bit of a stretch, but not as much of one as I first thought. The last symbol could be pointing at it.” You stop and think. “What happened when the theater closed, again?”

“Revenue dried up. Too many people stopped coming to the shows.” She pauses. “I did hear some rumors as to why, supposedly some of the churches were calling it immoral. But I’ve never actually met a priest who said anything like that.” She glances at Drip. “You heard anything of that sort in your church?”

“I have only been here a few years,” Drip replies. “The theater was already closed when I arrived. If there was some form of dispute about it within the church, it was not especially relevant by then. Although, I have heard a few older priests complaining privately about the troupe in town. I thought that had to do with their dislike for Matilda, but it may have reflected a wider distaste for theater for all I know.”

Hmm. That maybe fits the poem. If you didn’t have something more important to do, it’d be good enough to look into it.

But surprisingly, it’s Marian who interjects.

“I think we should investigate that.”

Now you’re really curious. She was interested in your map. Does she somehow know the poem, too?

You think you want to ask her some questions, and it’s probably best if the two of you are alone while you do that. And you have the perfect excuse to split up the group, now that you think about it.

“I’m not so sure,” you mutter. “Arlene, why don’t you and Drip get that poor kid into the church? Marian and I can figure out our next move and we’ll meet you outside once you do.”

You give Arlene a slight signal to make it clear that this is going to be a sensitive conversation. She nods.

“Yeah, let’s go,” she agrees, lifting the kid up. “I can carry them, but it’ll be hard for me to spot the weird ooze on the way out. Drip, you can go on ahead and help me with that.”

And they leave. Marian frowns.

“I know what game you’re playing, Laikenne. You mean to question me. I’m not interested.”

Well. This is off to a grand start already. Seems the first step is convincing her this conversation is worth her time.

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Maybe just be blunt with what you want to know and her reactions night tell you what she won’t.

“How well did you really know elder Laikenne?”