Related scenes about Ganya and his gun.
|[Welcome back to Ganya’s world. This is a series of scenes which take place after the other stories. They don’t quite hold up on their own but I wanted to type them and if anyone misses Ganya they might want to read them.
[Anyway, since this isn’t a story entire you need some background. The world is a little fantasy and a little wild west. Animism is the word of the day, pretty much everything has a god associated with it. Not, you must understand, a god of rocks generally, but a god in that rock, and one in the stream, and the field, and the hearth and your sword.
[Everyone speaks to gods. Tries to keep a good relationship with the ones they must work closely with through prayers and small offerings. The ones who hear the gods speak back are priests. Weapon priests are warriors with a close personal relationship to their weapons. Neither priests nor their gods are inherently good or evil, though like tends to call to like.
[Machines are a rare and difficult to make. The gods in the materials often resent being forged and are uncooperative. The more complicated the machine the more resentful the god is likely to be and the more difficult the machine is to use. Guns are pretty complicated and this has lead to a number of problems.
[Modern guns are forged by special gunsmiths who know ways of forging that are less distressing than the original methods. Older guns have been twisted and bound into new shapes and the process almost invariably drove them insane. All guns are finicky and it takes a unique priest to wield one. These are known as gun priests or bullet priests..
[Ganya’s original gun was of modern forging. She was called Dayariel and was very gentle for a weapon god. A protective spirit you might say. She was destroyed in a fight before the events of Well at Deepwater. After Deepwater Ganya found a new gun, one of the old mad ones and finds himself in a position where he must try to wield it.]
Gavriil closed his eyes and opened himself to the other realm, the between place where the gods lived. He stepped into the realm he was touching and found himself on a featureless gray plain. The ground beneath his boots was a sort of gritty dust and the sky roiled with a brewing storm.
He turned, searching for some clue as to the inhabitant of the place. A line rose into the sky on the horizon. Gavriil stepped again, each step covering vast distances so that on the second he stood before the line. A pillar stretched up into the sky for as far as he could see. To the pillar was chained a tall man, of wretched appearance. He was starvation thin and the gritty dust coated his skin. Wounds covered his body, some were healed to thick white scars but others were still open and weeping with blood and even less pleasant fluids. His hair and long beard hung in matted tangles. Worst were the wounds that had killed him; a pair of pitted steel spikes had been driven through the eyes.
Then the man’s chest heaved in a ragged breath and Gavriil dropped to his knees before the god in the gun. Little wonder he was insane.
“Who are you?” the god’s voice was a harsh rasp as broken as his body. It held power though, enough to send a chill down Gavriil’s spine. “What do you want?”
“I’ve come to ask your help, my Lord.”
The god’s laughter drove Gavriil closer to the ground, forcing him to support himself with his hands.
“I cannot help anyone. I would not help you if I could. Go, before I muster the strength to kill you.” The god turned his face away and Gavriil rose to his knees again.
“I will free you from your chains, and you will help me,” Gavriil said.
“I will not serve you!” the god bellowed, his voice cracking into a whisper at the last. “I will kill you!”
“So be it.” Gavriil stood and walked towards the god who strained against the chains. Gavriil could see that they were bound not around his wrists but through them, between the bones of his forearms. “This will hurt.”
“It always hurts. I’ll kill you.”
The bonds would be simple enough to break. They had been forged by a Smith and being a Priest, Gavriil could destroy them. There were many things a god could do that a priest could not, but a few a priest could do that god could not, or what use would priests be to the gods.
As Gavriil touched the chain where it passed through the god’s wrist the god rasped out “Kill you,” and Gavriil felt something give way in his chest. He staggered but wrenched the manacle open. It took skin that had tried to heal around it away with it as it pulled free leaving a ragged wound behind.
“Wait, “ Gavriil’s knee touched gritty earth, “until I’m finished. Gavriil sounded as a ragged as the god. The god’s newly freed hand jerked towards him and a spray of blood whipped across his face. As the blood touched him he caught his breath and rose, moving to the other wrist. This hand, the god’s right, had been shattered and left to heal as it would. It had healed badly, leaving a thing more a twisted claw than a hand. The second chain came away as reluctantly as the first.
With both hands free the god shoved Gavriil away with astounding strength. Gavriil sprawled into the dirt. The god clawed at the spike which had been driven through his eye with his good hand but it would not give.
“Let me help,” Gavriil said.
“If I spare you? If I help you, serve you?” the god turned to Gavriil and the ground under them rippled in waves.”
“I have no wish to bind you again. I right wrongs where I can, and what was done to you is wrong.” Gavriil climbed unsteadily to his feet. “Let me help,” he repeated and approached carefully. The god stood with a taught stillness and remained so even a Gavriil braced one hand against the god’s forehead and pulled the first spike free with the other hand. The made only a singled pained sound as the second spike came free.
The storm boiling in the sky broke and rain began to sheet down on them. The god lifted his face towards the water.
“I have a task,” Gavriil said at last, reluctant to disturb the god. “There is a boy I’m trying to help. If I die now, he will die as well. Let me help him. Help me help him and my life is yours.”
“Shall I bargain for what I already hold?” the god scoffed, not lowering his head from the downpour. It slicked back his matted hair and the dust ran from his skin in muddy trails.
“You bargain for a willing sacrifice. You hold my life now, do this favor and I will hand it to you with my gratitude.”
The gray world dissolved into shards around Gavriil and coalesced into the world he had left. He finished his draw smoothly, aiming and squeezing off a shot. The gun’s hilt heated in his palm and he fired a second round even as the first lodged in the witch’s head. That second round pierced her heart and the mark on the gun burned itself into Gavriil’s palm.
The witch did not fall but melted into tattered shadows and wisped away on a breeze.
“Is she dead?” the boy asked.
“I doubt it. Bullets weren’t spelled right, but she won’t back for a while. We hurt her at least.”
The land was still gray, but the sky had ceased it’s boil and gritty dust had changed to soft warm sand.
“You have returned.” The god sat with his back against the pillar. The wounds in his wrists had closed to ugly seeping scabs and holes where his eyes had been were now covered by closed eyelids, though they wept bloody tracks down his cheeks.
“I said I would, my Lord.”
“I didn’t believe you.”
“Then my gratitude for your assistance is even deeper.”
Gavriil approached slowly and knelt next to the god. He flinched as the broken hand came to rest on his head but held his ground.
“I don’t want your life just now. You will keep it for me until I do. Now give me your hand, the one I burned.”
Gavriil did as he was told and the god explored the mark with the finger tips of his good hand.
“You will feel that when you fire. That is the price.
“Yes, my Lord.”
“You seem much improved, my Lord.”
Everything was gray still, but warmth radiated from the sky and the sand had been replaced with soft, calf-high grass. The gray was a product of the god’s blindness. Color made no difference to him and so there was none. The light was Gavriil’s doing. He could not a color a world but he could light it so long as the god did not oppose him.
The god was thin still, but no longer looked starved and the open wounds had healed over, all but those on his wrists. Scars remained, but they appeared long healed. The beard was gone all together and the hair short and neatly groomed. Rich brown, out from under the dust.
“You are very attentive,” the god replied.
Gavriil shrugged. “I ran out of incense.”
“I find the cedar preferable, any way.”
Gavriil nodded. The incense had been a bit heavily perfumed for his own tastes as well but Dayariel had liked it.
Gavriil did not flinch this time when the god touched him. He noticed that the shattered hand seemed straighter.
It was raining again. No storm this time, but a gentle rainfall on what had become a forest. Huge evergreens towering around him and in the distance that single stark pillar jutting endlessly skyward. Color had returned, faint and not quite true, but the world was no longer gray
The god’s wrists were healed and his eyes were open, though not entirely healed.
Gavriil approached him without being asked this time. The god placed a hand to either side of Gavriil’s face and rested his forehead against Gavriil’s. Gavriil closed his eyes, the end had come at last.
“It’s a cruel game I’ve been playing with you and none of it earned. I’ve no wish to take your life, it serves best where it is. The price has been set, best for you to find a weapon who’ll not hurt you when you wield her. No need to return to me any longer.
The world went away.
Color. The world bloomed with color. The landscape had taken on shape as well, becoming the steep terrain of a mountain forest.
“I told you not to come back here,” the god’s voice was clearer though still graveled. He stood straight and strong, though still scarred. His eyes had changed from cataracted white to the storm gray of sky from Gavriil’s first visit.
“You told me there was no need to come. If you don’t want me here I’ll go, of course, my Lord.” Gavriil bowed low.
“No. Stay if you like. It’s interesting to see you at last.”
The god cocked his head to one side. “Harsher than expected. You have a harsh face to match with such very kind hands. A good face though.” The god nodded approvingly. “I haven’t yet dared to look at my own, what with what’s been done to the rest of me.” He ran a finger along a scar on his arm.
“You’ve healed though. The scars may yet fade.”
“My eyes, my hand,” the god flexed his hand as he spoke,” those were the bindings put on me. Once unbound the damaged could be healed. The scars are from my forging. I’ll never be what I once was.”
“The open wounds have healed over.” Gavriil pointed out. “Perhaps they will continue to heal.”
“Ah, but you did that. I am the gun, the gun is me. I had been neglected a long time before you came along. As I am there, so here, battered but well maintained. Now why do you carry me still. You’ve been back to the Academy. They too encouraged you to take up a sane gun.”
“I’ve gotten used to you. We seemed to be compatible. We fight well together, you…feel right. It’s not fair of me of course. You’d prefer to be retired. Given over to the forge priests.” Gavriil bowed. “My apologies. That was selfish of me, we’re only a day or two out, I’ll take you back.”
“How can I feel right?” the god burst out. “My price is pain.”
“It’s a fair one. A reminder that you are a last resort. Dayariel asked tears of me. When I couldn’t manage that she asked blood. You’re a gun’s god. I expect a hard price.”
“What of the question of my sanity? Surely you’d prefer a stable weapon. You’d likely be more comfortable with a female god, as well.”
“Surely I’d prefer such,” Gavriil agreed. “And yet, I’ve never gotten used to a weapon so quickly. I’d wield you gladly if you allowed it, but if you wish to rest I will take you back. I won’t bind you again.”
“I find that I’m comfortable with you as well. Besides, I would prefer to remain out of the hands of smiths.”
Gavriil placed a tentative hand on the god’s arm. The look he received cause him to step back. “The might be able to help you.”
“I don’t need that kind of help!”
“I’m getting better. I don’t need to repaired, or reforged. I just need time.” The god turned suddenly. “Give me your hand.”
Gavriil held out his marked palm and the god traced the lines of the brand. Then the he lifted Gavriil’s palm to the god’s forehead and held it there while he took a long slow breath. The god really was quite mad, Gavriil thought, but he kept still.
“My priest,” the god said softly. “Kind hands,” he added, just a bit louder. The he released Gavriil’s hand and stepped back, looking disturbed at his own actions. “I suppose if we’re to keep working together you ought to call me Kazimer.”