PodCastle 85, Giant Episode: The Narcomancer

By N.K. Jemisin.
Read by Rajan Khanna.
Originally published in Helix.

“Death is not a Gatherer’s business,” Cet said. Did the woman realize
how greatly she had insulted him and all his brethren? For the first time
in a very long while, he felt anger stir in his heart. “_Peace_ is our
business. Sharers do that by healing the flesh. Gatherers deal with the
soul, judging those which are too corrupt or damaged to be salvaged and
granting them the Goddess’ blessing — “

“If you had learned your catechisms better you would understand that,”
the Superior interjected smoothly. He threw Cet a mild look, doubtless to
remind Cet that they could not expect better of ignorant country folk. “And
you would have known there was no need for payment. In a situation like
this, when the peace of many is under threat, it is the Temple’s duty to
offer aid.”

The men looked abashed; Mehepi’s jaw tightened at the scolding. With a
sigh, the Superior glanced down at some notes he’d taken on a reedleaf
sheet. “So, Cet; these brigands she mentioned are the problem. For the
past three turns of the greater moon, their village and others along the
Empty Thousand have suffered a curious series of attacks. Everyone in the
village falls asleep — even the men on guard duty. When they wake, their
valuables are gone. Food stores, livestock, the few stones of worth they
gather from their mine; their children have been taken too, no doubt sold to
those desert tribes who traffic in slaves. Some of the women and youths
have been abused, as you heard. And a few, such as the village headman and
the guards, were slain outright, perhaps to soften the village’s defenses
for later. No one wakes during these assaults.”

Cet inhaled, all his anger forgotten. “A sleep spell? But only the
Temple uses narcomancy.”

Rated R for nightmares, broken oaths and mended persons.

This episode of PodCastle is illustrated! The illustration has been provided by Shaun Lindow.
Narcomancer Illustration by Shaun Lindow