Brand: Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab
Darkness; a sensation of falling—as if he were tumbling down a great hole, like Alice. He fell for a hundred years into darkness. Faces passed him, swimming out of the black, then each face was ripped up and away before he could touch it . . .
Abruptly, and without transition, he was not falling. Now he was in a cave, and he was no longer alone. Shadow stared into familiar eyes: huge, liquid black eyes. They blinked.
Under the earth: yes. He remembered this place. The stink of wet cow. Firelight flickered on the wet cave walls, illuminating the buffalo head, the man’s body, skin the color of brick clay.
“Can’t you people leave me be?” asked Shadow. “I just want to sleep.”
The buffalo man nodded, slowly. His lips did not move, but a voice in Shadow’s head said, “Where are you going, Shadow?”
“Where else have I got to go? It’s where Wednesday wants me to go. I drank his mead.” In Shadow’s dream, with the power of dream logic behind it, the obligation seemed unarguable: he drank Wednesday’s mead three times, and sealed the pact—what other choice of action did he have?
The buffalo-headed man reached a hand into the fire, stirring the embers and the broken branches into a blaze. “The storm is coming,” he said. Now there was ash on his hands, and he wiped it onto his hairless chest, leaving soot-black streaks.
“So you people keep telling me. Can I ask you a question?”
There was a pause. A fly settled on the furry forehead. The buffalo man flicked it away. “Ask.”
“Is this true? Are these people really gods? It’s all so . . .” He paused. Then he said, “impossible,” which was not exactly the word he had been going for but seemed to be the best he could do.
“What are gods?” asked the buffalo man.
“I don’t know,” said Shadow.
Warm dark brown musk, woodsmoke, and deep pools of labdanum.
Released: American Gods II