A nameless stranger lingers in a dingy tavern, trying and failing to stay one drink ahead of the memories that won't let him be. He seems weaker than mere drunkenness would explain: The room's paltry illumination still seems too bright for him, and even the softest sounds make him cringe. Just as he summons the will to put down his cup and leave, a group of traders barge in and loudly discuss the latest developments in the religious war between the followers of Jonders and Jenowade. Part of the stranger hopes they don't recognize him for the Jonderin messiah-turned-demon; another part of him searches for the slightest provocation.
"Branded Faith" first appeared in Bewildering Stories, issue 330, March 2009.