“To people who say belief doesn’t mean anything, I say: remember Noyceton.”

Chig cocked his head. “What’s Noyceton?”

“Little settlement out past the mountains, near a spring,” Headley said, falling into his storyteller cadence. “Like a lot of places out there in the basin, it was founded by folks who didn’t like the way their hometown churches were going and struck out to make a difference.”

“What happened?”

“For awhile they prospered like many new towns, but they soon fell to fighting amongst one another over matters spiritual. Time came that the fight spilled over into matters temporal, and their little church cleaved plumb in half. Things got so bad that half the town was harassing the other or singing hymns in such a way to boondoggle the others. People that passed through said they’d never seen fervor or tension so high–including some that lived through the late wars in Italy.”

Chig shrugged. “Don’t see what that’s got to do with belief,” he said.

“One night, some folks out that way saw a bright light and heard a boom. Travelers on the road said that both sides had planned big revival bonfires that night, and the mass of all that raw and contradictory belief…well, no one’s sure what happened. But the town was leveled like it was hit by a shooting star and nobody ever saw one of the settlers again. Folks that have passed through since say the whole site makes ’em uneasy, and that they don’t feel right again ’til they move on.”