Thursday, 6 March 2014

All Ye Sinners

This is only the second time (I think?) that I've managed to participate in the Midweek Bluesbuster. The idea for this prompt is always a song, but you can use anything about it - lyrics, pictures, the vibe of it - for the kernel of your story. It's also got a very forgiving word limit, which makes me surprised I haven't attempted it more often. Even the times I've not had a stab at it, I've often listened to the song a fair few times.

For this week, the song was Put Your Lights On by Santana, featuring Everlast.

The tavern was on the disreputable side of run-down. That was to be expected since it was so far from the major trade routes. Aithan didn’t mind though, he felt more at home ministering here than in the lavish marble palaces of the cities. He had been doing the work of the Gods for the best part of a century, and it certainly showed. Only a few whipsy tufts clung to his pate and his right eye was milky with cataracts. The other was disconcertingly blue, like a nostalgic summer sky from your childhood. They were deeply entrenched within wrinkles, paradoxically carved by both a stern visage and frequent laughter. He smiled to himself as he finished the bowl of broth before him, and then called for another beer. Mean as this inn was, it would be a fine place to serve Tai, the God of Remorse.

As the evening wore on and the other patrons became more raucous, Aithan decided it was time to start the service. Doddering over to settle his bill, he fumbled his purse before staring myopically at the coins within. He tapped his way out of the bar leaning heavily on his staff.. He’d barely gone a dozen paces when he heard the door slam behind him. A couple of the surlier patrons quickly caught up to him, smiling in a way that carried no warmth.

“Father, a moment of your time, please!” one said, taking hold of his arm.
“Mmmm… a moment, mmmm...” Aithan said, nodding his head a few times. He stopped walking, and turned slightly towards the fellow on his left. Cupping his hand round his ear, he spoke again. “Mmm… speak up, my son! What ails you?”
“We’re poor, father. Mighty poor! Perhaps you’d be kind enough to give us alms?” he said, fingering his dagger meaningfully.
A snigger behind him.
“Yeh father, mighty poor! I’m guessing a man of the Gods like yerself would feel right blessed giving us all your money as alms. A blessing for all of us, and best all round.”
“Mmm… blessings…” Aithan began. Then in an instant his visage flipped from that of a kindly old fool to a rictus of fury. His raised arm scythed in a vicious arc, catching the would-be brigand in the temple. The man reeled away cursing extravagantly. Aithan spun round, his staff sweeping the legs out from first one then the other, their  knives clattering away. A few quick blows to the pair of them and the were cowed and bloody.

Reaching into his robes, the priest produced a small pouch. He took a pinch of incense and smeared it liberally on a potsherd before flinging it on the ground and invoking Tai’s name. The cries of his “assailants” now magically muffled, Aithan set to work. Methodically he hit them with his staff, smashing finger bones and causing multiple fractures in their legs. When he was satisfied the damage would be beyond the healing even of an acolyte of Tuan, Aithan ceased the sermon.  His Lord’s work done, Aithan wiped the blood off his steel shod staff and set it ringing against the cobblestones in counterpoint to the psalm he was belting out in closing. Let them in the cities have their indulgences and silks. He served the Lord of Remorse by being the cause, not remedy.

1 comment:

  1. Nice twist - powerful last line!