Tales of an Iselain Tiger
To my readers,
Sorry about the long wait, it took me a long time to edit this piece, my notes for "Tiger" are so jumbled and unorganized, and I'm trying to keep them organized. Anyway, time constraints aren't helping either. Anyway, beyond time related difficulties I had a bit of cold feet about how to go about this segment, after a bit of thinking about it I picked this route. Enjoy.
Steady… (previous to present; part 2)
(The previous day to present, second segment)
"We give thanks, thanks for this morning blessings. We give thanks, to the Goddess who shields us from the dark, and prevents us from falling prey to the dark of night and all its fell creatures."
Before her, clad in humble whites lightly accented with touches of green, the congregation of clergymen murmured the expected.
"For this, we give thanks."
Starting the next line of prayer, so familiar it was almost formula, Phadria led her priests in prayer. Seated in the chapel's mess hall, all the chairs save one were filled. A glaring absence that while not sinister, was unsettling. As unsettling and worrisome as the surprise she'd discovered before morning bell had rung. An empty kitchen, with breakfast made and set before the table. In truth, alone, it would have been a perfectly ordinary scene, and something of a boon. It would have been a meal that she hadn't had to cook (a small reprieve in her day, though goddess knew she'd never have told that, even if pressed), a well cooked meal at that. But there had been an odd little undercurrent. The faintest aroma of charred chocolate that had hung about the kitchen and bothered her. Like a specter it lingered, inspiring inquisitive looks her way, just as the empty chair did even now…
Ignoring the empty seat, and the scent, an all it's alluded to implications, Phadria did as she must.
She lead the prayer on.
It was always hard, starting a fresh. Learning new places, memorizing faces, while that was part of the experience of moving on (or rather, being moved) it was tiring. Tiring and trying, for wherever he went he was met with sniggers and snickers, adverted eyes and judging silence.
Luckily for his sanity he had bells. Cheerful, jing-a-lining bells that filled those strained silences that he could scarcely bear. During the most trying turns of "getting acquainted" -that first span of hostile incredulous incivility) he could tap his heels like the Chosen in the tales. Unlike said Chosen he wasn't spirited home, rather he was given a moment's prompts time where that horrid pressure abated and he could recall... Frowns could fade (would fade), suspicious could (would) waver, and like so many mirages, be proven one at a time to be utter illusion. Until them, he'd wait, patience was all he'd need to weather the storm.
So he'd wait, and smile to while that awful time down.
Well, smile and amuse himself in other ways.
From the edge of sight he spied a familiar conflict; that of curiosity waging war with what was "right" and "proper". The battle was pitched upon a young child's face, brunette, blue eyed, girl, he noted those details from the corner of his eye even as his mind inanely noted that she was dressed in a brown so dull she could have matched the dust of the road. Catching his glossy tail rope in hand he twirled it about, filling his ears with a riotous clink a link of bells.
Accidentally a pouch tied to the tail fell loose at his playing. Oblivious to the patter of feet behind him, the girls query of "Mr. Priest, sir..." he whistled tunelessly along with the racket of his bells.
Utterly engrossed in his own noise, the priest baring his makeshift tail and a tiger striped vest, padded down the street, kicking up dust as he went. Counting seconds (and questions, ears pitched to pick up the slightest variant in tone) in his head, he dimmed his shrill whistles to a hum after seventeen second had passed. No reason, to the number, cal it instinct, impulse, was probably the better word.
"Mr. Priest, sir, you dropped a cookie."
To that -the friendliest salutation he'd gotten all morning- he smiled. Smiled and turned all at once. Still holding his tail, that flopped and shuddered as he twirled, he looked down at the girl-child before him. A sparrow's hues, he noted wryly, as somber as sparrow was her clothing but that hesitant smile on her face offset the drab slant to her garb.
"A cookie, you say?" Tylor teased. "And how little one, did you know the pouch I carried contained a cookie?"
A silly question that, considering the content of his pouch lay in her hands. There, half consumed, was a familiar (if diminished) brown and black speckled treat. To his silliness she giggled and blushed all at once. He tipped his head, a few red locks slipping free to follow the slant, his green eyes thinned and his face scrunched up as if he was lost in profoundest thought.
"You wouldn't happen have the pouch that came with the cookie, would you?"
Still giggling she nodded, offering him the black and orange painted canvas bag around her sniggers.
"Well a day!" With a chuckle of his own he took the pouch in his free hand and moved to tie it to the rope. After a moment's thought he changed his mind and plucked a fresh pouch from the tail. "We might be in some luck. If you aren't too busy for a quick game."
Though he appeared totally engrossed in his antics with the child a bit of motion from the edge of sight caused him to turn just a bit. An adult, as solemnly dressed as the child before him, was haring his was off to someone of authority. Perhaps the Mayor, perhaps the other priests, perhaps even the girls' father.
"The name." Tylor held a pouch per hand, letting his tail fall to the ground with a clatter. "Is I spy eye. Save you have to spy, with your little eye, which pouch has the cookie."
Before she could point to the right hand he thrust both behind his back and swapped pouches a few times. When she huffed and stated that it wasn't fair he shrugged, still smiling.
"If you know what pouch is what it's not much of a game, is it?"
"Is it a chocolate chip cookie." the girl demanded.
"Not a raisin cookie."
To that his grimace was unfeigned.
"My dear, rains and cookie are mutually exclusive. A raisin and a cookie should not talk to each other, much less know that the both exist and putting them together is a sin to all cookie-dom. As a priest, I know-"
One small hand pointed to Tylor's left, indicating the hand behind the back. And to that determined little point Tylor fell silent.
To the child's imperial tone and pointed finger he had to laugh. So he did, and it felt good.
If you give one girl a cookie she tells her friends. In turn, each friend tells their friends, and thus all are told within the course of ten minutes. At least, that's how he felt. Within a remarkably short period of time he was immersed in younglings and question with only occasional interludes of cookie munching to offer him a reprieve. Soon sugar rush hit, and those nonsense games without rules broke out about him. It had something of chase something of tag, and a little of hide and go seek about the edges to round it all out. During the course of the game a secret came out. A big one. One that all adults strived to keep from children.
Discovered by accident, one realized it, than another, than the whole mob. Squeaking and squawking, Tylor tried to get away. His secret was out after all, and one did not linger when secrets came out. Alas his tail tripped him up, and the lot of them descended, fingers all a wiggle.
"No, please... Merciful Goddess.. not...not... there!"
Tossing and turning the dust of Iselia's square stole the pristine edge off of his white robes nd dulled the vibrant stripes of orange and black from his tail and vest. Despite his squirms he was surrounded, and his pleas went unheeded. Laughing so hard he cried and wheezed in turns the red head flopped a bit after his assailants let up, torn between gasping and laughing, he settled for trying both at once and nearly choked as a result. Gingerly he sat up, made aware in bits and pieces that the game was up. His insides hurt, almost burned, form it all.
Wiping dust form his eyes, tail bells ringing in the sudden, heavy, quiet, Tylor looked up still chuckling. Shaking his head to chase out a budding ache, Tylor Aruu-Vallen Sancrest looked up with some surprise at the horrified expression of his Mother superior. Silence, that had fallen thick and sure became ominous as priestess looked down at priest. Despite it all Tylor smiled, offered a twinkling little waive.
"Good Morning, Mrs. Phadria."
The steel in those sky blue eyes made him wince, just a little. His bells rang at the move, but still he grinned.
"I take it I'm in some trouble." Tylor suggested tentatively.
Her eyes narrowed just that. And to that his wince became a cringe that set all his bells to singing.
"Could you at least scold me in private?" He asked meekly.
Alas, wanting was not quite the same as getting, and thus he was scolded in public while sitting in the dust of Iselia's square.
Ignoring the curious looks from his brother priests, Tylor went on his way, bells all a ring. The lot of them were trooping to noon service, dressed in their priestly finest. He was not. Also, compile that sine with his tattered appearance, add to that the the company that he was keeping, and the direction he was headed… Well that would explain many of the turned heads. As of the moment Tylor was being escorted to his communal quarters by Iselia's Mother Superior, her staff thumping an exasperated tune on the worn stone floors. As luck would have it the other priests who had shared it with him last night were headed to the main chapel to go to prayers, so no explanations were needed once he passed the door way. As for what excuses he might have offered to those he met on the route here…. He was allowed none. Phadria offered sickly explanations with a sick sweet smile that discouraged questions and gave no real answers. All in all, Tylor was rather disappointed with her. Shame, she'd seemed so... lively a day ago. Ah well. Formality and that "superior" stuff he supposed could wear the fun out of the most carefree.
Left alone, with orders to "dress appropriately for the noon service" Tylor sighed and considered his packs. He hadn't bothered to pull out his other vestments, had put his best on top and was wearing those now. Though dust caked and sweat darkened the fabrics he'd tussled in were of the highest quality and considering his taste, appropriately sober. Cast in the white and spring green that the goddess so loved, but in subdued quantities so not to clash. The other alternatives deeper in the depths of the packs were... more festive. Lime green in fact, lime green britches and glossy white tunics, a favorite emerald green cape, and of course, his most formal high hat, that outstanding behemoth of holy head gear that those in Palma Costa stated his must wear every holy day decked out in shades of varying green and white holy symbols galore.
And of course, spare vests and coats baring his trade mark orange and black stripes, some stitched on, most painted.
Considering those alternatives he'd thought that Phadria would be content with his present attire.
Ah well. Reaching for the brightest of his garb, Tylor smiled.
Dress appropriately, he most certainly would. It would be a shame to disappoint her so early on in the game.