Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Norben Fletcher 1/7

Even performing this task for the hundredth time, he was surprisingly pleased with the efficiency of the design.  His heavy scale mail served as the base, hem flattened to rest evenly on a level surface, such as the hard packed dirt here in the village square.  He'd wanted to setup closer to the central well, for the better foot traffic, but spilled water left patches of mud he'd rather not plot around.  His simple mace hooked onto the mail's collar, head planted on the dirt, standing vertical.  Leather straps, wrapped around the flat butt end, tied around the two armholds on his large, circular wooden shield bearing the painted crest of the Daylord.  From a lacquered wooden, hinged box he removed a carefully rolled tablecloth, recently dyed yellow.  He unfurled the cloth, then draped it over the makeshift table, tattered ends kissing the ground and hiding the structure from public view.

"Thank you Lord, for this cool summer morn," he mumbled privately, wiping beads of sweat from his shaved scalp with the cuff of his white surplice.  Despite the breeze, hauling his wares and the exertion of the setup still left him winded and flushed.  The deep-stained box was then placed atop the stand, lid opened.  It contained variegated curio:  Small glass vials of a clear liquid, short white candles set within a tin base, a beaded necklace, a small latched iron pot the size of a man's palm, a plain copper ring that seemed to need some burnishing, four polygonal quartz stones, a wooden Sunrod, and six identical small bronze hand-bells.  In a normal goods store this display wouldn't garner much attention, but when delicately placed on display at a stand in the middle of the village square by a man proudly bearing the dual-disc emblem of the Holy Order of the Daylord on his chest, curious eyes wandered close.  Norben opened his mouth to speak, but then paused, flashing an embarrassed smile to the assembling crowd while fishing into a pocket of the traveling garb he wore beneath his holy vestments.  He withdrew four small soapstones, carved crudely into animal forms that could be bears or badgers depending on how judgmental you felt like being, and mixed them into the display of wares.  Now, finally, his good works could begin.

"Ladies and Gentlemen of the blessed village of Tresco, it is an honor and a privilege to be able to minister upon you the Song of Dawn," his baritone voice carried across the square.  He knew the chapel priest here was the somber type, so he played up the evangelical timbre to his speech.  "The great Lord has spoken to me in the night, when I wandered the roads lost, with darkness so thick it choked me, when midnight howl of the Devil preyed upon the living, and he whispered in my ear, and he shielded me from the night, and he pointed his finger, and he said 'Tresco, my child.  There you shall find sanctuary, and you shall bring upon them my Word, and you shall bring to them gifts of the Earth, and through their devotion I will protect them from the Demon inside each man.  I will forgive them their sins.  You will sing the Song so that they shall know my radiance, and allow the light to cleanse their souls of the blight.'  Ladies and Gentlemen of Tresco, I am Norben Fletcher, Father Confessor of the Holy Order, humble servant of the Lord, a simple preacher here to bring absolution and pennance, to offer the relics of the faith, and accept donations on behalf of the Pontifex in order to continue spreading the light of the Lord."  Here he closed the lid of his felt-lined box, the one that carried the curio here from his last village, one index finger trailing along the top to indicate the small slot designed to accept coin.  The devout approached first to espy his goods and the quality of his vestments, but his interests were amongst the stragglers; men casting nervous glances towards his assembled crowd, paces stopped in confusion and mixed intentions.  Sinners.

"You!" he barked suddenly, pointing through the crowd to one such downcast man who looked suddenly quite imperiled.  "Your shadow belies you.  Approach and confess your sins to the Lord."  A sly smile touched Norben's face, anticipating silver.

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