Thanks to blogpal Tish Farrell for once again providing inspiration for a post. Her mention of lead roofs in her latest post prompted this excerpt from The Nine Amendments, the third book, in a comic fantasy series titled The Meaning of Lif.
The Trois. Wholly Order of the One God.
The room was large but not ostentatious, containing a small oak desk, a swivel chair and a bookcase against one wall. The other three walls were bare stone. A single, grubby window, high up towards the ceiling, allowed only wan light to filter through. Hence, the two large candles on the desk. These provided adequate light to read by but did little to dispel the crepuscular atmosphere.
For such a high-ranking Judysear official, the highest in fact, the room was austere. Precisely the way the individual who used it wanted it to be.
He did not like visitors to feel warm and cosy and for this reason the cavernous fireplace remained unlit.
Poop Gothly LXIX had seen the light, and he knew where it came from. Although he did not worship the sun, no matter how one chose to spell the word, he recognised the power, and therefore preferred to keep it at a distance. He did not overtly challenge it and it did not appear to challenge him.
Gothly sat at his desk reading a scroll listing the latest proposed revisions to the Wholly Bye Bill.
He studied the proposals in very much the same way a predator might consider its next meal, which was in keeping with the man’s character; being somewhat mantis like in his mannerisms. It was always difficult to know whether he was considering how best to pray or how best to prey. Unfortunate was the person who misread the signals.
His stick-thin, two-metre frame gave him a permanent look of hunger. Although this look was one of avarice rather than for food.
On the scroll rested two of a set of three onyx paperweights. The third, with its simian hand across its mouth, sat at one corner of the desk looking accusingly at Gothly.
Word of Isack’s departure had already reached Gothly’s ears.
If there was any substance to the nature of Knewtun’s trip to Sunniclimes, then there was a real danger of compromising the word of the Trois. And of course, that would not do. Not do at all. Therefore, it was incumbent on him, as spiritual leader, to ensure that nothing and in particular, no one, rocked the analogous boat.
A drop of water splashed onto Gothly’s crimson velvet skullcap causing him to look up. The next drop caught him flush in the face. He wiped the water away with his coat sleeve then jumped his chair to the right. The third splash landed on the floor.
Gothly looked up at the very large person standing on the opposite side of the desk. He raised an eyebrow a fraction and the person moved with more alacrity than should have been possible for one so large. Or one with such a pronounced limp.
As he came around the other side of the desk, Gothly handed the man a large, gold chalice.
‘Thank you, Hirtliffter.’
Hirtliffter placed the chalice on the floor underneath the dripping water, where it pinged in metronomic fashion as each successive drop hit. It was not long before Gothly began unconsciously counting out an irritating adagio and he also realised he was blinking in time. Looking up, he noticed Hirtliffter’s eyes doing the same. And worse, between each blink, the man sniffed. Before Gothly could stop it, the rhythm lodged itself in his mind. Blink, sniff, blink, sniff, blink, sniff, blink. He cursed under his breath, knowing that the annoying little ditty would be with him for the rest of the day, rolling around inside his head like a tiny pebble in a shoe.
Gothly cleared his throat. Hirtliffter snapped out of his reverie and flashed a look across the desk. His gaze fell upon an ornately carved wooden box. He reached for the lid.
‘Not the chocolate ones, please, Hirtliffter.’
‘Sorry, y’Worshipfullness,’ Hirtliffter apologised then opened a smaller, plain box and retrieved a handful of ordinary wafers. He bent down and filled the chalice, thus muting the sound of dripping water.
‘Thank you, Hirtliffter.’
‘I think perhaps you should see to it that the roof is repaired, Hirtliffter.’
‘And also, someone ought to have a word with some of those poor little fatherless mites responsible for removing the lead, don’t you, Hirtliffter?’
‘That would probably be in order, y’Worshipfullness,’ Hirtliffter agreed. Not that he was likely to disagree.
‘Not an order, Hirtliffter, merely a suggestion,’ Gothly corrected.
‘Right, y’Worshipfullness. Suggestion. That’s what I meant to say.’
‘One of your better suggestions, Hirtliffter. Thank you.’
‘My pleasure, y’Worshipfullness. Should I proceed with my suggestion at once?’
‘In your own time, Hirtliffter, in your own time.’
Senior Warden Rumply S. Hirtliffter considered this with a certain amount of consternation. He did not, in fact, have any of his own time so the suggestion threw him.
Gothly saw the man’s brow crease. He sighed.
‘Off you go, Hirtliffter. Off you go. And please tell Mister Perry I will see him now.’
‘Yes, y’Worshipfullness,’ the man acknowledged, clearly relieved at being given a direct suggestion.
The Nine Amendments. Copyright ©Douglas Pearce