This is something new that I’m trying… a Kelworth Files exclusive!
Father Ismay smiled as he walked down the street towards the crowded Market Square of Oaksford.
The people who he passed always smiled and nodded when they recognized him in his deep black homespun robe and the somewhat spotted white v-shaped sash that hung from his neck. He nodded back, and greeted some of them, especially the ones who he recognized. Many of the ones he knew were part of his congregation, but not all of them. There were four churches in town, most of them on fairly good terms with each other, though nearly everybody else looked down on the Chapel of the Beneficent Daemon Umbriel.
Shaking his head slightly, Ismay continued on into the market and considered his options. He didn’t have long before he needed to be back at his own vocation, and the crowds were particularly thick today. Settling on a tolerable choice, he pressed forward between the other shoppers, took a left turn into a narrow aisle full of stalls, and made his way down to a particularly rickety booth. There were only a few other patrons in line before him, and they were served quickly and moved away. “Father!” the bearded man in the badly stained apron exclaimed. “I’m glad to see you today!”
“Always happy to drop by, but I’m afraid I’m in a bit of a hurry,” Ismay said, bringing out a small silver billon coin out of a pocket inside his robe. “Can I get the usual?”
“Happy to serve you, as always, Father, but it’s not the world’s coin that I’ll need from you,” Vasser said, hurrying close. “You know my usual as well – it’s no problem, right? Anything you want in exchange, but the inspector’s somewhere about.”
“Not again?” Ismay said, with a resigned sigh. Vasser shrugged. “You know, I’m happy to help out, but not when all it amounts to is a crutch that keeps you from standing on your own.”
“No crutch, seriously,” Vasser insisted, his voice almost pleading. “I’m just short-handed this week, and as soon as Debri gets back from tending to her mother, we’ll get the whole place clean as a whistle, you’ll see.”
Ismay leaned into the booth. He couldn’t really imagine it being ‘clean as a whistle,’ but he did believe the cook wanted to do a better job. He tended to believe the best in people, no matter what, but anyway… “Very well, I do have one handy, so…”
He took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and took a moment to connect with something that was hovering at the back of his mind all the time, like a minstrel’s tune that he’d heard a few hours ago, or some errand that he needed to remember to run, and yet slightly different. This was something more than just a thought that had come from his own mind.
“In the name of the Holy Abbess, Saint Birgit,” he muttered, reciting the words that had come to him while praying, “I grant the blessing of health and cleanliness into this place, that the food prepared herein should be nourishing and beneficial to all those who partake thereof, and that none should fall ill from it. May pests and the unclean vermin remain no longer, and may the prosperity of the Lord God shine upon us all, Amen.”
The force of the blessing coming loose into the world staggered Ismay slightly, as it always did when he was the vessel of Saint Birgit’s grace. All of the tiny insects buzzing about inside the stall were struck dead by the power of it, and two families of mice immediately scattered underneath the cracks in the wooden wall and vanished into other parts of the market far away. There was also a general impression of cleanliness that had nothing to do with whatever washing of his stall Vasser had managed to do today. But as he looked around, Vasser obviously still seemed to sense that something was wrong, and with a wince Ismay had to agree with him.
“There’s… there’s some kind of meat on a high shelf, to your right,” he muttered. “It… it hasn’t been preserved right, I think, and is already putrid. There was nothing that a low-level blessing could to do save it, except to let me know that it was going bad.”
“Oh.” Vasser took a few minutes to find the item in question, a long fresh sausage. “Is the entire thing beyond use?”
TO BE CONTINUED…