Story time: The First Temple, part 2

Since the Prelate was ill and language was an issue, the novitiate suggested that Shilloh stay within temple premises until he had his audience. It was a wise suggestion, and Shilloh took it gratefully.

He then settled against the atrium wall and started digging fleece out of Pakita's bag, which for some reason had the guy hovering in consternation.

"What?" Shilloh asked pointedly, drop spindle in hand.

The novitiate shuffled guiltily.

"I… intended to escort you to the inner sanctum," he said, sheepish as a kid caught mid-mischief.

"You just said the Prelate was ill," Shilloh pointed out.

"She is!" the novitiate said, nodding hastily. "I merely— thought to offer you some space within our acolyte cells. For your comfort," he added.

Shilloh stared at the man. Then, very pointedly, he turned to look at the family hunkered in an opposing corner, their children asleep on travel bags, and to the filthy, drooling hobo whose suppurating leg was in the process of being drained by a pair of senior clerics.

He then glanced down the line of daily petitioners before returning his gaze to the novitiate in question, brimming with freshly harvested contempt.

The man did not catch the hint, not even when Pakita roused from her disinterested slouch to glare at him. "It's fine!" he very earnestly assured Shilloh. "Given your history and your circumstances, you are more than qualified to lodge within the Sanctum."

Shilloh kept on staring at him— but the hopeful smile never strayed past puzzled.

Pakita nudged his arm.

"Shh," he said, laying a quelling hand on her snout. "He's just clueless."

Clueless finally caught on that he'd committed some manner of faux-pas, since he stepped back and, after a shallow bow, glided off into a side door with badly disguised haste.

Pakita followed his retreat with regal detachment, then snorted and laid her head back down.

"Yeah, I know," Shilloh whispered to her, patting her fleece one more time before turning to lean against her flank. "But let's give him a couple more chances to embarrass himself. It's only fair, and that's what our job is going to be all about, isn't it?"

Clueless Cleric most definitely kept on embarrassing himself. In mid-afternoon he solicitously brought Shilloh a meal, setting the tray down in a creepily servile manner, and knelt there in wait even as Shilloh refused to look up from his weaving or acknowledge him in any way.

When he finally got bored and left (with another shallow bow), Shilloh set down his loom and ferried the tray off to the family. The kids were awake, and they ended up having a cheerful if mutually unintelligible conversation while Shilloh munched on the one bread roll; then he came back to Pakita only to find Clueless Cleric in the process of pissing her off.

"Oh!" said the man with obvious relief as Shilloh approached. "Can you tell it to stand down? I'm just trying to secure your luggage."

Asshole was reaching for her saddlebags.

"It's as secure as it gets," Shilloh snapped, then scowled at himself. He'd meant to give the guy the cold shoulder. Jerk was really testing his resolve.

"Oh, but wouldn't it be more appropriate to store your things within the—"

Shilloh nudged him away with a foot.

"Fuck off and stop provoking Pakita," he said, sitting back down and tugging his loom back from where Pakita had protectively rolled over it.

He had to re-string the shuttle and undo a couple rows, and was in the middle of readjusting the color needles when he noticed Clueless Cleric was still there.

"Um", said the asshole, having somehow detected Shilloh's attention on him. "I'm sorry, I really tried to get your apparatus away from the animal before it got crushed but—"

"Fuck off," Shilloh repeated.

Guy didn't fuck off.

"Fuck right off or I'll set Pakita on you," Shilloh warned.

Guy still only fucked off once Pakita rose menacingly to her feet.

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