Anyway, without further ado, here is Virginia's effort this week (originally found here). ;)
“And so was written in the annals of comedy, that one day, a child would come into this world. And this child would say, ‘Woe betide, where did all these pies come from?!’. And the Wise Ones would say, ‘Lo, it has come to pass that The One has been born upon this world, and lo, it is funny.’
So sayeth, so it will be. Except that that’s entirely too funny, so it probably won’t happen like that at all… will it?”
-The Book of Banjo
Young William (never Billy, no) was enjoying the sunshine of a beautiful morning as he strolled to school. It was one of those perfect mornings that everyone dreams of, but rarely sees – the sky had the right amount of fluffy clouds, the breeze was gentle and intimate, and the sun did its bit of warm caressing as well. Much like the rest of his life, it was perfect, perfect, perfect. Why, it was even his thirteenth birthday. To celebrate, his parents had promised his favourite dinner, cake, the works – they even managed to scrimp together enough to allow him to have his best friend James to dinner with them.
In short, it was just about as good a day as one could hope for. Why, he even found himself smiling, his lips curled up in that foreign shape. It looked decidedly odd against his gaunt cheeks, pale blue eyes, and midnight curls, but heck, the cheer had to escape somehow! In fact, he was so busy thinking about how cheerful he was feeling and what a nice day it was going to be that he was shocked to have his reverie disturbed by a cry of “Look out!”, quickly followed by getting tackled down the pavement.
“Watch where you’re going!” William growled as he wiggled out from under his assailant. He stood up and brushed himself off while looking around to see what would have caused some random guy to barrel him down in the street. To his surprise, he spotted an accordion groaning brokenly about where he had been standing.
“Are you all right, young master?” his aggressor enquired courteously.
“Yes,” William began slowly, “But was it really necessary to knock me down to avoid an accordion? Surely, it wouldn’t have been nice to have it fall on me, but I sincerely doubt it would have been fatal.”
“Oh… you might have a point. Good day!” And with that, the other man cheerfully moved on down the pathway.
He blinked, shaking his head. “I wonder what that was about,” he wondered, frowning at a gash in his trousers. A couple of pebbles had imbedded themselves into the meat of his thigh where his trousers were cut, and he brushed them loose. The abrasion had made an odd shape, almost familiar in his mind… but he was going to be late to school if he stood around staring at himself! And so, he did just that, merging with the growing stream of students and instructors who walked through the scenic town of Sudba. It was a fairly populous for such an isolated place; people from nearby villages came to trade or look for potential spouses, but William wasn’t sure if anyone past those villages knew that Sudba existed. He sometimes wondered what was out there, past the mountains and woods, but he didn’t think about it for terribly long. He had a good life here and good prospects; his father was training him up in the family business, and he was getting a decent local education. No, he couldn’t complain – life didn’t get much better than this for such a serious young man, even if his trousers were now ripped and his thigh throbbing.
To add insult to injury, William was jolted out of his reverie by Pierre the painter. The man’s head was notoriously in the clouds, and William cursed himself for not paying attention; the older man surely couldn’t be blamed for being in his normal state. Unfortunately, his normal state was also generally covered in wet paint, which didn’t do much for the young man’s mood. He stopped, shaking, wondering if his face felt as covered in the stuff as he thought it was; he could already tell that his clothing was beyond ruined.
“Why so glum?” James queried cheerfully as he pulled beside his besieged friend. James was rather the opposite side of the look scale from his best friend. He had short, tousled blonde hair, doe-brown eyes, and tended towards the pudgier side of life. His whole demeanour was cheerful, as if nothing could ever get under his skin. Though there was an air of expectance around him, as if his normal banter were distracted by something.
“I thought this was going to actually be a good day,” William muttered, poking gingerly at the drying paint on his face, “But everything has suddenly started to go wrong.” He eyed the sky, which was still sunny and cheerful; the breeze felt cold against the dampness on his cheeks and chin. “Except for rain – rain would actually be useful in this situation.” He sighed, and started moving again.
“Now, is that any way to be on your birthday?” James chirped, “And besides, paint washes off, and flesh knits; it’s just a bit of bad luck, is all.” William grunted noncommittally, and James picked up the pace slightly, “And anyways, we’re almost to school.”
“I’m not feeling particularly thrilled at the thought of sitting in a classroom today.”
“The sooner done, the sooner it’s over. Plus, you never know what’s going to happen.”
“What are you on about, James? Nothing happens – that’s kind of the whole thing with life here in Sudba. Nothing happens, nobody really gets past the nearest couple of villages… it’s cheerfully bland and dull.”
“Never say never, my friend,” was James’ enigmatic reply.
“Everyone, take your seats, hurry now,” Master Orlais said kindly, standing at his lectern at the front of the small classroom. His eyes had only widened slightly at William’s state as he slid into the room, resisting the urge to skulk about. William was grateful to not have the instructors making over his state, which was definitely not within the recommended parameters of dress. He figured that he’d had a serious of mishaps must be particularly obvious, since he did his best to give the appropriate appearance. And, of course, it was his birthday. Sometimes, the instructors remembered to be kindly if they knew it was someone’s birthday…
“Today,” began the Master, pushing his spectacles back up his nose, “We begin a new lesson, as is fitting for what day it is. Today, we learn more our faith and its prophecies, as your parents probably told you.” He said this solemnly, panning his eyes around the classroom to connect with all the students. William looked around uncertainly; he’d certainly never heard anything about any sort of deity worship from his parents. And yet, everyone else was nodding along as if they had long-expected this, whatever this was.
“Anyways, as you know, our Saviour is due. The signs have all been readily apparent, and we can say with no quibbling that the necessary proofs have come due.”
William frowned, and felt the now dried-on paint crinkle where it remained stuck to his face. He’d not had the time to go clean himself up, so he knew there were streaks of red, white, and blue marring the right side of his body from his hair downward. His thigh ached, and even more than his face, he looked forward to the first break so he could do a proper job of washing it out. What was Master Orlais on about? He just wished whatever it was that he was on about was over so he could go wash up and see about salvaging his day.
“As it says in the Holy Tome, on this day, in this way, should our Saviour appear. As we know, the Holy Law of Comedy maintains that the Saviour will be he who is least suited to the job, for he must be pure of heart and soul, ready to take in the light of our Lord. And on the day ordained, he shall suffer the Indignities Three to prove his worth. Two shall serve to mark him, and the third shall serve to name him man. Isn’t that right, Willam?” Master Orlais peered down his thin nose; a hint of knowing smirk flashed across his face, which was repeated all through the classroom.
“I.. I don’t know what you’re talking about, Master,” William said slowly, suddenly feeling cold and cornered.
Master Orlais glided around his lectern towards where William was sitting; the rest of the class stood as their instructor moved down the row towards the injured youth. William stayed in his seat until the Master took his hands and bade him to rise. “On this, the first day of the thirteenth year, our Saviour has risen. Marked in the holy signature of Clown…” Master Orlais paused, and gestured at James, “If you would, please show the class the holy marks, please?”
James nodded vigorously, happy to actually be able to appear intelligent for once. With a voice-breaking squeak, James’ voice settled back down to its newer lower register as he pointed at his friend, “The cut on his leg bears the shape of our god; it is nearly identical to the permitted likeness. And the injury was even received in a very funny fashion, to hear it told.”
“It’s just a freaking cut, and it wasn’t funny!” William cried out in exasperation, only to be talked over by his best friend.
“As for the facial markings, well,” the blonde boy chuckled, flashing a grin, “I think we all expected a tattoo or something more permanent than what you received, but I guess there is some mercy to be found.”
“What ARE you on about, James? I just have some paint on my face, is all. I’m going to go wash it off the second we’re on a break; I am mortified to be in class in such a messy condition.”
James looked at William for a moment, and then shook his head, “You’ve not seen yourself yet, have you?” he muttered to himself, looking around the classroom. Spotting something on the teacher’s lectern, he cried out in delight and went to fetch it. He returned with a small mirror, and after getting an approving nod from Master Orlais, he held it up to reflect William’s image upon himself.”
“I’m covered in paint, James… is there a point to this?” the dark young man queried, eying his reflection. “Crap, this stuff is even in my hair!”
“The point is, my friend, that you’re The One. You’re the Saviour, baby – happy birthday!” James said happily, handing the mirror back to Master Orlais, and grinning all the while.
William sat down heavily, frowning heavily. He was not okay with this, not at all. “You can’t be ‘the one’ if you’re dead… right? Because I’m not really down with this whole religious figure thing.”
“Oh, there’s provisions that permit there to be a Zombie Saviour… but that probably won’t be needed. After all, what’s the harm of being the prophet and rebirth of a clown?”
“A clown?” William barked, “So what’s my party trick miracle – turning water into seltzer water?!”
“Oh William, don’t knock it until you try it. Why don’t you ask your parents about it when we got home? They have to know, even if they didn’t see fit to tell you.” James said with a smile, giving his friend’s hand a quick squeeze.
“Fine fine… fine,” grumbled William as he tucked a strand of paint-stiffened hair behind his ear, “Oh, and dinner is at the sixth hour tonight, so don’t be late.”
James smiled, and headed back to his desk. Somewhere in there, the rest of the class had already sat back down, and Master Orlais had returned to his lectern. “Now that that’s out of the way,” the teacher said, riffling through his notes, “We can get back on course. If everyone would pull out their Grammaticus and turn to page fifty…”
William sighed, and did as instructed. After all, Saviours probably needed to know grammar…