The Luckbringer thought that, surely, mosquitos must have been a creation of Tarien. A small orison protected himself from such discomforts, of course, but watching the antics of his entourage as they flailed their arms at the insects, bred large in the jungles of Am’shere, amused the priest. Even the tails of the horses, brought with them from Alexandria, were flicking madly at the pests. Only the local Sith-makar guides, clad in a gossamer light appearing fabric, appeared entirely unaffected. Oh, but how the Laughing One keeps us humble, and reminds us that the smallest of creatures can bring us low.
Just ahead, through the trees, the Luckbringer could see what must be the village. A crude barrier of poles, lashed together with the vines of the jungle, seeming almost natural in a way. The village more seemed a place where the jungle had parted to give refuge, where a human settlement would have clearly shown signs of pushing the jungle back to make way. The Luckbringer was impressed, and thought it would make an interesting story to tell that pretty lass from the temple of Dana, who liked to visit the same winehouse he did.
As the troupe fully entered the little village, a worrisome sight came upon the Luckbringer. A circle of Sith-makar, scales glistening in the mid-day sun beatifically, surrounded a solitary Child of Fire. The central figure’s scales glistened almost like tiny copper coins in the light, shimmering brilliantly. Many of the surrounding Sith’s tails were pointed downwards, and their bodies were coiled beneath them, as though they were all preparing to pounce the central figure, who in turn was spinning this way and that, tail flailing, arms gesticulating, hissing as it turned its head towards each of its harassers. The Luckbringer was certain that the central figure was about to be attacked by the crowd, when suddenly the figure brought its arms down dramatically. The figures surrounding the copper-hued Sith changed, suddenly. Some falling back on their haunches, others jumping up and down, reaching towards the sky. The copper one seemed to stand in their midst, almost preening and basking in the attention, like a lizard stretched on a hot rock. Finally, the Lightbringer turned to the troupe’s chief guide, a Sith from the hunter’s caste, and asked, “What goes on here?”
The guide’s head tilted to one side, yellow eyes set amidst blue-green scales seeming to shine with what the servant of the Laughing One immediately recognized as mirth, though he would have sworn he’d never seen such in a Sith-makar, who he’d always thought to be a dour race, before. The guide made a sort of trilling sound, that the Lightbringer recognized as one made by the group surrounding the copper figure, and now recognized as. . . laughter. “That is Tija! Thisss isss why you are here!” He hadn’t seen an attack. . . he’d seen a joke telling. Glancing back at the clearing, he saw a pair of mesmerizing eyes, green, flecked with large blue dots, peering at him, and Tija’s head tilted curiously to one side.
It was some time later, after the sun had fallen. There had been a feast in honor of the guests, for the Lightbringer had not come alone. The merchants he’d come to the village with had been plied with gifts, and given many gifts in return. The true portion of business would not begin until tomorrow, but at the night’s feast, many Sith wore garments from Alexandria, or sported new jewelry. For a time, the Lightbringer had been led to believe that Tija was a female of his species - for it was ever so hard to tell with the Sith, anyway - when he’d seen the youth strutting around the village in a fine Alexandrian dress. As it turned out, however, Tija merely liked the way the skirts allowed his tail to sweep the ground, and so chose to wear the garment. When the human folk laughed at Tija, Tija merely made his trilling sound of laughter in return, agreeing that it was all a great joke. The Lightbringer felt the easy way of Tija, and immediately liked him, even though they had not yet spoken. There was just something about the bearing easy going nature of the youth. It had taken time to adjust to the mannerisms, as the Lightbringer watched Tija, for the scaled ones did many things differently, but even still, the Lightbringer could see the potential in the young man.
And so he sat across the fire from the village’s shaman, “Tell me of the boy.” he inquired, leading to a sort of dangerous hiss from the shaman.
He issss no boy. He has passsed his trialss into manhood. Pleasssse to sshow resspect.” When the Lightbringer offered an abashed nod, and bow of his head, the shaman continued. “But when he wasss a boy, it was ever thisss.” the shaman gestured to where Tija sat at another fire, surrounded by young and old Sith alike, telling another story. The coiled postures, the Lightbringer had learned, were those of anticipation in the Sith, like a human waiting with baited breath for a punchline they knew would be cherished. “He hass ever been loved by thossse around him. Though hisss curiosssity hasss led to many troubless. Am’sssshere iss a hosstile land. Asss a boy, Tija would often put himsself at risssk, in order to make othersss laugh. Asssk of the ssscar on hisss faccce, sssometime. Even when he was injured, however, he laughed. Ever has the Old Tricksster ridden on Tija’sss ssshoulder.”
And here the Lightbringer spoke again, “The Old Trickster. That is what your folk call Tarien? The Coyote?”
“We call him Old Tricksster. He appearsss to your people asss a red-haired coyote, yesss? To usss, he isss the firssst and greatesssst of the copper dragonss.” the shaman responded. “You can ssseee in the ssscales of Tija Woari that the blood of copperssss isss sstrong. Hisss family holdsss dark ssecretsss, though, of mixinggssss, that the boy doesss not know, and hopefully will not. Of sssserpentsss in the bloodlinesss.” The shaman’s voice had grown quiet, and here trailed off utterly for a moment, before he raised his eyes, red like rubies, to meet the Luckbringer’s, “But, hisss family is a good one. Ressspected. Mother of the ssspeaker casste, and father of the casste of the keeperssss. Though in our tribe, thissss meanss little. All raissse all. We are of one family.”
The Luckbringer nodded here, then waited a moment. As time stretched on, finally he broke in and asked, “So, why am I here, precisely? Not that I’m not honored, as is the House of the Laughing One in Alexandria, to have been invited to meet and see Tija. Why is it you’ve brought me here?”
The shaman spread his hands, as if this should be obvious, “Though he isss loved here, there is no placccee for Tija. We do not have a cassste of the. . .” a pause as the Sith looked for the word, “pleasser? What is it called, the one who makesss othersss laugh, and sssings at the firesss at night?”
“Yessss!” the shaman bobbed his whole head down, then up, in a nodding gesture. “Life isss too hard in Am’sssshere. We do not have a cassste of entertainerrssss. Tija endangerssss hisss life, and othersss, by dissstracting them from the harssssh life here.”
The Lightbringer frowned, not quite liking this, “But, certainly that is why the Old Trickster sent him to you. To lessen the burden of your harsh lives. That is his way. Tija can show laughter to yo…” the shaman made a slicing gesture with its clawed hand, cutting off the sentence.
“We have decccided. Tija must go.” the Lightbringer was somewhat taken aback by this curtness, and the shaman must have seen such, for he seemed to soften. “Asss I sssaid. Tija isss loved here. He will be missssed. Perhapsss when he hasss learned wisssdom, to temper hisss passssion. Hisss pranksss and jesssts, though, put many at rissssk. There wassss an accident. Three youthsssss fell into the water, imitating Tija. They were good swimmerssss, but not as good as the crocodilessss. It issss not unusssual for our people to die young, but we do not take needlessss rissssk either. Tija must go.” the shaman repeated. “He underssstands well the hearrtssss of hisss people. There isss a wisssdom in him. Or a potential for it. What he needssss isss to ssseee more of the world. We think your temple issss where he belongssss. If you will have him. If not….” The shaman said nothing, but the Lightbringer could understand what a tribal society might do with someone they felt did not fit. To isolate the young man by exiling him to the jungles would not be funny. Not in the slightest.
And thus, the Lightbringer met with Tija, who was almost shy, but in a charming way. It seemed that he had not been told he would be leaving, but who actually took it well in stride, even seeming to revel in the idea. Some comment was made about learning every joke of every peoples, and then Tija was scurrying off, collecting some meager belongings.
Since then, his time in the church of Tarien has been spent not only in revelry, but learning some small measure of the arts martial. Tija expressed a desire to travel, and wander the lands of the “soft-skins”, and was taught how to protect himself. He also showed an immediate knack in other ecclesiastical areas, including an almost intuitive understanding of orisons. Much to the surprise of his instructors. Beneath his whimsical nature, the clergy found an ability to ponder many of the unanswered questions carved into the labyrinth wall for hours on end, in utter silence. They found his ability to commune with Tarien to be almost as natural as breathing, and making others laugh.
It was with a certain pride that the Luckbringer beheld Tija on the day he was raised from initiate to acolyte. It was rumored that Tija had answered one of the questions on the walls of the temple, prompting his raising. It was a question that had eluded many of the wisest of sages in answering. Tija, though, had done it. He had walked into the deacon’s office, and said, quite simply, “To get to the other side.”