Posts Tagged ‘ Around the Rimless Sea: Prosatio Silban’s Mystic Fables for Religious Misfits ’

Prosatio Silban and the Profound Breakfast


IN ALL THE STEAMING LANDS there are none so pious as the villagers of Imperny. And yet, even within that island of serene certitude, Prosatio Silban found a disturbed soul.

The cook had parked his galleywagon a-purpose, on the edge of Imperny’s market square closest to the local shrine. but his “COOK FOR ANY PRICE” banner had attracted only one breakfast customer — a serious young man who had picked his way half through a plate of Random Eggs. He sighed and looked up at Prosatio Silban.

“I have not seen you before, nor do I expect to again,” he said. “May I impart a stranger’s truth?”

“The eggs are not to your liking,” the cook began.

“No! No, they are perfect,” replied the young man. “But I am not, or rather my understanding isn’t. I cannot decide whether or not my prayer is effective.”

Prosatio Silban, a former holyman who long ago decided to feed people’s bellies instead of their souls, had ceased to wonder why his gods wouldn’t let him alone. Instead, he asked, “What do you mean?”

“I was deep in my devotions this morning,” replied the other. “And it occurred to me: am I praying because I am grateful, or am I grateful because I am praying? In other words, do the gods grant me peace of mind, or am I fooling my mind into peacefulness?”

Prosatio Silban thought for a time. “Does it matter?”

“Yes. I think. Yes.”


“Because by one I am doing the gods’ will. By the other, I am silly.”

“But that is already true, in the eyes of those who don’t share your particular piety,” Prosatio Silban said. “If you live for others, you will be concerned with what they think of your actions. If you live for yourself, you will be concerned with what you think. But if you live for the gods — you won’t care what anyone thinks.”

The young man smiled. “Pass the tomatoes,” he said.

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Prosatio Silban and the Beloved Animal


A FEW YEARS AGO, I began writing some short fantasies concerning a notable resident of the Land Beyond The Sunrise: Prosatio Silban, reluctant holyman turned freelance cook, questing for a true love he met once as a youth and never saw again. (Or so he thinks.) Six stories are completed and undergoing revision, but the following flash is complete in itself. Enjoy.

Prosatio Silban and the Beloved Animal
By Neal Ross Attinson

HALFWAY BETWEEN HERE AND THERE lay a town whose chief feature was a particular animal, wild but benign, which had made its home in a civic park. So charming were its ways and so touching its mannerisms that the townspeople painted its winsome form on signs and walls, dyed their clothes to imitate its pelt, and dated their history in terms of the Beloved Animal’s first appearance. Great crowds would gather around it every day, punctuating its every move with an ooh, ahh, or “Look!”

Prosatio Silban watched the Beloved Animal from the edge of the park. He thought the townspeople a bit fervent in their adorations but said nothing; he had his own share of eccentric fervencies. After a time, he realized that the Beloved Animal’s eyes were looking into his.

Why am I so popular? asked a voice in his head. All I do is sit here, occasionally scratching. And they feed me and love me.

“You don’t need to do anything else,” Prosatio Silban replied. “It’s in the nature of people to love something like you unconditionally.”

Oh. But why?

“No one can say,” the cook said. “Perhaps they simply need to know such love exists.”

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Mystic Fables for Religious Misfits ™


Here’s something I’m working on which has not yet been published. The working title is Around the Rimless Sea: Mystic Fables for Religious Misfits; each features a mercenary cook and former holyman named Prosatio Silban. This excerpt is from one called Passing Notes, about our hero’s time-lost love who won’t go away …

“THAT’S SWEET,” SHE SAID. “BUT work now. Later…” And she kissed him again, waking odd corners of his body.

Senses engaged and soul singing, Prosatio Silban set to his task with a will. The stack of corn-wraps at his left grew steadily, was taken away, grew again more swiftly. He discovered that the process had its own rhythm — slap, smell, flip, smell, remove; slap, smell, flip, smell, remove — which seemed to coincide with the music wafting into the smoky kitchen. This is not hard at all, he thought, stealing a glance at Ashlaya’s perfect form and inadvertently meeting her amused eyes.

He opened his mouth to speak, when the cook to his left — a pasty-faced youth named Otlon, who had been filling and rolling the fried corn-wraps and arranging them on cloth-covered wicker plates — coughed loudly and made gargling sounds.

“Don’t mind me,” he said apologetically. “I can never get used to whatever plants or flowers or weeds they have around here. Don’t they bother you?”

Schooled in politeness, Prosatio Silban refrained from putting his hand over Otlon’s thin lips.

“Not as such,” he said, one eye on Ashlaya. She had finished her mixing and was now shaping raw wraps for the skillet.

“Why not? They surely bother me.”

“Ah… I don’t know. Sacreant’s Privilege, I would think.”

“What’s that?”

“Well…” He noticed Ashlaya listening out of the corner of her ear. “In exchange for our ministrations to the faithful, Sacreants receive from the Dancing Gods certain benefits. We … the Sacreants don’t get colds or headaches and the like, for one thing, and tend to heal faster.”

“Does that include hearts?” murmured Ashlaya.

Prosatio Silban looked at her, ready to spill a flirtatious reply.

“I wish I didn’t get colds,” Otlon said. “But every summer, it’s the same thing — three weeks of dripping hackery. And the sleeves! I wish I were a Sacreant.”

“No, you don’t,” Prosatio Silban said, feeling as though his heart was running motionless at full speed. He turned again to Ashlaya.

“Why don’t I?” asked Otlon.

“Why don’t you what?”

“Why don’t I wish I was a Sacreant?”

“It’s not exactly as wonderful as it might seem,” Prosatio Silban said.

“Why not? Get to live in the Great Shrine, eat well every day, get to be in charge of everything and tell people what to do. I’d like that better than slaving for old Ape-piss.”

“You only say that because you …” lack the experience to contrast it to your current station, he almost said. Am I going to talk this pompously for the rest of my life? No wonder people dislike us … dislike the Sacreants, I mean. “You don’t have anything to compare it to,” he finished.

“Compared to this, anything’s better,” grumbled Otlon.

“Be gentle,” whispered Ashlaya. “You’ll learn to like yourself. In time.”

How did you know what I was thinking? But Otlon didn’t give him the chance to ask.

“Why did you quit being a Sacreant anyway?” he asked.

Prosatio Silban’s limbs stiffened in sudden anger. How could he explain, in brief and to a complete stranger, his entire life? That he had been abandoned as a baby at the Great Shrine by one or another poor mother? That, in gratitude for growing up strong-minded and clean-limbed under Sacreantal discipline, he had vowed to repay to his benefactors a debt of someone else’s making? And that he had eventually discovered only disillusion where he had once confidently sought Truth? He groaned inwardly, and relaxed his rage.

“It’s a bit complicated,” he said. “Sometimes a thing isn’t as nice up close as it is from a distance.”

“Sometimes it’s nicer,” Ashlaya said softly. “But you can’t tell that. Before you know it.”

“I think everything’s wretched, from a distance or otherwise,” said Otlon. “You’ll see. Especially here.” He picked up a plateful of filled corn-wraps and ambled off.

Prosatio Silban sighed in relief. Finally. Now for some real conversation.

But when he turned to Ashlaya, she was looking at him apologetically.

“The pitcher’s empty. I must get some more water,” she said. “Wait for me?”

“For you, anything,” Prosatio Silban replied with a bow. “But every heartbeat is an eternity until you return.”

“Then. I shall always return.” She smiled enigmatically and padded away, carrying his heart with her.

“I can’t believe how many wraps these people eat,” Otlon said, returning. “I bet they don’t get colds either.” Prosatio Silban sighed.

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