A 500 word story.
Spit that doesn’t fly into the crowd, flocked around his pulpit-like box, sticks to his wild beard as the pink nosed man rants about them.
They are a group of people who live in the same city, rove the same streets and, unlike this upstanding citizen himself, are doing “nothing but harm to the fine people of Talerak.”
He is yet to define who or what they have harmed. That is the case with most who harbour such thoughts and righteously utter them in public.
A murmur of assent ripples through the crowd, though more pass by shaking their heads in silent disaproval.
One plump mother ushering her playful children along tells him to “shut up.”
This earns her not merely the ire of Pinknose who, like any zealously insecure preacher, berates her for the “complacent hag that she is!”
Can one judge anyone by how they speak to others in public? Probably. Some of the crowd feel obliged to defend their spiritual leader. How dare she interrupt his teaching!?
His brown hair tucked neatly under a mended cap, the boy tries to hide inside his mother’s voluminous dress, his sister hanging from her arm as if to drag her away.
Feeling his hold over his onlookers loosen, Pinknose’s white cheeks show spots of red as he shuffles back and forth atop his box while the woman advances on him like an elephant headed for water, his herd parting as if pushed aside by an invisible hand, going quiet with anticipation.
The exchange is short. Bright red now crawls up from the man’s neck as she wags a meaty finger under his nose, having nothing of his “baseless fear mongering!”
Turning to his onlookers, calling some out by name, the cluster closest to the doomsayer breaks up, his spell broken.
Strange tales told by refugees carry superstition and fear: a dangerous concoction even at the most calm of times. Which these are not.
One merchant’s guard spoke of Paerydin coming to the aid of villagers assaulted by bandits? That would be a sight not seen for many generations.
A tale he had heard from “a friend whose friend was there.” Perhaps Paerydin himself shared his table?
Mifmaf, such talk is manure that fertilizes the ground for men like Pinknose to preach their spiteful message. Not much has changed in a hundred lifetimes, as wisdom is often drowned out by pettiness.
Suddenly the girl releases her mom’s arm, hair flowing forward as she tumbles backwards into Pinknose’s perch. The cut in her head bleeds profusely.
With a wicked smile Pinknose points a finger and sneers at her mother that “his master punishes those who oppose him!”
Other mothers in the crowd will have none of his nonsense. His face flushes red as they call him a heartless fool.
An onlooker steps forward, and kneels down to cradle the wailing girl in his arms, then carries her off, leading others away from this scene.
Yet some remain and not having witnessed his pettiness other passers by stop to listen.