lb_lee: A pencil sketch of me drawing/writing in my sketchpad. (art)
[personal profile] lb_lee
This story is for [livejournal.com profile] danmazur, who requested generational/genealogical foolishness.  It takes place in the Princess and Monster universe, but requires no context.  Happy Foolathon, everyone!

A Family of Fools



Mordekhai, Miriam, and Mara were a family of fools.

Mordekhai had been born blind, like his father and grandfather before him, and he was also a skilled tumbler and acrobat.  That and his gift of comic timing had made him the jester of choice for many of the elite families.

His wife, Miriam, had not been born deaf, but became so after a childhood infection.  She had no performative abilities whatsoever, but she had a singular gift with golems, and many of the families who hired Mordekhai for their parties also hired Miriam for their golems. (There were plenty of Master of Names in town, but they were all men, inappropriate for female golems.)

Their child, Mara, was neither blind nor deaf, but possessed a tongue of such sharpness that many of the city people wished she was mute.  Although she was of newly of marriageable age, everyone presumed she would never leave her father’s house.  Who would marry a spiteful girl who would only birth blind sons?

This suited Mara fine.  She loved her family, and she had her trade.  Maybe she wasn’t as skilled at physical comedy as her father, but she was good at the verbal.  Her acid tongue was not necessarily a setback in a fool.

She and Mordekhai were performing for the Barukh family party, thrown in honor of the end of the longstanding feud between them and the Chaims.  The good spirits seemed strained, however, and even now, one of the younger Chaim brothers hurled a goblet of wine at Mara’s father.

Dressed in her rainbow patchwork gown, Mara veered her cartwheel to intercept the wine.  The warm liquid splashed down her front, spattering her face, and the goblet bounced off her hip, hitting the floor with a clang.

Her father halted, standing on his hands.  Though he kept his fool’s cheery voice, she could hear his concern. “Are you hurt, daughter?”

Mara kept her foolish grin and balanced on one hand. “Only by the quality of the wine, father.”

He walked towards her on his hands.  When one of his hands hit the puddle of wine, he tasted his fingers, then clucked disapprovingly. “For shame!  You are worth much finer libations!” He gestured with his feet as he spoke.

She followed his lead, and they improvised a segment where they argued upside-down, both physically and mentally.  The audience seemed to like it, anyway; both families were laughing.

They paused for a quick break as the next dinner course came out.  Her father took her arm.

“I don’t like the mood this party is taking,” he said, using Miriam’s sign language. “They haven’t even started the serious drinking yet.”

“Do you think there will be a fight?” Mara signed under his hand.

He didn’t reply directly, but she didn’t like the way his lips tightened under his beard. “Check on your mother.  It’s time for me to do my solo act anyway.”

Mara signed a nod and darted out the back.  She knew her father was trying to protect her, get her out of the way, but she had to admit she wasn’t eager to perform again.  She stunk of cheap wine.

She almost crashed into her mother in the back garden.

“I was just coming for you!” Mara signed, but then she saw her mother’s alarmed face. “What’s wrong?”

“I just finished checking the feet of the Chaim chariot golem,” Miriam replied, hands moving almost too fast to see. “She said one of them is planning to start a fight—you’re wet!”

“Threw wine at me.  It’s nothing.”

She was distracted from Miriam’s response by the sounds of a raised voice back in the dining hall.  It sounded angry.

“I have to go,” Mara signed. “The fight’s starting.”

Miriam blanched but dashed out, away from the building to get help.  Mara turned and sprinted back inside.

Sure enough, one of the young men of the Chaim family was standing, swaying, delivering a snide speech that probably sounded much cleverer after a few glasses of wine.  The Barukhs were giving him icy stares but so far controlling themselves.

Mara dashed to Mordekhai’s side, took his hand, shared what her mother had told her.

Her father frowned. “Follow my lead,” he signed.

He then staggered out, pretending to catch his foot on a table leg, and executed a glorious pratfall upon the floor—coincidentally dumping the young Chaim’s dinner in his lap.  The snide monologue was cut embarrassingly short.

In the ensuing shocked silence, Mara pranced out, put both hands on her hips. “Oh Father,” she declared with theatrical exasperation. “You haven’t lost us another patron, have you?”

Mordekhai climbed to his feet, using the food-spattered Chaim for leverage, seemingly oblivious to his indignant sputtering. “No, no,” he said in his fool’s voice, “it’s just a guest!”

Mara mimed elaborate relief. “Oh good, that’s all right then.  I knew our patrons would never subject us to such windbagging themselves!”

The Barukh family laughed, and the young Chaim turned red.  He opened his mouth as though to retort, but his father hauled him back into his seat, lecturing ferociously under his breath.  Apparently oblivious, Mordekhai rejoined Mara on the performance floor and started their juggling act, further distracting everyone.

Crisis averted, for now.  Still, Mara didn’t relax.  Emotions were running high, and there was only so much two fools could do about that.

Then she saw one of the Holy City law golems drifting towards the door.  It was one of the ones that patrolled the city, and Miriam was at its side.  It settled outside the door, seemingly at random but highly visibly, and the hanging cloud of hot tempers defused.  Nobody wanted to start a fight near a golem.

Miriam caught Mara’s eyes, gave her a look of inquiring concern.

Mara gave her a quick nod and smile.  She was sure they wouldn’t have to deal with anymore wine tonight.

Date: 2014-04-01 04:12 am (UTC)

Date: 2014-04-01 05:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] chordatesrock.livejournal.com
Nice! Also, signal-boosting.

Family of Fools

Date: 2014-04-01 08:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] danmazur.livejournal.com
I love it! Really fun, and I would like to hire a law golem. This is a great endeavor, lb!

Date: 2014-04-02 06:35 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ljlee.livejournal.com
I'm here from [livejournal.com profile] chordatesrock's signal boost. This is funny, evocative, and thoughtful all at the same time. I like your vision of Jerusalem.

Date: 2014-04-17 10:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lb-lee.livejournal.com
Thank you! This is actually a smaller work from a big universe I've got a book on the back-burner for. Totally opposite end of the former Empire, though, and probably a good couple hundred years later.

--Rogan

Date: 2014-04-12 04:04 pm (UTC)
ext_12246: (Default)
From: [identity profile] thnidu.livejournal.com
Boosted on Dreamwidth and LJ (http://thnidu.livejournal.com/1395811.html).

Illustration...

Date: 2014-04-16 11:13 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] danmazur.livejournal.com
Nice! Thanks! I expect to see cosplayers like that any day now...
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