God of Rain

    Simon Yspen Farah, Prince of Ptolam put his hand over his mouth to cover a yawn. Even the second-born prince had to keep a straight face in public. The heat was wicked inside the stone temple. The wig made his scalp itch. A fly buzzed around his head, threatening to land on his face. His mother, Queen Tanorah, kept a steady hand on his shoulder, as if she sensed his restlessness. Mothers were like that. 
     Simon's eyes wandered the room. Smooth stone floor met thick stone walls holding up the sturdy stone ceiling. Brass lamps and chiseled statues of the gods  lined the walls, a stone table served as an altar in the center. The floor was carved with writings - mostly spells and psalms to the god Farah, after whom Simon was named. The god of rain. In front of him, six priests stood on the alter, praying, cutting themselves, washing their hands in special water. One kneeled, his eyes wide and pointed towards the ceiling. He moaned loudly, drooling a bit and smearing blood on his bared chest.
     Suddenly the man collapsed in a dead faint, saliva still leaking from the corner of his mouth. The room gasped and was still. For a moment, no one moved. The other priests froze, watching him closely. Then he jumped up and washed his face, drying it with a cloth. "I have a message," he shouted, "from the god Farah." Murmurs and applause began, then stopped. "He is pleased with his temple, and sends rain in one week." Cheers and dancing erupted from the crowd. Wine was passed around and the feast began. Priests brought out their magic paraphernalia, musicians tuned their insturments, and blond slaves served bread and fruit.
     An older man wearing a priest's black robes approached the royal family, who still sat at the front of the temple, watching over their people. He made eye contact with Simon and winked. The priest bowed deeply and spoke to the king.
     "My name is Taison," he said simply.
     The queen smiled and stood to greet him."Of course, Taison. I remember you from before. What is your request?" 
     Taison looked back at Simon and his older brother, Ramon. "I was wondering if I might borrow the young princes. I need some apprentices to work my magic."
     Ramon jumped up, excitement brightening his features. Simon stood, too, 
     "May we, Mother?" Ramon pleaded."
     Tanorah nodded, smiling.
     Ramon shouted for joy, and the two boys followed the priest out of the temple. There, Taison entertained them with magic tricks and they played board games. Taison always won, crediting it to his magical abilities. 
     The second day of the feast, Taison approached the queen again. This time he whispered in Tanorah's ear. Simon strained to listen. "It's not going to rain," was the hushed message. Then he winked at Simon before he left.
     It didn't rain that week. It didn't rain that month.  It didn't rain for the next 13 months. The priest who had predicted falsely and all the other priests who had agreed with him were executed on the altar they had danced on. It was on that day that Simon abandoned all faith in gods. 

The End

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