|Legion the Whispering God|
For all my years as a faithful adherent of the Messiah, I thought Her prayers empty words -- rote -- routine -- petty ritual. These words served me well once. Listen closely.
This was many years ago, during the Holy Conflicts in the West. I lived in Nein, a bachelor, as I am now today. I worked as a Cobbler then, just having finished my Masterpiece with the Guild. I even had my own shop! I had a relatively comfortable living. Everyone needs shoes or shoes repaired. Many of my regular customers were Soldiers of the Garrison near me. I always had supplies on back-order and combat boots were basically my thing.
One day a customer entered my lobby, a strange fellow. He wore close-fitting leathers under a heavy cloak complete with a broad-brimmed hat. He seemed a foreigner, as his attire was completely unfit for the Summer heat. I approached the man and asked how I could be of service. . .
"Greetings, traveler, how can I serve you?"
"I need some new boots. This is a place for. . .boots. . .isn't it?"
"Indeed! But, my friend, I notice that you are wearing a perfectly fine pair already." I replied, noticing that, in fact, he was wearing a pair of blackened travelling boots -- waxed-shined.
"I want to trade." With that the man removed his boots -- one at a time -- in a bizarre manner. He stood on one foot, lifting the other with both hands in a way that seemed to dislocate his hip. He slipped both boots off in this manner and handed them to me. "Fair trade?" He asked.
"Sure, these seem in good condition. Let me get my instruments." I took the boots into my workshop and retrieved my measuring tape, papers and ink-pens.
When I returned to the front the man was sitting on one of the couches. I knelt down to make my measurements. The man's feet did not match the nature of the rest of his body. They were gnarled and hirsute. Black talons extended from what may have been his toes, but seemed to be more like claws. Abashed, I stood and addressed the man in as polite a manner I could muster considering: "Sir, um, I don't think I have any boots of your size in stock. . ."
"Hrmm. . ." He grunted as he looked out the front window, "I can wait. Besides, the Sun today is too damn hot for me to walk around barefoot on these cobblestones. And those boots I am trading with are killing my feet."
I jumped a little when the man said "killing" but maintained my composure. "I'll see what I can do!" I ran back into my workshop and looked at my stock. I had no traveler's boots on hand that matched his complete size, but decided to improvise. I took one of the largest pairs in stock and sawed off the toe-box. I always had a variety of pieces on-hand to make the construction and repair of boots easier -- I took two of these toe-box leathers and stitched them together making a single dome. I welted this onto the base of the boots and reinforced the welting full around the boots so that it would stay in place. All in all, it was a fine piece of work under the circumstances!
I returned to the front with the makeshift pair of boots. "Here you are, sir!"
The man stood and slipped the boots on in a bizarre manner similar to the one in which he removed his former pair. While standing on one taloned foot he gripped the top of one boot slipping his other foot into it while extending his leg straight up into the air. Silently, he did so similarly with the other boot. He did this so casually that I wondered at what other strange mannerisms Demons may have -- such as the terribly hot clothing he had on in the Summer heat!
He walked around the lobby a few times. Then he tried a bit of a jog back and forth across the middle of the lobby. "Very serviceable," he commented to himself. He pulled a small bag of coins from his belt-purse. "Here," he stated as he dropped the small bag into my hand.
It was a very generous sum! Oh, but I felt very strange taking this payment from a Demon! I tithed a full 50% of the tip to the Church and invested the rest into my business. The man never returned to my store after that, but I will always remember those feet! From that day forward I recited my Prayers every day and never miss Mass on Sundays. Oh, the Devil has made me a faithful man -- what a strange world we live in, no?