Monday, November 17, 2003

vignette: the lady of tongues

I began my apprenticeship at House Savor when I was three years old.

My mother had died earlier that year, leaving my father alone to raise me. It was a task he felt he was unable to do, reasoning that a day mason could hardly stay at home. Within a month, he placed me at the Orphan Box, paying for the eleemosynary privilege with what remained of his savings before he vanished from my life completely.

I had barely been in the Orphan Box for a week when the man who would be my teacher found me. Anon Slight claims that he had a prophetic dream in which he found a fallen nest. Within it were eggs, all broken except one. He took that egg to his mouth, extended his talented tongue and touched the perfect shell with its gastronome tip before experiencing the closest thing to Epicurean nirvana. When he woke, the illusory taste receding from his palate, he understood what the portent meant and found me.

Which is how it was that I grew surrounded by things that made taste, above all else, my primary sense. I thought that I would be an Epicure like my adoptive father as my taste grew to encompass my world.

Anon Slight was vindicated by my perspicacious nature. By the time I was eight, I could identify any food by taste, list its ingredients, method of preparation and where it was it cooked. I could tell the gender of the cook, where her thoughts were predisposed to venture as she worked and exactly how many times she stirred the olla podrida. Outside the kitchen, I could taste the air and know that a storm would be arriving in six days, catch a snowflake on my tongue and surmise when spring would come or discern the diluvial temperament of the river by sampling its waters.

I thought I knew much but in truth I was inchoate. My tongue’s training had only begun.

I had no way of knowing how House Savor would be only my first stop in my journey to become Sybal, an assassin like no other, known to others as Silent Malady, Wicked Osculant or The Lady of Tongues.

The Harlot Ennead had yet to come for me.


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