Tsukiko didn’t expect to see anyone as she walked into the temple. She always chose times that were less popular so that she could avoid the judging eyes of the people worshipping at the shrines of Dragon and the other more popular deities. She didn’t mind though. Her time with Rat was private. Once again she had dressed in black, his sacred colour. When she was ready, she would only wear that colour. She was Rat’s servant and would son be one of his clerics, few though they were. Rat had dominion over disease and the dead. He had taken her parents from her. That was part of his wisdom. They had served their purpose in life. Now they would continue on in the afterlife. Her duty was still in the mortal realm. She had to show others the importance of her god’s work. Therefore, she was surprised to discover that not only was the temple not empty, but that the individual occupying it was praying at Rat’s shrine.
“Don’t you think that it’s a little inappropriate to wear a crown in the temple.” she asked. The crown in question was black and had screaming faces carved into it. It didn’t shift in his navy hair as he got up and stared at her with blood-red pupils. She found the image disturbing, yet somehow erotic. He was wearing green gloves that appeared wet and looked as though they wear several sizes too large, yet somehow continued to float around his hands. He stared at her with a furrowed expression. Her youthfulness was accentuated by her pigtails and her heterochromia was rather adorable. He relaxed at the sight of the colour she wore and the fact that she didn’t seem to understand his powers. She was not a paladin whom would smite him upon recognition of what he was. “I would have left it at the door with my axe,” he began, “but if I take it off, it will disappear and I won’t be able to get it back before tomorrow morning. That would be inconvenient for me.” She seemed to accept that ths was not something that she was ready to understand. She placed the box conyaining her offering on the shrine and said, “I’m Tsukiko, who are you?”
“A beautiful name.” he answered, “Mine is Shinji.”
“A pleasure to meet someone who recognizes the importance of Rat.” she said.
“The pleasure is mine.” he answered, “Rat is the only god in our pantheon who has the right ideas as to what must be done. If only more recognized him as we do.”
“That is why I come to serve when the temple is empty.” said Tsukiko, “I am training to become his cleric.”
“I’m sure that you would make a fine one to.” Shinji answered, “There are too few who pay there respects to the dead. I watch as they bring the corpses to the tombs. They dedicate them to Rat and are to afraid to return to visit their loved ones and thank Rat for bringing those loved ones to him. They do not deserve this mercy that Rat gives them. Rat will reward those who see this. Those who find superior ways to serve him.” Tsukiko shivered. This man excited her. He spoke with such passion about things dear to her heart. The idea of watching a burial unseen also thrilled her. “Do you often watch these burials?” she asked, “It sounds exciting!” Shinji smiled. Yes, he spent a lot of time making sure that he attended as many funerals as possible. After all, fresh corpses were important to his work. “Yes,” he replied “even when there are no funerals, I still visit the graves. Perhaps you’d like to come with me?”
Tsukiko giggled mischievously. “Are you asking me out on a date?” she asked.
“I believe that I am.” replied Shinji.