One morning, the teacher and his two star pupils woke up to find the devious one absent from his bed.
“I’m surprised he woke up early enough,” said Josh.
“He didn’t, he left after he thought we were all asleep, late last night,” replied Kyron.
“You didn’t stop him?” asked Yaway.
“He did us a favor,” said Josh.
Kyron sighed. “Maybe, for the time being.”
The trio found life much easier, as all three of them more than carried their own weight. For once, no one was dragging them down. Yaway seemed to have forgotten to question Kyron, and Josh maintained a quiet but supportive demeanor.
Of course, there is only so long that three men can remain alone in the woods. The day came when Yaway would have to do what Kyron described as “finding a mate.” He explained that he would most certainly not love and stay with the one he was with first, but that being a god, he would most certainly father children from any encounters he should have.
He explained all of the criteria Yaway ought to look for in a consort: courage, temperance, generosity, confidence, optimism, honesty, wit, kindness, modesty, contentment… and if all else fails, settle for a woman with a symmetrical face and well proportioned figure.
Josh also gave his advice in a less calculated fashion. He said that there was little point in giving advice on what kind of woman to look for, because one cannot control who will set his heart a flutter, nor can one control who will return his affection.
They traveled for days, singing and telling stories, as they made their way to the human world. Once there, it was another long journey to their destination, a monument where a lunar festival would be held on the night following the vernal equinox.
People flocked from all over to make sacrifices, eat exotic foods, meet new people, and most of all, to consume alcohol, be merry, and procreate.
“This is where I bid you good luck. With all these people around, I can’t show my face, er, actually my legs,” Kyron said, looking down at his hooves. “Josh, I’m counting on you to keep an eye on him.”
“We’ll be fine,” Yaway said, giddy at the sight of the crowd. Each was decked out in their favorite garb, Yaway in a purple silk robe trimmed with gold threaded floral and ivy patterns with a white linen toga underneath. Josh wore a garment resembling a kilt which came up to the top of his rib cage, with a bear skin cape draped from his right shoulder and covering his left half.
As they approached, young boys came up to them and asked for their weapons. They were given clay tablets with markings on them and told these would ensure their belongings were returned after the event.
They happened to arrive just as a young ewe was being dragged to the altar to be slaughtered. It bleated the whole way, struggling to free it’s tied feet.
“Wait,” yelled Josh.
He pushed through the crowd and arrived at the altar where the ewe had just been laid down. He rested his hand on the sheep’s neck. “You can’t kill this animal.”
“This is an ordained sacrifice for the goddess, its fate was determined long ago when it was the first born of the year,” replied the priest, who wielded a bronze knife.
“This is not an offering for the goddess, it is a goddess,” said Josh.
The priest looked at the sheep’s owner and asked if he was behind this, and the owner said he had no idea what was going on. “Why should I believe you?” the priest asked Josh.
“No! Don’t kill me!” the sheep screamed.
The priest’s eyes widened and he dropped the knife. He took a slow step backward, while the sheep’s owner squinted and cocked his head.
“Please! Let me live, I want to live!” pleaded the ewe.
“If you would permit me, I will procure a suitable replacement sacrifice if you would allow me to take her into my care,” said Josh.
The priest and sheep’s owner agreed, for they lacked any other recourse given the unusual circumstances. Josh made his way quickly back to Yaway. “There’s a a herd of aurochsen over there, I need to get one of them if I’m going to save the love of my life.”
“Considering what we came for, it’s strange that you’re planning on leaving with a sheep. I know gods have a history of turning ourselves into animals to seduce women… but I think you have it backwards, my friend,” replied Yaway.
“Trust me, she was the best choice of anyone here. Enjoy the show,” Josh said, patting Yaway on the arm and jogging over to the aurochs herd.
“What is your friend doing?” a soft voice behind him asked. Yaway turned and saw a soft-featured, red-haired woman with freckles and green eyes.
“I’m never sure,” he replied. “Hi, I’m Deyus.”
“My name’s Lilith. I’ve never seen you before. I love your clothing, it’s beautiful.”
“I got it in trade from a silk weaver,” said Yaway. The weavers were worms, and he paid for it by threatening the birds who were eating them.
“How… eastern,” she said.
As they made idle chit-chat, a small crowd had turned to watch Josh provoke one of the male aurochsen and drive it away from the rest of the herd. He circled the bull, which stood its ground and kept its horns pointed at Josh. He removed his cape and folded it over one arm.
The aurochs put its head low and charged. Josh side stepped successfully. He opened his cape in front of him and stretched the bear skin wide, standing to one side of it. The bull charged the center of the cape, which Josh pulled away, leaving the bull to gore empty air. The crowd hooted and hollered, half rooting for the bull and half rooting for the man tempting it.
The two continued their dance for a short time, until the bull faltered during one of his charges. Josh did not hesitate at the mistake, and he quickly grabbed one of the massive horns and twisted, sending the bull sliding on its side. The beast kicked wildly a bit before righting itself onto its hooves.
Josh threw his cape to the ground and proceeded to take a strip of leather that was tucked into his belt out, bend down, and pick up a rock about the size of an apple. He loaded it into the sling and swung it above his head. As the bull charged him, he let loose the rock, which struck the aurochs square in the forehead. Its legs gave out and the momentum of the rush towards its killer caused it to fall face-first into the dirt and skid for nearly a full body length.
Regardless of who each was rooting for, the entire crowd cheered wildly at the outcome.