As part of Otenohi and Obhantaa Leraa's extended visit to Diras, an afternoon of Frewyn culture was proposed to the party. Although Rautu contested there were few customs to observe in Frewyn other than the improved food and overcrowded taverns, the suggestion was made of attending a play at the Royal Theatre. There was a new presentation given each season and with the coming spring promise a production of Contessor's Mad Queen Maeve. The notion of attending gave Obhantaa much excitement but gave Otenohi none. He would remain behind with Unghaahi to enjoy a few painful matches at Hophsaas while the commander and Kai Linaa were to take Obhantaa Leraa to the theatre to sit in the royal box. The invitation to attend was extended to Rautu but his general dislike for anything deceptive in its account was well known. He was resigned to remain behind until he heard of the caramel apples given out to those in the audience to keep people's mouths busy while the play was being performed.
The four arrived at the Royal Theatre and upon taking their seats in King Alasdair's box, Rautu's eye hungrily searched for the apple vendor. He was found, promptly assailed, and the Den Asaan returned with one caramel apple for each as well as five for himself. The two giants sat beside one another and the commander and Kai Linaa in front of them. The lights soon went out and the curtain was up. As the play was performed, the Den Asaan felt at liberty to remark on the poor skill of the actors and the unbelievable tenor of the entire situation. Years were depicted in moments, important events were rushed over, battles were fought by few men and women with sticks for weapons, magic was spoken of but never seen, animals spoke with human voices, the entire business was a travesty and audience enjoyed it immensely.
When the play was done, the Den Asaan was only too pleased to lead the party back toward the keep, grumbling how the apples did not last long enough to appease him through the course of the debauched performance. His brother reveled in the gaiety the triumphant end the play afforded and went on to discuss how a woman who seemed to be unenlightened was able to speak with animals and express her gift for her command of woodland creature with little practice or difficulty. Obhantaa humored Kai Linaa, both of them telling one another of what they most enjoyed while the commander walked with her disappointed mate.
"I apologize, Iimon Ghaala," the commander said, attempting to stifle a laugh for Rautu's pained expression. "I didn't realize there would be singing. I don't recall Mad Queen Maeve having a need for song as it's rather a dark play." She simpered as the giant rolled his eyes and grunted. "I'm certain you enjoyed it," she teased, pointing to his scowling features. "I know how you adore untrained Frewyn voices."
"Your women sing at irrelevant times and use their voices to commemorate the washing of dishes and other insignificant tasks," the giant scoffed. "Our women sing to honour our scriptures and remind us of our purpose, not to venerate a walk in the woods."
"Your brother quite enjoyed himself." The commander glanced back at Obhantaa Leraa to find him hopping happily while humming the main theme from the play. He bounded about holding Kai Linaa's hand and swinging her along beside him.
The Den Asaan winced to hear the dissonant notes of the Frewyn tune repeated. "I would challenge him to be silent if he had not broken my hand," the Den Asaan growled. He looked down at his left hand and observed his swollen forefinger, middle finger and thumb.
The commander looked over at her mate's fractured bones and judged they could be remedied with a splint if a visit to the cleric was deemed objectionable. "I saw your brother grip you so decisively I thought one quick pull should take your arm from your body," she said with a smirk.
The Den Asaan pined for the lost use of his hand and glared back at Obhantaa with tapered eyes.
Obhantaa realized his mistake and ceased singing to spare his brother any further discomfort. "I am sorry, Ethnaahi," he said shyly. "The vantaala attacked the Amghari with a knife and the Amghari was injured. I was afraid the Amghari would die."
"It was a representation, brother," Rautu demanded. "If it were real, the magi would have used magic to kill the warrior."
Obhantaa's amber eyes bent in a bemused misapprehension. The play had seemed very real to him and though he understood the performance was not an exact account of what happened in Frewyn one-hundred years ago, the events taking place on the stage he believe were true.
Kai Linaa sensed his confusion and took him by the hand to explain in a quiet tone. "It's just
make-believe, Leraa," she said in her small voice, patting the giant's arm. "The play is a retelling of a story. Your have those on Sanhedhran."
"Our dancers and storytellers wear the masks of those they are portraying and our performances tell us of our champions, not of mad rulers," Rautu argued. "The battles of Khantara or the discoveries of Malastaa are shown to our Mivaari and Ambesari so that they learn our histories. There is no need to create fictitious accounts to amuse our people. Our legends deserve reverence and they receive it."
"Perhaps," the commander said softly. "However, I daresay your people's depictions would lead to just as many broken fingers on your part. A true retelling of your legends may have given you a broken arm."
Rautu huffed and continued glowering at his brother. He was given an another apology for the breaking of his hand but the giant was determined to be restful and ignored Obhantaa's pleas.
"Thank you for allowing me to use your cloak to hide my eyes, Ethnaahi," Obhantaa said, entreating his brother's forgiveness with his glittering eyes. "I was afraid when the vantaala fell from the tower."
"I pointed to the rope that was holding her, brother. If you would have looked, you would have seen it."
The two giant continued their discourse until they reached the main gate of Diras castle and the commander shrank back from their strident conversation to walk beside Kai Linaa.
"I hope Rautu lets Leraa have an imagination for a little while longer," the elven woman murmured.
The commander raised a bow. "Oh, not to worry. I believe Leraa is impervious to anything my mate has to say, I assure you." The commander nodded toward Obhantaa to point out his renewed singing and hopping step despite the Den Asaan's roaring protests.
The Den Asaan dragged his brother into the keep and led him up toward the commons, attempting to quiet the gentle giant with reminders of the injury he incurred. "You will wrap the hand you have broken," Rautu said, pushing his brother up the steps.
"I promise, Ethnaahi," Obhantaa replied in the same tune as the song he was humming.
Rautu had done. He could not compete with Obhantaa's childlike and dulcet resolve, and he permitted him to sing with the provision that he would not do so for long. No promises were made on Obhantaa's side and the two giants entered the commons to find materials for a splint.
The commander and Kai Linaa walked into the main hall to find King Alasdair just emerging from the courts. He hurried toward them, pleased that their appearance would give him some time away from the nobility, and he greeted the two women with a bright smile.
"What did I miss?" the king asked.
"A very enchanting and colourful recanting of Mad Queen Maeve's death," the commander said.
Alasdair was sorry to have missed it and pouted with a sigh. "I love the bit when they toss her off the battlements. I should have thought Rautu would enjoy all the stabbing."
"As the Frewyn Players have turned Frewyn's most abominable ruler into a witch who attacks your grandfather, the historical inaccuracies were more than he could bear."
"My grandfather?" Alasdair repeated in astonishment. "He was a child when Maeve fell from the parapets."
"I fear they've embellished the tale over the years to keep the Frewyn young from slumbering in their seats," the commander laughed, looking to Kai Linaa as she giggled. "They've even added songs."
Alasdair winced and looked up to the common's window, wondering of the Den Asaan's censorious remarks made for Frewyn's particular type of song. "That couldn't have gone very well," he mused.
"No," the commander replied. "It couldn't have."