Story for the day: Holiday Cake
The morning before the beginning of the Frewyn holidays had come once again and, as the regiments were given leave to return to their families to observe the two days among them, the commander took the opportunity to find some rest from her duties. She had set aside the full morning for rest. She was determined to sleep during the morning hours and she felt even if she would not be able to close her eyes for a prolonged period, she would at least have the comfort of her bed to soothe her. She did sleep, however, and for longer than she had expected, but she was awoken by the feeling of something moist lapping at the crown of her head. She thought that perhaps it was only her mate attempting to wake her in the most discourteous manner as possible, but the incessant style of licking suggested the presence of a familiar, large black cat.
She opened her eyes to find Obhantaa’s hangaara looming over her. The cat was industriously preening the commander’s black mane and could not be prevailed upon to stop. She heard the slight laughter of a certain white giant beside her and when she turned her head to greet her visitor, she was met with a pair of large amber eyes peering up at her from the edge of the bed.
“Leraa,” the commander hummed, giving a small wave to the giant.
“The Khaasta wanted to clean your hair,” Obhantaa said with a small laugh.
The commander raised her hand and languidly scratched behind the cat’s ear. “I’m pleased she would I wish to take such excellent care of me,” the commander sighed, realizing her wish for further sleep was ruined.
She raised herself from her bed and shook off any residual feeling of tiredness. The few hours of rest was more than enough to last her for the coming two days and she resolved to wake, wanting to begin her many duties expected for the holiday. She sat on the edge of the bed and stretched, smiling at Obhantaa as he called his cat to him. He regarded her with a smiling countenance, pleased to be in her company for such an early time in the morning. She asked him how training with his brothers was and he replied that their usual implementation was shortened by the Den Asaan’s charge of other duties that took precedence over their daily practice. The commander gave Obhantaa a bemused look. She had not been made aware of any more pressing requests. She believed the Den Asaan would not be anticipated to partake in the celebrations called for the two coming days and she wondered what he could deem worthy of his regard that would surpass his usual want for training with his brothers.
Obhantaa Leraa remained in the main room of the commons while the commander prepared herself for her responsibilities and when she returned to accompany the white giant to the kitchen for breakfast, she observed Obhantaa peering through the crack in the doorway.
“Gondhaahi?” Obhantaa asked, employing the woman’s Haanta designation.
“Yes, Leraa,” the commander replied, knowing the impending question certain to come from the giant would be a dulcet and innocent one.
“Why is Ethnaahi sitting outside your home?”
The commander laughed and shook her head. She suddenly realized the reason for the Den Asaan’s desire to end his training before its due time and chided herself for not recognizing it sooner. “I suspect he is waiting for the herald. He is to deliver a very important package today.”
“What is it, Gondhaahi?”
“It is a special cake made for the Frewyn Ailineighdaeth, our holiday to commemorate the rebirth of the Gods in the heavens.”
Obhantaa was uncertain of the word in Haanta for many of the Frewyn confections and chose to use the encompassing term instead to convey his further inquiries on the subject. “Why is this Ataasna special?” he asked with budding interest.
“It is made entirely out of chocolate and has a chocolate top swathed in chocolate shavings.”
Obhantaa’s mouth began to water and his notions of the mastery of Frewyn cakes filled his mind. “May I share with you?” he said eagerly.
“I would but I daresay your brother will not part with a crumb of it,” the commander scoffed. “I promised he could eat the cake in its entirety if he wouldn’t touch the dark chocolate ginger rounds Kai Linaa procured for me. He agreed, therefore no one is going to be allowed to sniff that cake. I was told that Diras Delights placed some flecks of white chocolate at the top for garnishing. Those I shall give to you if you like, as I have no doubt my mate will be giving them to me for disposal.”
Obhantaa said his thanks and sat by the door, waiting with patience for his share of the chocolate promised to him with a hum of delight and a happy genuflection. He stopped his pleasant musings when his delicate intellect returned to the matter of his brother’s occupation. “But, Gondhaahi,” he said, seeming confuse, “if it is the messenger’s duty to come, why is Ethnaahi waiting for him?”
“Your brother rather enjoys perching,” the commander snickered behind a raised hand. “He revels in inspecting and pointing out the failings of others. He’s waiting for the herald with such vehemence so that when he arrives and the contents of the parcel are not in perfect condition, your brother may be able to kindly remind the messenger of his failings. He never misses an opportunity for a good shout and an observant hover. As well, he wants to assure of the cake’s secrecy. Unghaahi would be appalled at my mate’s eating habits so you must never tell him that such an unwholesome delivery is taking place.”
“I promise, Gondhaahi,” Obhantaa swore with a wide smile. “May I wait with you so I can see the Ataasna?”
“You may but we must be careful to only look and then look away,” the commander said, performing the motions necessary. “Your brother will grow petulant if we stare at his cake for too long.”
Obhantaa vowed to obey every regulation given by the commander and he was permitted to remain within the commons until the delivery was made.
In the following hour, the commander began looking at her given charge for the day and Obhantaa took to practicing his mediations to pass the time in which they must wait to see the Den Asaan’s prize. Obhantaa’s cat hurried to the door when she heard the faint sounds of the herald coming up the winding steps and she pawed the space beneath the entranceway to signal her want to greet their visitor. She was denied her request. Obhantaa quietly asked that she be still when the Den Asaan would enter and not to leap up onto the table when he should place his parcel down upon it. She obeyed with lowered ears and a long expression but was treated with a rub of her ear to assuage her.
Rautu opened the door to the commons and appeared with a large, square box in his hand. He placed it down in the center of the table and began to carefully undo every string holding the precious cake away from him.
“Did you kill the herald or merely trounce him and send him on his way?” the commander said, approaching her mate with folded arms and a smug look.
Rautu grunted and ignored her assertion, continuing his work on the parcel. He peeled back the many layers of wrapping and revealed the cake in its truest form. The top was slathered in chocolate icing and glittered with chocolate shavings of every variety. There were two large curls of white chocolate that gave the giant some cause for concern but he resolved they could be easily brushed aside and cake would be safe. The paper around the bottom of the crust required a more delicate hand peel it aside and the giant entreated his mate to perform the task for him.
“And what shall I receive for my services?” the commander asked with a depraved grin.
“I will consider giving you a small piece,” was the giant’s hesitant reply.
“Really, Iimon Ghaala, your generosity astounds me. Very well, I shall do as you bid with the hope of you giving such a notion as sharing your most ardent consideration.”
Obhantaa, who was standing far from the table looking on with his gentle eyes, laughed at the prospect of his brother being charitable with his thoughtfulness. He knew his brother to be the pinnacle of compassion toward himself but when the object was distribution of what was his, Rautu was never liberal in his allocation. In fairness, on Sanhedhran the Den Asaan owned little more than the pelts on his back and was therefore permitted to be parsimonious with any new acquisition. The commander, Obhantaa and all of his brothers accepted this conduct for it provided an open source of amusement to them to see the giant act accordingly when they should ask for something that was claimed by him.
The commander’s work was quickly done and the wrapping lay in one piece at the bottom of the cake. She waited with her hands on her hips and brows high for her mate to give her the promised piece but what she received was the white chocolate shavings and a look of censure.
“How generous,” she fleered at the scowling giant.
“Fair, woman,” he corrected her. “You have ruined the icing here. I have given you a small reward in thanks but your work was hardly worthy of more.”
The commander pointed at the giant and chuckled at his vexation for the sliver of icing that had been damaged in the battle between wrapping and hand.
“You have agreed to allow me to have this cake and I have equally agreed to permit you the contents of your Anonnaa’s gift,” the giant contended, giving reason enough why the smirking woman had not merited any cake at all.
“Yes, as those ginger chocolate’s were sent to me, and therefore I fail to see how you were entitled to any of them. Alas, I know you will claim you’re only performing your duties of poison inspection by eating half of them and therefore I shall not press you for a reply.”
Rautu humphed and gave the objectionable white chocolate shavings to his mate who in turn gave them to Obhantaa Leraa as she had promised.
The commander and Obhantaa had seen enough of the cake they would not be permitted to share and were about to leave the commons when Otenohi suddenly leaped in through the open window. The Den Asaan quickly drew his sword fearing an unexpected infiltration of his home and prepared to strike. Otenohi stood prepared and when Rautu realized who it was, he flouted at him, making Otenohi only want to point and laugh at his brother’s surprise.
“I have told you that opening is not for your use,” Rautu scolded the inquisitor. “Now you may leave by it.”
Otenohi cackled as he walked back toward the window but stopped when he noted the cake sitting on the table. “What is that?” he asked in an arch tone.
“An Ataasna, Dhirghena,” Obhantaa eagerly replied. “Gondhaahi says it is a special one made for a commemoration and it can only be eaten by Ethnaahi.”
Otenohi took such exclusion as a challenge and swiftly moved to place his hand on the cake. He was impeded by Rautu’s sword landing in front of his delectable prize.
“Away from what is mine, Otenohi,” the Den Asaan roared.
“Very well, but you must share some with our brother,” Otenohi said, motioning toward Obhantaa’s keen expression. “You see he wishes to try it.”
“And I will call Unghaahi to examine that,” Otenohi argued, taking a firm tone and flexing his mountainous shoulders. “I am certain he will challenge you for your right to eat something so harmful for your wellbeing. You will not win against him. Share with our brother or I will inform Unghaahi of your deceit.”
The two giant stood opposing one another, the Den Asaan glaring up at the inquisitor and Otenohi leering down at Rautu. Each of them growled and continued their disagreement but Rautu eventually buckled under the promised might of Unghaahi assailing him. He had attempted to mislead his brother into thinking he was following the strict regime given him and if he wished to maintain the appearance, he would have to comply with Otenohi’s fierce demands. Rautu resigned and placed his blade back into its sheath. He summoned Obhantaa forward, sighing with defeat and cut the cake in two to give half to his brother. The white giant was elated and hopped with joy, making exclamations of sheer happiness.
“You may have the bottom,” Rautu grunted, giving his brother the unadorned portion of the cake.
Obhantaa had hardly cared which half he received as the notion of receiving any had enchanted him. “Here, Gondhaahi,” he said, splitting his piece with the commander. “We must try it together. It will make Dhirghena happy if we do.”
Otenohi grinned at Rautu’s dour appearance was immensely pleased that he had managed to please one bother and disturb the other at once.