The Orphan: a moment from book 6
|Rautu spurns your children|
Many know I like to write things out of order. Here is a moment from upcoming book 6 of the Haanta series.
There was a matter of some consequence that occurred outside of the orphanage one afternoon while the Den Asaan was just beginning his patrol. The giant, chary and vigilant in his manner, was always suspecting the very worst of what was occurring in any situation and when he heard a quarrel instigate just beyond the churchyard, he shrouded himself in his trappings and hid in the shadow of the building to better hear the dispute.
A young man and a young woman stood with a child before the Reverend Mother, asserting many things on the subject of adoption. The couple shouted heatedly, making claims of deception and feeling as though they had been used ill by the Church organization. The man and woman were of moderate dress and tolerable temper given the circumstance but the child, who should have been frightened by the accusations made, was rather angry and sullen. The young girl had been one of the orphans from the Church boarding house and though she had been pleased to be given a set of parents, they had not been equally as pleased to receive her. The deception on her account was the ability to wield magic and as all mages by a suitable age would be asked to join their kin at Metula’s Haven, the young couple felt it was unjust to give them a child they so dearly wanted that would be taken from them only a few years hence. The indignation of the parents could not be assuaged and the little girl was returned in exchange for another.
When the child had asked why she was deemed unsuitable when she had waited so long for parents who were desirous of her company, she was told by the matron who came to attend her that mages were considered disagreeable for those who wished to have children who might take over the family business or some other unfathomable excuse. The girl restated her abilities in understanding, her superiority in reading and writing and her want to have a family who would love her, but all of her confirmations were treated with words of passivity and appeasement rather than sympathy. The child was rejected in ever manner and was wholly disconsolate.
The Den Asaan had watched the entire affair from his place in the shadows and had recognized the young girl as the one who had attached herself to his leg during the charity event at the Church. He had no recollection of her harboring an affinity for magic and surmised that such prowess had only just developed. He noted her downcast eyes and hunched shoulders and he observed that though she perhaps could be magically inclined and though she had done him the dishonor of embracing his legs and attempting to sell him cookies at his place of residence, she had not warranted such exclusion and solemnity. A pinch of remorse began to flourish in the giant’s heart and he made it his object to find dwelling for her away from the Church while he made a request to Head Cleric Rithea to visit Diras and collect the child, and hopefully to bring her to a home in which there would be those willing to care for her.
He called for one of his captains to replace his post for patrol and went to the training yard to summon his messenger gull. He sat in the barracks for some time writing a detail report of the account with the command of accepting the young girl as a candidate for the Haven without question. When he had done, he attached the message to the gull’s leg and bid his companion to fly to the west toward Barellynn. The bird squawked in acceptation of his quest and before he could set out, the Den Asaan remarked that it was too cold for him to fly off in safety. The giant wrapped a small scarf about the gull’s neck and declared him prepared for his mission.
Once his messenger had flow away to convey the letter to Rithea, Rautu made the Head Cleric’s visit known to the king and a room in the guest’s quarters was prepared accordingly. He spoke to his mate on the subject and she seemed only too happy that the giant had taken an initiative to move the child to a place more fitting than an orphanage regulated by a Church. There was the concern of the girl being made to remain within her heartrending home for a few days until Rithea had come to collect her but the giant claimed that a few days of glumness could do no more harm.
After a meal in the quiet and warm auspices of the keep’s kitchen, the Den Asaan returned to the commons to tender his reports for the day, but when he opened the door to his home, he saw the young girl sitting in the center of the main room. Rautu instantly gripped the hilt of his blade and glared at the child in stern suspicion. She smiled at his sudden and guarded stance and when she went to greet him with open arms and a cheerful canter, the Den Asaan unsheathed his sword and pointed the edge of the blade at her.
“Why are you in my residence?” Rautu growled.
“The lady in the armour said I could stay,” the girl said with a blush and a giggle.
The giant realized the mistake he had made in telling his mate of his designs for keeping the girl at the orphanage for two days until Rithea’s arrival and believed this was a punishment devised in retaliation. “She is a commander in your armed forces. You will address her by her respectful designation,” he said with a heavy sigh.
“Can I call her by her name?”
“No. Only I as her mate may use that title, Mivaari.”
The girl hopped in excitement for being given a Haanta designation. “Can I call you giant?” she said with a happy countenance.
“No,” he grunted. The giant pointed his blade to the corner of the room and ushered the girl toward it, being careful to keep her at a distance while doing so. “You will wait in this corner and remain silent until my mate returns. You will not speak unless addressed and you will make no other sounds while I am writing my reports.”
“Can I watch you?” the girl asked as she was pushed into the corner by the flat of Rautu’s blade.
“No. Sit and be silent.”
The Den Asaan’s command proved to be an unfeasible one to fulfill. When he sat at the table to initiate his letter to Otenohi, the girl began creeping toward Rautu when she believed he was not paying her notice. Each time she attempted to reach him and tap his back to disturb him, the giant turned, hearing the obvious din her footsteps made, and roared at her to return to the corner and be still. The giant’s frustration and the girl’s pleasure became a game of sorts. She would attempt to reach him before he turned around and every time she would scuttle back to the corner just as he turned to remark her. Every scowl and look of disapprobation on the giant’s side gained a fit of giggles from the young girl and their game continued until she surrendered to her mirth.
“Why do you laugh, Mivaari?” Rautu said in a vicious tone.
The girl tittered and pointed to her playmate. “You’re funny.”
“No, I am not,” he demanded, stabbing his finger toward her. “If you think your invasion of my home is amusing, you are mistaken.”
The girl laughed at the Den Asaan’s seriousness on the matter of her unannounced visit and snickered behind her raised hands.
Rautu had done with her disregard for his want of privacy and he thundered toward her to impress upon her the gravity of need for quietude. “You will hear me, Mivaari,” he boomed. “This is a scared residence of two Ataas Traala. I will not tolerate your desecration of it any longer.” He lifted the child by the collar of her dress and moved to toss her out of his peaceful home when the commander suddenly returned.
She stood in the doorway, surprise to see the two of them getting along so well. “You two are enjoying yourselves immensely,” the commander said smirkingly.
The giant made a few indistinct grumbles and then handed the child over to his mate. “Woman, you will remove this from our home.”
“Are you certain, Iimon Ghaala? It seemed to me as though you were having a pleasurable time to me. I should think you would like another training partner.” She winked at the child, causing the girl to erupt in snickers.
“This Mivaari is hindering my duties,” Rautu shouted. “It must be taken from here and placed somewhere else.”
“The guest rooms are all occupied at present. Even the one reserved for Rithea is being used by.”
“Then she will rest in the barracks,” the giant argued.
“All the beds are taken by our men, Iimon Ghaala.”
“Then she will stay with your beasts.”
“In the stables where she can disturb the horses?”
“Your Mivaari carry diseases. The home for your beasts will suit her.”
The commander noted that the girl had begun to feel disparaged by the giant’s dislike of her when she had only wished to divert herself with his dourness. She placed her hand on the child’s shoulder and gave her a knowing smile, assuring her that she was not being removed from the keep. The commander responded to her mate’s claim with pleading eyes and widened them each time he attempted to turn away from her.
“No, woman,” the giant contended, folding his arms across his chest. “You must fulfill your obligation to me and you cannot do so when another is present.”
“Such a pitiful excuse for you,” the commander simpered. “I daresay another’s presence shall not stop you from quenching your appetite.”
“Mivaari are forbidden from seeing the act before they receive their Mivaala. This one is going to be made as a vantaala and therefore should never be shown our ritual.”
“While that may be true for one of her age, regulations among our mages are not as exacting as those of your people, Iimon Ghaala,” the commander said, raising a brow.
“They should be,” the giant pouted.
The commander placed a hand on Rautu’s arm and sought to reason with the stubborn mountain. “Kassin is to stay with us at Alasdair’s request.”
“It is your duty as Traala to obey the word of your mate before the word of others and this Mivaari is to be taken elsewhere.”
“And alas, it is my duty as commander to follow the rule of my king.”
The Den Asaan sighed in disdain for his mate’s ability to thwart him and he was forced to acquiesce to having the child remain for them at least for the evening. He relinquished his want for Khopra with some reluctance and refused to call the child by her name though she repeated its use and pronunciation numerous times.
The child contrived several ways in which to disrupt the giant, making his direct and stern musings all the more diverting for her and the commander but when sought to ask the question of being taught a Haanta game and even ventured to hold his hand when he stood from the table to send his report, Rautu gripped the ends of her plaited pigtails and lifted her by them.
“These are my regulations and you will obey them,” the giant’s voice rumbled. “You will not touch that which is mine-”
“What does that mean?” Kassin asked in an innocent tone.
“You will not touch me, you will not my Traala, you will not touch my sword, you will not touch my chocolate-”
“You have chocolate?” the girl interrupted, her eyes brightening at the mention of sweets. “Can I have some?”
“Can I see your sword?”
“But you said I couldn’t touch it, not that I couldn’t see it,” Kassin said smartly as she swung her feet back and forth.
Rautu groaned for his misspoken words. He had forgotten the insolence and cunningness of the Frewyn Mivaari in comparison to those of his people and though there were sly creatures as Otenohi among the Haanta, none of them were discourteous enough to challenge the command of such an accomplished Amghari. He placed the girl into her feet and leaned down, grimacing at her while pointing at her nose. “If you promise to stand there, I will show her to you.”
“Okay,” Kassin agreed with a large and toothy grin.
Rautu stood back and exhibited his weapon. He explained the markings on the flat of the blade, discussed the materials employed in its making, the careful master who forged it, the arduous method required in sharpening it, and the amount of unmitigated strength needed even to lift it. Once his explanation was finished, however, the girl burst forth in a myriad of inquiries on every subject. She must know about the training required to wield such a weapon, how he acquired the heap of pelts adorning his back, how the elaborate tattoo in his arm was made and what the characters around it meant, why his hair was molded into fibrous locks and what the adornments signified. His sandals, his stone-like flesh, his enormous arms and chiseled form, his black and violet eyes, everything became a marvel, everything became a question and everything then became answer.
Kassin’s general interest in all the giant had to relay about his people compelled her to sit and listen with eagerness. Her lips parted in wonderment for every illumination or of every custom and the more she asked, the more willing the giant became to respond. The traditions most provoking to her were those of the Amghari. The contraptions described bedazzled her and she wished immediately to see those constructed in the yard below.
“Can I be a giant warrior too?” she said with sparkling eyes.
“No. You are a vantaala,” Rautu said in a softer tone.
“Can’t I be a magical warrior?
“No. Vantaala do not fight.”
“One did,” the commander reminded him. “Mages usually learn to become healers, Kassin. Only those who practice dark magic can do anything mildly destructive.”
“But I don’t want to be a healer. I want to be a warrior like you so I can fight for people who can’t fight for themselves.”
The commander smiled at the child’s heroic declaration but the Den Asaan felt disappointed. Her determination and concern for being a warrior of her people, though possibly improbable for one so small, was noble and Rautu felt it undue that she could be denied the opportunity of learning anything beyond healing if it was her purpose to do otherwise. He noted her growing distress at possible exclusion from her aspiration being taken from her and he agreed to teach her some of the Haakhas meditations practiced by the Amghari if she would like. She would and she beamed with instant happiness as she was bid to sit before the fire and wait for instruction.
The Den Asaan asked his mate if she should like to join their novice’s practice but she declined, claiming she had a charge from Alasdair that needed doing. The giant treated her allegation with some suspicion and allowed her to leave while he teach the Haanta meditations to the child. He sat before the hearth, making certain not to have his large knee touch the girl when he folded his leg, and he called her attention to the phrases she was to repeat.
They closed their eyes together and hummed the droning chant phrase after phrase until such time the giant no longer received a reply from Kassin. He opened his eyes, expecting to find her doing something impertinent when to his surprise he found her comfortably asleep. Her head rested on his strong thigh and her small form was curled against him for warmth. It had not been dark for long but as the giant had rarely required sleep, he was not sensible for the need of it in others. He cringed to think that Frewyn Mivaari with so many foreign contagions was on him. He made many attempts to remove her without touching her but was not able to do so without waking her. He thought to quickly pull his leg away but to have her awake again would mean another barrage of questions and exclamations. He was caught between he want for quiet and his want for freedom and eventually, his want for silence in the commons had won. He took the pelts from his back and draped them over the small child. She snuffled in her sleep and began to drool on his leg from her increased comfort. He grimaced in disgust for pool of saliva forming in the crevice of his bent leg but before he could decide that his love of tranquility outweighed his need for cleanliness, the feeling of remorse for her returned. He deliberated on her situation as he examined her snoring upon him and though his ideas of women in the armed forces were staunch, he admired her early initiative to be valuable to her people.
Rautu remained there before the fire with Kassin happily drooling onto his lap for some time. He considered her wishes to train but his careful musings were interrupted when his mate returned from her duties. She stood in shock to see Rautu allowed the child to be so close to him voluntarily and even touching him no less, but the giant sought to keep her from making suppositions by pointing his finger at her. “You will say nothing, woman.”
The commander indeed said and did nothing beyond smile profusely and give doting looks to her mate. She walked toward the bedchamber but turned back to see Rautu tucking his pelts neatly beneath the child. Her first response to his action was going to be a snide remark of how the beast had been tamed by two women of varying age but when she observed his concerned expression as he considered the child, she asked him if there was something troubling him.
“Our vantaala are never left alone,” he said, recollecting how the girl was rejected by those who had sworn to provide or her. “Our vantaala have their own sanctuary near the Hakriyaa where they are cared for by keepers and permitted to live among each other without fear of exclusion. They are not left to institutions eager to be rid of them.”
“I thought your people were not fond of mages,” the commander said, sitting beside her mate.
“Only those who have harmed others with their magic are shamed and excluded. This vantaala has not injured anyone and yet she was shamed in front of others.”
“I thought you were quite the advocate for punishment.”
“When it is merited, Traala,” Rautu quietly said, placing his hand on the child’s back as she stirred.
The commander knew her mate to have the largest of hearts and though he did not express his kindliness often to those with whom he was unfamiliar, she was pleased to see the girl had garnered his consideration. “Although you aren’t fond of things with diseases, I believe you can make an exception for one child, Iimon Ghaala. Wouldn’t you agree?” the commander smiled.
Perhaps the giant would.