Story for the day: Night Out
Just a fun and random moment for the party in Diras.
It was evening and everyone within the aegis of Diras Castle was occupied with various employments about the keep. Obhantaa Leraa and Kai Linaa were sitting together in the kitchen engaged with the task of introducing Elsae to khaasta, and though the large hangaara was a monstrosity in comparison to the small white cat, both seemed to be accepting each other’s company. The Den Asaan’s messenger gull sat close by observing their interaction with an unblinking eye and making a few squawks intermittently to display his want for attention. Obhantaa was happy to oblige him with gentle words of affection but the gull refused to stand too close to the party when there were two hungry cats about.
The white cat, being the new inhabitant of the keep, was only too happy to purr at everyone and Kai Linaa, being the designated cooer and fawner of the castle, was only too happy to pay her regard to the cat while its mistress was otherwise engaged. Kai Linaa had accepted the responsibility of Elsae for the evening to give Aghneis time alone with Tomas. She found the whole affair a wondrous romance: the notion of Tomas never forgetting his first love, the manner in which he had taken her to be cured while his home in Westren was being invaded by the Galleisian armies, his being told the incorrect and unfortunate news of her death, being reunited with her a few years later by the one person he had so wished to know, and the idea that Aghneis had kept the cat he had given her as a gift the first time they sat together at dinner was all agreeable and most romantic. She sighed with passionate satisfaction numerous times and her eyes filled with stars to reiterate the business repeatedly in her mind.
Once Kai Linaa had agreed to watch her precious pet, Aghneis was at liberty to enjoy her first evening reunited with Tomas. Nearly five years had passed since they had last parted, during most of which he believed her to be gone from him forever. The blissful sounds of happiness that emanated from the blacksmith melded with the other exultations resounding throughout the keep. There were several couples in the bloom of their contentment: Tarhontaa, having returned with Aghneis, was pleased to see Mrs. Cuineill so well and was honoured to oblige her with the Haanta ritual, the two Nnodainya were enjoying their prospective captains and clerics, and the kitchen master was enjoying her revelry in the lap of an eager leatherworker who wished to thank her for his supper. Sighs of pleasance and exclamations of senseless joy echoed throughout the keep, and even the king and his queen were rapt in their depraved gaieties within the auspices of the royal chamber.
The commander smiled to hear Alasdair enjoying himself from her place in the commons. She had agreed to watch Dorrin in her quarters with the stipulation that the child would not require much in the way of care. There would be no rocking, no cradling, no picking up or putting down, no feeding, and certainly no crying. There would only be sleeping, leaving the commander to her pleasurable employment of talking, making snide remarks that Dorrin would neither hear nor answer to. She amused herself for hours, all the while hearing the strident sounds of her mate being trounced by Unghaahi in the training yard below.
Rautu grunted in pain as Unghaahi pressed his knee against his back and crushed him into the floor of the field.
“I have never won so easily against you,” Unghaahi observed with a laugh and a shake of the head. “I am aware you train every day. Are you well, brother?”
The Den Asaan attributed his numerous and altogether quick losses to his immense hunger. He made claims of cramps, aches and unpleasant sounds coming from his stomach and when he lifted himself from the ground once Unghaahi had released him, he declared that he could not sustain another match. He must eat to sate his mighty appetite or shortly crumble and perish. His exaggerations were treated with a laugh but to Rautu, his hunger was an impediment and therefore unbearable. His first object after pronouncing his hunger was to call up to the commons where his mate sat speaking to a child who could not be asked to respond and have her prepare a meal for him and Unghaahi to share, but his efforts were soon thwarted by his brother’s unmitigated kindness.
“Brother,” Unghaahi said in a firm tone. “Do not ask your mate to leave her duties. She is charged with a most important task and as commander, she must obey the word of her king before the word of her mate. It is not her responsibility to prepare meals for you. She does it to please you. You should honour her and allow her to rest in the evenings.”
“Very well,” Rautu groaned, agreeing only to release her for one evening.
Unghaahi nodded in gratification and began walking toward the kitchen. “Come, brother. Kai Linaa has prepared Phoraas. I will share them with you.”
At the mention of the hateful Haanta provisions, Rautu stood in place and stare at his brother with a look of discomfort. He had done well not to eat Phoraas for some time and believed himself to be the champion of Frewyn fare, but though he could not doubt Kai Linaa’s version of the wrapped grains would be more palatable than those of the islands, he froze in horror to think of being made even to sniff them again. His mind was at work with designs on what to do to circumvent such an undesirable fate. He thought of all the places he and the commander would frequent and attempted to choose one that Unghaahi would find acceptable, but just as the Den Asaan’s palate was decided, so was Unghaahi’s in the opposing direction. Where Rautu favoured taste over health, Unghaahi favoured wholesomeness overall. He fought with himself to contrive an answer before Unghaahi could drag him into the kitchen.
Suddenly, Rautu’s pointed ears perked and he had a solution. They would visit the Wayward Traveler and enjoy their assortment of spiced meats and roasted birds. Meat was not the healthiest food to eat but it certainly was not the worst and Unghaahi could not deny that bodies of such colossal warriors as themselves required the benefits of what a meal of meat could afford, to which he added that Frewyn had the most exquisite game he had ever tasted. Such a convinced boasting was enough to persuade Unghaahi to leave the Phoraas for another time and the two giants cleansed themselves, donned their respective coverings and went to the tavern.
When they arrived at the Wayward Traveler, they were immediately seated in a snug corner, away from the noise of the bar. They were greeted by the owner whom the Den Asaan knew well due to his excessive patronage during his many years spent in the capital. He was full of his usual good spirits, for seeing the ravenous giant was always good for his pockets, and when the owner asked if the giant’s usual would be had, Rautu replied that it would not. Luckily, Unghaahi did not ask what the usual meal his brother was known for consuming was and instead the Den Asaan ordered roasted peasant and spiced lamb. The owner asked if there would be anything else he could bring to the two giants and, after receiving a reproachful look from Unghaahi, Rautu added a plate of vegetables to their order.
Unghaahi marveled at the warmth and accommodation of the tavern as he waited for his meal. He was not accustomed to asking for what he wished to eat, as he had been used to eating Phoraas for so many years that he expected to be eating the same every day and had never thought of asking his mate to make something else. He had enjoyed her efforts so well that there was no reason to venture elsewhere for a meal, but the cordiality of the waiters and the pleasantness of the room had convinced him that dining out for one evening was worth the deviation. He smiled and inclined his head to everyone who passed their table, so much so that the staff began to wonder how two Haanta as dissimilar as the Den Asaan and himself were related. He heard whispers of the waiters at the kitchen entrance behind him, murmuring in nervous tension for Rautu’s unexpected visit, knowing that if they did not perform to his liking, they would receive the violent and roaring remonstrance they had been subject to before. Unghaahi sighed for his brother’s poor conduct. Though the Den Amhadhri was an enormity of a man and supreme commander of Sanhedhran’s armies, he would not use his immensity and strength were it was not necessary.
“Brother, you must show you mate’s people more consideration,” he began, but his lecture was interrupted by two waiters arriving with their meal.
Where Unghaahi had expected to see a few small plates brought to the table he was rather astonished by the feast brought before them. A heap of various vegetables grilled and sliced, four sizzling pheasants tenderly done and a skewered lamb roasted with garlic oil and rosemary decorated their table, giving the Den Amhadhri some cause for concern.
The Den Asaan sought to fill his plate, thinking of what was to be devoured first, but Unghaahi delayed his movement by holding his hands in place. “This is our meal, brother,” Rautu said guardedly, attempting to break from his brother’s clutches. “Why do you hinder me?”
“This is too much, brother,” Unghaahi argued. “We must not make ourselves excessive.”
“It has already been prepared, sir,” said the waiter standing to the side. “Once it’s brought to the table, it can’t be taken back. I’m sorry but boss’s orders, sir.”
Unghaahi exhaled and felt horrid that so much was done for them when they had come unannounced. The giant released his brother’s hands and stood from his seat. He bowed low to the waiter and said in a sincere tone, “I apologize. We are grateful for your efforts and I would ask that you allow me to compensate you for twice the entire cost of the meal.”
“I compensate for more than that, brother,” Rautu assured him, his hands hovering over the lamb, eager to begin selecting the choicest pieces for himself.
“It’s true, sir,” the waiter said. “The Den Asaan is always generous with us. Our owner insists we give him the best meals in the house.”
Unghaahi stared at his brother in amazement to hear that an establishment in Frewyn was pleased to have his ruthless benefaction. He believe the opposite to be true, knowing the Den Asaan’s unkind and unforgiving manner, but as he wished to give the remainder of his speech, he found it difficult to do so now that his argument had been diffused.
Rautu gave his brother an expectant look. “Is this the end of the lecture?”
Unghaahi supposed it was but there was still too much to be had. “We should share it with the others here,” he said, motioning toward the many crowding the bar.
“No, we should not. Their contaminated hands will touch what is mine.” Rautu could wait no longer. He reached forward to cut a piece of the braised lamb but soon found his fingers crushed within his brother’s monstrous palm, his pale eyes flaring at him and his affable smile fading into threatening grimace.
“Consideration, brother,” Unghaahi said in a slow and menacing tenor.
Rautu resigned. He realized if he wished to eat his meal, he would be made to relinquish half of it to the denizens of Diras abound in the tavern. If anything, the pheasants would quiet the buzz of chatter coming from the bar and he agreed to let the birds go while keeping the lamb to themselves. Rautu pined for the loss of the dressed foul and reproached himself for bringing his honorable brother along when he should have been left to the wretched Phoraas. He stuffed the braised lamb into his mouth before there could be another disruption and he ate in a brooding silence, watching the patrons of the tavern enjoy his pheasants and their reparations of offensive smiles.
While the Den Asaan took pleasure and comfort in the delectable lamb, Unghaahi enjoyed the various odd vegetables while making certain to leave some aside for his brother to eat. He made many remarks on the importance of having something other than meat to complement his meal and he smiled as Rautu consumed the vile roots without a word in opposition toward the Den Amhadhri’s suggestion.
The lamb was enough to appease the Den Asaan and when the bones of the game were picked clean, the table was cleared to make room for another more indulgent consolation. A tiered chocolate cake was placed before the Den Asaan but one look from the flexing grey mountain at his side and he knew he had done. He was compelled to take the cake with him back to the keep and leave its pleasurable consumption to another time. He paid handsomely for all the service given him and he was asked to return at any time he wished by everyone in the tavern. He grumbled to himself and clung to his chocolate cake as he and Unghaahi made their way back to the castle, his torment of not being able to eat it without a challenge ever present in Unghaahi’s happy smile. He thought to place his cake on his shelf in the larder but realized that too many eyes would see it and wish to share in its delights. He resolved keep it in the commons but would have to eat it quickly to keep from it going stale. This notion tempted him to hasten toward the commons and he bid his brother a good evening , hoping he had enjoyed his vegetables, and leapt into his residence prepared to eat his cake by the fire in peace.
The commander came from her seat beside Dorrin’s cradle and was surprised to find her mate entering their home with an eaten cake in his hands. Before she could ask why his dessert had survived the meal, Rautu conveyed the whole story.
“You? Eat a vegetable?” the commander fleered. “Impossible. Iimon Ghaala, are you feeling at all well?”
Rautu groaned and regarded his cake with pining inflection.
The commander simpered and tugged on his hair to comfort him. “You shall be quite safe in here if you wish to eat what you have so carefully preserved. However, I have not seen Otenohi this entire evening. What scheme is he planning now?”
“He is watching your king and his mate and judging his performance,” the Den Asaan said with an arch smile.
“I know you are not serious but considering Otenohi’s character and usual occupations, I must believe you.” The commander stated that as she had been sitting with Dorrin the entire evening a walk around the keep was necessary. She craned her neck and kissed her mate before she left and smiled to see Rautu and the quiet child alone together as she looked back when closing the door behind her.
The giant sighed for the quiet and tranquility his residence afforded him. He eyed the chocolate cake with insatiable looks and prepare for its demolishment. He did not bother with slicing it into pieces, as he did not mean to share it, and bit into the top with a hum of joy on his lips and closed eyes. The richness of flavour and exquisite texture assailed him and he felt that all the suffering of the evening was just if only to be rewarded with such a treat, but the moment he began to enjoy himself, the child awakened from its quiet slumber. He was certain that children of the mainland were accustomed to crying once roused and just as the child opened his mouth to proclaim his awakening, the Den Asaan placed a small piece of cake onto his finger and placed it before Dorrin’s confounded features.
“I am your guardian, Mivaari,” he said to the infant. “You will learn what is nourishing from my brother and your Ambesari, but I will teach you about taste.” Rautu allowed Dorrin to take hold of his thick finger and with a calm and inquisitive expression suck on the cake that was given him. The giant knew he would receive a rebuke for allowing one so young to eat something so unwholesome but he would argue that learning to appreciate chocolate was more important than learning to eat well.