Extra story: Slush
|Rautu will not shovel. Ever.|
There was a lull in the winter climate and the snow around Diras had begun to melt. Though the trees were not yet budding and the flowers denoting the coming of the short Frewyn spring had not been roused, the thaw gave the air all the warmth the coming season could afford. The change in temperature had been sudden and odd. Heavy snows had fallen over the capital only a few days previous, the air had been frigid and damp, and the morning frosts had been bitterly cold. Farmers across the kingdom had begun to worry that their land might soon be unsuitable for planting, but their fears had dissolved when the temperate sun permeated the clouds that day.
Everyone who ventured out exclaimed how bright and warm it was and others were entreated to join in the small celebration in the marketplace to honour the supposed early coming of spring. Winter melon slices were distributed, drinking chocolate was brew and shared, and everyone rejoiced at the notion of the long Frewyn winter being over. Although their exultations were a month premature, the hope that the cold would not return was enough to emancipate themselves from their cumbersome woolen coats and thick garments. Many favoured their soft leather shoes over their fur-lined boots but those denizens of Diras brave enough to wear less soon found themselves in a disagreeable situation.
What was owing to such vexation and discontent Obhantaa Leraa discovered on his way from the castle keep to the square. He had remained within the aegis of the keep while the snows had been heavy and when he felt the warmth of the day, he thought it advisable to take his hangaara cat out for some needed exercise. He was well prepared to leap into the dunes and ran through of the main hall with his hands waving, crying happy exclamations as he hastened toward the snow, but before he reached his selected drift, Obhantaa had received an unwelcome surprise.
The snow he presumed would be well packed and excellent for fort building was an unpleasant pulp. The half-melted slush melding with the thawing soil squelched between his toes. He lifted his leg to examine the sludge encasing his foot and grimace as it slopped from his sole onto the ground. Being from the islands and not fully having understood the properties of snow, Leraa was rapt in a state of disgusted confusion. The substance bore the semblance of snow yet when touched it broke into moistened pieces. He held some in his hand and attempted to understand the occurrence. Frewyn winter was cold, he knew this well, snow fell in winter and remained on the ground even when sunny, the weather was yet cold in his estimation and therefore this soppy mess could not be accounted for. He wondered if the slush were a chilled equivalent of a wet sand that was common after the rains came on Sanhedhran and the instant the thought came to him, Obhantaa had begun to form a plan.
“Khaasta,” he called to his cat. “Tell Ethnaahi I am here and bring a rope if you can find one so he can help me out.”
The hangaara bounded away and moments later returned with a long rope between her teeth and the commander and Den Asaan following her. She placed one end of the rope in Rautu’s hand and took the other to her master.
“Pull, Ethnaahi,” Obhantaa called to his brother.
Rautu gave a bothered sigh. “This is not Bhadronta, brother,” he groaned, dropping the rope to the ground. “You will be able to move without fear of entrapment.”
Obhantaa surveyed his surroundings with a worried countenance. “But, the white Bhadronta is high, Ethnaahi.”
“Come to me, brother. You will see there is no need for concern.”
Obhantaa obeyed and began taking small, tip-toeing steps toward Rautu, eyeing his path carefully to make certain the ground was solid beneath the layers of mush.
“If I didn’t know your brother had such a horror of quicksand, I would think his determined manner adorable,” the commander murmured to her mate, watching Obhantaa’s performance with a smile.
Rautu moaned and raised his hand to rub his brow. His loathing for the ridiculousness of the situation was calmed when he felt his mate’s hand begin to weave through his hair. Once he tranquilized after enjoying her pleasing motions, he explained the reason for his brother’s caution. “After the rain season on the islands, there is a large amount of Bhadronta, or trapping sand in the northern jungles. Endari and Amghari practicing Dhovhola must be mindful of where they step. Once snared in the sand, it will take the force of three Amghari to pull the one who is trapped to safety.”
The commander was going to make a remark on the subject of Unghaahi being capable of hauling anyone out of anything on his own but as Unghaahi was not present to make the compliment a success by praising the Den Amhadhri and playfully deprecating her mate, she left the comment for another time and only smiled at Rautu’s disgruntled expression.
“Has Otenohi ever made you fall into this particular sand?” the commander asked with a wry smirk.
“He tried once. He failed, however.”
“And when he failed, how long did you leave him in the sand before you called for help?”
Rautu averted his glance. “A few days.”
Once Obhantaa Leraa had carefully circumvented the peril the slush presented, he sidled the commander and pointed at the snow. “Gondhaahi, the white rain is changing,” he said in a tremulous tone.
“Alas, the majesty and enchantment of the white rain has done,” the commander said. “Now you understand a Frewyn’s hatred of the snow. It is exceptional when falling, wondrous when untouched, tolerable when being trampled, but unbearable when it melts. Not even your fur-lined Sindhaara can help you in this. The only thing your brother despises more than snow is slush.”
“It is contaminated and should be removed from your roads,” Rautu growled.
“Would you like to offer your services for such a task, Iimon Ghaala?”
“And now you know why we leave the sun and change of season to accomplish all the work.”The commander looked at her mate with an arch glint in her eye and she endeavored to impress upon him the soil’s need for the silted snow, as it was just as essential to the kingdom as was rain in spring, but all her speeches were made to a grumping giant who would rather have been trapped inside for another few days than have been made to step in the slush once more.