Story for the day: Brigid's Day
The Frewyn equivalent of Valentine's Day.
The commander and the Den Asaan were called to the royal tournament grounds at midday. As the commander was never one for following Frewyn’s autumn holidays, or the observances of her kingdom in general, she had forgotten that this day in particular was considered a holiday of great significance. As she dressed in her armaments within their bedchamber, the commander half smiled as she awaited the barrage of inquiries on the matter of the summons that would come from her begrudging mate. She said nothing of the reason for their charge and only when the Den Asaan read over the order again did he ask the poignant question of what is Brigid’s Day.
“Since you should ask,” the commander began with a knowing smirk to her mate, “it is an old Frewyn holiday that commemorates the ill-fated affair of two lovers.”
The commander sensed the giant growing impatient with the notion of remembrances for distinctly meager reasons and continued with her explanation as he neared her with a heavy scowl on his stern features.
“Twirain and Brigid were two lovers, each from neighboring Frewyn clans back when my people lived in little else but dirt and tent. I know you would approve of such a life.”
“I would,” the giant grunted, merely to agree for the sake of seeing her laugh.
The commander simpered and shook head. “Just as they were primal in living arrangements, they were primitive in matters of the heart as well.”
“Then your king is a fitting leader for such a nation,” the giant said.
“I cannot deny that is probably true.”
“What does a tournament have to do with mates?”
“Well, Twirain and Brigid were together for much of their lives, from what I remember of my history lessons in the church, until there was a war between their two clans. The war began over a dispute of Brigid’s fidelity toward Twirain. It was circulated that she had been unfaithful to him with Edain, the leader of the opposing clan. Twirain challenged her for her honour and she unfortunately lost. He killed her for her crimes of unfaithfulness and there was a massacre between the two clans.”
At the mention of a battle, the commander noted her mate’s unyielding features brightened with hopeful looks, silently desiring this holiday to be commemorated with a slaughter of its own. His hand absently traveled to the hilt of his blade and his fingers fondled the grip with ravening anticipation.
“Unfortunately,” the commander added to spoil the giant’s unfounded wishes, “when the battle was done and Twirain’s clan had won, he discovered that the rumor of his love’s disloyalty was circulated by Edrain himself. He was jealous of their union as she was a famed warrior and he wanted her for his own yet knew not how to win heart without causing a dispute between them. Twirain was so overcome with grief that he wandered off into the woods never to be seen again and his clan honoured Brigid as faithful and honourable woman forever after. I suppose the irresistible charm of a woman warrior is one to be desired on all accounts.” The commander was hoping her mate would agree but the spark of enchantment with the tale had gone out in his violet eyes and his hand was removed from the hilt of his sword as the promise of a fight was taken from him. “I know you were hoping for an honorary massacre between nations, Iimon Ghaala. I apologize on Frewyn’s behalf that we have disappointed you so exceedingly.”
The petulant giant groaned and sighed at the prospect of his blade being clean for another day, and he knew he should not have maintained false hope for a nation with such little skill in the art of war.
“There is the tournament, however, in which you can take part in the name of your greatest love, which I know to be dark chocolate and not me, but if you do wish to fight you are not permitted to kill anybody. Temporary damage is acceptable, however.”
“Your people need an excuse to practice their abilities in battle. Now that they have one, they refuse to use it,” the giant scoffed.
“Indeed, but this does give you the opportunity to fight against your decidedly pathetic men and put them in the infirmary without being chided by Alasdair.”
The Den Asaan was instantly incited to movement at the thought of trouncing the weak soldiers of Frewyn without reprimand and he pulled his mate out of the commons, dragging her through the winding stone halls toward the tournament grounds as quickly as his commanding strides would allow.
When the commander and Rautu reached the ample arena near the training yards, they noticed the tournament was about to begin. The circular grounds were decorated with the accouterments of the holiday, red and violent hearts adoring the pavilion and buttresses, and images of small children dangling about by golden threads were hung from the corners of the tented pavilion ahead. The giant stopped his thundering ascent toward the exhibition area and was struck by the vibrant oddity of the garnishing. He was going to ask his make the no doubt ludicrous meaning of the adornments when he observed a few couples walking around the isle of the arena exchanging small boxes wrapped with ribbons and gilded paper.
“Traala, you will explain why there are fat Mivaari hanging from the walls and why your people are giving secret gifts,” the giant demanded, unable to move beyond the entrance without sufficient information.
The commander laughed at the giant’s astute and direct description, and led him toward the pavilion through his reluctance so that he may expel his frustrations for the imminent explication by queuing to champion them accordingly. “Since this holiday is to commemorate the love between Twirain and Brigid, the Church decided to take advantage of this celebration and change it into a religious observance. There are services held throughout the day in which the Reverend Mother makes her glorious appearance to bless couples in the names of the Gods, giving them a small gift to share in hopes that the powers of the benediction will overwhelm the couple and force them into Khopra for the remainder of the day, hopefully producing children that will be raised in the Church,” she said with a derisive inflection. “Many who do not adhere to this ridiculous notion that the Gods can give children have taken to the custom anyway, honouring the general splendor of the day by giving each other small gifts of things like chocolates and flowers, again in hopes of receiving Khopra for their troubles.”
The Den Asaan’s shoulders shook with ire for notion that one needed to coerce a mate into being generous with their supposed obligations and he stomped toward the pavilion, gripping the hilt of his blade tightly in his grasp. “If your people knew how to request effectively, there would be no need for this,” he grumbled, climbing the stairs to the adorned tent.
The commander could not deny that the giant was being truthful in his aspersions and ascended the stairs to find many of the Frewyn armed forced lined up and prepared to challenge others in a friendly match with their swords in one hand and their shields in another. There were tables of wrapped delights on the side of the tent however as they were wrapped with paper bearing hearts and children, the Den Asaan had hardly given them notice. The commander watched her mate’s disapproving glare fall to the men, coming to fight in the names of their intendeds, and when the young recruits beheld their ruthless and monstrous commander, they immediately stood attention and remained silent in the giant’s presence until they were called to take part in the tournament. The commander quietly explained the rules of the engagement as last man standing with a new challenger introduced when one had fallen. The Den Asaan asserted that he would not fall and the commander agreed, watching his hungry eyes relish the battle in the arena before them.
The giant’s severe attentions were only drawn when a young woman entered the pavilion and it was not her manner of dress or way of flaunting that disturbed him, it was the large chocolate heart she imparted to one of the soldiers in the line that had. It was not the type of gift that intrigued him, for he approved of any endowment of sweet nature given to him without provocation, but it was the idea that she chose to do so on the precipice of a battle that did.
The commander watched her mate’s eyes widened as the gift was handed from the woman to the soldier and she smirked at his unwavering attention toward it. “Those who are championing in the name of their beloved are usually given a token of affection to wish them good luck in their fight. As you are a Haanta and I’m a heathen, we are not expected to adhere to the ridiculous customs of the day and therefore am not required to give you anything,” she boldly stated. “I will secure some chocolate for you if you like merely out of my general adoration for you, however, I warn you, what I find may be molded in the shapes of hearts and plump children.”
The giant’s awareness was diverted and his critical glance fell to his mate and he drew his long black blade into his hand, pointing its edge at her. “Woman, you will not give me anything in the form of your fat Mivaari, whether chocolate or otherwise,” he shouted at her.
“I daresay I shall simply to watch your conflicted expression as you fight with yourself on the idea of being made to consume a fat infant if only to appease your hunger,” she howled in laughter.
The giant humphed and brushed her comments aside. “What are others who do not have mates expected to do to honor this observance?” he moaned.
“They can be fodder for your sword or they can give love notes in hopes of gaining a partner for themselves. It is widely believed that the spirit of Brigid, the patron of the day, is present in Frewyn for today and one may ask her to find a true love if only to receive a gift and have selfish, drooling babies in the afterward.”
Before the Den Asaan could refute the commander’s horrifying claims on having children, a young solder had fallen with an injury and his turn in the arena had come. The commander quickly slipped a dark chocolate heart she had secured from the table in the pavilion into his hand and the giant responded with a quick softened glance. He placed the chocolate into his mouth and hummed fondly, whether for the pleasure of the appeasing taste of his gift or the sight of his grinning mate the commander could not tell.
When the call was given, the giant held his blade back and roared as he tore into the field of combatants. Many fled from his raging and unassailable might but those who felt strong enough in their convictions of love were determined to defeat him. They leaped at the giant, plunging their blades down toward his legs in hopes of impairing his mobility but their strikes were too weakly employed and the Den Asaan easily swiped them aside, causing his attackers to plummet into the ground. Many who attempted to fell the enormous Den Asaan had failed with only shattered bones and torn muscles to show for their efforts. The more the soldiers fell before his overpowering strength the more others refused to enter the arena to fight him. Many of the ladies of court were disappointed when their lovers would not attack the giant in their honour and few of them declined their soldier’s advances because of their apparent cowardice.
The commander enjoyed watching Rautu pummel the various soldiers of Frewyn and she noted that when the fight became unchallenging for him, his placed his sword back into its sheath and began beating his men into the ground with his large fists. She was vastly pleased to see the giant allowed to release his rage even if only to the smallest extent and marveled at his prowess as he prevailed as the champion of the match.
King Alasdair was summoned to have him proclaim the giant as victor but the Den Asaan felt there was no need for someone else to tell him of his success when the cries of aching men around him had already done so. Rautu calmed his rage and marched out of the arena, satisfied with the small fight, and thundered back to his mate, who was waiting for him near the entrance to the pavilion.
“So,” the commander said as the giant approached, “you did decently well.”
“I won, woman,” he growled, looming over her.
“And yet I wonder if you did so to honour our union or merely for the enjoyment of breaking the bones of our eager young men. Would you like to pass the infirmary so that you may glean their pleasing cries of pain and defeat?”
The giant’s tense mouth curled into a terrible grin and he eyed the commander with fondness for only an adoration and regard as true the one she held for him would conjure such an agreeable request.