Story for the day: The Frog
|A WIP of Soledhan sleeping with his cat. By Twisk|
The commander and the Den Asaan were sitting at the table in the commons finishing their charges for the day, the commander finishing her proof of the trade agreements Alasdair had tendered her and the giant in the midst of his nightly correspondence to his brothers. They enjoyed their felicitous silence together, accompanied by the warmth of the crackling fires in the hearth behind them, passing each other looks of partiality and grazing their small fingers over one another’s hands whenever their writing was at rest. Their peace was interrupted, however, by the opening of the door and the bursting in of their child, howling in jubilation as he attacked his mother with kisses. The commander crushed him with a pleasant embrace, pressing her cheek against his, and gave him all her attention if not to save herself from the tedium of Alasdair’s agreements then to shield her mate from all the strident happiness the child could accord.
Soledhan called to the Themari in the hallway and Hathanta appeared in the doorway, laughing at his student’s eagerness. He reminded him of the propriety of waiting for an invitation from the residence before barging in even though the two residents of the commons were his parents, but his words went unheeded for Soledhan was too willing to tell his mother all he had learnt that day to listen to another lesson at present. Hathanta was invited to join them at the table and he bowed his head in thanks as he entered the main room.
The commander made her usual inquiries, asking what important lectures he had heard from his teacher that day when she observed the child’s attention elsewhere. At first, she believed it to be on the Den Asaan but once she followed the Soledhan’s line of sight, she found he was staring at the large bar of chocolate resting on the table beside Rautu’s hand.
“Iimaa,” the child cooed in his tiny voice.
“Yes, my love.”
Soledhan pointed to the chocolate. “May I have?”
The commander snickered and passed chary looks to her mate. “You shall have to ask Utaa,” she told the child. “That’s his chocolate. Even I am not permitted to touch it. My hands are so unclean.”
Rautu looked up from his page with a tapered glare for her.
Soledhan crawled across the commander’s lap and gazed at the Den Asaan with sparkling and beseeching eyes. “Utaa, may I have?”
The Den Asaan’s first reaction was to say no, as the chocolate in question was some of his favourite, and though the heartless mountain had been immune to the child’s teary-eyed pleas, the quivering lip added unto had done for him. “. . . You may have one small piece,” he stressed, holding up a finger.
The commander proceeded to unwrap the delicate foil guarding the chocolate from immediate consumption and broke off a three-sectioned piece. She took the smallest of the sections for herself and then gave the remainder to her expectant son. He smiled to see he was given more than was pronounced and was about to thank her when he was hushed.
“Shh, don’t tell Utaa,” the commander whispered while gazing at her mate.
Soledhan gaze the commander a furtive grin and giggled as he shoved the entire piece into his tiny mouth.
Rautu growled in disapproval and moved the rest of the chocolate bar out of reach. He leered at the child but quieted any assertions he may have had when he observed his mate nestling Soledhan while sharing their pieces of stolen delights together.
“You shall forever be my chocolate-thieving partner, my love,” the commander said, kissing Soledhan on the head. “Tell me what you learned today while we enjoy Utaa’s charity.”
Soledhan turned to the Themari behind him and pointed to his pocket. A small tree frog was produced and the child shouted, “Ghransta!” while finishing the last of his treat.
“And did you learn about what the Ghransta does?”
Soledhan displayed his positive reply in the form of an imitation. He made a small slurping sound and snapped his hand out, quickly retracting it as though grabbing something in his fingers and then pulling it away.
“Did you see the Ghransta eat flies?” the commander laughed.
“If you shall pretend to be a frog, I’m certain you will catch just as many flies as you can treats of certain distinction.” The commander made a quick glance at the chocolate on the opposite side of the table and Solhedhan quickly went to work.
The child practiced his frog-like abilities throughout the commons, slurping and extending his hand to various object around. The commander’s hair, the Themari’s robe, Rautu’s sandals resting by the fire, and when he believed his father was not looking he snapped his hand at the chocolate. He succeeded in its retrieval but failed its securing. As he attempted to flee with the chocolate in hand, a large hand held a firm grip around his ankle and he was suddenly lifted off the ground.
Rautu stood from his chair and roared at the child, shaking him upside down in hopes he would release his treat but Soledhan only giggled and held to it. He claimed the Ghransta had already eaten his chocolate and there was nothing to be done to save it, and Rautu was forced to use more unsavoury tactics. He dangled the child before him and began tickling his exposed belly, demanding that he return what he stole, but Soledhan would not give up his game of pretend and held to the last, giggling in fits and squirming in delight.
After a few moments, the Den Asaan placed the child on his feet. Though he was displeased for the loss of his chocolate, he was impressed with Soledhan’s persistence and therefore considered the chocolate a reward rather than a stolen object. He praised his ability to hold on to an item that was nearly half his size and was induced to submit that Soledhan deserved his prize. He nodded at his son with a proud hum and mussed his hair affectionately before the Themari told him to say his goodnights. He hugged the Den Asaan’s leg, kissed his mother and hopped out on all fours, claiming that frogs were the strongest animal of them all if they could appropriate chocolate from the mighty Den Asaan.
“I think I shall remember this day as the day you did not kill your child,” the commander said with some astonishment.
Rautu’s observation remained in the doorway and his attentions were on the fading sounds of the child’s voice. “He learns well,” he said quietly, narrowing his gaze with brooding partiality. He did not enjoy children in any capacity but something in Soledhan’s manner had softened him. He felt that perhaps if Khantara had been on the islands when he was growing up, the legendary Haanta would have taken a vestigial interest in his education though there were Themari aplenty to do so. He felt a sense of responsibility and forbearance overcome him, one he had not been used to feel. Perhaps, now over fifty, he was reaching a more merciful age, or perhaps now that he understood Khantara’s sentiment towards himself he could better understand why he felt so ill about his absence. Or perhaps he had been growing a steady attachment to his own kin and he felt he should teach him not out of obligation but out of love.