Story for the Day: Story Time
After a long stay in on the islands, the commander was gratified to return to the cool auspices of the Diras castle keep. The atmosphere of her residence, though decidedly frigid according to her mate, was not unwelcome after spending the better part of the season in the damp warmth of the north. She was tired from the journey home but felt an even greater exhaustion surmounting from having been so sleepless while on Sanhedhran. Finding rest in heat was always a failed endeavor, but she sought to rectify it in the prevailing Frewyn frost.
Upon entering the commons, the commander removed her armour directly, donned a fresh linen tunic and sat herself on the hangaara pelts. She lit a small fire in the hearth before her to keep the chief of the coming evening chill near the windows and she was determined to fall asleep by the time the Den Asaan should return from his inspection of the keep. She performed every necessity that needed doing in order for her practice to be complete: she delighted in the feeling of the furs grazing her curling toes, sighed numerous times in appreciation of the warming sensations the fire accorded her, closed her eyes and attempted to focus on the empty space of her mind, but all her machinations had come to nothing. The more she wished for sleep, the less she found it. Her mind began wandering over the events of their visit to the islands and she soon found she could not shut out all the feelings of triumph and animation still overpowering her sensibilities. Her mind was rampant with excitement where her body was weary and unenthused. This was a combination that would not suit her present desired accomplishments, and she scoffed at her mind’s inability to comply with her body’s trials. She tossed, she turned, she swore a multitude of times and then resigned herself to consolations of wakefulness instead.
The Den Asaan soon returned to the commons after his thorough perusal of the happenings about the keep. He was tolerable pleased with how everything was done in his absence but disconcerted to find his mate not yet asleep when he entered their residence. He observed her restlessness, watching her shift between the furs before the fire. He went to sit beside her in hopes of cradling her through her apparent discomfort, but where his usual oppressive coddlings may have soothed any remaining uncertainties, it only succeeded in further keeping her from settling her mind enough to find reprieve from the happy agitations of return from a long visit. He found comfort enough in being coiled around her, and though their embrace would have led to other pleasures, he resolved to prudent on that account. She remarked that she knew what he was desirous of doing and claimed that Khopra for several hours might have exhausted her, but as they were to resume their duties in the morning, Rautu wished for her to receive a formative rest. He grumped for some time on his being deprived of one of his preferred pursuits and made her promise to allow him to damage her the following evening.
Sleep was the night’s object, but as the hours waned until dawn nothing constructive was achieved. The commander was prepared to forgo the requisite but the Den Asaan interposed with a proposal of his own.
"Rest, woman, and I will read one of your stories to you," the giant said, uncoiling himself from around her.
The commander grimaced in bemusement. “Story?”
“Your people read to their Mivaari when it is time for them to rest. I will do the same.” Rautu went to the storeroom and retrieved one of Soledhan’s pictures books. The giant scoffed at its title and adorable cover, finding both offensive to his intellect, and returned to his mate with the item in hand. “Place your head here, Traala,” he said, patting his powerful thigh.
She did as she was told but could not help but stare at him in wonderment. “Shall I ask where you learned of this blessed custom? I know your priests do not read to their young students to help them sleep at night.”
"The Themari teach our Mivaari of our people and tell them of our legends. They do not retell fictitious accounts of machines,” Rautu grunted, pointing to the illustrated smiling engine on the book’s cover. “Reading to your Mivaari when they can read themselves is senseless. This is one of your people's customs.”
“I daresay it must be if it is so absurd a notion.” The commander smirked at her mate and received an upside down scowl from above.
"You have difficulty resting, woman. Your people believe reading to others is effective."
“Which story do you have there?”
The Den Asaan displayed the front and back covers, which led to even further surprise on his mate’s side.
“May I ask where you found that foreign object?” the commander said, remarking the book and thinking on its subject with circumspection.
“This is your prince’s book. His caretaker was reading it to him, even though he is able to read on his own.”
“And why do you have it?” she asked smilingly. “I had little idea of your being so interested in children’s literature from Marridon.”
“I found our Mivaari reading it before we left for the islands. I would not allow him to finish it until I had inspected it for detrimental content.”
“I believe there is little harm to be found in a story about a smiling machine, Iimon Ghaala,” she laughed.
The giant harrumphed at her assertion and remarked that there may be hidden and injurious messages within in the pages. “I will read this to you and examine the letters carefully. Then I will decide if this is suitable for our Mivaari.”
The commander could hardly wait for him to begin and promised to tell him if she felt any of the ill claims so perilous a book could bestow. He began reading and she was forced to keep her hand over her mouth to keep from erupting in laughter. The sound of her mate’s low, rumbling voice reading the simple phrases and imitating the various engine sounds written on the page was endearing yet hilarious to perceive. Her face crimsoned when her mate emulated the decompressing sounds of one of Marridon’s engines but the expression of continual dissatisfaction on the Den Asaan’s face was all her mirthful delight.
“You do realize this is hardly putting me to sleep,” she simpered.
"This book is absurd,” Rautu flouted, ignoring his mate’s claim. “Machines do not speak and they do not have appearances, as these ridiculous illustrations depict. They do not have Anonnaa and they do not have Salhiika either."
“I believe that is rather the point of this cautionary tale, Iimon Ghaala. Those who have the will to succeed will do so whether machine or not. Children may identify more with fanciful or magical objects instead of humans because smiling engines seem grand to them when they are yet small themselves.”
“Our Mivaari will not read this,” Rautu said decidedly. “He will learn of our people’s champions, not of magical machines that do not improve his understanding.”
“Very well, Iimon Ghaala,” the commander laughed. “We shall leave the conjured stories and moral lessons to the prince. Your plan to seduce me into slumber has failed, however.”
“It is the presence of the Mivaari’s Ambesari that makes them rest,” Rautu supposed. “They are more comforted by them than they are by these false legends. If your people’s Mivaari were taught to care for themselves, they would not need the security of their Ambesari to assist them in sleeping.”
The commander suggested that they leave the book aside until the morning when it could be returned to Dorrin’s nursemaid but the giant refused, demanding to know what was so interesting about the remainder of the tale as to make this read by children in Frewyn and Marridon alike. She could see he would not be deterred and allowed him to continue. She closed her eyes to keep from laughing at his incensed and confused countenance and listening to the reverberating droning of his profound voice. She found the practice soothing and was inclined to attempt rest once more when her mate ceased reading.
The book had done, he owned himself disappointed with the author’s achievements , and demanded that she have a Haanta legend of noble and heroic character to lull her to sleep. She agreed and relaxed herself as her mate recanted the story of Tepu: the first of his people to have the Hunter’s Gift. He told her of all the particulars: of how he had been cast out by his people for being able to speak with animals, of how Jhiadhi had found him and taught him the ways of their people, and of how he had been welcomed by all due to his efforts to liberate those Haanta still enslaved by the gods. She listened to the heroic story with great attention until Rautu’s voice had trailed, encouraging her to open her eyes only find that her mate had dozed off. He had put himself to sleep with his own tale, and the commander considered it fitting recompense for his earlier aspersions. She was left to be the one yet awake, and she snickered at his sonorous sounds and nodding head while claiming, “Presence of parents indeed.” She reached for one of the pelts from before the hearth and tucked it over their joint forms as the commander laughed to herself, thinking of how simple it was to quell even the most petulant of giants.