Story for the Day: The Butterfly
Kai Linaa had gone to visit Ladrei but had begged those who would to stay as long at the cottage as they should wish. The Donnegals and MacDaedes, though wanting to make their stay an extended one, could not remain in Sethshire for more than a few days. Farmers, butchers and labourers must have their due respite, but a few days was already more than their businesses and lands could afford. Money was of no consequence to them, but those who depended upon their services could not do without them for long.
|Soledhan's friend, as made by Twisk over MSN|
Impermanent farewells were said and all that remained at the cottage of the once large party were the commander and Den Asaan, Hathanta and Varthrasta, Soledhan and his creature companions. The commander and her mate took over the care of the child while Hathanta enjoyed the rare company of his partner, but as everyone soon discovered, Soledhan needed little governance. He was so engaged with his gift of speaking to animals that in such an environment, a cottage on the edge of Tuar forest, he must speak to every creature he could find whether great or small. The birds over head calling out to one another which way to fly, the night beetles chirping to one another to signal their locations, the tree frogs making their ribbits were all a delight to him, and though few animals were willing to speak to him for more than a few moments, Soledhan reveled in their short discussions.
There was one friend, however, for whom Soledhan worried. His carp was well and enjoying his new home in the cottage pond beneath the bridge, his cat was enjoying the jollities of hunting field mice in the yard, but his caterpillar was not as well as the others. It had, one day, crawled onto the post of the bridge and had sat there for some time spinning silken thread around itself. Soledhan was inclined to think little of this behaviour until whereupon speaking to his slinking friend he received no answer. He thought his caterpillar was merely asleep and had made himself a blanket to ward off the added chill of the south, but when the creature did not move or wake for two days, Soledhan became anxious and believed his friend was dying.
“Iimaa,” he called to his mother in a trembling voice with tears welling in his eyes. “Zhalinkhi is ill.”
“Where, my love?” the commander said dotingly.
Soledhan grabbed his mother’s hand and pointed to his friend while dragging her to their destination. He pouted to see his friend so bound and motionless. His lip began to quiver and he would have cried if the commander had not begun to explain the harrowing occurrence.
“Caterpillars, my love, create cocoons,” she said, kneeling and playing with her son’s long curls.
“Is Zhalinkhi cold, Iimaa?” he sniffed.
The commander simpered. “He might be, but he is very well, I assure you. He needs to make a cocoon so that he may prepare for his transformation.”
Soledhan looked at her with pleading eyes. “Transformation?”
“In a few days, your slinking friend is going to fly.”
“Fly?” Soledhan said with instant happiness.
“Of course. You didn’t expect him to have you holding him for the rest of his life, did you?”
“How will he fly, Iimaa?”
“Shall I tell you and ruin the surprise?”
Soledhan pondered a moment, then smiled and shook his head.
“Very well. You must do your best not to disturb him, however. It shall take all of his concentration to change his costume.”
Soledhan obeyed with ready attention and was content to speak to the other animals surrounding the cottage for a short while. He visited the cocooned creature every day to see if he was prepared to make his unveiling, and on the morning of the third day, he came to the bridge to see the cocoon begin to squirm. He called everyone to see the miraculous event and cheered words of encouragement for his small, green friend. He wiggled, he pushed, and after some minutes, Soledhan beheld a most extraordinary sight: where he had expected a caterpillar to emerge with tiny wings of its own, instead he found a butterfly, one with bright red and white, black-tipped wings, flittering about with some difficult as it attempted to fly for the first time. It hovered over Soledhan’s astonished features and flapped until it maintained a steady height.
“Zhalinkhi?” Soledhan asked in chary bemusement.
The butterfly made no answer and flapped at a more gentle pace until it landed on Soledhan’s nose.
“Haa!” he cheered, throwing up his hands in jubilation. He ran over to the rest of the party standing beside the pond and pointed to the butterfly sat on his face. “Iimaa, Utaa, Hathanta, malehi!” he cried, entreating them to look at what they could not but perceive.
“Your friend has done very well for himself,” the commander said. “His change of colour is rather becoming, and now he can flap in my ear while I’m sending my letters rather than crawl languidly on my paper. How considerate of him to change from a paperweight to a distraction.”
The Den Asaan half-smiled and Hathanta and Varthrasta stood arm in arm laughing at her assertion.
Soledhan was in raptures over his friend’s alteration and chased and called after him as he flew around the length of the cottage.
“Soon our son shall be king of butterflies just as Leraa is king of all things adorable,” the commander murmured, watching her son.
Rautu gave her a flat look.
“I know you would wish him to be a scowling and staid warrior, but he is all dancing and smiles. He and Kai Linaa shall have a glorious time of making hats for every butterfly from flower petals just was done for your gull. He and Leraa can dance with them in the gardens.” The commander smirked as the giant’s expression grew dour. “I daresay he shall be a better dancer than Tyira. He can dance with his weapons instead of tambourines.”
“You will not mock the Mivaala of Amghari, woman,” Rautu grunted.
“I mock nothing, Iimon Ghaala. I am merely making an observation. Perhaps he can have two weapons like Bhaaldhena so that he may wave them about synchronously.” She made a mocking gesture, pretending to dance with two tambourines.
Rautu sighed into his hand and went to sit and sulk by the edge of the pond, preferring the company of the lapping waters than his wry mate and the two laughing giants beside her at present.