Story for the day: Uniform
A long-time reader said she loved Alasdair's uniform. Oh boy.
On the morning after the commander declared the voyage to Mharvholan, Alasdair receive a stack of correspondence from the various regents of the kingdom. He had sent out a summons to each of them, inviting them to the Diras courts where they would give their seasonal reports of how their respective municipalities were faring. The regents of Westren, Varralla, Hallanys, Sethshire and Karnwyl all gave their positive replies and would be in the capital presently as the distance from the towns would allow. Draighean of Westren would be the first to arrive, as he left a few days prior, along with Dobhin as regent of Diras, and Alasdair suspected that when the commander should leave, the two gentlemen should fill her place. He deliberated for some time on whom to chose for the position of regent for the remaining municipalities: Tyferrim had not had a regent since his grandfather’s time, and when his brother became king, Allande did away with all the business of regents, feeling that only the king should be the lord and master over all of Frewyn. Alasdair saw only benefit in reinstating regents to assist him in governing the towns that he could not frequent often, and Tyferrim, Amene, and Farriage must be given their due representation in the courts. He wondered if the commander should return with her father somehow if he should not instate Jaicobh as regent: he had already governed the land in Dorrin’s time, and thought the name of MacDaede was never one of a regent, it was one everyone on the farmstead of Frewyn knew and trusted. Perhaps, he considered, but such an instatement would depend upon the manner of the commander’s return.
He went therefore to the kitchen to read his correspondence while keeping his most intimate friend company for her last morning in Frewyn. He came to the table and found her sitting alone enjoying toast and tea. He was eagerly invited to join her and observed that the Den Asaan was nowhere to be seen. He must rejoice at this, for now he could have an unbridled conversation with her without the usual grunting and firm raillery to accompany the discussion.
“He is preparing everything for the journey,” the commander smirked at the king, “but as I know you two are the greatest of companions now, I’m certain his presence will be even more missed than mine.”
Alasdair was about to deny the assertion when his eye suddenly caught on a word in one of the letters before him. The regent of Hallanys had sent a small note ahead of her arrival to dictate when she should be in Diras, but in an attempt to praise the king’s fashionable air, she had used a frightful word to describe the embroidered jerkins he favoured wearing.
“Uniform?!” Alasdair shrieked, clutching her letter.
The commander peered over the king’s arm to see what was written: a polite gesture describing Alasdair’s style ruined by the misuse of a term.
“I do not wear a uniform, madam," Alasdair shouted at the paper. He slapped the note down onto the table, folded his arms, and grimaced at the letter. " . . . Uniform," he repeated in disdain, and then stabbing a finger at the page, he added, "What I wear is all very well, I'll have her know."
“You did appoint her as Regent of Hallanys, Alasdair, not Royal Fashion Advisor.”
“I wouldn’t. I’m certain she wouldn’t know the difference between a jerkin and a doublet. Well, when she arrives, I'll wear my captain's uniform to show her the difference.” Alasdair lifted the paper again and contended, “This is jerkin like all my jerkins, madam, are tailored by my wife."
“Carrigh could have made your uniform as well.”
“If she had, it would have fit my build."
“Well, you have broad shoulders and a slender waist, Alasdair. Have something to eat and you’ll find it shall fit you very well.”
"I eat very well, I’ll have you know," he said in an injured tone.
“ I am aware. Martje feeds you,” she smiled. “Four meals a day is hardly enough for a king of such consequence, however.”
The commander huffed and shook her head.
“What? I’m starved after court from all the squabbling I need to settle."
“Yes, because speaking to nobles makes one famished.”
“"It's time consuming and draining."
“So is training, but you seem to have more time for stuffing your face than for physical exertion.”
"I am naturally thin,” Alasdair proudly declared. “There’s nothing I can do about that."
“I seem to recall a certain incident with a pie that you rejected because you thought you were growing thick around the waist,” the commander said with a churlish grin.
"I'm allowed to want to take care of myself."
“Refusing a pie is hardly exercise, Alasdair.”
"It’s certainly one your mate should practice," he muttered.
“He prefers exertion. He is also what you call naturally thin, but I'm inclined to believe he was born a muscle.”
"He probably was if he hasn't died from eating all that chocolate yet," Alasdair grumbled, shuffling his correspondences.
“You're merely bitter because he can eat all the things that you want to eat without having to go through the same trouble to rid himself of the results.”
"I'd rather eat toast and eggs than a pie," Alasdair said smugly.
“That is due to your want to look exquisite in your uniform.” The commander smirked and then corrected herself, “Jerkin.”
Alasdair tapered his gaze and pursed his lips.
“Do not pout at me,” the commander laughed. “Or, rather do. I shall count it as exercise.”
"I move about plenty chasing after Dorrin all evening."
“And spending all night between Carrigh's tender auspices,” the commander said with a keen glint in her eye.
Alasdair hummed and made a thoughtless grin.“That too."
“Oh, the plights of being naturally thin,” the commander laughed, her eyes glowing with archness. “If only I had your body and you my complaints.”
"Well, you're just naturally . . . " He stopped himself. He would not say plump, for the commander could hardly be considered as such. She was more solid in form than anything else, solid from underlining muscle and robustness rather than opulence.
The commander raised her brows in expectation of the word her king would not say and made feigned expressions of impending remonstrance.
Alasdair cleared his throat and looked to the side.
“Now you must say it, Alasdair. I know you should wish to do so. Your blushing and abashed features tell me of it.
" . . . Healthy," Alasdair decided.
The commander cackled and slapped her hand down on the table. “Astonishing. You cannot even say the word.”
“Because you aren’t."
“When compared to Qwynlin or Carrigh, I might be.”
Alasdair looked charily about the kitchen, and though Martje was not in the over room at present, he ventured to say, “Martje is much more . . . than you are,” omitting the same, offensive word.
“I should hope so,” the commander scoffed. “I don't eat whole shipments of smoked Tyfferim cheese between meals.”
“I prefer womanly.”
Alasdair was silent and averted his gaze.
“Unless your definition of womanly lies in the slenderness you share with your wife.
" . . . It might," he murmured, uncertain whether he were agreeing to his wife being womanly or himself.
“So I am merely a healthy creature, neither fat nor womanly. Honestly, Alasdair.”
Alasdair had done. He could not refute any portion of the circular and indefensible argument, and he held his head in his hand. "Why do you do this to me? I only meant to suggest that my uniform doesn't fit my-"
“I am not girlish,” Alasdair sighed with indignation.
“I recall Allande’s form very well. You were the taller but the decidedly leaner of the two. I'm certain your brother had many similar compliments for your figure.”
"I was only glad he couldn’t wear my clothes. Would have stretched them, the bastard." Alasdair humphed and looked down at the parchments before him while his mind was rapt in renaissance. "He once borrowed an old waistcoat I had,” he said in a subdued tone. “Ruined it in one wearing."
"Then I had to wear that uniform no matter how poorly it fit. It made Allande livid. I was never so pleased.”
“Of course. The prince of Frewyn arriving at court displaying his usefulness by parading in his regimentals. Alasdair, how horrid of you.”
"I know.” He half-smiled and regarded his letter once more. “. . .Uniform,” he iterated, but the word had changed in meaning and he said it now with more compassion and remembrance than he had done at the start. He observed the commander wearing the armour of her station: he would miss her and their exchanges excessively when she would be gone. He always had missed their conversations during her absences, but she would be leaving for an undetermined amount of time. The certainty of when she should return was an agony he could bear to consider at present. He only smiled, contented to lose this dispute, and resolved to ask Carrigh to make the necessary alterations to the captain’s uniform he kept beneath his bed.