Story for the Day: The Amandine
I had another story I was going to post, but this one just happened and I had to write it.
A shipment of buttered rolls and pastries arrived at the keep in the evening. Half of the shipment filled with deleterious yet delectable treats was for the Den Asaan and the other was for the regiments to eat on Gods Day morning. The enjoyment and crispiness of a toasted butter roll was but a small allowance to be given them for a day given free from their training, and upon placing the rolls out in the soldier’s mess for the regiments to have at night when the semi-holiday began and delight in through the morning, the Den Asaan attacked his portion of the shipment to keep Martje’s fat fingers away from his cakes and prying eyes on their meager rolls and away from his treasures.
To further guard one of his life’s most estimable joys from other insalubrious hands, the commander had requested that a few Livanon-style amandines be included in the order. She could govern herself with regard to cakes but she wondered at whether Kai Linaa, having been so deprived of sweets while in her mate’s company, could do so just as well. It was a precautionary measure, one that should make Kai Linaa ever gratified for being able to try a new delicacy. There was hardly any indulgence in the article beyond a warmed almond paste, a crumbling shell and a sprinkling of powdered sugar, yet it was one that the commander felt Kai Linaa should enjoy.
She left the amandine on the kitchen table under the security of her mate with implicit instruction that particular item belonged to Kai Linaa. Once she was assured of the item’s safety, with the giant being occupied with twelve fondant cakes, she went to the guest quarters and knocked on Kai Linaa’s door. There was a small voice from within that seemed barely to attend her and the commander opened the door to find Kai Linaa within, working industriously on a painting. As not to disturb her work, the commander mumbled something about there being a pastry in receipt of her in the kitchen and sneaked out of the room.
The paint brush was placed into the water receptacle, the hands were washed, clothes were cleaned and replaced, and Kai Linaa hastened through the main hall to claim her prize. When she entered the kitchen, however, she found no amandine awaiting her on the table. Instead she discovered the Den Asaan standing before a shipment of twelve cakes and his lips dusted with powdered sugar. The evidence of the transgression had been clear enough: she had come to the oven room in hopes of finding all the sweetness and delectation of one miniscule treat and all her aspirations were baseless at the sight of the masticating giant. He swallowed and she tightened her fists. Her anger soon quelled, however, when she observed the untouched and numerous cakes being taken from their encasement. “Can I have one of those fondant cakes?” she asked with sparkling eyes, hopeful for a replacement of higher gradation.
“No,” Rautu said without turning toward her, the confectionary sugar wisping in a puff from his lower lip.
Kai Linaa would have laughed but she now had no pastry and the giant was in need of having one taken from him for his offense. “You ate my pastry.”
“And you can give me one of those little cakes in exchange for mine.” Kai Linaa reached out her hand to pluck one of the cakes from its place when Rautu’s powerful fist clasp around her wrist and lifted her from floor. She suppress a laugh at his menacing features being ruined by a delicate blanket of crumbs in the corners of his mouth.
“You know that he will not give you a cake without reason,” the commander said as she emerged from the larder.
“But he ate the one you got for me.”
“That is hardly reason enough,” the commander fleered. “You may try that argument while dangling from his paws but I daresay you shall fail against his confectionary resolve.”
Kai Linaa regarded the giant with a grave pout and stated her claimed only to be met with silence and a look of complacence.
“And where is your reason for taking what is mine?” the giant growled.
“Because you took what was mine. That is my reason.”
Rautu shook Kai Linaa to terrify her in hopes of her leaving the kitchen, but she was steadfast in her determination to be right as he was in his to keep his cakes. “It was offered to you and you were late. I was forced to eat it before it staled.”
“Staled?” Kai Linaa shrieked. “It wouldn’t have staled in five minutes, Den Asaan.”
“Amandines cannot be eaten once they have cooled. It was sitting here beside the open window for too long. It was already hard when I ate it.”
“So I suppose should thank you.”
“Yes,” Rautu demanded.
Kai Linaa had done. His countenance was unbreachable, and she must now employ a new tactic, once that would weaken his obstinate heart. “If I had eaten your cake, you would make me buy a hundred more for you in its place,” she heatedly accused.
“I eat what is given to me immediately. I do not waste food as you would have if I had not saved it,” was his staunch rejoinder.
“So? It was mine and what I do with what is mine is my business just as what you do with what is yours is the same.”
Rautu simmered and pressed his nose against Kai Linaa’s reddening features. “You abandoned the gift my Traala gave you.”
“I did not abandoned it, Den Asaan,” Kai Linaa chuffed. “I was in the middle of the painting.”
“Then it was not important to you. You were called and you did not come. You did not appreciate and accept your gift, so I did so for you.”
Kai Linaa sighed and motioned to be put down. She was placed on her feet once more at a loss of what to say that could combat the giant’s impossible contention. There was no latitude with him, no break in his tenacity whether his argument was logical and reasonable or not. Motive and guilt would not deter him, and so perhaps anger might supply her sentiments more accurately. “The next time you’re away from the keep and your cakes come, and someone calls you to claim them, and you don’t come in five minutes, I will eat them.”
“You will try,” Rautu said dismissively.
Kai Linaa would not be ignored in her declaration. She stomped her small feet against the stone ground and stood between Rautu and his cakes while pointing a finger at his nose. “I will succeed,” she said firmly.
Rautu brushed her aside and away from his treats. “You will not, elf. You have not trained as I have.”
Kai Linaa reclaimed her place before the table, wanting to convey the seriousness of her oath. She stood with her hands at her straight at her sides, pressing her fingers into her palms, and craning her neck while pursing her lips and according the giant a scathing glare.
Rautu gave her the consideration she desired if only to remove her. He made a terse hum and began to disregard her against, checking her away from the table with a slight movement of his hip.
“You still ate my cake and it wasn't fair,” she shouted at him.
“I am always fair, elf. I will find another almond pastry and you may have that. That is fair.”
“The more you try, Kai Linaa, I daresay the worse it shall become for you,” the commander said, stifling her laughter and wiping the blithesome tears away from her eyes.
Kai Linaa rolled her eyes and walked into the larder. “I think I’ll just have some Phoraas,” she sighed in defeat, which warranted an audible humph from the giant.
“You must admit that arguing with him is ever so entertaining.”
“Of course. His excuses are ridiculous. You cannot call him indolent, however.”
“No, I suppose not.”
The commander remarked Kai Linaa’s disenchantment in her low shoulders and dejected appearance, and she contrived to exhibit the correct manner in which to appeal to his sensibilities without the use of Khopra. She gave Kai Linaa a terrible grin and then said louder than was needed, “You may be surprised by him, Kai Linaa. You might find an almond pastry yet on the table. Someone, I have little idea who, but someone might persuade him that he will have to guard his cakes all night and day just to get you away from them if he does not find a new almondine for you in time.”
Kai Linaa’s moderate slyness was suddenly restored: to threaten one who was fearless was nothing, but to threaten his cakes with extinction was another matter entirely. She had done so but indirectly. Now that an ultimatum was produced, she had regained some of her powers of persuasion. “You may not have to sleep, Den Asaan,” she said in a wicked tone, “but you do have to train in the morning.”
“I daresay that he shall claim sitting in front of the storeroom door and waiting for the enemy to strike as training.
Rautu stared at his mate with some surprise. His eyes were wide with mild apprehension as though pleading with her not to assist the elf in taking what was rightfully his away from him.
“He would rather sit in the larder and eat those all in a day than impart a sliver of one to you,” she said, marking his looks with a fiendish countenance.
“But I would never do that to him,” said Kai Linaa in feigned horror.
“I should say not. His immovableness is ever so endearing.”
The two women exchanged a laugh and nothing more was said as they left the kitchen together.
A terrible choice now must be made: should he camp before the storeroom until the cakes were eaten or should he replace the one item that could secure all his comfort and happiness. Neither choice was agreeable, but one option must be more agreeable than the other. It pained him to consider and to ponder and to weigh, he agonized over what should be done rather then what was right. Parting with one of the fondants was not possible when they had been so carefully made for his express appreciation, and so he must now decide the course of action that would keep the wretched elf away from his precious cakes while keeping her from telling her mate what he had done. He knew Unghaahi would not enjoy the notion of his mate eating either, and he could leave her telling him up to chance, but this was a chance he was not willing to take.
Breakfast the next morning was a significant one for Kai Linaa. She had entered the kitchen in search of something small. She had not forgotten the twelve, now possibly less, cakes sitting in the storeroom but her mood was for something less dulcet. She went from the oven room to the larder, and upon passing the table stopped and turned in astonishment to find an amandine on the table. She looked about for any traps, suspecting that it was not beneath Rautu to capture her and eat the treat himself, but when she neared the pastry, she observed a note beneath the plate.
You have five minutes to eat this, elf, was what the letter conveyed.
She knew instantly that she was being watched possibly from the opposing training yard or from the Den Asaan’s messenger gull flying over the training yard outside, but nothing else would signify: she had won her argument, albeit with some assistance, but she had succeeded in breaking the most adamant giant’s hitherto invincible resolve. She danced out of the kitchen and paraded through the main hall with her treat in her hand. She sung to herself, leaped about in the air, and stopped only when she saw her mate walking toward her from the training yard. She gasped in fear of losing her well-deserved prize and stuffed it into her mouth before he could question her. When she was quizzed on the item obstructing her speech, a sharp eye and a wide grin was all her sanguine answer.