Story for the Day: Useless
Kai Linaa sat with a most dejected countenance and fulfilled her office of preparing bandages for the coming altercation. No harm was to be expected, as Varron’s plan was known to them, and though Kai Linaa had always enjoyed her role as healer whether by use of magic or otherwise, she could not be pleased at being left to look after one who had been used to look after himself. She could not deny that Unghaahi would probably need no saving, and she must acknowledge her secretive wish to see him lead a five-hundred Amghari assault, but her need to be with him always overpowered her. She did wish to stay with her father and secure his sanity as Ladrei had kindly asked, but she could not enjoy being separated from her mate even if only for above a day. She sulked while stuffing the rolled bandages into packs and grumble to herself in mild anger until her unbidden sentiments of falsified futility overpowered her. She sniffed as she tied the packs closed, watching the tip of her button nose turn red and feeling her throat tighten with the onset of tears. She averted her eyes when she observed the commander walking toward her to retrieve the prepared packs. She heard her signature heavy tread and noted her soft leather boots from the corner of her eye. She did her utmost to screen her tears, but the commander had better powers of discernment than any meager attempt at hiding her sentiments could purvey.
The commander, being used to Kai Linaa’s small outbursts of insecurity, sat at the table with arms folded and said nothing. She made herself seem nonchalant and unassuming, knowing that a few moments would bring Kai Linaa’s self-misconceptions all out.
Kai Linaa would not say what ailed her. She held her lips together, denying herself any divulgence of mind and was determined not to look up at the commander’s smirking expression. She knew that one peek at her friend’s comforting features would compel her to say everything, and after much fraught deliberation, she finally blurted, “Sometimes, I feel so useless to him.”
“Didn’t you know?” the commander scoffed. “Every woman is useless unless given charge of a husband or a child.”
Kai Linaa was forced to smile at her friend’s deprecating and wry remark, for neither one of them could call themselves attached to a husband or bound to the needs of a child.
“And what is useless about being useful to your father?” the commander added. “Were my father alive, I should have no doubt of his objecting to me fighting. And besides, with your watchful mate and my voracious mountain gone for the day, you shall have the entire princedom’s worth of pancakes to yourself.”
Kai Linaa’s eyes dilated in sudden rapture. Here was a notion -a most exhilarating one- not previously conceived. She began to fathom all the Lucentian delights she could use as consolation for her mate being away. She would need them with Unghaahi gone for a mere day, for how could she be made to exist without one when she must have the succor of the other. Impossible that she should not find ample support in her favourite delights, and with her father as well. Of course he should want to see her spirits raised, and they could enjoy one another’s companionship over a plate of chocolate pancakes with almond shavings, and perhaps with some pecan sauce to garnish, or perhaps vanilla with fruit in the centre. It would not signify, either one would do now with her good humour quite returned. “Maybe one day won’t be so bad,” Kai Linaa considered aloud.
“I should say not.”
“How did you bear being away from Rautu for three weeks when he went to visit Leraa?”
“Quite horrendously,” she admitted. “I was listless and agitated, unable to stomach any food. Even eating all the chocolate in the world while my mate was gone gave me little amusement or relief.” She gave Kai Linaa a furtive half-smile and leaned closely. However, I will tell you,” she said quietly, “that when Rautu returned, we had Khopra all over the capital much to Alasdair’s chagrin.”
“Really?” Kai Linaa said with twinkling eyes.
“Of course. First, he ambushed me on the docks when coming off the ship, then again in the commons, again in the barracks basin the following morning . . .” She relayed a multitude of places, all of which had since been revisited since their bout of impermanent separation had ended, and observed that the more she spoke the better Kai Linaa seemed to look.
Although Unghaahi would hardly be away for a day let alone three weeks, Kai Linaa was inclined to expect such a welcoming when he should return, and the notion of him being honoured to indulge her kept her in happy complacence until the party had to leave for their short campaign.