Story for the Day: Your Sethena
It was evening in the Diras castle keep, and with all the accompaniments of the gloaming, along with the soft amber light of sunset and cool breeze in an otherwise temperate atmosphere, came the Den Asaan’s requisite correspondence to his brothers. When his long and arduous training for the day had done, he returned to his residence in the commons and sat down to the table to begin his letters before his duties of patrol should inhibit his writing or before the scent of supper should decimate his concentration. He gathered his powdered inks and writing implements from the storeroom and made a small fire to have the warmth and hissing sound lull him into a reposed state for his lengthy stint in his chair.
He wrote first to Leraa, giving a report of their return and of the king’s success at Khopra with his mate, and began the letter Otenohi giving an account of his new recruits when the commander returned to the commons to begin her necessary evening duties of perusing Alasdair’s daily court minutes and of keeping her own correspondences with those in her conversancy worthy of her minimalistic hand. Rautu said his brief hellos by way of eager osculations and a grab at her breast and passed her voracious glances as she sat beside him with her parchments and quills. He did his utmost in allowing her to finish at least the examination of the court documents before making his nightly demands of Khopra and was content to massage her thigh with his free hand until his appetite should surmount his attentiveness.
The commander would not look up from her paper, though she was hardly reading the material with such a hungry beast pressing her leg, but smiled each time his fingers traveled higher. She simpered when they began grazing the undersize of her fauld, and when she looked up to give him a devious glance, her eye caught the direction of the letter her mate was currently writing: it was to Khantara, and though the revered giant of the islands was her mate’s father, she did not think he would ever venture to upkeep a correspondence with the Den Amhadhri and Odaibha of Mharvholan. All his business as a Den Asaan was with Leraa and Otenohi. He must write to Unghaahi, as they were honoured and most intimate brothers, but she should think Rautu had no claim on writing to a father who had been hitherto absent from his life. Fifty years had passed between visits, and though they had spoken in privacy at some length as to the happenings of one another’s time away from each other, this, she conceived, could hardly be called a bond. She only found the occurrence strange due to the manner in which the Haanta regarded their relationships with those they bore. She could be under no mistake as to how fond Khantara was of his son despite his long segregation, but she wondered at the level of attachment on Rautu’s side. He never wrote to anyone unless there was need to do so; she began to consider that perhaps Khantara had requested the connection until she noted the manner in which her mate had signed his name at the bottom. Her eye glanced over the contents of the letter: each word was filled with professions of adulation and esteem, and the commander was compelled to smile so broadly as to draw her mate’s awareness to herself.
“What, Traala?’ the giant asked.
She blushed and cooed at him. “Iimon Ghaala, you are the epitome of endearment.”
Rautu looked down at his letter and then scowled at his mate for having read it. He shielded the parchment from her further scrutiny, but all hopes of secrecy on that account were now unfounded. He humphed and reexamined his letter with a flouting countenance.
“Do not be offended, Iimon Ghaala,” the commander laughed, rubbing her mate’s massive arm. “I think it’s adorable that you tell your father how much you love him.”
“I did not write that, woman,” Rautu protested, searching his page for evidence of such a horrific claim.
“Yes, you did, in so many words. You make the title and introduction all formality, but I can read the body of your letter and I know what it says.”
“You do not know all of these words.”
“No,” the commander said slyly, “but I can discern the meaning in your phrases. You are ever declaring that the Haanta language is much easier to learn and understand than Common or Old Frewyn. Perhaps now I shall agree with you.”
Rautu gave her a vehement glare.
“Please, if you wish to deter me, you shall find yourself quite unable to do so. Your signature proves my point.”
She had seen it and he groaned for not taking care to screen it from her view. There was little he could say to repudiate now, and therefore he only rejoined with, “ . . . And?”
“Is that all your defense?”
“That is enough.”
“Is it?” the commander scoffed. “Astonishing to think that you harbour partiality for your father when you make such aspersions against Frewyns for showing any attachment for our parents.”
Rautu brooded in silence and pouted.
“And here you are, champion of ruthlessness, writing all manner of love letters to a father who has absent for almost your entire life.”
“He is a legend among our people, woman,” the giant grumbled, brushing her comments aside.
“He may be so. That doesn't mean you must write to him, however, and so amorously either. You don’t write to Bhaaldhena or Jhiaanta or Mhardhosa and yet they are just as much Khantara's sons as you are, making just as much your brothers as Unghaahi, Leraa and Otenohi. You don’t even sign their letters as Anaaton Sethena.”
The instant his mate mentioned his secretive birth designation, Rautu stabbed his finger at the commander’s smiling features. “You will tell no one, woman,” he growled.
“Of course not. Who would believe me that you refer to yourself as ‘your patient one’? Alasdair should have a right laugh at it but would never mention it for fear that you should kill him shortly afterward.”
Rautu made a few short grunts on her mentioning nothing to her king and endeavored to ignore her glowing grin as he continued his inspection of the correspondence. He was in the middle of folding his letter and sealing it when the commander suddenly stood from her place and stood directly behind him.
“I'm certain that reads your letters to your mother every evening after teaching Kai Linaa,” she whispered in his ear. “Cuddling up to their son's correspondence, sharing the laughter, the joys, the tears, the pangs of separation.”
The giant remarked her with vicious stares from the corner of his eye.
“Oh, how they long to be with their little Sethena again,” she cried in feigned dramatics. “Such a dutiful boy, showing love for his parents where he can. And here I had thought that all the Haanta Amghari cared nothing for their Ambesari.”
Rautu’s maw flexed and his lips pursed as he restrained his desire to bellow at his mate. “We do not care nothing, woman,” he murmured in indignation. “We are not as inseparable as your Mivaari are from their Ambesari.”
“Perhaps,” the commander half-smiled. “However, even I have never referred to myself as my father’ little Bou.”
Rautu groaned for being teased so horridly and shook his mate off as she cackled at his bothered state. “You will not mock me further, woman,” he whined.
“I was not deriding you for the sake of derision, Iimon Ghaala, though it was rather amusing. I merely think it hilarious that you always cast your grunting assertions upon us and yet you show infinities of love to your parents in private.”
“Respect, woman,” he corrected her.
“Oh, yes , how meager of me to assume you should use the word love. I know you would say that love, or Anaalon, is for mates.”
“And then what do you feel toward Unghaahi or Leraa or Otenohi or Kai Linaa?”
Here the giant was silenced, for though he did honour his brothers and their mates, the affection he harboured for them could not be denied. “You will be silent and you will allow me to finish my correspondence,” was all his reply.
“Very well. Be certain to send my love,” she said, and then amended with, “respect.”
The giant had done. He sealed his letter without making any further appendages and placed it aside with a fierce look to his mate, one that conveyed the extent of the injury she would be incurring during Khopra later that evening.
The commander neared him and tugged on his molded locks to tranquilize him. “All Frewyn knows you as a ruthless monster with no heart,” she teased, excepting where your mate, parents, and friends are concerned. We should never allow this secret of you loving so many reach the ears of Frewyn’s old maids. Everyone shall begin to think you are weakened by your affection for the world.”
“Anaalon is not a weakness,” he protested with eyes closed and head moving with the commander’s motions.
“Then you admit that you do love them.”
“I did not say that.”
“No, but it was implied by your rejoinder.”
Rautu sighed and forcibly drew his mate into his lap. “Woman, you will sit here and you will be quiet until I have finished Haakhas.”
“Perhaps I should write my own letters to your brothers,” she laughed while being pressed against her mate’s form. “I should write the Frewyn equivalent for Kai Linaa’s sake. ‘Everything is well, ate a whole cake for breakfast, saw the king having Khopra, send my respect, affectingly yours etcetera, little Boudicca’. There. My correspondence to our extended family done.”
Rautu gave his mate a firm look but his sternness soon dissipated at the relief he felt of having her so close.