Story of the Day: Alasdair and Dobhin

King Alasdair and High Lord Dobhin have a long-standing rivalry. Even in letters, Dobhin manages to irk Alasdair.

King Alasdair Brennin

The commander now thought it advisable to tell Alasdair of his endearing silliness and left the table resolved to leave the remainder of her letters until tomorrow and left the commons while giving a smirking, backward glance to her mate, who was half asleep and sprawled in his chair before the fire. She simpered as she descended the winding stair to the main hall, thinking of how accustomed to his comforts Rautu was becoming, and as she came to the entrance to the royal quarter, she could not help but feel that Alasdair was doing the same. He seemed more at ease while in the Duchess’ company, and though Jaina was many years his senior, she wondered at whether she might be calling her a sister eventually. Everything was too much in its infancy to decipher, and she therefore decided to leave things as they were, making no intimations to her king on the Duchness’ behalf. She would have him find happiness, but more importantly she would have him find a sweet little wife, one who could mend his well-tailored clothing and attend his evening recitals with the promise of a light supper, lemon tea and wifely pleasures for his exertion.
                She came to the door with all such fond notions in her mind and waited until his current slip jig was over to knock upon his door.
                “Coming,” Alasdair called from inside.
                The fiddle was laid at the vanity, Alasdair’s disturbed fringe was perfected, and the door was opened to welcome the commander into the royal chambers.  She paid him the compliment of a smile while presenting his letter and he responded with an abashed countenance.  
                “There is no need to thank me, Alasdair,” she assured him.
                “Well, I felt it was due-“ His supplications and excuses were stopped when he found himself being suddenly attacked by a flurry of pinches to the cheeks. He waited until they were done and gave the commander a flat look. “May I ask why you thought it necessary to do that?” he asked in a disenchanted tone.
                “A gift from your friend High Lord Dobhin.”
                Alasdair rolled his eyes and groaned. “How can you call us friends?”
                “Because he adores you so and cannot wait to see your face once he returns from the west.”
                “Be sure to remind me to send him south and then north first,” Alasdair scoffed. “That should keep him busy.”
                “Did you receive a letter from him?”
                “I did,” he begrudgingly muttered, pointing to the small folded parchment at the end of the vanity. “I’ve been afraid to open it. It might laugh at me if I do.”
                “I assure you, it will be all business. Shall I open it for you?”
                The commander laughed and took the letter from the vanity into her hand. She observed that the seal had been undone but the contents of the message had been left folded and uncreased. She suspected that in a momentary glimmer of courage Alasdair had been brazen enough to consider reading such a message but had left it aside for fear of his greatest nemesis’ derision prevailing him even from afar. She glanced at the letter, her eyes flickering over each word to search for any hidden nuances or japes, but there was nothing to this purpose. “It’s rather dull, actually,” the commander said in mild disappointment.
                “Is it? Does he disparage my dress or my poor skills as a solder first?”
                “Neither, though I had expected him to do both.” She made a smirk at Alasdair and handed the letter to him for his appraisal. “It’s an account of his progress in Varralla and Hallanys. The number of recruits he has conscripted, the amount of supplies used and required for their training. All business, as I said.”   
                Alasdair raised a brow and took the message with a wary eye and a delicate hand. He read the note far from his face, as though Dobhin were to leap from the words and assault him, but there was nothing to suggest any of the derision he had expected: it was an account, and a thorough one, giving all the minutiae of Dobhin’s work across the west, delineating every meal eaten and every sword sharpened. Alasdair was almost impressed by such a report and was inclined to laud his enemy until his forefinger grazed the bottom page to reveal the following line hidden in the crease:
                I’ll see you soon, Brennin.
                It was a simple phrase, but Alasdair understood him. He felt all the complacence and the supposed perfection his manner of speech and cleverness of character provided. He simmered in fury, clenched his teeth, and crumpled the parchment with a sibilating, “I hate him.”
                The commander must laugh at their ridiculous rivalry, for on Dobhin’s side there had ever been none, and she felt as she had always done: that Alasdair and Dobhin should be the greatest of friends if only Alasdair’s sense of self-inferiority would recede and allow him to see how much the High Lord truly enjoyed his company.