Story for the Day: The Journal
The morning of the Frewyn holiday, the commander awoke from a short sleep to find a small parcel laid at the foot of the commons door. As the package was unopened and in excellent condition, she could be under no mistake as to the Herald being with his family for the day; it must have been conveyed to their door by one of the yeoman, or perhaps by Martje out of a sense of charity of the day. As kitchen master, Martje must be awake at all hours of the morning, and as Rithea’s liaison of gossip where the happenings of the keep were concerned, she would risk the exercise to the commons door if only to inspect their correspondence on the way up the winding stone steps. A few crumbs and a buttery fingerprint secured all the commander’s assumptions, and she simpered to herself as she took the parcel into the main room and thought of how Martje was probably making her addresses to Rithea on the subject directly.
When the parcel was placed upon the table, it was subject to Rautu’s scrutiny, and the instant the giant descried the smear of grease on the bottom corner, he said, “I will tell the fat Mhojhudenri to wash her hands before touching what is ours.”
“Iimon Ghaala,” the commander laughed, “she was good enough to bring it to our door. I know you are terrified of her leaving her Dhargovhari diseases all over your parcels but as this is addressed chiefly to me and I am a Dhargovhari, I am immune to her illnesses. I shall be generous and open the parcel for you. You would do well to stand back in case she might have allowed some of her diseases to slip inside, for diseases do leap when they spy a target prime for infection.”
Rautu gave his mate a flat glare, and though her words were meant in jest, he still stood behind her to shield himself from any wafting contagion. He peered over her shoulder and observed her taking two items from the box: the first was a leather bound journal and the second beneath it was a roll of parchment paper. A card was taken up from the bottom of the box upon which there was written in a familiar scrawl: Happy birthday and Happy Ailineighdaeth to Bou and Den Asaan.
“It’s from Kai Linaa,” the commander remarked, regarding the back of the small note. “This leather bound journal is for me and this lovely parchment roll is for you, Iimon Ghaala.” She gave him his gift and began investigating the soft leather journal for use: the front clasp was made from a small strip of hide and a square buckle, the brown and delicate encasing molded with the motions of her hand, the paper was thick and bore serrated edges, making the small journal and altogether exquisite piece. “By the Gods, this is well-crafted,” said the commander, laying her fingers across the waxed twine binding. “Is this Haanta craftsmanship?”
The giant sat at the table, prepared to unroll his parchment for inspection, and eyed the make of the journal. “It is,” he decided. “That is how most of our volumes are bound.” He narrowed his eyes and marked the leather. “That leather is from Khantara Ghaasta,” he mused. “We do not have that on the islands.”
“And is this paper from the islands?”
“It is. It is called Bhardhasnaas. It is made from a fibrous plant that grows on Sanhedhran. It is must stronger than your vellum and will not crease when folded.”
“Do you not use this paper when writing your letters?”
“No. It is for Bhendosha and Takhonta, our artisans and our scribes. Asaan and Ashan use thinner paper called Phantonaas. It is made from grass that grow at the edge of the shore.”
To admire the quality of such paper, the commander opened the front cover of the journal but did not turn the pages further than the title of the volume. On the first page was written in sprightly hand: For you to write down all of your adventures so that others might read them.. “I believe Kai Linaa wants me to being writing my commander’s memoirs. She’s mistaken to think that much of them happen without her around to witness them. Perhaps she thinks that more happens in the keep than I let on in my letters.” She looked over at her mate to find him staring at his parchment with a disconsolate expression. “What is it, Iimon Ghaala? Has she sent you something adorable?”
Rautu sighed and turned the unrolled parchment toward his mate for her perusal. The paper itself was well enough, fibrous and dry-pressed for writing, but upon the top of every sheet was a drawn image of the shore, the houses of the respective Haanta closest to the Den Asaan with each of his brothers standing before them and smiling, and a large rainbow with a smiling sun in a sky with fluffy clouds and a flying gull. The more Rautu stared at the image, the more agony he suffered. It was a gift and therefore he must keep it, and though the childlike images of happiness at the top of the page mocked him, the paper itself was exquisite to touch. He knew not whether to like the gift for its craftsmanship or despise it for its travesty.
“Silenced by the force of your admiration,” the commander said presently.
The giant humphed.
“Smiles and rainbows and depictions of fraternal happiness. How offensive. Now you shall have to write her a thank you note using a sheet.”
Rautu moaned but would write a sufficient message of appreciation. A few lines praising her choice of paper and of perfect binding would do, and though the grinning faces of his brothers assailed him with each letter he wrote, he must admit that their likenesses were accurate and therefore gave rise to warm sentiments of being with them once more.