Story for the Day: The Carib

The Draeden, or the small Frewyn Carib, is an important type of hummingbird in Frewyn lore. It is said that the God Diras quieted his first born son Frannach by having a carib sing to him. When Prince Draeden was little, he too had difficulty sleeping as an infant, and one day, whilst King Dorrin was rocking him by the window and trying to lull him to sleep, a carib came to visit and soothe Draeden into a gentle somnolence. King Dorrin took the incident as a blessing from Diras Himself, and instead of naming the prince Braeghan after his grandfather, the king called him after the particular and sacred bird. 
The copse of silver cypresses lining the outer wall were alive with chirrups and twitters of varying denominations, the peacock trees on the adjoining sward lined with birds of every distinction: sparrows and wrens hopped eagerly about, grebes and grey doves pecked the ground, pigeons cooed and strutted, green geese honked at the passing mallards, and at the bottom of the trees was one timid pheasant and the partridges, scratching the ground in quest of a few worms, shying away under the low boughs as Draeden and Bryeison approached.
                “How beautiful their feathers are, with their high curling crowns and their brilliant napes,” Draeden marveled, eyeing the partridges as they emerged from their hiding place. “I love them when they’re grown round for winter. They look as though they can barely fly when they are in such a state. It is endless entertainment to see them flit up and down as they try to carry their additional weight. Now that the spring is finally come, they are all grown thinner. Well, we have crumbs enough for them, don’t we?” he crooned at the chirping birds. He was about to sprinkle the crumbs round when, from the end of the copse, came the pigeons and mallards, their eyes alert, their movements hastening. “No, no,” said Draeden, holding the crumbs away, “you already found your worms, and I daresay the mallards enjoyed some of the carps from the river before migrating over the wall- Ow!” A sudden sharp pain at the back of his leg quieted him, and he turned to find a goose eagerly craning toward his hand and snapping at his legs intermittently in hopes of his dropping the consignment on the ground. “Stop that,” he cried, shooing the goose away with his foot, but the goose only fluttered and returned, bringing with it the rest of its gaggle. “No, these crumbs are not for you,” he firmly asserted, holding his hand away from them and taking a defensive stance. “These are for the smaller birds who might not otherwise be able to find food due to your harrying them and taking everything they might eat. The little ones need to eat as well as you do, so be very good and go away now—no, don’t peck me! Stop nipping my galligaskins. Pastaddams will have a panic if you tear them—don’t nip the seam! How dare you hiss at me! Go away, or I shall have the Royal Guard hunt you and have Ruta pluck you and prepare you for dinner.”
                The geese seemed not to understand this; they only knew they were being denied what was rightfully theirs. They were first in the peristyle after all. It was their right to have the best sitting place, the best grazing spot, the best view of the capital, and as the pigeons and mallards had already eat up all the fresh worms, the crumbs must certainly be for themselves. Who were the partridges and the sparrows to be fed  before such reigning splendor? Their small forms and flimsy wings could need no further subsistence than what nuts and seeds the royal hunting ground supplied. Here was injustice and mismanagement every way, for the partridges could do very well in the wood, and here they were, coming in all their state, flying across the castle merely to graze on grounds which belonged to others when they had acres of their own. It was an abominable slight, one that the geese, whose appearance everywhere promised majesty and proud beauty, should never be made to suffer. They pecked and nipped and honked and hissed, until Draeden began to flail his fists and shout for their removal. They went rather hesitatingly, spying Draeden’s rabid features from the corners of their eye, honking to one another about how improprietous it was of the vulgar prince to feed the peasantry before the avian aristocracy.       
                “Wretched geese,” Draeden grumbled, adjusting his tunic and matting his hair. “I’m looking forward to seeing them decorate the table in the great hall for the high holidays.”
                The colour in Bryeison’s cheeks heightened throughout the assault, his hand over his mouth to stifle his cachinnations, his brows high, the corners of his eyes crinkling as he surrendered to his mirth. To see Draeden so disconcerted by birds, to see him flail about and toss his limbs in vehement agitation, was all his amusement. “You’re going to enjoy eating them,” he surmised, wiping the tears from his eyes.
                “I should, the horrid gallinaceans. They are majestic flying about in their formations, but really they are so foul-tempered, one cannot help but want to demolish them.”
                “You could always hunt them yourself.”
                “No, I cannot,” said Draeden rather sorrowfully. “I am terribly fond of animals, though they don’t cherish the same affinity for me.”
                At that moment, a small carib floated down from one of the boughs of the peacock tree, gliding across the  its small wings beating with unabated and feverish motions, its long beak carried high, its low tail balancing its path. Amazed and delighted at his little visitor, Draeden opened his hand and invited the carib to sit on his forefinger and eat a few crumbs from his palm.
                “The carib likes you,” Bryeison observed.
                Draeden crooned shamelessly at the bird, delicately petting its colourful crown with his fingertips. “I think caribs are the one creature which has always liked me,” he hummed, in a fond hue, his features doting. “I was going to be named Braeghan to honour my grandfather, but after I was born, my father changed my name when a carib came to visit us the night after I was born. My poor mother was exhausted from nursing me, but I was so hungry even after being fed that I wouldn’t stop crying. My father took me over to the window, hoping the mild air would soothe me to sleep. All I did was wail and fidget about—and don’t say that nothing there has changed,” glaring at Bryeison, “I know that’s what you were going to say.”
                A complacent half-smile was all Bryeison’s admission.
                “My father tried everything to help me fall asleep. Absolutely nothing would subdue me until a carib flew in from the window. I was so mesmerized by the birds incessant motions as it hovered about me that I began burbling and soon fell asleep.” Draeden spied the bird as it pecked at a few crumbs, beaming and cooing at it as he held it to his aspect, divided between appreciation and doting admiration. “My father was reminded of the legend of Diras’ Draeden, the small bird that came to visit Frannach when he was just born. He saw it as Diras sending his little messenger coming to bless my birth and felt obliged to name me accordingly to honour him. I do like my name,” he smiled. “I don’t think it is a name that belongs to anyone else in the kingdom.”
The carib beat its wings and began drifting slowly away, and while Draeden was saying his soft farewells to his visitor, Bryeison quietly reckoned that while there were Dunhurams and Domhnaills aplenty in Frewyn, there was certainly only one Draeden.

Be sure to read the newest publication in the series: Tales from Frewyn Vol 1!