Story for the #NewYear: A Good Year: Part 1
The meaning of happiness and fulfillment differs from person to person. For Breigh, happiness is a day of good work, good food, and a pleasant evening, but for Cabhrin, happiness is not so easily defined:
While the party in Tyfferim gathered round their bonfire, honouring the light that ushered in the beginning of winter’s evanescence, other fires across the kingdom were burning.Amber glows raged from frosted windows, features brightened and bodies warmed behind tempered glass, furoles davered about under the ascendance of frigid gales. The ululation of the gelid gusts traveled down the eastern coast and caromed along the seas, the barm and brine blending with shards of forming ice, the undulating waves carrying them south, their frozen sheets crashing against the docks at Glaoustre with a tinkling rote. The brume of dispersing rime clouded the distance, and Breigh and Cabhrin sat in the front of Breigh’s house, looking out at the scene and weltering in the scent of dampened pines, their long-shanked pipes decorating the corners of their mouths, their faces illumined, their skin singed and brizzled from the bonfire before them, their radiant tresses ever more erubescent in the flickering glow of the light, the murk of the sea beyond serving to heighten the intermittent vibrancy of the stars, the luminaries making up the chief of their perception, trees dolloped with snow and the main walk to the house just articulate in the light.
Breigh lounged in his seat, leaning languidly back against the rest, his hat drawn low over his brow, with one leg straight and the other bent and leaning sideways, his hands folded over one another and resting on his stomach, and Cabhrin sat forward, his forearms against his thighs, his cap perched on the crown of his head, tufts of his hair peeking out from the band and screening his eyes from the firelight, his fingers fussocking and his feet fidgeting in mindful vexation. The fire leapt roritorious, and each brother reflected on the day, their stomachs full, their prandial edacity sated, their sobriety questionable, Breigh slightly bleezed, and Cabhrin somewhere between bibulous musing and pained delight, each of them delitous in his own way, though Cabhrin showed signs of distress. The better part of their evening had been joyously spent at the Bard’s Crossing, where they had heard news from town, listened to many stories borne from ancient Glaoustre men, enjoyed mulled cider and delighted in roasted pork and venison come down from the hunts, and listening to Cabhrin’s captain tell tall tales of the wicked seas, regaling them with stories of pirates and villainy, whether true or not even Cabhrin could hardly distinguish, and when the captain had returned to his ship for the evening and all the good men and women of Glaoustre had gone home, Breigh and Cabhrin returned home likewise, to wallow in the blissful reflection of the evening, endure the harsh heat of a fire sibilating in full crepitation, and remark the stars, gratulating in their appearance and lavishing them with all the admiration that their attendance on Ailineighdaeth night could warrant. Breigh inhaled, the bowl of his pipe glowed with aurulent light, the dried leaves hissing in angry defeat, their exsibilation berthing a spark that floated up and attached itself to the freckles dotting the landscape of Breigh’s nose. He licked his thumb and pressed against where the spark had landed, and then held back his hand to admire the smudge with a self-satisfied humph. Grey smoke swelled from the corner of his mouth, his lips curled in a diverted half-smile, and with a sigh of true gratification, he said, “Aye, it’s a good night.”
Cabhrin, rousing from an anxious reverie, replied, “Aye, it was. Sure had a good time at the tavern.”
“Aye, so we did,” said Breigh, his sonorous thrum expatiated by an exhale of smoke. “Yer captain tells a right good story.”
“Aye, so he does.” Cabhrin kicked at one of the logs supporting the bonfire. “He tell’s ‘em all the time aboard the ship, when we’re driftin’ and waitin’ for the wind to lift the sails.” His brows furrowed and he looked pensive. “I never heard him tell that one before.”
“It’s a grim tale he was tellin’, about his time as a slave in Thellis.” Breigh held his pipe toward the fire to relight the bowl. “Don’t think that’s a story he’d want to be tellin’ over again.”
“No…” Breigh murmured, shaking his head. “I never knew he was slave in Thellis till he just told us. I knew he was captured from Frewyn to be taken as a slave in Sesterna, but I didn’t know he’d been recaptured. He loves tellin’ that one, that story of how he took the galley ship and how he named it the Bear. The tale is so tall ye’d think he was coddin’ ye, but there are other folk who know he ain’t tellin’ a lie. Saved by Captain Danaco Divelima himself, he says, and in every port we sail to, there’s no one who’ll gainsay it.”
“Well,” Breigh exclaimed, making a pandiculation, “if others say it happened—“ he shrugged, “had to’ve happened.”
“I don’t wanna believe his other story, though,” said Cabhrin, in a despondent hue. “it’s too depressin’, him bein’ enslaved and tortured and all. I knew he had a few scars from the torture he got bein’ on the Bear when he was bein’ taken toward Sesterna, but I didn’t think…” He stopped here, grimacing and not wishing to revive a story far too unpleasant to conceive. “Well,” said he, recollecting himself, “he’s all right now, then. Nearin’ his nineties, and still at sea.”
“Chune,” Breigh chuffed, impressed, “hope I’m still master at the dairy when I’m his age. I’m just after bein’ forty, and I’m already startin’ to feel it. Mho Bheannacht on him if he can keep it up. A man who loves what he does ought to be able to do it as long as he can.”
Cabhrin was silent, his features downcast, his gaze intent on the fire, and Breigh, after spying his brother from the corner of his eye, looked up and studied the stars, the infinite murrey of night caroming off the brilliancy of the constellations. He pursed his lips and inhaled a whiff of his pipe, and said, “We’ve got a good year comin’,” as though to soothe some of the vexations he could not but discriminate in Cabhrin. His brother was wont to be rapt in a wondering strain after an evening of revelry; the inner misery that Cabhrin cherished was always done away after a few hours of Breigh’s company, but the curative of round of ale and another of Westren peat whiskey was enough to wash away any or all of the defenses that good scruples might erect. Restoring senses and reviving old wounds, the injuries to the heart, ones long past, always surfaced when sobriety at last was achieved, and Cabhrin, a master of championing in his own invented compunction, would always rather wallow in the dregs of his own wretchedness than join in Breigh’s tender commendations. It was easier to sulk than speak, easier to look pensive and bemused than to engage in a conversation which he felt rather unequal to. Breigh was model of constancy and good humour, and Cabhrin hardly knew how to govern his own distressing cogitations. He had learned better how to conceal rather than subdue, but regardless of how well Cabhrin might manage himself, Breigh was forever sensible of his brother’s various and continuous anxieties. Whether roving off to the far reaches of the continents, or tapping his feet against the firewood, Cabhrin was always roaming about or moving in some way, endeavouring to distract himself before being compelled to suffer the agitated ramblings of his own mind. Stillness was the enemy of a conscience that seldom knew a moment’s pause, and the less Breigh said, the more Cabhrin was left to endure the trials of wearying spirit.