Story for the #NewYear: The Undelivered Gift -- Part 1
We have received no mail since the 17th of December. Our postman decided to take an extended vacation and did not think to remind his superiors that a replacement was in order, as the holidays were coming. Cards needed to delivered, gifts needed to reach their final destination, and while I take no issue with a man taking a three week holiday, I do condemn him for having left someone's birthday present and holiday gifts in his truck before leaving on holiday. He has made someone very unhappy.
The family visiting from Tyfferim were on their way, Hathanta and Varthrasta were perambulating the gardens together in a moment of private affection, all the parts of the Gramere and MacLachlann family were preparing for their journeys away from the capital, the Scoaleigh and hismare galloped into the royal stables to hand off a correspondence from the west, including the good wishes of Dirrald and Baunbher for their respective relatives at the keep, Roreigh and Dieas returned to the stables after an evening of temulent revelry, Pastaddams sat sighing over his husband’s breacan, which he would spoil though he told him to take it off when they came home last night, and Alasdair began tuning his fiddle, the strings speaking in tirling tirralirra as he plucked out the notes, his bowing competing with the muted sounds of the Royal Theatre, the company of which still trying a new song that was to go between the acts. Kai Linaa and Martje had nearly done with the gingerbread islands, placing Leraa and his hundreds of gingerbread children at his honourable peppermint seat, Khaasta loped about in the far field, attacking a few renegade snowflakes dithering down from the trees, and the commanders and captains came in from the barracks, passing by the kitchen and offering the Den Asaan his due many happy returns.
The children and Sheamas would be along soon, and Alasdair began practicing his new Galleisian wheel fiddle tune when a sudden notion struck him.
“I’d almost forgot,” said Alasdair, rousing from his musical reverie. “I ordered something for you for your birthday.”
The giant’s ears perked. “Oh?”
“Yes, I found some Livanese chocolate ginger pieces I thought you would like.” Alasdair grew pensive. “They certainly should have been here by now. I ordered them weeks ago. Perhaps they came in last Gods’ Day. The herald has been gone since then and we haven’t received any parcels or messages for nearly a week. Scoaleigh Norrington brings all the important letters and official business every day of the year, but any packages still come by regular post, and the herald is always the one responsible for that.” He pause and seemed mindful. “I suppose I could have asked that any parcels be left at the stables, if someone were to bring them by, but I left no instruction for that before the herald left. Everything brought while the herald is away is put in his office. If your chocolate was delivered within the last week, it’s probably in there—“
Alasdair stopped, dreading the immediate effect of his ramblings: Rautu and the royal herald had never been thorough friends, their first meeting aw the herald being hung over the commons threshold, and though their acquaintance hitherto had been one of warfare by stealth, the giant forever watching for signs of the herald’s indolence, and the herald performing his various duties while casting a glance over his shoulder each time he went to deliver the keep’s messages. As a matter of principle, Rautu would never relinquish his resentment for the herald’s designs on poor service, and as a Haanta, one who upheld the standard of Mivaala and never abandoned his office, seeing others so indifferent to their station in life was an offense that no Den as proud as Rautu could excuse. Alasdair did sometimes think the herald in want of a little animation with regard to his court proceedings, but he never found fault with him elsewhere, probably due to the giant’s ceaseless invigilation over the herald’s routes. Alasdair had checked himself before he could blame the herald for the undelivered parcel, and he began a defense of the herald being permitted a holiday as anyone else, but it was too late: the Den Asaan was already gone, having quitted the kitchen in the midst Alasdair’s surmises, and Alasdair’s only comfort now was the hope that the herald should have left the keep entirely for his feriation instead of only retiring to the royal parlour. If he were yet in the keep, Alasdair wished he was somewhere the Den Asaan should never find him out—the latrine or the mews or even the royal wood was much the best place for privacy--- but it was an impossible wish; there was no where safe from the giant’s notice. The holiday had been officially over for a few hours besides, and therefore everyone in the kingdom should be at work, and if the Den Asaan and Alasdair must be a scout and a king every day of the year, someone in service to others must not be permitted to neglect their profession. Searle never surrendered to rustication and quietness of a country life, nor did Aldus or any of them—Martje outright quarreled with Alasdair for being forced to have a day off—why should the herald be any different? A doleful heart was all Alasdair penitence, and he sat with his hand at his brow, pining over the destiny of the royal clerk, suffering under the consciousness that what happened now was partially at his instigation.
Alasdair heaved and heavy sigh and lay down his fiddle. “Should I even bother stopping him?” was his hopeless lamentation.
“You may try,” said Boudicca, “but take Bilar with you. Someone must be there to see to your injuries.”
Alasdair’s shoulders wilted, and he turned back toward Kai Linaa, to reap the joys of her project completed and glean some of her affecting spirit, while resigning himself to the notion that had the herald delivered the boxes left in his office on Gods’ Day before he went away, his impending punishment might have been avoided.