Story for the #NewYear: The Undelivered Gift - Part 2
We finally received mail today for the first time in three weeks. Perhaps Rautu had something to do with it:
|To receive the full novella of this story, join our Patreon|
Brigdan came to the end of the hall and turned the corner, and there, where the end of the servants’ quarter met the courtyard, was Vyrdin, standing with his arms folded, looking all the satisfaction he felt as he watched the Den Asaan prowl along the shrubs leading to the herald’s office.
“He’s in there,” said Vrydin quietly, as Brigdan approached. “The herald just entered his office not a minute ago.”
“He has no idea, does he?” said Brigdan, in a hush.
“Not at all.”
They stood in silence, screened by the shadow from the archway, as they watched the giant stalk through the shrubs and mount the lattice leading to the large upstairs window. The giant pried it open with his hunting knife, and without a whisper, he slipped into the herald’s storeroom, quietly closing the window behind him.
“It always amazes me how silent and fast he is,” said Vyrdin. “He’s twice your size and yet he knows how to get into everything without being detected.”
“He is the Den Asaan for a reason,” said Brigdan.“We always forget that he is essentially the lord of all scouts because he uses his abilities to sulk about the kitchen at all hours instead of infiltrating our ranks.”
They walked toward the office and looked into the upstairs window from their place below and waited. A shadow clouded the glass, and there was no sound beyond the aspirations of their own two selves.
“May the Gods help us if we ever wrong him enough to have him as our enemy,” said Brigdan. “There is a reason no nation other than Thellis has ever dared war with the islands.”
Vyrdin’s brow furrowed. “Otenohi?”
“Yes,” Brigdan laughed, “I daresay that is surely reason enough.”
In a minute, there were some sounds of struggling within the herald’s office, and in the next, the Den Asaan was dragging the herald out of his office and holding him up by his capelet. The herald’s feet dangled as he writhed in the agony of consternation, and the giant suspended him in front of his nose.
“You have not performed your Mivaala in a week,” Rautu smouldered, the sensation of his breath making the herald shrivel. “You will retrieve your messages and parcels and deliver them.”
“But I had the king’s permission to be off until tomorrow!” the herald began to sob. “There isn’t even any court proceeding today!”
“And that means I do not have to perform my usual duties!”
“In the court, but there are items you must deliver. You have a package that is mine. I know it is in your office. Your king has told me.”
“The king?” the herald shrieked, crumbling in humility. “But—but how did he know? Did he have someone track the package? But how could he possibly--? Did you see me bring it to my office before I left for my holidays?”
“No,” the giant hissed. “I did not need to see you. You have just told me it is there.”
The herald relenquished the point. It was best to give way to profuse apologies, retrieve the package, and have done. He was put down, a finger was pointed at his door, and when the seething purr of, “You will deliver what is mine now,” assailed his ears, he leapt toward office, entering and fumbling in a feverish panic.
There was a crashing sound, someone had fallen over something and had broken a lamp, other harsh clanks emanated from the office, and with hands trembling and aspect distressed, the herald presented the Den Asaan with his parcel.
“There, it is delivered!” the herald yelped, and when the package was put in the giant’s hands, the Den Asaan marched back toward the kitchen in all the defiance of triuimph, and the herald sank to his knees, his sense of self governance quite gone, his appearance disheveled, his spirits forever discomposed.
It was his plight to be plagued with a giant: from their very first meeting, he knew their acquaintance could do him no good. His dedication and service to his sovereign was never failing, but there was always a giant to find fault, aways a Den Asaan to threaten him into perfect performance. Curse that giant, curse the war that brought him to this place, was the herald’s prevailing cogitation, there is not a moment of peace with him about.
“You’re fortunate that’s all he did to you,” said Vyrdin, as though sensing the herald’s thoughts, and then leaning down, he added, in a whisper, “I would not have pardoned you.”
A callous and scathing glare was owed to the herald. It was given, and as Vyrdin turned his back, all the herald could utter was, “But…but…the king—the king approved my leave…”
Vyrdin grinned to himself, the herald’s miffling woes all his insidious delight, and as he returned to the keep, Brigdan helped the herald to his feet, and with a good natured smile said, “Perhaps you should appeal to His Majesty for an assistant, one whom the Den Asaan cannot fault for delayed deliveries.”
He patted him on the shoulder and followed Vyrdin back to the servants’ hall, they delighting in private mirth as they walked through the corridor, and the herald standing at the edge of the courtyard, gawping at his office in horror, wondering who should ever agree to be his assistant with a sulking giant always about.