Story for the Day: To Make an Invitation
While we're putting the finishing touches on the paperback version of the Leaf Flute, here is the beginning of a new story, one about the early years of Vyrdin and Brigdan's longstanding friendship:
A day visit to Bramlae was recommended by those who had joined the forces but a few weeks ago. The prolonged winter of the east had not agreed with them; they were unequal to running skirmishes in the snowdrifts, unused to sleep under linens and thatch while there was still frost on the ground; the comfort of a brics homes, the warm and dry kilns of Westren, were wanting here, and the humidity of the capital, the tax of being by the sea, was become a rather a penance than a privilege. Brigdan loved the winter, loved to look at it and gratulate in all its niveous wonders, and while he should always like to see Bramlae under the power of the new season, he should not mind staying at the keep until summer. He would stay in Diras anyway, if only to spend more time with Vyrdin. Vyrdin… He had never seen the fields at Bramlae, nor had he seen any wonders of the west beyond the distinctive architecture of Amene, and as Brigdan began to dress for the day, he wondered whether he might ask for leave on La Bramlae with the object of taking Vyrdin with him. His father would be at the keep the day before, they could all ride back to Varralla together overnight, and they would be in Bramlae proper by midmorning. It might be done, and they could sit in the fields for many hours before riding back to the capital. Certainly it might be done, and Bryeison and Draeden should give them leave for half a day extraordinary if they should ask it, but getting Vyrdin to accept the invitation as an indulgence would be a trail.
He would not go without Vyrdin, for Vyrdin spent every holiday and Gods’ Day at the keep, either in the company of Draeden and Bryeison or with King Dorrin, and when he was not playing at Fidchell or practicing his music, he was riding Teipha or reveling in in his room under a mountain of books. Of course Vyrdin had companions and employments enough to amuse him, but that Brigdan could only go home to be happy and lavished with attention and affection while Vyrdin was at the mercy of everyone’s availability gave Brigdan unpleasant feelings. His greatest apprehension was that Vyrdin was forced to spend more time alone than he should have otherwise liked. He enjoyed his hideaways, reveled in solitary pursuits when he was not on the field, and though everyone in the keep was inclusive and generous with their time, no one went out of their way for Vyrdin. It distressed Brigdan that Vyrdin might sometimes be forgotten, and as his friend and fellow cern, it was his duty that Vyrdin should never be left only to sulk in the misery of imposed isolation. Compunction and esteem for a friend who deserved as much notice as he shunned persuaded Brigdan to act: he would invite Vyrdin, he would have to come to Bramlae, but how to go about it, how to ask in a way conciliating without seeming condescending was the difficulty. He had meant to invite him to his family estate for Alineighdaeth, he longed to show his new friend everything that was dearest to him, but general diffidence and unfamiliarity had prevented him. He and Vrydin had known each other only a few weeks at that time, but now, having spent many months together, Brigdan was sure an invitation ought to be appropriate now. Too long and Vyrdin might feel slighted that Brigdan should never have asked before, but Vyrdin would be willful and obstinate, would be conscious of Brigdan’s situation when there was nothing to be conscious about. Vyrdin being an orphan of unknown parentage should mean nothing where being as respect cern and the fondling of King Dorrin ought to mean everything. Bridgan thought little of his own consequence, excepting how others related to him because of it, and his rank was rather a curse amongst the regiments when his sincerity of being in the forces was questions. It made it impossible to act with propriety without seeming highborn; even wishing to have a friend join him at his father’s house was a production of will. He would have to resort to invention merely to have Vyrdin accept. Should he ask his father to make the invitation, to keep Vyrdin from feeling as though he were imposing himself upon their household, or should he ask his father to have the king suggest he go with him to Varalla for the day—but there Vyrdin might feel pressed to accept the invitation as a matter of deference. Vyrdin could not refuse the king, and while Brigdan would never deny Vyrdin’s right to refusal, he should like Vyrdin to come with him because he wanted to come, not because he refused to disappoint his loved ones.
How the business done, how the invitation was to be made and settled, Brigdan would entrust to wiser heads and steadier characters: he would consult Commander Bryeison. If there was one opinion Brigdan valued as much as his father’s, it was Bryeison’s, for though Draeden knew Vyrdin just as well, Bryeison’s composure and consideration recommended him as the best for advise on delecate subjects. There was a sagacity to Bryeison, a quiet consciousness which Brigdan could not but acknowledge, one that would act and contrive for anyone he truly loved. Bryeison played at being disinterested, but behind his perfect equanimity, there was a machination and a beneficence that would work in his favour here. He knew how to rouse the first ardours of Vyrdin’s heart, and though Brigdan still davered about under the auspices of a horrendous sleep, he quitted the barracks and went into the keep on purpose to see his commander.
Bryeison would be in the kitchen at his hour. It was his usual time for breakfast, and being the great perpetrator of the tea board, Bryeison should be commanding his usual place at the head of the table, with the teapot stationed firmly at his side and his cup and saucer in his hands. Draeden too might be in the kitchen, his face planted firmly in his brined meat and boiled oats, and Vyrdin, Brigdan hoped, would be still in his room, working through the early hours in a slumber before the last furoles of the fire. All his ambition was getting Bryeison alone for a few minutes, but upon reaching the kitchen, his hopes at anything like a private interview were thoroughly disappointed.