Today, author Michelle Franklin is sharing with us a story from Tales from Frewyn. She will also be giving away TEN e-book copies (any format) of both of her books,
The Tea Party
It was Gods’ Day, the day upon which all of Frewyn was encouraged to take rest from their work and join the Church services, adding their prayer and supplication to those of the Reverend Mother and the Brothers and Sisters who resided in the boarding house of the Church. Among those who felt the sting of culpability enough to conform to worship were the orphans, forced into such an unfortunate situation by the brutality of the Galleisian War. They would remain for the first portion of the Gods’ Day services but were permitted to leave at the intermission, as children of young age could not be expected to listening to the dronings of an old and tiresome woman for more than an hour. The children were taken outside and allowed to play within the boundaries of the orphanage yard and though they had toys and playmate enough to occupy them, Unghaahi and Obhantaa Leraa shared concern for them.
In the Haanta society, children or Mivaari, those who were only learning their purpose in the world, were never left unattended. They always retained every advantage of life that could be given them: priests to guide them, teachers to educate them, masters to broaden their understanding and pay them every due attention, and when Unghaahi first noted that the children of the orphanages in the mainland were disregarded and seen as a means to end the suffering of two yearning parents, he made it his object to care for them. He knew himself to be only Den Amhadhri, head commander of Sanhedhran’s Amghari and master of Hophsaas, not a nurturer in any respect, but he vowed to do his utmost for the children by visiting oftener than was needed and teaching them all that he could on the subjects in which he was most learned. Defense of oneself, the arts of diplomacy and kind persuasion, how to conduct oneself with honour, these were the lessons Unghaahi felt qualified enough to impart.
When Obhantaa Leraa joined the inhabitants of the keep, he furthermore joined Unghaahi every week to visit the children. The two giants would wait until the intermission in the Gods’ Day services and meet the children in the yard where they would play and learn together. Obhantaa would read to them and tell them stories of the Haanta legends, thinking it important for young Mivaari to know of their heritage, and he would allow them to ride his hangaara cat. There was much apprehension at first regarding the large beast but judging by Obhantaa Leraa’s sweetness in temper and remarking how the cat never left the giant’s side, the Sisters in charge of watching the children soon allowed them near the sleek animal.
When the services concluded and everyone in the Church was eager to return to their homes or tavern for a good meal, or to the marketplace to spend the remainder of the day purchasing what was on sale in honour of the day, the parishioners piled out of the Church to see Unghaahi and Obhantaa amidst the children, talking with them, laughing with them, allowing them to tug their braids and play with their padded feet. The women of the congregation stood by, paying the two giants doting looks as they enjoyed the company of the children. They squealed at how dutiful they were in their attention and they made several remarked to passing men of how they should use the Haanta as an example of how to treat their young. Husbands soon ushered their wives away to save themselves further remonstration, leaving only the commander and Kai Linaa behind.
The two remaining women sat in the yard giving each other knowing smiles as they heard Unghaahi reading one of their favourite picture books to them. The tale recanted of a bridge troll of declared his name Teacup. The Troll professed that though his family wished him to be the most frightening and ferocious troll in all the land, he had only the desire for kindliness and camaraderie. Instead of terrify those who crossed his bridge, he would invite travelers in for tea and cakes.
“I daresay that book was written with my mate in mind,” the commander murmured to Kai Linaa, thinking of the similarities between Rautu and the troll when the option of cakes was given them.
Kai Linaa giggled into her hand and her eyes sparkled with adulation for her mate as he read from the tiny book. “I’m melting. This is adorable,” she whispered.
A table was brought out and set. The children gathered around and when Kai Linaa returned with numerous boxes, Obhantaa appointed himself as the designated cutter of cake. Tea was made inside the orphanage and brought out for everyone to share. Once all at the table were well situated with a cup of tea and with sweets, excepting Unghaahi, the party began. Obhantaa regaled the children with songs and dances as best as he could portray them and replaced the names of the Haanta champions with Teacup to venerate the troll.
The commander sat with her tea in one hand, her cake in the other, and had a smile for everything and everyone. “We shall have to boast of this event to my mate,” she said to Kai Linaa. “There was cake to be had and he was nowhere in sight.”
Kai Linaa was about to reply when the sudden familiar footfall of a particular thunderous giant were heard approaching.
“Move, woman,” the Den Asaan said, stepping over his mate and into the yard. “There is a piece of chocolate cake that I must claim as mine.” Rautu hurried to the table, braving the horde of children, and bowled them away from the slice that had beckoned him hitherto.
“How does he always know?” Kai Linaa said in amazement.
“I daresay he was born with a chocolate detector within him,” the commander laughed. “When there is any within the space of ten miles he knows. The opening of a wrapper, the crinkling of the foil, the snap of a bar in half summon him immediately. Gods pity those who are foolish enough to stand in his way of his dependence.”
Kai Linaa simpered at the commander’s assertion and continued laughing as Obhantaa declared that their troll had come. Having little idea what his brother meant by the comparison, Rautu grumbled for being made to stand amidst the children for his piece of cake and Unghaahi informed them that just as the troll in the tale had needed friends to comfort him so to Rautu required all the affection their young hearts could convey. The children leapt up and went to hug the giant’s legs, causing the Den Asaan to roar and thunder away with his cake in his hand and a scowl on his face. His pursuers, however, would not relent and they chased the giant around the yard, claiming that he only needed friends and a tea party to calm his riled sensibilities.
When the tea party in honour of the brave and brazen Teacup the Troll had done, the Reverend Mother declared the children finished with their amusement for the day and ought to return to their studies. Unghaahi, though hesitant to leave the children when they were so well settled by snoring in the crevices of his strong legs or enjoying the view atop his mountainous shoulders, he could not deny the needfulness of education and carefully pealed his giggling adornments from his form to set them down beside the table. When he announced his departure for the day, taking with him Obhantaa Leraa and the giant cat of which they were so fond, they moaned in disappointment, as their diversion from the dreariness of Church services had been altogether too perfect. They groaned and cried when the giants stood to take their leave. Unghaahi made promises of returning soon and Obhantaa Leraa and when one of the children requested that Den Asaan join them for their next visit, Unghaahi laughed and vowed to have Rautu at his side. The Den Asaan made many protestations, claiming he would never have come were it not for the chocolate cake given him, but when the children remarked that there could be no proper tea party without him, Rautu grunted his consent and the children cheered.
As the Haanta were waving their farewells, one of the young boys ran toward them with the small book Unghaahi had read to them in his hand.
“Here, Unghaahi,” the boy said in his small voice, desperately attempting to reach his hand by standing on his toes. “Take my book.”
Unghaahi smiled and knelt down to the boy, placing his colossal hand on his back. “I will not take what is yours, Mivaari Leraa,” his low voice purred.
“But it’s a gift.”
“Are you certain? This legend of the troll is an important lesson for you, Mivaari.”
“I’ll remember it,” the boy said smilingly. “I want you to have it so you can read it to everyone in the castle.”
Unghaahi exhaled with fondness and gave the boy an affectionate embrace. “I am honoured to accept this gift, Mivaari Leraa. I will convey the example of the troll to others and they will learn to follow their purpose just as you have learned.”
The boy’s eyes gleamed with happiness. “Can you come again tomorrow?” he asked hopefully.
Unghaahi looked at his brothers and though Rautu scowled at the young creature, Obhantaa Leraa’s eager expression imparted that they would return as soon as they were able.
The boy hopped up and down and shouted his approbation, making claims of how he wished he could take his nap on the Den Amhadhri every day. He embraced Unghaahi one last time about the neck, gave over his book, and hurried back inside to tell the others that the giants would return to play sooner than expected.
Unghaahi smiled at the simple gift he was given. He had read the story of Teacup the Troll several times to the orphans at the Church and not once had they asked him to regale them with another one form the pile of picture books given to them by the castle. He reaffirmed his statement of honouring his promise to relay the message of Teacup’s history to everyone residing within the castle keep. He was warned that such a tale was considered to be for the young of Frewyn and those but Unghaahi believe the legend universal in its teachings. Everyone regardless of birth or consequence had the ability to follow his Mivaala and Unghaahi made it his dominant proclivity to spread the legend of Teacup the Troll throughout the capital.
When they returned to the keep, the Den Amhadhri’s first visit was to the throne room where Alasdair was in the midst of a negotiation with the herald. He appeared in the entranceway and bowed, claiming there was a matter of grave importance that required the king’s attention. Wishing to do anything other than continue his discourse with the disagreeable herald, Alasdair agreed to hear Unghaahi’s entreaty and called him into the room to say as he would. The Den Amhadhri raised his tiny book and began reading. At first, he was treated with looks of confusion from the king, but Unghaahi would be heard and the story of Teacup the Troll would be told. Once the little history of the troll’s triumph had done, Unghaahi declared his mission in the throne room a success and continued toward the yeoman’s quarters while leaving Alasdair bemused and yet enlightened to the troll’s cause.
Unghaahi came to the tailor in search of Carrigh and when he knocked on her door, she answered his call and bid him to grace her with his presence. He told her there was a message to convey and she sat with fixed eye and a keen ear, waiting to be told the communication. She had expected unfortunate news for so intimate a visit but she was pleasantly surprised to see one of her favourite books in the giant’s hand. She entreated him to read it for her own selfish delectation and though Carrigh already understood the lesson he would transmit, he obliged to please her and to keep his promise.
When Carrigh had said her goodbyes and encouraged her visitor to persist in his quest of the keep’s illumination, Unghaahi walked the short distance from the tailor to the kitchen where Martje, Bilar, Merra Lingha, Tomas and Mrs. Cuineill were all sitting at the table enjoying repose together. They were enjoying freshly brewed tea and baked biscuits, a fitting scene for the Den Amhadhri’s tutelage, and when he was greeted with cordial bows and smiles, he sat on the ground andbegan to read to them.
Being reminded of reading to her two boys when they were young, Mrs. Cuineill’s eyes teared at the thought of having Tomas and Bhaunbher on her lap and reading them the very same story the giant was reiterating.
“Aye, you lads,” she sniffed toward Tomas, “And didn’t you used to make me read you t’at Fey tale every night when you were young-uns? It makes an old lass smile to ‘ear t’at story still bein’ told. It’s no good bein’ old, lad, but I still got my memories of you and your brot’er.”
“Aye, Ma,” Tomas said warmly, recalling the many evenings he begged her to read the old Frewyn fable.
Although Merra Lingha, being a Nnodainya, was never privy to hearing such a moving account, she smiled to think that she and her sister Nerri were now performing the very moral Teacup the Troll related. She was immensely pleased with the story and applauded Unghaahi once he had closed the book. She bid him to travel to the barracks and tell the story to her sister and the Den Amhadhri happily obeyed.
He went to the garrison and found Captain Connors, Nerri, Mureadh and Teague just beginning their trek toward the taverns for some merriment and supper. They stood at attention when the Den Amhadhri neared and they were ordered to listen to the history of significance he was about to relate. They listened to their commander, giving each other awkward sideways glances as they wondered why he had chosen to read them a parable, but they said nothing to gainsay his recanting and stood silently in their place until Unghaahi had done. He bowed, signaling that they may now consider themselves enlightened, and walked through the training yard and up the steps toward the commons.
While Nerri and Connors thought the repetition of such a tale odd, both Mureadh and Teague were delighted. As both Frewyn recruits had large families, Mureadh having thirteen sisters and Teague claiming a multitude of young brothers, they recalled the familiar tale with partiality, thinking of their beloved relations to whom they, being the eldest siblings, would regale the story of Teacup the Troll on a nightly basis.
Unghaahi came to the commons and was pleased to see everyone gathered together. The commander sat with the Den Asaan before the fire, Kai Linaa and Obhantaa Leraa were beside khaasta, and Otenohi reclined at the large window with Rautu’s gull resting at his feet. He sat in the center of the furs along the ground and called for everyone to heed his last retelling of the narrative. His Anonnaa gave him the silence and unmitigated attention he was owed and when he was finished with the legend, he closed his book and observed Kai Linaa sleeping on his thigh, Obhantaa Leraa resting with khaasta, Rautu closing his eyes and crushing his mate in a pleasant embrace before the fire, and Otenohi leaning against his Khaapaboa while the gull slumbered at his feet. The Den Amhadhri surveyed his Anonnaa with a tender smile, wiped his mate’s drool from his leg, and softly proclaimed his mission a success.
About the author:
Michelle Franklin is a small woman of moderate consequence who writes many, many books about giants, romance and chocolate.
Sole Author of the Haanta series: the longest online, ongoing romantic fantasy series.
The Haanta Series blog
The Art of Twisk blog
Michelle is giving away TEN e-book copies (any format) of