Free Fiction: Advent 2010 – Day Sixteen
(Finally caught up! Woohoo!)
Advent 2010: Day Sixteen
Title: An Artist’s Touch
Characters: Rom, Gauwyn
From: World of Egaea (WIP – spoilers for Gauwyn & Terfel’s relationship)
Word Count: 794
Rom kicked a pebble out into the snowy courtyard. It was Solstice, and he was feeling none of the holiday cheer everyone outside the royal wing seemed to be displaying at every turn. The halls of the fortress were bedecked with garlands and the scent of pine prickled at his nose everywhere he went. The halls were quiet at the moment, however, and he wasn’t sure if coming to the snowy courtyard had been the best idea to soothe his injured pride. Every glance at the snow reminded him of why he was alone.
His father, King Terfel, was out on the Solstice Hunt, the one that would yield all the food for the festivities after nightfall. With Terfel was every one of his brothers and sisters, all eight of them. Even his younger sister, Yeryn was with the hunting party, but he was left behind. It made his chest ache and his blood boil all at once, and he was left with the urge to just scream in order to get the conflicting emotions out of him.
He wasn’t left out because he couldn’t shift into a wolf like the others or a giant cat like his oldest sister, Briana. The reason he couldn’t go on the hunt was because it was so painful for him to make the change. He was the only one in the family that had trouble with it. Not only was it terribly difficult for him to change from Elf to wolf, but changing back again was impossible for a full day. It was disgraceful, and it set him apart from his siblings in a way that was even worse than his differing personality.
The voice of his papa, Gauwyn, startled him from his brooding, and he stood up, nervously rubbing at his bare arms. He was slighter than his siblings, untrained as he was in battle. It made him a bit self-conscious, even around Gauwyn. “Papa… and little Rildan,” he added with a small smile, offering his finger to his younger brother, who took it with a happy gurgle. He might not have been related to Rildan by blood, but they were still family, and he adored his Papa’s child, much like he had adored Yeryn when she was little.
“You’re out here brooding,” Gauwyn pointed out softly. “It bothers you that you can’t go on the Hunt, doesn’t it?”
Rom stiffened and tried to defend himself. “Not at all,” he lied tensely. “I don’t like hunting anyway. They can all go away. I don’t care.”
Gauwyn gave him a look that needed no words to convey that his lies were far from convincing, and his shoulders slumped. “I just… wish I were like them. They all would like me better, and I wouldn’t be left out every year,” he murmured.
“I understand,” Gauwyn soothed, wrapping his free arm around Rom’s shoulders. “You don’t feel at home in your skin because it’s different than everyone around you.”
Rom nodded. “I always feel like such a failure.”
“But you aren’t,” Gauwyn insisted. “You’re different, but you have strengths that your siblings don’t. Could you imagine Drostan or Rana trying to play the harp?”
Rom snorted despite himself. “No.”
“How about Niallan trying to paint a landscape?”
He couldn’t help but laugh at that thought. Niallan was the only one of his siblings without a single artistic fiber in his body that Rom had ever seen. Visualizing how horrendously Niallan would fail trying to paint lightened his spirits, petty as it was.
“I have a special task for you, Rom,” Gauwyn chuckled, shifting Rildan on his hip and giving Rom’s shoulder a squeeze, “one that requires an artist’s touch.”
“What?” Rom asked, hugging Gauwyn and yelping softly when Rildan teethed at his fingertip a little harder than he’d expected. The sound sent Rildan giggling and clapping, and he wiped his saliva slicked finger on the edge of his short-sleeved tunic.
“I want you to help me decorate the gingerbread cookies this year. Do you think you could help me with that? Nothing would make me happier than being able to gloat that the most beautiful cookies on the table were your creations.” Rildan squirmed in Gauwyn’s arm, whining softly, and Gauwyn laughed, “All right. Yours and little Rildan’s. How about it, Rom?”
Rom didn’t even have to think about it. He simply set off with Gauwyn down the hallway toward the kitchens with a smile on his face. “Do you think Father will eat one of my cookies if they’re pretty enough?”
Gauwyn kissed his forehead. “Son, I’m positive he’ll eat an entire handful.”
Rom chuckled and picked up his pace. Suddenly the Solstice didn’t seem so drab and depressing. After all, his father had very large hands.