Tuesday, February 24, 2015

74 (735) - The Girl Domoctopus EATS the Boy

The dining room shone in the light of the candle chandelier made of glass antlers, all down the length of the room, and matching candle sconces on the hand-polished wooden walls. The fire-place at the opposite end of the big room was a comical full face made of native and pour stone together, a cheerful fire in its wide gaping mouth.  Doof had her perch to one side of the flowing moustache of the fireplace, cracking heavy toe-nuts chuckling to herself.

Bella, hiding under the snowy tablecloth, where she was most certainly not supposed to be and must have sneaked in with the soup course, sighed and put her nose on Minis's foot. He didn't betray her to Damen, one of the footmen, or Antras himself, the marshal of this family dinner campaign.

He looked down the enormous table, with the flower arrangements from the glass house nearly dividing the two sides into their own rivers of conversation, and realized suddenly why he felt so good. It was like Chevenga’s family table, or Gannara’s. 

The wreckage of the solstice family feast and stacks of the simple white plates were just disappearing into the serving pantry and the big platters were following. He caught Antras’s eye as he winked and smiled at a bevy of pages, all carrying half-empty bowls and platters. There would be a hearty feast below stairs tonight. He smiled to himself and rose.  “I’ll be right back,” he said and followed the pages to the serving pantry where he’d hidden his surprise.

Ili was in a deep conversation with Tanifas about the horses and the dogs and didn’t see him come back. Minis set the stacked whip cream and fruit pancake cake in front of Ili.   

“Happy Birthday, little brother,” he said, and Kyriala and Gan and Farasha set their plates beside him, enough cakes and cream for everyone.  “You didn’t think we were going to wait till after the City ritual to celebrate your birthday, did you?”

“Minis got the chef here to show him how to make pancakes, and I learned how to whip cream!” Ky flexed her arm and then let it flop to show how exhausted she was. “Gan’s parents brought the Haian fruits with them.”

Farasha whistled and the four began to clap and sing the old birthday song as Ili looked at his cakes and got very red as the whole table, even the Mahid girls joined in, the Haians clapping along even though they didn’t know the words.   

“Awww... errr... ummm. Thank you.” He glanced up.  “No rollerskating house donkeys this year, Stinky?”

Minis coughed.  “I’ll have you know I showered, Blob.  No house donkeys. But I think you should have Killer and two of the Mahid mares of your choosing, as yours, instead of them being owned by the Imperium.  I put the request through Assembly last session.”

Ili hopped in his chair as if he’d started to jump up and run straight out to the stables before stopping himself.  “Oh! Oh, that’s just wonderful! Thank you...”

Minis sniffed.  “And speaking of stinky... Ili, I’m sorry to say this but Jia’s been leaving dead snails in your pockets again – where IS Jia?”

Ili picked up the knife and began cutting slices of confection to hand around the table.  “Um... I locked him in his tank tonight... It’s not him.  I think our guest’s pet is hiding bits of fish in my shoes and loincloths.  They were in the cupboard under Jia’s tank and I thought I found all of them. Sorry.” He didn’t look sorry and truly the odour of dead fish was only faintly there.

Minis accepted his plate from Ili, grinning and retreated back to his seat up the table.  He didn’t need to stretch to see the Haian girl cringing in embarrassment for her pet.  “Tirchaer, I’m sure that Sophi only meant to leave Jia some presents.  I have no idea why my brother would lock his pet into his tank –“

“I don’t want him to DIE!” Ili blurted out.  “I read somewhere that if domoctopus’s um... have babies... they die... and sometimes the girl domoctopus EATS the boy!”

“That is not so,” Tirchaer said, straightening up from where she'd been trying to hide behind a flower arrangement across the table. 

"Is this truly an appropriate conversation for over the dining table?" Inensa said. Her father nodded sharply at her.

"Indeed, daughter. It is." She pressed her lips together, before accepting a cake plate.

Tirchaer forged on. “That might be so with wild species and shallow water, marine species.  The terrestrial domoctopus is social and non-cannibalistic... um.  Except that the female tends to eat some of her eggs... but the male usually feeds the brooding female.”

“Oh. So... I don’t need to worry that... um...”

“... them having sex will kill your JiaKlem. No.  Did you want to arrange for them to brood?  I’d like that but they take a bit over a year and I don’t know how long—“

“There will be years of research for your Mamin and Papin to do in the Marble Palace, and I will be able to work with Akminchaer,” Misahis said solemnly, eyes twinkling. "I am sure that we will be here long enough."

Her being Haian blunt had completely silenced Ili and he finished serving and stuffed a big bite of cream and pancake into his mouth to try and cover the fact that he couldn’t say anything.

“I’m much happier setting up a brood tank for domoctopus,” Tirchaer said. “They’re smaller than those black horses of yours.  They frighten me.”

“You don’t need to,” Ili said, swallowing a too-big piece of cake, hard.  “Um. They’re really very gentle.  I mean you saw how Nasty behaved when Stinky put Tesha and Joras on him?”

Farasha leaned over to whisper in Minis’s ear. “You think they’ll be new best friends?”

He put his hand over his mouth to hide his smile.  “Who knows? I'm no matchmaker.”


  1. Awww Ili is so protective of Jia it is adorable

    1. He is! The lockable tank is a must for Jia since h's such an escape artist.

    2. Eeee! Lil' baby domoctopi! Can't wait!