Coffee Break Read – Aascko’s Mother

From Aaspa’s Eyes  an unusual fantasy by Jane Jago.

The whole family was breaking its fast when the gate guards bugled to announce visitors. Aascko and I wiped our mouths and went to investigate. It was my Father and his escort of doughty fighters. He jumped down from the back of his riding animal and came to hug me tightly. There was something at the back of his eyes that told me all was far from well and I put a hand up to his face.
‘What is it Papa?’
He smiled gently. ‘I think it would be best if we went inside your compound before I tell you.’
I knew he would have good reasons for his suggestion so I acquiesced.
We signalled to the gate guard and they permitted my Papa’s caravan to enter the grounds of our nest. Once the gate was closed, Papa went to a closed wagon and offered his arm to whomever was inside. A small, but upright, female figure dressed in an ill-fitting garment climbed carefully to the ground. Aascko ran to her side.
‘Mother?’ He put his arm around her and she winced. ‘What is it? Who hurt you?’
She couldn’t speak, just buried her face in her son’s burly chest and burst into tears.
‘Take her inside’ I said firmly. ‘We will do better with Food in front of us.’
Aascko smiled at me and escorted his Mother into the eating place. Sensing trouble, I called the three big imps to me and sent them off with Branwen. Owlet looked over his shoulder and I dropped him a quick wink before returning to the adults. I popped the sleeping Silver into her basket then ensured that everyone had hot java and fresh bread and honey in front of them. I sat down.
‘Okay Papa. Tell us.’
He looked to Aascko’s Mother for permission. She nodded and he spoke very quietly.
‘We left Home yesterday as soon as I got your message confirming that the imps wanted me to come. Just as it was getting towards dark, and we were thinking about pitching camp, we saw a lone female figure trudging along a little-used side road. This didn’t seem right to me, even less so when I recognised Moonflower. At first, she wouldn’t speak to me, but when she realised we meant her no harm she broke down completely. The leader of my guard has some skill with medicine and he treated her hurts, then we fed her and made her a bed in the wagon. It seems’ he said heavily ‘that her Mate has decided to repudiate her. He had her whipped naked from his nest.’
Aascko leapt to his feet.
‘I will kill him with my bare hands’ he whispered.
I considered that idea carefully. ‘You could, love. And I’d willingly serve the five years exile for patricide with you. But it wouldn’t be fair on the imps.’
He looked at me very hard, and for a moment his reaction hung in the balance, then he came around to where I was sitting and hid his face in my crest. I put up my hand, and he grasped it tightly.

Jane Jago.

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