from_the_west: ([mac lugh] jia - serpent's daughter)
[personal profile] from_the_west
a bit sketchy, but hey. jia, caladh, huan and the ard ri.

****

There were a few things Jia understood, even at such a tender age as she was, and one of them was that the things that she and Huan were oft most excited about were things that their lady mother tended to disapprove of.

Their lord father, on the other hand, was another matter entirely.

She peered around the doorway of the workshop; he didn't seem to busy that he couldn't be interrupted, though it was often hard to tell. So she waited for a bit, arranging spare bits of wood and bits of stone into fantastical forms of jerkily-moving people and animals, and shuffling through the shavings that curled around her toes, damp from summer's humid heat, while he softly sang a song as he carved.

After a bit, Jia noticed the words of the song he was singing-- "I see a little snake in my woodpile"-- and realized he'd noticed her from the very beginning. Slightly embarrassed, she darted up to the bench, and stared up at what he was doing.

"I'm making a secret." He said, brightly. "A figurehead, for the most wonderful someday ship to ever be gifted, tá. Now will you share what you've been doing?"

"We've found a secret, Aithre." She whispered. "My brothers and me."

"What's this then?"

"I show you, tá?"

"Tá." He smiled, laid the huge block of wood and his tools aside, before brushing off his hands and legs, flexing his fingers, and wiping the beading sweat from his forehead with the back of his arm. She lead, and he followed, and she suddenly felt terribly important, with the weight of escort lying heavy as a winter cloak over her shoulders. She held her head higher and strode out bigger, imagining herself one of the heroes that he kept company with.

"Now what sort of secret would you be discovering in my own forge?" He asked, and Jia remembered that they'd been warned against playing in there, and she had a feeling that was like nervous coiling, except that she hadn't changed at all. She looked down at her feet to make sure they were still there and they were. It was embarrassing to change when she didn't mean to.

"We'll show you the secret first, and then we'll go away from here?"

"Fair enough, I suppose."

Deal made, she left him standing by the door, while she darted past the silent anvils and the cold black hearth to the cisterns full of cooling water, to where her brother was floating, his broad flat diamond-shaped head resting on the edge. His tongue flickered and then the head raised a bit, and then his entire form flickered, boy and snake blurring together for just an instant.

"We're not in trouble, Huan." Jia smiled smugly. "Aithre just wants to see."

"That's getting increasing' presumptuous of ye, princess." He said, and there was something in his voice that made her feel like coiling again, for all that he still sounded amused.

"...What's that mean?"

"Never mind it. Show me your secret."

The snake became a boy, and then slid sideways with a yelp, and for a moment, his sister and father saw his feet amid a violent spray of water. Then up popped another head, dripping and spluttering vile, indignant curses.

Jia forgot herself and squealed in delight, pointing. "You see, Aithre! Caladh can't be drowned!"

Their father didn't say anything; first he watched Caladh storm off in a temper. Then he put a hand to his face. In the wake of that ominous silence, Jia stared up at him. Then started a sudden coughing fit, so violent that even Huan forgot to be concerned for his own health, however briefly.

"Aithre? Are you well?"

Their father waved the question away, tá, he was fine. Then he tilted his head one way. Then slightly another. Then finally he said, "Well now, that is a marvel, isn't it? But I'll ask ye this--what'd have happened had you found his limit and did drown him? Think of his mother's vengeance, if not his--and remember, you two, that snakes are far easier to drown, tá?"
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