SON OF A LEGEND
Andessa wished that Tonunda wouldn’t so blindly trust his royal advisors. They were strategists and politicians, but could they counsel a parent on rearing a child? It was at their counsel that their son was schooled relentlessly by private tutors. He was trained constantly to the physical limit of his endurance, so that one day he might join his father’s elite guard; the Blue River Guardsmen.
Apart from when she held him and for the odd time that Tonuda came home from the war against the south-men, she had never seen him smile… until now. He needed to be with other children, especially at this stage of his life. Andessa closed her eyes at the one disappointment of her son. It seemed that he had been blessed, or perhaps cursed with strength of a freakish nature. At times, she had almost cried at his destructive fits of temper. He was like a dog she remembered, gentle and loving, but eventually made vicious by the teasing of other children. Sadly, something beautiful in nature had turned ugly.
She raised her head, able to hear their conversation.
“And who is your father?” one of the other children queried, as she felt hands around her back from behind.
She nestled her head into Tonunda’s neck, and twisted to see that he stared ahead with a knowing smile. There was no one the boy loved more than his father.
“The king,” the boy beamed.
“What; Tonunda the Savage?”
“Liar,” roared another one of the boys. “It is said in the Hall of Heroes that no greater warrior has ever trod the earth. You are not his son.”
Andessa gaped in horror. She recognized the sneer on her son’s face, yet tears flowed freely from his eyes. They had wounded him in the worst way possible; they insulted his father.
“Tonunda!” she shrieked as she saw the boy bunch a tunic in each hand and raise two of the boys from the ground.
Her husband was a blur, catapulting himself from the balcony. He caught hold of the lattice work supporting a network of vines, then dropped, running for his son, growling. The boy stared wide eyed at his father, allowing his two friends to drop to the ground.
Tonunda bounded from a tree and dived into him, growling over his livid form.
“Tonunda, no!” screeched Andessa as she ran toward them.
Andessa pulled the boy to his feet, hugging him tightly as she sobbed over him.
“He is your son, not a Vindavian,” she shouted. “You frighten him!”
Andessa trembled in anger, about to deliver a heated tirade at her husband, but pursed her lips, restraining herself. Tonunda wasn’t to blame for acting so rashly. He was reared by dogs. His vocal cords had formed in such a way that it made human speech impossible. All his life, he had learned to answer savagery with savagery in the pack. For the first time, he had a son and didn’t know how to deal with him.
“Have you not said,” Andessa began in a calmer tone. “That a man’s greatness is measured by his compassion; not by his strength?”
Tonunda looked mournfully.
“Your son adores you, but you are rarely home from the war.”
Tonunda suddenly gaped, holding up his open palms.
“I know you are responsible for our people, but you never play with him. Spend time with him. Allow him to be a boy.”
Tonunda looked down at his son, sneering at first, but the sneer slowly turned into a smile. The boy returned it.
Tonunda playfully swatted his backside and darted off with the boy following. Andessa smiled, as her husband fluidly ran up the leaning trunk of the tree and crouched along its first sturdy branch. The boy awkwardly dragged himself up after him, to dangle from the branch.
Tonunda dropped to the ground, tickling him as he kicked, laughing.
Andessa whispered in Tonunda’s ear from behind.
“Let him win, my love.”
Tonunda tore his son from the branch and rolled to the ground; father and son locked together.
Andessa held her silence, retreating from the duo so that they would be allowed to enjoy their moment alone. It was the first time she had seen her son laugh so much. She guffawed to herself. Who would have thought that a snipe of the gutter, a woman of the tribes and a man reared by dogs, could ever have been a family?
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