Happy memories for Grawnk were almost entirely predicated by a complete absence of Madrog. And those absences, for Grawnk, were sadly spaced too far apart. Grawnk’s favorite memory happened on a night when Madrog had departed to another stronghold on political business. His fifteenth birthday was one week away, but Madrog would be back then. Because of this, Arliah decided to celebrate Grawnk’s birthday that night.
Arliah had somehow managed to procure fifteen new books as a present to Grawnk. One for each year of his life. And in between the time spent finding the books, and filling Madrog’s armor and weapons orders, she had built Grawnk a bookcase where he could display his new books on. The bookcase was made of sturdy wood, and on all the corners were iron overlays with intricate, looping designs.
Grawnk was ecstatic. The bookcase was beyond belief, and he’d never had so many books in his life. Even though Grawnk was more than a capable reader at that point, he asked his mother to read him the first chapter of one of the books, because he knew reading to him made her happy. Grawnk was surprised when she said she wanted him to read to her instead. So Grawnk flipped to the first page of a book, and started to read.
When Grawnk finally looked up after the end of the chapter, he was shocked to see that his mother’s face was covered in tears. He tried to apologize but Arliah assured him this wasn’t his fault. She told Grawnk that when she was a child, her mother liked it when Arliah would read to her, and Arliah had forgotten about that until she had asked her son to do the same for her.
Arliah never talked about her parents, and Grawnk had stopped bringing them up because it always made her sad. But since Arliah had mentioned them already, Grawnk shyly asked if he could hear more about them. To which, Arliah smiled sweetly, and started talking about her parents for the first time since their death so many years ago. She told every memory she could think of, ending with the story of how they died. Grawnk then took his mother in his arms and let her cry into him for a time.
When she could cry no more, Arliah left Grawnk, promising to be back in a few minutes. When she returned, she had two of the biggest bottles of Mead Grawnk had ever seen. “These are from Madrog’s personal collection. It’s a shame that that whoever filled these up, accidentally filled them with water instead of mead.” Grawnk laughed, even though he knew his father would go ballistic when he finally came across these two bottles of “mead.”
And after that, Grawnk’s happiest childhood memory is a bit of a blur. He remembers dancing and singing with his mother, waking up half the entire stronghold in the process, but most importantly, Grawnk had never seen his mother happier than in that moment.
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