"La Luna ed il suo Amante" (The Moon God and his Lover)
Chapter One || Chapter Two || Chapter Three || Chapter Four || Chapter Five ||
Series Title: "Depositi Del Sole e Della Luna"
(Stories of the Sun and the Moon)
Book II: "I Servi Fedeli Del Dio Della Luna"
(The Faithful Servants of the Moon God)
Posting Completed Story in Four Chapters - This actually predates the first story, however I do reccommend you read them in order as written. Please Forgive the Barest of Proofreading
Series Title: Depositi Del Sole e Della Luna
(Stories of the Sun and the Moon)
Book II: I Servi Fedeli Del Dio Della Luna
(The Faithful Servants of the Moon God)
Chapter Number: Two
“The Brotherhood of Friendship”
Author: D. Sanders
“Very good Praduc.” Gallus said looking over the parchment where the youth had copied his letters to immaculate perfection. “You have a very clean hand, you could be a scribe someday if you wish.” Gallus added and at nearly fourteen Praduc beamed with the compliment.
He sought desperately for Gallus’ approval. Since the horrible night he’d arrived, terrified and alone, it had been Gallus who had noticed how frightened he had been and had taken the boy into his arms to let him weep while his father demanded the priests take his ‘useless burden of a son’ into the order. The words were always painful to hear and while the elder priests had been occupied with a raving lord in their midst in the middle of the night, it had been Gallus, the new lunar priest attending his late night duties who had turned an eye to the boy and noticed the pain. Praduc would always be grateful to him for that one moment, the first time anyone had ever embraced him in comfort.
Since then it had been Gallus who had been assigned as his tutor and every afternoon Praduc spent several hours learning whatever lesson Gallus had come up with that day. First it had been simple reading, learning his letters first. That had taken several weeks, but when he’d finally grasped the concept, Gallus had been hard pressed to keep up with texts that stimulated a suddenly active mind.
From there he’d learned to write which helped vastly in being able to communicate with others in the brotherhood. Up until that time it had been a series of failed pantomimes to articulate what he needed. Only Gallus ever seemed to understand those early days before he could write. His patience seemed endless and he always had a gentle kind smile to offer Praduc in those moments when Praduc broke down in frustrated tears.
Now he was copying large texts, both reading and writing at the same time and he was enjoying every minute with those dusty scrolls Gallus brought in from the archive everyday. There wasn’t a subject from theology to mathematics to history that Praduc didn’t devour like a man only allowed to watch a festival harvest feast and never partake in it’s delights. When Gallus praised him, Praduc’s world rejoiced. He lived to see Gallus smile; Gallus was transformed when he smiled. His whole face became a bright beacon of kindness and caring when he smiled and Praduc far preferred it to his usual melancholy expression. Gallus’ eyes always seemed sad and Praduc often wondered where that sadness came from when he couldn’t think of anyone ever wanting to hurt such a gentle man.
“There is little else I think I can teach you, you learn so fast. You already know more about history than I do and that was my favorite subject when I was learning.” Gallus said and Praduc’s heart lurched. The sad look on his face had returned. Praduc grabbed his ever-present pad of parchment and his charcoal stick and scribbled frantically.
“Are you dismissing me?” The note read and Gallus sighed.
“I wish I could say ‘no’ Praduc. I do. You are such a joy to teach, but you’ve moved beyond my talents very quickly. There are other talents in you that also need to be taught. Father Bendis has been after me for a long time to release you to him. He says, and I quote, ‘that your talent with books is exceeded only by your talent with the livestock and other animals here under his care’. He has wanted you as a pupil almost since you set foot in door. I have to agree with him, I don’t think there is anything on four legs that doesn’t adore you.” Gallus said smiling fondly.
Praduc was scribbling again and handing a note back to Gallus. “I do love the animals and want to study with Father Bendis too. Can’t I do both? I don’t want to stop lessons with you Father Gallus. Please don’t send me away.”
“Oh Praduc, I’m not sending you away. Please don’t think that. You please me very much; you’re the type of student a teacher wishes for every day. I would be a very poor teacher if I kept you selfishly to myself when I see such massive potential. From here, your book studies will be with the archive master. You will learn the precision of a scribe and have access to materials even I can’t get my hands on without begging Father Durkin for hours to let me into the scrolls. I will envy you your apprenticeship to him. This is not good-bye Praduc. It is a graduation from remedial learning to higher study. This is a good thing for you.” Gallus said and waited for Praduc to write again.
“I wish I could feel happier. You have been so wonderful to me Father Gallus. My heart hurts thinking I will no longer see you everyday. I will envy your new student.” Praduc wrote, trying to fight tears.
“I will not have a new student this term. I am taking a pilgrimage to the capital temple for my own further study. I’m leaving in a few days.”
Praduc thought his world was collapsing and his hand shook as he wrote.
“How long will you be gone?”
“I don’t know. I will come back though, this is not permanent and I look forward to seeing how far you’ve progressed when I return.” Gallus said and Praduc began to cry and dropped his pad and flung his arms around Gallus’ neck as he cried.
Gallus petted the soft sandy blond hair that never seemed to be tamed and held the youth in his arms. Praduc was much smaller than others his age and seemed even more so beside Gallus’ rather large frame. At just twenty years old, he had filled out physically as a man rather early and not only was he tall; he was broad and strong of chest and shoulder. His frame dwarfed the boy sobbing against his chest. “I will miss you too Praduc. I do hope with all your new studies you will find time occasionally to write to me and tell me how you are doing.”
Praduc nodded pathetically as he clung to his teacher. Gallus sat him up and wiped his tears with the sleeve of his robe and smiled kindly. “Such a joy. I will indeed miss you as my student.” Gallus said kissing Praduc’s forehead with brotherly affection before standing up and laying an arm about Praduc’s shoulders escorting the still sniffling youth out of the classroom.
“Let us both celebrate the next chapter of your life here Praduc. Father Gandes mentioned this morning the strawberries were ready. I’m sure we can beg one of the kitchen staff to allow us to steal some with cream.”
Praduc chuckled despite his mood. Gallus had a weakness for anything sweet and involving heavy amounts of cream and fruit. They managed a large bowl from an obliging kitchen servant and they shared the treat together, spoiling their respective dinners. It was perhaps the most melancholy joy Praduc had ever experienced in his life.
A few days later Praduc stood at the gates of the temple grounds and waved farewell to Gallus’ cart until it disappeared over the horizon on his journey to the capital and the larger temples in the city proper over a hundred leagues away.
It seemed to young Praduc an unfathomable distance and his spirits were poor as he turned to head to his new lessons.
Dear Father Gallus,
I received your last letter yesterday. I am sorry to hear about the continuing poor state of the food there. I suppose it would be rather heartless of me to mention that the peaches just came in from the orchard this morning and I ate a huge bowl of them in your honor this morning at first mess. I remember city food, and you have my eternal pity with the state of freshness or lack thereof. Here’s a tip, horde as much salt as you can, it helps cover up the taste.
I thought you’d like to hear some good news to help take your mind off the affronts to your gastric system. I have graduated again and while I’m not taking the vows of either brotherhood, I have been made an honorary brother of both orders and will be staying on in the temple here in a dual capacity. Father Durkin has made me his assistant and I am now officially a keeper in the archive. If you ask me nicely when you get back I may just be able to make it easier for you to get your hands on those scrolls you mentioned you enjoyed so much. I won’t make you beg me near as much as Father Durkin. I think he enjoys saying ‘no’ just because he can far too much actually. He will always give in eventually; I think he just likes to see everyone grovel like dogs over a bone. He has a sadistic sense of humor I’ve come to learn these past few years.
When I’m not on duty in the archive, I’m on emergency call with Father Bendis and Brother Cadrac. There was a brush fire over on the Far side of the Solar Temple last week, there are a lot of wounded animals here currently, the poor dears. I’ve had the most adorable bear cub in my room now for the past five days. Poor little thing had burns all over the pads of his feet; he was lucky to get out alive. Once he’s healed enough I’ll move him to the outside pens, he’s destroyed most of my bedding and I will need a new desk from where he used it as a chew toy. You don’t want to see the state of my mattress, it looked like mid-winter in my room this morning and I was only gone a quarter of an hour getting food for the little one. You can stop laughing now at my expense.
Not much else changes around here as you well know, I miss you terribly. Everyone is usually too busy with their duties to spend time with me. You know how long it takes to have a conversation with the mute boy and I’ve been out of padded paper for a week now and Father Durkin would roast me alive if I took archival sheets and cut them up to use. So I’m back to looking like a fool doing pantomime until my order for padded stock arrives from the city. I ordered it eight weeks ago and have not heard anything since. Don’t tell Father Durkin I’m using this paper to write to you on, remember that roasting I mentioned? Be kind to your poor devoted Praduc, think of my hide please, I’d like to keep it in tact a little while longer.
Thank you again for all your patience with me in the beginning, it still means a great deal to me. I wanted you to know I’ve memorized that book of hand signs you sent finally. At least paper or no paper when you come home at least I’ll have you to practice this form of communication with, I’m looking forward to that immensely. It will be wonderful to finally carry on a conversation with somebody. I can’t thank you enough for finding that book and sending it to me. I am more than grateful for everything you’ve done for me since that very first day I arrived here, I’ll never be able to repay your kindness towards me, you truly are the first, best and most faithful friend I’ve ever been blessed with in my life.
I hope you’re still doing well (apart from your stomach woes) and I hope you’re coming home soon.
Thank you for stating that the peaches are in season, you made your poor old tutor cry you evil boy.
Congratulations on your graduation, I’m thrilled to hear you’ve done so well. I brag about you constantly to the other teachers here, they all wish you’d come here for further study, I told you before I left once (perhaps more come to think of it) you’re every teacher’s dream student.
I had heard about the fire, I was glad to hear no one got hurt (other than your bedding and desk. Honestly, I only laughed a minute or two at your expense.) and it was contained before it reached the inner grounds. I was distraught to hear we lost a few of the citrus trees in the orchard though; here I go again, thinking with my stomach. You must get bored with my continual dissertations on the joys of the harvest. I’m surprised I don’t weigh more than I do sometimes. Although I have lost quite a few pounds living here, eat just enough to survive and no more, you can’t. City folk have no idea how bad their food is, it’s criminal.
Speaking of criminal, your non-sanctioned use of archival stock to write to me is a secret safe with me if you promise to let me into the back archive when I get home. The library here is wonderful, but ours is older and I just know there are juicy scrolls in there that Durkin never let me get my hands on, I agree with your assessment of his personality, the old dog. You better burn this letter Praduc after you read it.
On the subject of paper, I went over to the paper supplier here in the city. They had your order and someone forgot to send it, by the time you get this letter you’ll probably already have your pads, I yelled at them for you and this made me so angry I scoured the city for alternatives and may have just found the answer to all your problems.
I had stopped in my search at a small café for some tea and they had the most amazing thing I’d ever seen. It was like a chalkboard in design; only the surface was smooth and white and not made of slate. Much lighter material and literally as smooth as glass. They had the daily menu written on it and I watched the owner wipe it off with a simple rag and write on it again. The lack of dust and residue was like magic. They called it a wax board and instead of chalk it uses little sticks of wax to write on it with. It was fascinating and I must have spent all day looking for the manufacturer. I had them make you one small enough so that you can carry it on your belt, you’ll never be without a way to communicate again. I hope it reaches you in time for your seventeenth. Happy Birthing Day from your old tutor with love, Praduc. I sent you with the board a supply of sticks, a mold to make more and the ingredients they use for the wax composition. I don’t ever want to hear you had difficulty again, that is a travesty to me.
I have memorized that book as well, I’m looking forward to getting this form of communication working with you and I hope to be able to teach it to others too eventually. There are more people who will benefit from this than just you and I eventually. I am excited to put this into application rather than theory at last.
You have such profound and amusing things to say and anyone who doesn’t stop to talk with you is missing out on something wonderful. It saddens me to think you’re lonely, I promise I’ll always have time for you when I come home whenever you just need the proverbial ear to listen or just for the sake of a chat. I will ever be your friend; you have my eternal vow on that matter.
Speaking of coming home, by the time you get this letter, I should probably already be on the way home. I’ve finished my studies myself and cannot wait to come home again. I’ll probably be five or six days behind this letter, so I’ll miss your birthday sadly, but promise me you’ll save me some of Freida’s cake please.
I’ll see you soon, and I’ll probably not even recognize you anymore when I get there. Three years is a long time even if it seemed to fly by. Take care of yourself and don’t forget to save me cake.
Gallus had barely stopped the ox pulling his small cart in the courtyard of the order’s grounds and had just climbed out when he was crushed in an impact of a body that hurled itself at him. Gallus almost stumbled over and his arms instinctively grabbed back and he laughed at the blond head buried deep in his chest sobbing for joy. Gallus regained his balance and laughed and hugged back tightly. “I missed you too Praduc. What a wonderful welcome home.” Gallus chuckled, the head was taller than when he’d left, still petite in comparison but indeed taller and thus far the only thing Gallus has seen since the face was hidden against his own person.
Gallus reeled in shock as Praduc let him go and stepped back. The face that turned up towards him was not the face of the boy he’d left behind, but that of a beautiful young man. Large green eyes shimmered with joyful tears and a brilliant smile that belonged to Gallus alone sent Gallus to his spiritual knees. Praduc was breathtakingly beautiful on the eyes and for a moment all Gallus wanted to do was fall into those eyes that looked upon him with such devoted affection and never come out again.
Suddenly that face grinned impishly and a tiny napkin wrapped bundle was placed in Gallus’ hands snapping Gallus out of his reverie for a moment. “What’s this?” He asked and for the first time Praduc used the hand signals he’d studied from the book Gallus sent.
:Open it: he signed and Gallus nodded with a smile and complied.
“CAKE!” Gallus laughed heartily, his deep bass of a voice rumbling with mirth as he closed his eyes and took a taste of heaven. Touched that Praduc had indeed saved him some of his birthing day cake.
:Would I forget to save you a piece of paradise after your long torture against your stomach?: Praduc signed and Gallus signed back with his mouth full of spice cake.
:You are the best of friends Praduc. How foolish of me to think you’d forget your tutor.:
:Never. This is working pretty well already.: Praduc replied as people began to gather in the courtyard to welcome Gallus home again.
“Aye. It is.” Gallus spoke and signed simultaneously, wiping his mouth with the napkin, the cake history as smiling faces converged on his person to welcome him home.
Praduc for the moment was swallowed in the mass of people and utterly ignored and jostled aside as Gallus was heartily slapped and hugged in welcome.
Gallus noticed the acceptance of being disregarded in Praduc’s face, it was worse than Praduc had let on in his letters. He could see now how lonely Praduc must have truly been, they looked right through him as if he didn’t exist. Gallus’ heart gave a painful twinge. The sweetest soul in the world to him was Praduc, his letters had always brought joy and a piece of home with them while he was away. How could his brothers ignore such a treasure? It was beyond Gallus’ comprehension.
Praduc just patiently stood off to one side, waiting. His smile never faltering as he gazed adoringly at Gallus and Gallus’ heart once again gave a little twinge, this time of a more intimate nature. “You will all bury me alive! Thank you for such a wonderful welcome home. It is good to be home. Praduc would you be so kind as to help me carry my bags back to my rooms?” Gallus asked wanting nothing more than time to talk to Praduc alone, the hand signs were indeed working better than anticipated and Praduc was immediately at his side holding a pair of heavy bundles.
“Don’t carry those, those are all full of books and you’ll fall over. Carry this one please, it’s lighter and give me those. I’m the one built like a pack mule.” Gallus winked taking the heaviest bags from Praduc and replacing them with the lightest one, which contained his robes.
:I don’t see a mule. Maybe a big bear, but not a mule.: Praduc grinned signing and Gallus chuckled.
“Bear am I? Better a bear than a jackass I suppose.” Gallus laughed and Praduc snorted. His version of laughter was more a series of inarticulate snorts. It was music to Gallus’ ears. It was indeed wonderful to be home again. He’d missed Praduc far too much than he dared to admit. And was far too glad to see him again than he also dared admit.
When his affection had turned to love for Praduc he had no idea, but there was no denying the fact that he did love Praduc well and truly and this also scared Gallus deeply and worried him. Would he lose the friendship over this? The last time he confused the deep bonds of friendship with love and infatuation he’d been hurt badly so Gallus was in no way going to rush into anything anymore. He’d just watch for a while and harbor his affections in secret for the time being and shamelessly stare at the backside of a graceful youth who preceded him up the stairs. He was beautiful coming and going, how could the brothers ignore something so beautiful? Were they all blind? Gallus just shook his head in confusion, those were thoughts for later, right now he just wanted to enjoy Praduc’s company, and give him the rest of the presents he’d brought home for him for his birthing day.