Soothing the Savage Beast
Raicha stood on the terrace and stared at the crocodile. It was a gift from Kanjire. Apparently Kanjirians considered ill-tempered predators an appropriate gift for foreign royalty. Crocodiles were the symbolic guardians of their royal family, fine. Still. It was fifteen feet long and had made a spirited attempt to kill the men who had unloaded it; Camilia had been extremely impolite privately about the need to find somewhere to put the damn thing. It was also, very clearly, a statement about the relative fitness of the ruling families of Kanjire and Tacar. Tamedijl, who had been Kanjirian royalty before her marriage, had looked smug all day.
The crocodile brought its tail around in a powerful swish that knocked over a stone urn nearby. Camilia, astoundingly, was leading the Kanjirian ambassador down to look at it. The ambassador eyed the animal nervously, but Camilia — Camilia was swaying closer and closer to the beast, still talking, trailing a gauzy scarf back and forth before its eyes.
Raicha’s eyebrows drew sharply together. The crocodile was slowly settling, calming, as Camilia’s scarf fluttered softly past its snout. It closed its eyes just as she bent down to stroke her hand along the knobby length of its back. The ambassador stared.
Later, Raicha found Camilia leaning against a balustrade. “Tamedijl teach you how to charm crocodiles?
Camilia laughed. “Out of her boundless affection for me.” The smugness had taken a serious dive. “I had them feed the thing a butchered calf stuffed with efai seed an hour before we came. It will be a lamb for the next three days.”
“Why the scarf, then?”
“I didn’t want to put my hand near it until I was sure it was too sleepy to snap when given something to snap at.” She paused. “I thought Tamedijl might like to keep it. To remind her of home.”
Raicha began to shake. “I’m sure she’ll find it comforting.”
Their laughter rang out over the terrace but the crocodile slumbered on.
This week’s Trifecta Writing Challenge calls for 33 to 333 words on the third definition of the word CHARM (verb):
And this week’s prompt at Write at the Merge gave us two pictures for inspiration, one of them being of what I’m fairly sure is an alligator and not a crocodile, but I took a little license in the name of crocodilian solidarity. For more of Raicha and Camilia, check out the full list under the Fiction tab. Thanks for reading!