Reiassan has three still-unnamed seasons: Cold, Rainy, and Hot.
A kehlag is a small furry domesticated animal; a dohdehr is a a weasel/ermine like creature with soft fur. In the interest of not calling a Rabbit a Smeerp, I will probably call them cats and fishers (or weasels) in the long run, like the pahziht and pyahz are goats and horses.
The rainy season was at mid-point, and many of the animals were beginning to give birth. Much to the distress and consternation of her five-year-old daughter Oniarya, Upunbina (the Mayor of a small northern Callennan town) was every bit as focused on her new child as the mother goats were with their kids, the mother dohdehri with their kits, the mother kehlagyi with their kittens: nobody wanted to play with Oni, and nobody wanted to let her play with the little ones. It was going to be the worst festival ever.
She carried around a rag doll her grandmother had made for her, pretending to feed it, pretending it was a baby, but she didn’t really want a baby; her new sister was loud and messy on both ends. The kittens were cuter, less loud, softer, and when the kehlagyi weren’t so distracted with all this child-stuff, they often slept on Oni’s bed in the cold season. But now they wouldn’t play with her at all, and her bedroom had three mice and a noise she was afraid was something bigger. Maybe a monster.
Not only that, her parents were so distracted with all this baby-stuff, between the goats kidding and the baby sister and the rest of it, that they hadn’t even mentioned the mid-rain festival. Oni had been born there, five years ago. It was her favorite thing ever, less grown-up than the frost-break festival, less boring than the mid-cold festival. And now the day was here, the day was finally here, she had dressed all by herself in her best festival tunic, her favorite one, with the lines of purple and orange embroidery along the hems, and her parents were nowhere to be seen.
They had forgotten. They were off doing something else, they were busy with the stupid baby or the stupid goat kids or the stupid dohdehri who had bitten Oni last week when she tried to pet a kit. They were all stupid.
“Oni?” A little mewling sound followed her mother’s voice. “Oniarya, are you hiding again?”
“No,” she sulked. “I am playing castle in my closet.” She peeked her head out.
“Well, come on out, honey. Your father and I were just finding you the perfect festival present.”
“Present?” They hadn’t forgotten! She popped out of her closet, braids flying, hands outstretched. “I’ve been a good girl and I braided my own hair and I buttoned myself and…”
“And you’ve been very patient. Here, she’s just weaned.” Her mouth passed down a tiny little kehlagyi-kitten, its swirling spots buff-and-brown. “This is for you. She’s all your responsibility now.” She took on the Grown Up Voice she used when doing Mayor work. “Now that you have a little sister, you need to be the adult. This little one will help you remember that.”
“And we’ll help you remember her, and teach you how to take care of her.”
Oni cradled the kitten, holding it close, its tiny claws tickling her skin. This was going to be the best festival ever.
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