Once again, an English post, because there’s another special friend I’d like to send greetings, so here goes. You know who you are, and I hope you have fun with this fragment.
Countless lights from three huge chandeliers reflected golden from the figurines, lettering and crests on the lavishly adorned clock upon which the old master’s index finger rested.
Occasionally, a gust of wind stirred the flames almost to extinction, but curiously, Nemury could not remember a single occasion when one of them had to be rekindled. The lower parts of the castle were mostly equipped with glass-plated windows, but up here in Bakked’s tower, no such new-fangled luxuries were tolerated.
„First the capaun, then the chocolate tart, then the salad, then finally the soup. You have fifty heartbeats.”
Nemury nodded, picked up her fork and knife, cut a piece off the juicy fowl, dipped it into the rich brown sauce, heaped some of the creamy cinnamon lentil mash on top and thrust it all into her mouth.
The texture of the meat was close to perfect. The tender meat almost melted by itself from the touch of her tongue and was complemented beautifully by the mash and the opulent sauce, but there was something slightly off.
Chewing, she opened her mouth a bit and began breathing in to fully develop flavours. There was …
“Juniper, pepper, bay leaf, salt of course, should have used a pinch more, grapeseed oil, cinnamon, obviously, Loràs vinegar, too much garlic, thyme, … and Mother-of-Lapis, the red kind, best countered with Hagard’s Beard, alternatively Blackroot and Saldanus. Vomiting should be induced immediately.”
Bakked nodded, his silvery-white curls swaying around his head like a curtain in a breeze, as his bony long-fingered hand pressed the button on his clock.
“Wonderful, dear, but you’re too eager to show off, and possibly to veil your still inadequate memory. If you don’t finish tasting first, and then tell me your results, you’ll never get it done in time. And now spit it out, for Harman’s sake, or the Mother-of-Lapis will start eroding your gums.”
Nemury nodded and lowered her face towards the marred redwood table to hide the fierce blush that still washed over her face whenever her master chided her.
She expelled the half-chewed pulp into the ceramic bowl besides her plate, pushed the perfectly braised capaun aside and reached for the flan.
Salads were the worst. Impossible to cut, and even more impossible to get at least one of everything in one mouthful without cutting or making a mess of the whole attempt.
But the tart was her favourite. There was little chance of missing anything, but its main quality was obviously … the chocolate taste.
Nemury had a weakness for chocolate. A significant one, which, she realized, was in danger of compromising her precision. But it was just so … The tart was simple enough to judge. There was the baked, almost crunchy exterior, the perfect creamy, almost raw core and the range in between, and it all melted in her mouth to one sweet smooth buttery mass with more chocolate taste than actual chocolate – damn, should she ever meet the castle’s pastry cook, it might prove difficult to not just fall to her knees before him and propose then and there, just to make sure no one else got to him first.
“Nemury? Nemury, are you still there?” she heard Bakked’s bemused voice,
There was a smile around his mouth, but worry creased his brow and wrinkled the corners of his eyes.
He knew she loved the tart, and he understood, but he also recognized it as a flaw in her abilities.
“It’s fine,” she said, before remembering what he had told her about waiting till the end.
Unsettled, she pushed the tart away and grabbed the salad dish to –
With a heavy “Whump!” the thick oaken door swung open and a burly manservant stuck his head into Bakked’s chamber.
“There’s been an attempt at the King’s life!” he hollered. “The food taster is dead.”
When she just stared at him, he screwed up his eyes.
“Come on girl, get a move on. You’re next!”