A Curious Feast

“Sure, why not,” the boy king replies and all gathered drop to one knee.

The thirteen-year-old smirks his famous dimpled smile uniting once again all the lands under the banner of the South.

His father died a year ago. The great man. The one who took them this far- killed in his bed by his own wife.

But now it’s over, this the last battle after so many decades of conflict, so much destruction. He looks around, smoke obscuring most who fell over the last three days the first already bloating and stinking.

And he longs comfort.

Remembering to stand straight and put his shoulders back, he holds his head high and makes his first royal decree, “Everyone shall feast like kings under the banner of my family.”

“We shall ready the nearest banquet hall.”

“There is no need, for my banquet will be held everywhere.”

And being the literal and demanding bastard that he is and likely short for the job, and a bit young to be head of a nation, sends invitations out, simultaneously because details are important. It was to be a competition. North versus the south. But this time no magic, no arrows, or swords, no skirmish lines, or assassins off to do wicked things. No, instead, two fast horses race to find two chefs, the only two able to pull off a coronation feast that included the whole land.

***
Harriete Dimpleback was the first to get notified that she was chosen.

You will cook for all the land- for the honor.

The invitation promises honor and Harriete wonders if poisoning is an option.

No, she decides after weighing it in her mind, the amount needed to kill everyone in Southland and Northland- and get away with it, was too hard.

Instead, she turns her mind to a menu.

As a dwarf one would be unsurprised to learn she enjoys the results of laboring in a hellish hot kitchen. Heavy heat and high flames surround banging pots, and slapping of heavy meat, tenderizing and wrapping, filling with thick creamy cheeses and tubers, and hand-rolled pastas, ground spices thicken the air, cumin, cinnamon and turmeric- like it was all meant as a weapon.

A weapon she thinks, mind wandering to a battlefield long ago and a gnome who seeded the clouds with arrows.

Near killed everyone on both sides of the battle.

She salivates at the idea of the smell of mash permeating everything. To her beer and whiskey are life.

And as she sits in her small study drinking her own brewery’s fire, fingers tapping up and down on the invitation she, knows two things, one she doesn’t give one shit about honor.

And two she wants this to be a spectacle.

***
A minotaur in the mountains got the second invite.

The messenger turns on a spit over a fire burning reluctantly on new trees. White smoke curls into the air. Juices and smells make Grod’s stomach rumble. Soon he will enjoy dinner, alone in a cave far down the mountain from the labyrinth he has known since birth. The messenger’s horse whinnies nearby, nostrils flaring taking in the stench of its former rider roasting on open flames.

“For later,” the minotaur promises, “first I must gather ingredients.”

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