The Fellowship of Phoenix Flame
Part V: Food for Thought
A confectioner and bartender has a duty to his craft and his customers to be a good friend. This is the story of a gnome who has a distaste for combat, but wants to contribute to his guild in his own way. While the guild is busy getting into mischief, Flintstahl cooks up a storm.
Flintstahl stood in his opulent kitchen amongst his gnomish brethren and… sistren? "Is sistren a word," he wondered. No matter. For now he had to cook. He had to cook not only for the guild, but also for the masses. The question posed by his apprentices was preposterous; of course the masses of displaced people shall eat as well as the guild. All would know the legendary cooking skill of Flintstahl: Gnomian Cook Extraordinaire, very soon.
"Has the grand device been finished yet?" Flinstahl demanded.
"The ice maker?" Treesnip, Flint’s first apprentice asked.
"Of course the ice maker, how else will we fabricate enough ice to keep the cold food cold in Tazoon."
"We could ask the Gnomekindle committee how they made snow in New Rachival," another apprentice piped up.
"I think not! I’ll not go crawling to another committee for something I have so cleverly invented all on my own. Treesnip is it done?"
"Of course… I think….here I’ll turn it on, let's find out. Hard hats on!" Various gnomes covered their heads with pots, pans and the occasional actual hard hat. The large metal box began to hum and shake, steam filled the kitchen, then smoke. Soon after, a clamor of gears and cog grinding began. Short bodies dove for cover everywhere as is custom during Gnomian invention trials. With a loud clunk, a singular square inch ice rolled out of the dispenser portion of the box.
A heavy coughing fit followed the kitchen doors opening as Axelrod strode in waving his hands about to disperse the smoke. "The ice machine working yet?"
"Mostly," proclaimed Flintstahl proudly.
"Is it supposed to smoke like that?"
"Of course, well, not really but that is natural for a test run with only a glass of water."
Axelrod picked up the single ice cube. "A whole glass of water makes a single cube? That doesn’t sound very efficient." Axelrod’s rebuttal was met by unblinking and befuddled gnomes standing on chairs, tables, counters, or still hiding under various cooking pans. "Right, my mistake… Anyhow, we got any food done? I’m starving." Flintstahl snapped his fingers and a veritable banquet was prepared on a counter across from the head chef’s workspace. Axelrod sat down for a rather sumptuous feast complete with a pitcher of ale. Flintstahl knew his guild master's tastes very well indeed.
"You only eat this much after a fight or when you’re worried," Flintstahl asserted. "I didn’t feel any rumbling of the earth or hear the shattering of skulls, so I assume you’re worried about the guild… maybe a rather cute redheaded scout you sent away on a dangerous mission."
Axelrod chuckled, "A dangerous mission with a lewd, boisterous, and stubborn half-giant berserker. Yes I’m concerned. I trust her ability, that’s why I sent her. I worry if he and his crew will watch her back as well as she will theirs."
"She’ll be fine. She’s tough and fast. She could take Wulfegard in a fight too… she scares me."
"Well just a little."
"Ha! She scares me too old friend. Just not for the same reasons I’d bet. I, however, fear that she could not take Wulfegard in a fight. She’s a guild mate; hopefully she’ll never have to." Axelrod drained the pitcher in a few large gulps and sat it down rather roughly, clearly demanding a refill.
"Get this man more beer!" Flintstahl demanded as he began cutting up a pile of vegetables higher than he was.
"Where are the rest of my ingredients?"
"Storehouses boss!" called a random apprentice from amidst piles of food and culinary tools.
After another pitcher of ale arrived, Axelrod started talking again. "I sent Paul, the new satyr, along with Bjoryn and Zarieth to the Isle of Ice to hunt the more lucrative beasts there. I hope they’re okay. Terius and Merdyl are busy getting trophies around Bristugo. I sent our best crafters to make steel joints. Come to think of it, why didn’t I ask for mithril joints?"
"People can’t afford mithril usually"
"Right, good call. I sent various guild members on various jobs across Istaria. We’ve never been so split up before. I hope Xarfax can help us coordinate as well as I’d hoped. Um, I sent Kayna recruiting."
"You did? Now she’s scary, so is Xarfax. Who’d wanna join a guild she’s in?"
"I dunno, I think she’s kinda cu-"
"Kinda what?" Kayna asked impishly as she entered in all of her icy glory.
"Right on time," Axelrod mused aloud.
"As always," Kayna retorted. The trio sat in silence for a moment. Kayna pulled her hair out of the tight bun she normally wore and poured herself a glass of ale.
"Ax, I know the guild is worried about my loyalties. I know about your history with Darla. I’m not trying to hurt things here. You know? Sure, I'm trying to make coin. I'd like to think most treasurers do. Besides, you aren't as dumb as you act. You knew what you were getting into."
The sound of a recall spell resounded throughout the guild hall. Someone came home; someone likely in bad shape. The trio leaped to their feet and ran into the shrine…