Lady From Day

Chapter 3- Appetizers

The hour for the evening meal came at last and I finally would see what the king looked like. Truth be told, I only could care for what I could bring to his daughter but I wondered what the man was like that had such a well-mannered child. While fame and fortune did come as a priority typically, this was a slightly different adventure I gathered. After seeing Daschl in her sorrowful state previously, my true nature was beginning to show and I was getting more sympathetic to her and the kingdom and suddenly it wasn’t all about the rewards and how far and wide my name would be heard. Money was always a plus of course, but to me it’s not as important as how I can shape other people’s lives and my own through good deeds. As Daschl came down for supper, I saw in her youthful eyes a sprig of hope. My talk with her must have improved her feelings toward the whole predicament. I knew Daschl was in need of some female companionship since the king’s wife died, but it was my fear I would end up leaving like the others who tried to remove the curse. Daschl really didn’t have any friends from what I could tell and from what I knew already, the servants were reluctant to be around her.

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I asked a different servant where the feasting hall was because I happened to get lost in the labyrinth of Feyris Castle. With all the stairs and halls and doorways I didn’t feel too embarrassed at losing my place in the building. The servant laughed at my mention of “feast” but he apparently directed me correctly because I did arrive at my desired destination.

The great hall, an architectural masterpiece at the very least, was as large as the courtyard it seemed. There were two rather monstrous oak tables parallel to each other, and a table which was perpendicular to both which I deduced was where the king sat. The hall was filled with beautiful tapestries and spires on its ceiling. One of them showed an embroidered knight in the Swamp of Sandring, his sword raised high as a gorlag approached. Another was of a pretty woman outside in a garden. A tall man was nearby, gazing into the distance while two children played at the woman’s feet. Whoever did these was a spectacular embroiderer; at my distance they looked almost real. I would imagine in a castle like this there would be also a library with illuminated manuscripts of art as expertly made as the tapestries I had seen. The wooden beams above my head carried the weight of a large silver candelabrum; the soft flicker of the light soothed my soul and it cast its whisper over me. As I looked back to the royal table, I saw a newly seated King. I was quite surprised there was no announcement of his presence or musical entrance for him. I suppose in this place it was to be expected.

The king sat proudly at the table, his lovely graying beard completing his majestic form. He was silent as one deep in thought. I wondered what he was thinking about. No doubt it was about his daughter as his eyes rested on Daschl, who sat beside him. Immediately, he glanced to further down the table where I sat. I wondered how he felt, with Daschl’s predicament. His eyes were glazed over like someone who was recollecting days long past.

The servants just entered the room. They brought in trays and trays of mushroom dishes. Mushroom pie, mushroom stew — with mushroom broth of course, mushroom desserts, and mushroom drinks which looked like a gravy more than anything else. Daschl was the only one to taste the variety of the kingdom. She sat with a plate of juicy tenderized steak marinated with the finest of dark green vegetables, and a tall glass of freshly squeezed juice, the pulp still visible. Before her were strewn plates and plates of venison, pork, and seafood. I could see rich chocolate mousse, hot apple pie, strawberry shortcake, glazed dough balls, and delicious pastries. There were servers with piles of vegetables on their trays, hearty green beans, carrots, celery, broccoli, and beets. As for the drinks, they weren’t in short supply either. There were wines, milk, ales, beers, and every kind of juice imaginable. All of this was for the princess. Now I realized the servants carrying food when we arrived had been bringing it to take to her. I wondered why she didn’t eat the mushrooms. The rich scent of the princess’ food drifted over to me, and my stomach growled, yearning for those sweet things.

“Can you believe all this food is for her?” Siegfried wondered in amazement, and I looked into his astonished eyes. I was bursting with surprise at how much the girl really could eat.

“It’s really true then. Sig, the poor girl, she,” I stumbled over what to say. I couldn’t even comprehend the girl’s appetite until now, seeing it with my own eyes. Sig gave my hand a pat. “She eats like a horse. I mean it doesn’t really seem real until you see it with your own two eyes.” I suddenly got teary thinking about all the problems this girl must have faced growing up.

“Lia, you have to help her. I know you are worried about everything, but you need to be strong. Don’t show your emotion.” His eyes turned to the servants as he responded to me. He nodded in their direction. “They need you to help her. If they see you like this they will wonder if you are really able to complete the task. After all these many years, we are the only hope left.” He drifted in thought and came back. He looked at me with school-boy contempt. “I thought you said we’d have dinner.”

“I did, I suppose we eat what she doesn’t?” I watched as the servants laden with trays of mushrooms, and mushroom dishes came around to our seats. I was passed a plate of mushroom stew. “Well, it’s just the mushrooms then.”

“Indeed,” Sig stated as he filled himself up on the pies and stew, washing it down with a glass of mushroom juice. “Not what I call entirely delicious or a meal, but it is satisfying. At least they have herbs to liven up the dishes. You know, this mushroom here could pass for chicken! ” I laughed and then the king stood. King Birchell was a tall man with a black beard (now slightly dripping from drinking thick mushroom juice) with graying hairs throughout. His warm eyes caught mine as he stood and he smiled, his white teeth glowing.

“Tonight,” he began, lifting his glass of mushroom juice and waiting for others to stop talking. When all was quiet, he continued. “Tonight, travelers have come to save my daughter from her curse and to relieve the people of Feyris from their hunger. I wish to toast to their success and their willingness to help us.” I blushed in surprise to his generosity. The king was very kind to recognize us. The hall filled with cheers of “hear, hear” and claps. After the king was finished, the hall was livened with the entertainment of a traveling minstrel, acrobats, and players. Sig clapped my back and gave me a warm smile.

“You can do it,” he whispered in my ear. I deciphered the words, barely audible over the sounds of a rich lute and laugher from persons being entertained. I turned to him and gave him my smile and as a reply I whispered back,

“You think so. Maybe I can.” Even though I said the words, I didn’t really mean it. I was taking the gentleman’s advice. Sig told me to pretend I was sure of myself, so pretending I would do. I started to gather mushroom elements from different serving platters as Siegfried was already nearing maximum stomach capacity (he does so like to eat) and noticed to my amazement that while I couldn’t imagine eating mushrooms for each and every meal, it wasn’t too bad in taste and texture. The cooks had more than likely developed new methods for cooking such an ingredient since the blight had been on the land of Feyris for seven years now.

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