Pantry Castle Salamander (finale)

(back to part one)

(reading time: 42 minutes)

Peanut Sprouts

The daylight came as it always had, despite Wilmot not feeling ready for it. When the towels had lost all their heat they were merely damp; he threw them off like wet leaves. There was much activity just outside of his room, but none of it was panicked, just the excitement one would expect for the finale of the Chairman’s Banquet.

His stomach churned and made a sound. He thanked the culinary gods for leaving his needs and desires intact. Whatever madness plagued his mind would have to be held back until after the competition; then he was free to go exactly as insane as he pleased.

First they had to crown a winner, and Wilmot Barclay had to record it. When he emerged he left as much of the previous night as he could wrapped up in the heavy towels and put a smile on his face. He was one of the first ones to his seat. Continue reading

Pantry Castle Salamander (part one)

Wilmot Barclay is a culinary explorer traveling the world to help define the cuisine of his fledgling country: Liberia.  He thinks he has tasted it all until he lands on a mysterious island off the coast of Japan, harboring all the ingredients of the world within an incredible castle.  Earth’s greatest cooking competition is just about to begin there, but some of what’s on offer is leaving a most suspicious aftertaste.

(reading time: 1 hour, 25 minutes) (reading time for entire novella: 2 hours, 7 minutes)

Pantry Castle

Salamander

by

Blaine Arcade

Jollof Rice

Countless words are lost in the ecstasy of a good meal, their structure overpowered by much more ancient and instinctive sounds. Exquisite becomes ehhnnn. Scrumptious becomes sfffshh. Magnificent into Mfff! In this way it can be extraordinarily difficult for a master of cuisine to receive helpful criticism. They know their work is good, so good it can’t be put into words, and that prevents them from progressing in their passion.

This presents a culinary ceiling. The barrier where words fail, where the tongue cannot be tamed enough for syllables, was the threshold Wilmot Barclay set for himself. He would need to perfect a number of dishes that made words fail, and they had to fail in a room full of equally fresh diplomats and statesman… but he was getting ahead of himself. Continue reading

The Moneyed and the Mystic (Part Three)

(Back to Part One)

(reading time: 54 minutes)

Lock-in

Trouble came to all of Cay Royal, not just its students. Word of the intruder and their power spread quickly. Any calls for Dean Mystpass to invent suspension or detention were neutralized when the safety precautions taken essentially counted as punishment. The whole college went on lockdown, students now escorted in groups from tent to tent and back to the dorms by either professors or security guards. Continue reading

The Moneyed and the Mystic (Part Two)

(Back to Part One)

(reading time: 46 minutes)

Partners

Dove looked through her notes while she waited for him. They weren’t physical notes of course. She’d been experimenting with compressing the lectures down to single paragraphs in her mind, trying to get the information as dense as possible to save memory space, which, much like using a computer, simplified her magical efforts. The one she’d created from the introductory Evil Eye Era lesson felt expertly compacted:

Magic is the psychic power of secrecy, threatened by transparency. In its early days even the people using it did not understand its nature. The first system was the evil eye, by which spells were cast with intense unblinking stares at their targets coupled with focused thought and emotion. It flourished for hundreds of years until its collapse in 1899, when a combination of exploding population, scientific advancement, and superstition regarding the evil eye specifically made it too common of knowledge. After it ceased working it took more than two decades, and a notable worldwide war, before a new method took root. Thus we have the snap system, powered by concise incantation words and kinetic catalyst sounds. Continue reading

The Moneyed and the Mystic (Part One)

Magic is real, as long as you’re in the know.  It’s a lot subtler than people think, mostly invisible in fact.  It can give you the second last sip from a canteen, let you push a pull door, or make your fortune cookies accurate if as vague as ever.

Dove used it on the stage, her audience only thinking they were looking at illusions.  She was happy with that, but now her parents have dragged her to a strange island, the site of a failed music festival, and there’s talk of starting a new country, and a new school, both magical in nature…

Author’s Note:  I wrote this novella to be my ‘Harry Potter’, but given my recent disappointment with that author it now works pretty well as a replacement for me.  I hope you can get some enjoyment from it as well.

(reading time: 42 minutes) (reading time for entire novella: 3 hours, 19 minutes)

The Moneyed and the Mystic

by

Blaine Arcade

Orientation

The sand would’ve been much too hot for bare feet under normal circumstances, but the Théard family didn’t pack any normalcy for the trip. They always left that at home, a house that sat empty most of the time while its supposed occupants were off romancing the stages of the Caribbean and France. Continue reading

Taxa Disaster (Finale)

Back to the Beginning

(reading time: 1 hour, 11 minutes)

Dinosaur

The tip had come to Lindwurm from a trilophosaur, and so was taken with the utmost seriousness. No family was more devoted to the cause than the trilophosaurs, even across their many species. Most of them were forever cut off from man, unable to experience their appreciation across the gulf of time, because few of their fossils would ever be found, and when they were they were not representative. Continue reading

Taxa Disaster (Part One)

Only finding fossils, we never suspected the flesh of the dinosaurs could’ve been so strange, could’ve climbed off whenever it felt like it and even borrowed our shape.  That is the forgotten clade thanazoa, but they know of us, thanks to communing with their fungus-like oracle Atropos.

A defeated villain resurfaces to abuse those predictions, her predatory eyes set on the future she thinks she is denied.  Discover a brand new world on familiar bones in this wildly speculative novella of the Triassic period.

(reading time: 1 hour, 13 minutes) (reading time for entire novella: 2 hours, 24 minutes)

Taxa Disaster

by

Blaine Arcade

Even if, one day, we had access to perfectly preserved fossils, a vital aspect of animal life would still elude our grasp. Behavior is almost entirely lost in the fossil record. Imagine the richness and strange wonder of animal life today. The eerie, ululating songs of whales, the elaborate middens of bowerbirds and the surreal spectacle of a peacock’s display could never be deduced from inanimate remains.

Likewise, some of the most spectacular sights of the past will never be seen, or even guessed.’

All Yesterdays

Centipede

The insects were reluctant to touch it, and that reluctance continued on down to everything that could be called life. The fungi refused to take the first bite. The bacteria self-destructed rather than continue touching it for more than a moment. It was as if they knew what kind of will had inhabited it just one day prior. Continue reading

Ditch Dogs: Finale

(reading time: 53 minutes)

Fetch the Black Gold

Time off was not part of the experimental parameters the 8th were always subject too. While it would’ve been fair to have a longer period of rest after each foray if, say, they had gotten particularly bland or stomach-cramping tinned food that time, their current stay at the base in Tampico was just a fluke. Continue reading

Ditch Dogs: Part Three

(reading time: 44 minutes)

That Dog had Something to Say

He really had no idea why he brought the book, even the first chapter had been insufferable, but he was certainly glad for it now with the sun beating down on his head. With one end of it stuffed under his collar the thin open novel made an excellent neck shield. Its cool pages were a relief on the raw shedding skin there. Continue reading