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 Left Challenging Handful (Finale)

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Burn the Handful

The parliament building, which housed the Shoulders of Government, was made out of an old trunk and kept in the highest residential area of the barn: the hayloft. It was fed with several elevators of varying construction as well as by trained birds and their riders. Many of the birds were reassigned as security that day, and so the lip of the loft was covered with the saddled feathery creatures, their beaks making the line look like a living fence of spikes. Continue reading

The Left Challenging Handful (Part Three)

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Knead the Handful

Forty Myrmidons marched across the walls of Minimil after a hard day’s work. Marching sideways was possible for them, as long as they stayed on all fours, thanks to the clasping hooks on the wrists and ankles of their exoskeletons. Their progress would’ve been extremely slow if not for the divot network.

It was invisible from a distance, which in Minimil was anything greater than two meters. Up close it could be seen as nothing more than even rows of gouge marks in the old wood of the barn walls. Their purpose was to provide footholds to any and all arthropod citizens capable of wall-crawling, the most numerous of which were the Myrmidons. Continue reading

The Left Challenging Handful (Part Two)

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Spread the Handful

The innkeeper thought she rose plenty early to start preparing breakfast for her handful of guests, but when she stepped down from her quarters into the tavern she found it transformed by makeshift houseplants, created by an even earlier bird.

Delicious was roaming about, watering them with single droplets, using a can lifted from the dead garden’s piled tools. She hummed a tune all the while, but by the time she made a complete lap the gnome couldn’t help but sing a verse.

-I long to see the girl I left behind meee!” When she stopped to breathe she noticed Miss Marood. “Oh, I’m sorry! Did I wake you?” Continue reading

The Left Challenging Handful (Part One)

The small have their own country, and it fits in a barn!  The place is called Minimil, and it is home to Lilliputians, Shakespearian fairies, and the angels and devils of the shoulder that help you make all your decisions.  Minimil doesn’t yet know it, but it is under attack from an elite team of scoundrels in its gutters, threatened into service by an unknown entity.  They will sabotage the tiny government, to keep their heads and achieve their wildest dreams.
This is the second in a trilogy, though each novella tells its own whole story.  To get caught up please check out the original: The Challenging Handful.

The Left Challenging Handful

by

Blaine Arcade

Pinch the Handful

Typically a man of his stature would have no trouble moving through tight spaces. At only fifteen centimeters tall there were several carved conch shells among the furniture in his palace that were positively roomy, but this welcome, if that’s what it was, was far from that.

He was squeezed front and back by musty wood, the only way to orient himself being the various splinters poking the capitals on the map of his body. The predicament was made all the tighter by the finery he rarely took off: a crown of fused amber glass, shoulder pads of the same, a layered cape of blue and white like ocean waves lapping at the sand, and the decorated saber sheath on his hip. Continue reading

The Moneyed and the Mystic (Part Three)

(Back to Part One)

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)

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.

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