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)

(back to part one)

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)

(back to part one)

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)

(back to part one)

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

Twenty-four Days of Ringworm and Religion: Christmas Eve Finale

Welcome to what is likely your first advent calendar fantasy novel!  Each day is a chapter, and should be read as such, but who am I to stop you from catching up? (This way to Day One!)  What follows is the story of one Marzipan Ridner, a young trans girl aching for the fulfillment of the holiday season.  When a mysterious wooden Advent calendar shows up she opens the first door, and finds herself whisked away to a world-tree of contrasting deities and binding bureaucracy.  She has less than a month to find someone willing to be her spiritual patron, but the denizens of the tree don’t seem very hospitable…

On the Twenty-fourth Day

Without scavenging for dead things in her backyard each day, Marzipan’s stockpile of sacrifices had run dry. She ended up picking some friend chicken bones out of the trash, the remains of Mom’s dinner the previous night. Continue reading

Twenty-four Days of Ringworm and Religion: Day Twenty-three

Welcome to what is likely your first advent calendar fantasy novel!  Each day is a chapter, and should be read as such, but who am I to stop you from catching up? (This way to Day One!)  What follows is the story of one Marzipan Ridner, a young trans girl aching for the fulfillment of the holiday season.  When a mysterious wooden Advent calendar shows up she opens the first door, and finds herself whisked away to a world-tree of contrasting deities and binding bureaucracy.  She has less than a month to find someone willing to be her spiritual patron, but the denizens of the tree don’t seem very hospitable…

On the Twenty-third Day

Though they didn’t care whether or not they ruined Saint Bernardino, both Marzipan and Langcorn were fully committed to the last two legs of their journey. They wanted Christmas eve to be an emergency day in case anything went wrong, so they decided to take a risk and hopefully save nearly a day of travel on door number twenty-three. They each, during that morning in their respective eras, took up a nail and attacked the tiny door frame on their calendar. Continue reading

Twenty-four Days of Ringworm and Religion: Day Twenty-two

Welcome to what is likely your first advent calendar fantasy novel!  Each day is a chapter, and should be read as such, but who am I to stop you from catching up? (This way to Day One!)  What follows is the story of one Marzipan Ridner, a young trans girl aching for the fulfillment of the holiday season.  When a mysterious wooden Advent calendar shows up she opens the first door, and finds herself whisked away to a world-tree of contrasting deities and binding bureaucracy.  She has less than a month to find someone willing to be her spiritual patron, but the denizens of the tree don’t seem very hospitable…

On the Twenty-second Day

Marzipan’s decision to wear her blue otter dress to the tree on every remaining day immediately backfired. It made her stick out so much that they caught the attention of one Saint Bernardino, who had been hunting them for a few days now. Continue reading

Twenty-four Days of Ringworm and Religion: Day Twenty-one

Welcome to what is likely your first advent calendar fantasy novel!  Each day is a chapter, and should be read as such, but who am I to stop you from catching up? (This way to Day One!)  What follows is the story of one Marzipan Ridner, a young trans girl aching for the fulfillment of the holiday season.  When a mysterious wooden Advent calendar shows up she opens the first door, and finds herself whisked away to a world-tree of contrasting deities and binding bureaucracy.  She has less than a month to find someone willing to be her spiritual patron, but the denizens of the tree don’t seem very hospitable…

On the Twenty-first Day

Virdihorn had done just as he said. Upon opening their scratched doors, despite small splinters falling away, they both emerged back onto the snowy boughs of the upper tree. Moonlight ruled the day of the solstice, and there wasn’t another soul to be found anywhere. It seemed this was a year where no men made it that far, that the goddess would spend alone if not for the two visiting calendars. Continue reading