04: Sweet Cakes and Sour Grapes
The City Life
Maverick and Kate walked the streets of Dunkir. Kate, like a tourist, took in the sights and smells of this new world. A world she would have learn to protect from the Gods of the Spire. The strange attraction she had to Maverick was something she could not understand; like metal magnets, they immediately clicked into place. Sabuci could bond with a partner, but not on a level this strong. The bond was purely mental, the conversation aspect, feelings, but she could share her grace with him, something she had experimented with in the Windy Peaks when she left home. Welcoming his touch, his mind into hers, her trust in him was unfathomable, and she just accepted the fact he was part of her as much as she was a part of him.
Torac, now the size of a cat now, wrapped his blue-silver scaled self around Kate’s neck and shoulders like a scarf, barely giving her head the ability to turn. He just silently took in the sights as well and watched over his charge. He was chuckling to himself, thinking about what the cities inhabitants would do if he transformed into his actual size. Then he would have to fight off the defenders, and he knew this city did have three Blooded from the House of Voloth, the Shithen family. Two brothers and a sister, each with a foul temper and disdain for the people they ruled. The chance of running into these oppressors would be slim, he hoped.
Maverick and Kate continued exploring the city, and his excitement mounted as he had very well been trying to hide these spots to surprise Kate. He found this problematic because she could read him so easily, though she had not been projecting into his head. Maverick could still sense her emotional state with this link, and he had figured out when she was surprised or when she acted surprised. His big chance was finally here to test his theory, and he thinks he has hidden it very well. They stopped at a small bakery shop, “The Pleasent of Present, Bakery.”
The small shop had a glass counter, below on several display shelves stood treated and confection of all kinds. Brown and white pastries, with sprinkles of all shapes, colors, and sizes. The sweet smell of the cakes filled Kate’s noes. A large well-rounded man greeted Kate and Maverick in a brown sugar apron; his bald head and facial hair were shaved smooth like a baby’s bottom. His wide hazel brown eyes welcomed his customers, “Maverick! Welcome back!” His voice was heavy and bellowed loudly.
Maverick immediately felt the sudden rush of emotions coming from her. He had her, yes, another surprise. “I have been saving this for last. Hey Stilgar!”
Stilgar smiled; he had a few teeth missing; too many sweets over the years decayed a number to the point of being extracted by a healer. “I see you have another lady around your arm. Every time you come here, you got a different lady.” He moved from around the display counter to the main lobby.
Maverick grinned, “Stilgar, this is Kate. Kate, this is Stilgar, he used to be our company’s chef. This man could turn beans and a few other leftover spices into a meal that makes you forget that you are fighting for your life.”
He reached his hand out to shake hers. Kate took his hand, “Thank you. Nice to meet you. I am Mavericks mate.”
Stilgar just chuckled, “That serious?” he eyed Maverick.
Maverick rolled his eyes, placing his hand behind his head and pulling his hair a bit, “Yes. Can’t escape it, you might want to say she’s my destiny.”
Stilgar started to understand he was serious, “Wow. Plan on settling down then? It’s going to be hard to see you in one place. A house, kids. It happens to all of us; heck, I got a wife and two kids now.”
Maverick enjoyed that, though, seeing his goddess in an apron, plump with a child, and holding another. Him standing over the family as the protector, he would go to any lengths to protect them from harm.
Kate turned her head, “You want children with me?”
Stilgar did not hear Maverick ask any questions. He looked puzzled and confused. Stilgar caught onto small details quickly because he was such a good chef, and he could measure the correct amount of spice and sugar without using measuring cups or spoons.
Maverick blushed, “Yes, I do. Don’t you?” Changing the subject, he turned back to Stilgar, “Stilgar Kate is sabuci. We bonded, so needless to say, I can’t get her out of my head.”
Stilgar burst out laughing, “I see now. Your stuck with her. Best of luck with that. Now, lass, do not break him too badly. Half of his charm is that he is Maverick, take that away, and well, you will have a mediocre man. Let him be who he is, and you will get along fine.”
Kate giggled a bit, “Don’t want to.”
Stilgar returned to behind his display counter, “Well, I know you are not here to catch up. So what do you want today?”
Maverick turned his attention to a few of the sliced cakes, and he pointed to chocolate cake with white frosting on top. “I want this one.” Motioning for Kate, “Pick one.”
Kate moved over to the counter, and she was about to pulse her grace to enhance her awareness. She wanted to find out which cake she wanted; she did not want to get something spoiled that would get her sick. She heard a voice in her head, “NO cheating.” She looked back at Maverick. “I heard that. You are getting better.”
Maverick beamed at her, “Just look at one without cheating. Use your nose, let the scent guide you.”
After a few minutes of groaning and indecision, she felt this was the most frustrating decision she ever had to make in her life. She finally made a choice. A chocolate cake, chocolate frosting with chocolate chips sprinkled over the top.
Stilgar approved of her choice, “Stilgar’s Chocolate Heaven! The one cake the ladies like the most.” He cut a piece off of the main cake and readied the slice for transport.
Maverick passed the coin over to Stilgar while boxing the small delights onto pieces of pressed corn husk wrapper. “Thanks again, I will be here all week. See you again, my old friend.”
Stilgar smiled as the two left his store. Another satisfied customer and an old friend.
Kate kept trying to paw her way into the bag that Maverick held with her chocolaty slice of cake. Maverick stopped by several merchant vendors on the side streets and picked them up some smoked sausages, a loaf of bread, and a fermented bottle.
“Not yet, got another stop left, then we can eat.”
He led her to the cities central park, a magnificent plush garden area provided by the nobles for all the population to enjoy. Marble Statues of the city’s proponent leaders stand twelve feet high, spaced around the garden with commemorative metal plaques at the base. Wondering the gardens for a short time, they find themselves a stone bench to sit on. Near the bench is a small gushing circular fountain with a little winged cherub spitting water out while holding an arrow loaded bow. Flowers of all shapes, sizes, and colors planted in a random pattern dotted the landscape. Butterflies bounced from flower to flower in a rainbow of life.
Maverick sat the food items down on the bench, “A quick picnic, this is one of my favorite spots in the city. I like the colors, the craftsmanship, and the tranquility this place provides.”
Kate sat across, and she was waiting for the cake.
Maverick popped the cork on the bottle of wine first, took a drink. Then handed the bottle to Kate. Her eyes dipped down; a flash of the last drink he thought was good came across her mind. The repulsiveness of the ale, she hopped this was not something else she would regret. He nodded, “Take a drink. You want to know the world, her it is. Drink.”
She took the bottle, sniffed it first; she could smell the sour fermented scent coming out of the bottle. She closed her eyes and drank a draft. Surprisingly it was better than the ale from the tavern this morning.
Maverick smiled, “Ehh, see, a different taste.” He took his piece of cake, unwrapped the corn husk wrapper, he placed it in front of her. Her eyes showed the warning signs of betrayal. He was not going to take her piece of cake. She had labored long and hard on figuring out what piece of haven should taste like. He was just smiling as he unwrapped hers and placed the chocolate goodness in front of himself. She resisted the temptation to enter his mind and look at what he was planing, and she would be upset if he took a bite out of her cake. Her eyes narrowed while glaring at Maverick. Was this their first fight? How could he consider taking her cake?
Just before tension built and she was going to speak her mind, Maverick said. “Now, take my piece of cake in your hand. We feed each other, an act of trust.”
Relief washed over her, smiled, her worry went away immediately. Maverick was playing the romantic partner. Her eyes widened, her pulse quickened; once again, he surprised her. The chocolate cake rose slowly to her lips; she resisted the sweet treat until she had brought his cake to his lips. They both took a bite, and she felt the sweet rush of the earthy caramel-flavored fluffy bread cross her tongue. She closed her eyes and made a low audible moan while chewing the sweet treat slowly. No sooner than she had swallowed the first bite when she felt his sweet frosting covered lips lock on hers. She opened her eye with the surprise, wow he can kiss.
Maverick released her blushingly after a moment, “See why this one of my favorite spots.” He handed her the bottle of wine, “Something to wash me down with.”
Kate took the bottle and took another drink. “What else are you going to show me?”
Maverick just grinned and took another bite of his cake. “Later, one step at a time.”
Kate felt her frustration building. He had moved a lot quicker with other women in his life.