Of Dragons and Druids
Chapter 3: The Kitchen of Druidham
Gahlen knew that he should be going back to the cellars to help Stenkarlek delve them, but he did not want to go back just yet. The dwarf did not particularly like him, considering the boy more of a nuisance than a help, even with a dragon to help moving the rock. And that was all they did, Gahlen and Koeden. Bring one load of loose rock up to the surface after another, until Stenkarlek decided that they had done enough for the day. Gahlen grumbled at his father silently, since it was he who had volunteered the boy's services to the dwarves. But that had been months ago, and the dwarves were still digging. They were nice storerooms and cellars, expertly hewn, painstakingly precise in their corners and utterly smooth in their floors. But the job was tedious, and the seven-year-old wanted to go run around outside and bother some of the other children of the island.
And so Gahlen was stopping by the kitchens, hoping to draw Jalme away from his chores. Jalme was the son of the steward, Dervin, who ran the day-to-day affairs of Druidham, assisting Gahlen's father Henjin. The two boys were almost the same age, though Jalme was eight and a bit taller. As he approached the kitchen doors, Gahlen's mouth began to water; succulent smells were wafting on the air currents of the hallway to his nose, reminding him that it was nearly time to eat. Koeden nudged him the back, indicating that he too would like a snack. Hadn't he fed the dragon today already? Young dragons were always hungry, though, and were always growing, too. Perhaps he could sneak a snack from Gregi, the butcher, for Koeden and something from Grishna, the orcwife, for himself.
Gregi was busy chopping the heads off of chickens when he opened the door. A faint smile flickered in the corner of the bald man's mouth when his eyes saw the boy and beast framed in the dim doorway. At least Gahlen thought it was a smile; the butcher's beard was so thick that it was hard to tell. Another head popped into the bucket at Gregi's feet, and he slowly slid the whole bucket of heads towards the door. Marni, scaling fish at the same table, clucked in disapproval, but said nothing.
The old matron had a soft spot for the roguish youth and his dragon, and the boy exploited it whenever he could. If only he could sneak in and see Sorna; she always had a pie or cookie ready for him, but he would have to avoid the eyes of Jalme's aunt, Julippa, who ran the kitchen and had no use for rascals in her way. Unfortunately, Sorna was talking to Kupika about berry pies as the elf brought over a sack of gooseberries for a pie. Several pies were already cooling on the table; probably currant pies, judging by Sorna's pile of currant sacks by the table.
Unfortunately, Julippa was sharing a table with Grishna as the two prepared a stew and some salads. That meant no snack from the orcwife today. Grishna was the best, always doting over the young dragonrider whenever she saw him, giving him big hugs and lots of treats. Her husband Urglan, was a dragonrider, too, the only orc to become one so far.
Jalme was looking decidedly unhappy as he turned a spit with a large islebird over the fire. He was definitely hot, and always grouchy. But there was no way that he would be able to get away from the work without getting into serious trouble with everyone in the kitchen. Bummer!
Gahlen lingered in the doorway for a moment longer, before deciding to go outside and try to find one of his sisters to bother. Or maybe his mother, if Galaria might be around somewhere and not busy. But he was done with carrying rocks today. He grabbed the bucket of chicken heads and a bit of cured sausage that Gregi had tossed to him, too, and went back the way he came, out into the lower courtyard of Druidham, into the bright sunshine in the midst of the Mystic Isles.
(with updated lighting)
C&C welcome. I'm not as happy with the lighting in this one as I would have hoped. There are too many different pieces to it: a lamp under the roasting pit, a flashlight behind the bread oven, light bricks and another flashlight lighting glow crystals in the wall, and another lamp shining through a bank of windows (out of shot) to imitate daylight coming in. It was ambitious, and perhaps I'll give it another go before tearing it apart; the results here are "good enough" but not great.