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The whine of a powerful stallion piercing through the frigid night air had a somewhat poetic feel to it. Winter had set in, people were getting ready for holiday celebrations, and the castle was a buzz with preparations for the winter ball/tournament. "Castles are always creepy at night." A hooded figure rode on the back of a dark brown horse to the entrance of the castle. She quickly explained to security that she was there to see the head chef. Lia didn't stay in one place for very long; she needed money. Bakeries and local parties were always looking for an extra set of skilled hands, and Lia had a darn good set of hands if she had to say so herself.


She was led to the kitchen, and her horse was led away so that it could be tied down. It didn't seem like security was super tight for this castle. Perhaps no one was foolish enough to try anything there. She lifted her chin slightly and sniffed the air. It seemed like the kitchen staff was busy making dinner. It was a wonderful scent to run into after smelling horse butt the whole way there. Lia stepped into the kitchen through the back entrance and waited for the head chef. "Phew..." She removed her coat. The kitchen was much hotter with the ovens on.

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[COLOR="#808080"][FONT=Garamond]Eva

-The woman was larger than life. Her body was thick, with her arms and legs plump and her rather round belly protruding outward making her apron hang rather oddly from her body. Her face was round with cheeks that seemed near bursting, each the size of a full red apple. Dark hair was pulled away from her face and set in a tight and neat bun, with a few curls for vanities sake hanging here and there. She was standing near the one of the many ovens; with her hands settled on her hips and her back slightly hunched forward as she peered through the oven’s glass window. “These will never come out right!” She cried to herself before straightening.

Her attempt to make a rather fancy looking cake from one of her many cookbooks was failing miserably. The cake was supposed to rise, not sink down in the middle in such a sad way. Just as tears were about to well up in her nearly black eyes she heard the sound behind her a Phew of relief.

“Hey! What are you doing here? These are the royal kitchens of Drakiss—you can’t just be waddling around wherever you like. ”-[/FONT][/COLOR]

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Lia stepped around the rather large woman and looked at the cake. "Hmm...." She glanced at the baking powder on another table. "Did you use this, by any chance?" She approached the table, and tasted the baking powder with a small tab of her finger. There was a little on the table, so she didn't have to worry about contaminating the whole batch. "Your baking powder is too old. You won't get anything to rise properly with this." She commented, then returned to the cake and cut a small piece with a nearby knife. "Looks like it's cooked all the way through at least."

Lia chuckled, then gave a slight bow. "Excuse my rudeness. My name is Lia. Lia Wexler. I believe I sent a notice a few days ago to alert you of my arrival. As you may already know, I am a baker by trade....Sort of a freelance worker if you will. I heard about the grand winter ball that will be hosted in this castle soon and I was hoping for a chance to earn some traveling money by offering up my skills." Lia didn't look like a baker; she was shapely and looked as if she hadn't had a slice of cake since she was born, but she loved sweets. "If you wouldn't mind, I could whip up something if you wanted a sample of some sort. I'll even let you pick what I make."

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[COLOR="#808080"][FONT=Garamond]Eva

-The plump woman regarded Lia with suspicion, but eventually nodded her round head. “Yes of course—Lia,” she murmured to herself as if she really did remember the letter with the young woman’s name warning of her arrival. “I just didn’t except you so soon—as you can see I was trying my hand at pastries, trying to avoid the need to hire a new hand in the kitchen, but I am willing to admit defeat.” Now the woman regarded her sunken cake. Slowly her hands fell away from her waist and pulled out a stool from a tall wooden table at the center of the kitchen. “You see sweets are not my forte,” she shrugged and settled her heavy body down, taking a rest from her aching feet. She’d been in the kitchen all day making that stupid sad excuse for a cake.

“Please,” said Eva motioning to all the equipment available, “show me what you got. My name is Eva by the way—I am the head chef’s wife. I do a lot better with savory dishes. You made whatever you like dear, and I’ll do what I do best, I’ll taste it.”-
[/FONT][/COLOR]

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"Hehe. I'm sorry for arriving so promptly, but I was already in the area. I figured it was better to arrive early so that I could help with the ball preparations." Lia spoke as she borrowed an apron that was draped over a stool. She took a moment to tie up her hair, then proceeded to wash her hands. "It's very nice to meet you Eva. I must say that this kitchen smells wonderful. I'm getting hungry and I just ate a little while ago." Lia seemed to be terribly casual for someone interviewing for a job. "Alright. Hmm....I don't think I want to try cake without fresh baking soda...You already know how that turns out." She thought for a moment, then snapped her finger. "Cream puffs!" She began to rush about the kitchen. She needed eggs, cream, milk, butter, water salt, flour, vanilla, and a variety of other ingredients.

Lia was light on her feet, but efficient. It was like her own little form of magic. Lia could forget all of her problems when she was whipping up sweets. Soon enough, she had a dozen light, fluffy, and deviant cream puffs on a platter ready for Eva to taste. "All done." Lia removed her oven mitts and stepped aside for Eva.

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[COLOR="#808080"][FONT=Garamond]Eva

-The woman watched, somewhat amused, as Lia scurried about the kitchen. Soon there was a big bowl before her and she was madly stirring ingredients within. Only somewhat curious, Eva tilted in her chair and stretched her older swollen body so that she could peer within the bowl. They chitchatted, but not much, mostly she wanted the young woman to concentrate. The ball was upon them, and if she didn’t find someone suitable to make the deserts then she would be stuck with the task and the last thing she wanted to do was disappoint the Black Queen herself. Although it was common knowledge that the queen did not partake of human food, it was equally common knowledge that she always wanted the best for her guests.

When Lia finally presented the finished cream puffs, Eva looked at the plate with some reserve, but finally stretched out her hand. She picked up the nearest puff and brought it to her mouth. Not only was the little treat rather pretty to look at, but the texture and flavor was amazing. Her doubtful look changed, melted away to a smile as she finished off her treat. “That was amazing!” she stated promptly, before reaching out for another of the cream puffs, “Oh goodness—you’re a god send girl, these are really very good! What else can you make? What do you need? I’ll send the kitchen girls to get it the ingredients immediately.”
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The chit chat was minimal. Lia never did like talking while she was baking; it upset her groove more often than not. It had been a while since she made cream puffs, so she was really having fun with them. They were really simple sweets that could be easily made in bulk, which would be great for something like a ball. Not to mention the cream on the inside provided the perfect contrast with the crispy shell around it.

Once they were done, Lia watched with anticipation as Eva tried the first one. She knew that they were good, but would they suit the chef's taste? Lia smiled at the response. Hook, line, and sinker. "Of course they are. I'm young, but I know sweets." She said with a laugh. "Have as many as you please. I can make those, cakes, pies, custard, cobblers, cookies, and pretty much anything you could possibly think of. A baker isn't worth salt if they can't do that much." She looked around at the kitchen. "I need time to look around and see what you have. I need to check the ingredients as well to make sure they are fresh enough to use. I'll also accompany those girls to make sure they get the highest quality. I don't use anything less than the best ingredients for my pastries. I'm sure you understand."

Lia turned her attention back to Eva. "Now, about my pay. What are you offering?" Surely Eva didn't expect her to work for free.

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Luvwen wiggled his toes as he crept in the door. He had been sent to fetch extra flour from the pantry before Lia had arrived. "Here's your flour Miz Eva." He set the five pound bag up on a counter before standing quietly to the side. He wiggled his toes again, he was not accustomed to shoes, or these new clothes he was wearing. Simple shirt and trousers, both in beige, but annoyingly new and itchy for the boy used to rags.

"What else do you want me to do, Miz Eva?" he said, gazing up at her with deep purple eyes under a fringe of jet black hair. Hair that had been washed and combed the evening before and combed again this morning. Luvwen hated it, it kept falling into his eyes.

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[FONT=Garamond][COLOR="#808080"]Eva

-“Straight to business,” said Eva with a grin, still chewing what was left of the delicious cream puff. After she was done, and after she had wiped her hands on her apron, she nodded her head in thought. “Well—this is a pretty big job, and it’s going to stretch out for well over two-maybe three weeks. Can you commit to so much time?” Already the woman was eyeing Lia with a bit of doubt. “If you can manage it, the pay is impressive—a gold coin per week and that of course does not include the extra money that will be provided for you to do your shopping, you’ll be free to keep the change or ask for more money as you need.” Eva was certain she didn’t have to tell Lia that Orisian gold was pure and as near to perfection as anyone could hope for. The Orisian Golden coin was worth fifty silver coins, and a hundred copper coins—more than enough to provide a young woman with anything and everything she could want.

At that point, before Lia could say anything a young boy entered the kitchen asking what he could do for Eva. “Come here lad!” Called out Eva, “Taste one of these cream puffs and tell me what you think? I may need you to head into the market with this young lady—that is if she takes the position as head dessert chef.” Luvwen was one of Eva’s favorite kitchen hands—he was always so bright and cheerful. As the boy ate his treat she glanced at Lia, “Well? Do we have a deal or are you gonna try to swindle me out of more money?!” The large woman laughed and her belly rose and fell with the motion. Both her hands rested atop her round stomach as if trying to control the shifting waves of her belly rolls. Her laughter was cheerful, her wide smile pleasant in its earnest amusement.-[/COLOR][/FONT]

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[SIZE=3][FONT=arial narrow]Appearing utterly unperturbed by the kitchen commotion, the Queen's familiar presently resided on the counter. His clawed feet were folded beneath him, his chin outstretched to rest its vulnerable underside on his forefeet;; a single talon etching strange marks into the counter's surface, whilst shuttered golden oculars peered lazily upon Eva, seemingly glued to her every motion. His regard of her was reminiscent of the way he often looked at Gabriela, except it lacked the brimming of total adoration and reverence. No, Israfel was merely amusing the pretty kitchen hand.

For what kind of guardian would he be if he was blind to turmoil within his very territory, and didn't test the hearts of those close to his precious Queen?

After all, Eva was particularly mean with a skillet. He had no doubt that she, if riled, wouldn't hesitate to bring it down on an unsuspecting cranium. Such as that of her Queen's. It was admittably a farfetched idea with many holes where logic should've been, but nonetheless . . this new kitchen hand she was hiring could be a menace to Orisia for all they knew. And that kitchen boy! Young and naive, annoyingly foolish and overtly enthusiastic. Did he even give good belly rubs? Hmrf. The wyvern's scaly brow twitched, as he made a mental note to explore the possibility.

In the meantime, he was clearly going to have to reassert his authority here.

Spaded tail lashing with an audible thump against the counter, giving testimony to his slight irritation -- "Whoa, Nelly. You can't just go around hiring civilians fresh off the streets! Tch, I'd expect you to know better. But then again, you are at the age where things are prone to slip your mind, so I suppose I can forgive it. Just this once, though. Just because I'm fond of you. But if it reoccurs, I'm afraid I'll have to --" What was a threat he could use? Piss on her apron, maybe, but Gabriela would surely take a skillet to him if word got back to her of such words leaving his tongue. Hmrf. "-- I'm afraid I'll have to accompany you home and terrorize your children." There. That should suffice.

Pleased with his swift thinking, Israfel continued, this time directing his scolding at the newcomer. The townsperson, or whatever she was. She looked more like a housewife than a baker, like she should've been in a yard with children hanging off her skirts than dallying around in a kitchen. "You. Before you get to work, I'm going to have to make sure you have the right touch qualified for the job. Come here, and scratch behind my ears."

"Please," he added, after a moment of thought.[/FONT][/SIZE] Edited by le mongrél.

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“Well I am a business woman, so to speak.” She chuckled and placed her hands on her hips. This job was as good as hers. Now all she needed to hear about was a decent payment arrangement. She began to nod as Eva outlined the general terms of her employment. She had nothing but time on her hands, and getting paid a gold coin every week plus expenses? She had been known to live a very cushy lifestyle on just a few pieces of silver. Copper coins got her by without starving at least, but gold? Gold would pay her way to get all the way to Patia with some start-up money left over for her new shop. How could she pass up this opportunity?

“Well I-Oh!” Lia moved out of the way so that the flour could be dumped on the counter. It looked a little bit on the heavy side, too. It would be great if he was one of the people to be her pack mule on the shopping trip. She smiled at him after Eva more or less introduced her. “My name is Lia. And to answer your question, I would be happy to accept this position.”

She was a little startled by the thump from the tail of the tiny guardian. She whirled around to see who…Or what was talking. She blinked, rubbed her eyes a little, then blinked again. Was this…A dragon? She had never seen one before! It was oddly..Cute…In a reptilian sort of way. Lia actually blanked out a little as she stared at him. “Oh! Well..” She looked at Eva with a raised eyebrow. “He doesn’t bite does he?” What? He was small and wanted her to scratch him behind the ears. He must have been a pet of some sort!

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Luvwen smiled, then hid his mouth with his hand, he was told his pointed teeth would scare people of polite society. Why were they called polite if they were scared of everything? "Thank you. But I can't eat it, I can only eat meat. Everything else makes my stomach feel like it's trying to crawl out of my body. Thank you for the thought though Miz Eva. They do smell divine."

He looked over at the new woman. "Nice to meet you Miss Lia, I normally go to the market cause I can smell things beginning to go a week or more before they actually do. I make sure Miz Eva gets the freshest of the fresh if it's available." Luvwen smiled brightly without showing his teeth.

Luvwen giggled as the cat appeared, he reached over to scratch lightly just behind the cat's left ear and under the chin before stepping back to let Lia win the beast's affection.

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[FONT=Garamond][COLOR="#808080"]Eva

-The older woman looked absolutely pained after Luvwen revealed that he could not taste the sweets, and that he could in fact only have meat. It was a tragedy to the round old woman to see a young boy deprived of the wonders of sweets, but then again such was the world they lived in. Her dark eyes reflected her sadness, especially when they filled with tears under her heavy brows. “I am sorry dear,” she whimpered before Israfel drew away her attention.

“Ya devil!” cried Eva as she picked up a rolling pin that had been abandoned upon the table. “Ya won’t be telling me how to run MY kitchen! And pets are meant to be kept outside, not inside!” She brandished her weapon high above her head, but did not bother to stand from her seat. Obviously, her threat was as empty as Israfels—maybe. Still, she knew how fond the good queen was of this devious little creature, and like it or not she would have to play nice, but that hardly meant allowing him to believe he was in charge.

“If you don’t trust her then why don’t you spend some time with her?” Suddenly Eva brightened as she glanced at Lia who had just accepted the position. “Why yes—Miss Lia is to be our new head pastry chef, and if you’re so concerned with the security of the royal family, well then I think it makes perfect sense for you to interview our new staff member.” Pleased with herself Eva rose from her chair and set upon the table a velvet pouch, “twenty five silver coins—more than enough to get you started. Make samples, lots and lots of samples, everything and anything you can think of, and we’ll decide from there what to include for the Ball. Have Israfel taste it first, and if it gets past his tastes then we’ll definitely consider it.” With that she turned to the little dragon-like creature before picking up a cream puff and tossing it at him, knowing full well he was bound to catch it in his mouth. He was after all a seemingly bottomless pit.-[/COLOR][/FONT]

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[font=microsoft sans serif] Funny how quickly the woman went from tearful to irate-- prompting Israfel to scoff in disdain, dismissing her scolding threats and brimming doeful orbs. Attributing them to the love of dramatics it seemed every female fostered--- much to the wyvern's disgust.

"Tch. Save it, Nelly, for a---" [i]lizard who actually gives a damn,[/i] he would've finished, had he not heard a certain word amidst Eva's drone of speech, a certain word that was the worst . . the kind of term one would be advised to avoid at all costs when in the presence of Wyvernai.

The word was [b]pet[/b], and upon hearing it, Israfel began to give serious consideration to whether or not he should make good on his earlier threat.

Eva was also brandishing a roller pin in this particular series of instances, but the object, though obviously intended to be perceived as a weapon, was disregarded, too busy was the wyvern listening to the resonating of the loathsome word [b]pet[/b] in his acoustics . .[/font]

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[font=microsoft sans serif] . . Wyvernai were hardly pets. They were creatures with big purposes--- a fact that was even more so especially true in Israfel's case, for as the Queen's familiar, he had perhaps the biggest and most important purpose of all [which might excuse his ego].

While he knew Eva was only amusing him as he had her, the rebuttal stung nonetheless. There wasn't much he could say to correct her, either, considering his raison l'etre wasn't meant for civilian ears. Up until some time ago, it hadn't even been meant for royal ears.

The cream puff was thrown now, a small morsel that Israfel saw out of the corner of his periphery, and, thus, was more than ready for it when it came within range;; neck extending a fraction, mandibles parting as a cant fell upon his cranium . . and the cream puff socked itself right into his throat.

Firmly lodging itself there.

Agck! Ugh! Israfel choked, disliking the sensation of the pressure. The tickling of the cream puff's texture---

"Nasty!"[/font] Edited by le mongrél.

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