Story for the Day: Semisweet
|If you lie to him about percentages of chocolate, he will kill you|
There was a matter of some consequence to others and of great consequence to few that came to the attention of the commander and Den Asaan. After the panicking raids in along the Farriage docks had taken place, a grand number of new businesses began appearing along the seaside promenade. One of these slender establishments was a Lucentian café, boasting its authenticity of churning chocolate vats and thin grilled pancakes. While the establishment professed to have everything a decided palate should enjoy, its patrons and purveyances were not as much as a concern to the kingdom as was its owner.
A tall, thin and wily Lucentian was the proprietor of the café, and though this may have been a mere verity of appearance, the nature of the recent raid had made the matter of his heritage disquieting. Teague was deployed to inspect the history of this man’s character but when word of the mission spread throughout the keep, the Den Asaan thought it advisable to assist the captain. He would test the food for poison and remark the minutiae of the service to uncover any unwholesome dealings. He should also demand attendance to scrutinize Teague’s work, though his recent successes should have been enough to mark his competency. Such were the Den Asaan’s excuses and therefore to Farriage he and his mate must go.
They followed Teague rather than joined him to keep suspicions low. When they came to the establishment, they waited for him to take his position on the terrace with the object of advancing once a distraction was established and where a long diversion was needed, the Den Asaan would supply.
Rautu ushered his mate into the small café and sat at one of the tables closest to the counter so that he may observe every item with careful chariness. The various cakes behind the glass display, the fresh chocolate being stirred behind the counter, the scent of roasting pancakes were all a suspicious delight to him. He surveyed the waitresses and the attendants behind the counter and noted they were all Lucentian. This would have been a minor aspect had not the past week been spent imprisoning and exonerated the various Lucentian offenders from the docks warehouse. He watched their actions with fierce attention and from what he could detect, there was no misbehavior in any of their taking plates from tables or conveying cakes to them. He decided that he must judge their service more closely and could only do so by the means of ordering.
Here was a precarious venture, and the commander pitied the poor elven woman who would be made to serve the insatiable and petulant beast. When the girl was called over to their table, the commander took the liberty of saving her from a most terrifying encounter and ordering one of everything. Her order was treated with utmost wariness but when seeing the giant’s stern conviction in his features, the waitress did not question the command.
In a few moments, another table was brought to be laid beside the commander and Den Asaan’s, and once it was set with all the proper accoutrements, every item exhibited from behind the counter was brought them: cakes of varying consistencies and sizes, chocolate bars and biscuits, thin pancakes with cream and lemon sauce, and the most intriguing of all was the boiling chocolate syrup meant for pouring over any article of the giant’s choosing or for drinking. As there could be no doubt of what the giant would take first, the commander was given the task of eating anything containing fruit or vanilla. There was little of either of these and therefore the commander had very little from which to choose, for there was only one lemon pancake, one white chocolate bar, and one strawberry chocolate tart from which she was only permitted to eat the fruit and leave the chocolate custard and butter crust intact. All her enjoyment was in what her mate would have to say on the delectable display and all her amusement was in watching him take great care in choosing which would be the first sampled item.
Rautu separated his trove of desserts into groups: the pancakes would be the first devoured, the cakes the second, and anything that did not fall into these two categories would be last, but before all of this would be consumed in a delicate fashion, it must be checked for deception. He sniffed, he licked, he looked between every layer of cake and beneath every fold of pastry, but in all his designs on discovering some mischief were unfounded. There was no trace of poison, no hidden needles to prick him or traps to be sprung, and thought the giant owned himself disappointed in one aspect, hoping for some misconduct to assuage, but another means of dissatisfaction was on the rise.
The chocolate syrup had been only tolerable, which was a great offense to the giant, but another more personal affront caused the Den Asaan to rise from his chair and seek the assistance of the waitress. The chocolate bar he had been given promising itself to be dark chocolate was not. The bittersweet scent and the light colour of the particular chocolate betrayed its true identity but he thought it advisable to taste to discern its real character. Dark chocolate it was not, and promoting such an indefensible product would not be borne.
Rautu held the remainder of the chocolate in his hand and marched toward the counter. While he was searching for the waitress to reprimand her for the oversight, he looked to the terrace to signal Teague, who had been waiting for his diversion to enter the facility and inspect the backrooms. The giant’s livid countenance conveyed that this would be a violent remonstration, giving Teague all the excuse he required to carry out his mission. Teague vanished from the terrace and Rautu roared for service. He was greeted at once by the small Lucentian who had served him, and when she asked what was wrong, he replied, “Who is responsible for making this?” thrusting the chocolate bar into her face.
“All the vats are managed by the owner,” she said in a tremulous voice.
“Then I will speak with him.”
The giant’s demands were not to be denied and the Lucentian woman hastened away to the back room to find her superior.
The instant the tall, sinewy Lucentian owner emerged from behind the counter he was attacked by the Den Asaan. He leapt over the counter and pinned his prey against the wall, holding him by the front of his crisp shirt. A small “may I help you” was all the owner could manage before he was shaken into silence.
“I know there is deception here,” Rautu growled, pressing his nose against the Lucentian’s forehead.
“And how is that, sir?” the owner sniveled.
Rautu held the chocolate against the Lucentian’s cheek so that he may see the means of his demise. “Your carrier has said that this is dark chocolate.”
“It is, sir.”
“It is not.”
“It is made with sixty percent pure chocolate. I can show you myself-“
“If you knew how to make dark chocolate, you would know that what you have described is not what you claim this chocolate to be.”
“But semisweet is dark-“
“It is not!” the giant shouted in furious anger, slamming his prey against the wall. “Seventy percent and above is the Frewyn standard for dark chocolate. You are not in Lucentia, elf. You are in Frewyn and while you are here, you will obey the regulations of the kingdom.”
“Yes, sir,” the Lucentian cried. “Please don’t kill me. I just started my business.”
“If you do not return my Traala’s compensation, I will kill you.”
The Lucentian made a frantic gesture to the waitress hiding behind the counter and sputtered a few words on the matter of giving the giant and his mate whatever he desired as a gratuity in appreciation for his lesson and his clemency.
The Den Asaan released the man from his grip and returned to the table with a humph, chomping on the chocolate bar with a dour pout.
“Semisweet is only barely tolerable and therefore must be eaten with all the aversion your sufferance can afford,” the commander laughed.
“Deception in any respect should not be tolerated, woman,” Rautu contended. “If this is not dark chocolate, then it must be marked correctly.”
The commander simpered as her mate treated every remaining item with due circumspection. In the midst of her being given a few items the giant claimed to be inedible, she observed Teague upon the terrace sending her the message that there was no trickery in this establishment beyond that of a faulty owner’s understanding. She smiled, signaled for Teague to continue toward each new business along the promenade, nodding that the giant would follow shortly to assess what every one should have to offer.