Story for the Day: Bankucha
Bankucha is the national cake of Lucentia. While Lucentia has many national dishes, bankucha, or the tree ring cake, is protected by the crown, and the methods of making it are not allowed to be shown outside of Lucentia capital. Fortunately for an expat like Danaco, there are those like him who would do anything for a taste of home again, even if it means having a warrant issued for their capture.
He went toward the end of the row, and situated in the farthest corner was Manochei’s stall,
“My, my,” said Danaco, approaching them, “a miserable sad face, to be sure. Come now, Calepei, how can you be so desponding. Here is bankucha being made before you. There cannot be any frowns when bankucha is being made. It is disgraceful to flout before our national cake.”
“Yes, My Lord,” said Calepei, heaving a heavy sigh.
“You need not call me a lord when you disregard our greatest leader. Look you as it turns. The king of cakes is being born, and you are sitting about in a case of the sulks. You shall hurt its feelings, if you do not brighten directly.”
Caleipei had any idea of cake, wheather baked or roasted, having any feelings, and he only bowed his head in reply, wishing to make no resmonstances to the captain, but doing very little to improve his situation otherwise.
“You astound me, nindano,” said Danaco, addressing Manochei. “You know that making bankucha is illegal outside of Lucentia, and yet you do it anyway. How deliciously deprave if you. You know how I love indiscretion. An abominable flirt, to make such a sport of my feelings.”
Manochei smiled and pulled the spit from the flame, returning it to the trough with a conscious look at the captain. He smiled, wiped the sweat from his brow with his free arm, and after submerging the spit, he returned it to the flame and began turning it again. “I’m glad you’re here, My Lord,” said he, beckoning him to come closer. “I will need someone to eat more than half of this. Caleipei will have two cuts, but the rest can go to you and your crew.”
“Oh, nindano, how you do spoil me,” Danaco cried. “And why do you make this now? Is there an occasion? Are we celebrating the death of Reneldin or the arrival of His Highness’ reply?”
Manochei raised a brow. “Somehow I’m not surprised that you know about that.” He took the spit from the flame and returned it to the trough. “I would expect no less from the pirate king.”
“Oh, that is a pretty name. Have you heard someone call me that lately? As erroneous as it is, I confess I like the name exceedingly. It does have decidedly more elegance than chief acquisitioner. So, you have heard about our exploits on the northern seas.”
“I know what His Higness has told me, My Lord,” said Manochei, lifting the spit toward the fire. “Almost finished.”
“We shall have to call the guard when it is done, for eating such a coveted Lucentian treat in a public place will incur the suspicions of those who support our opposition.”
“Reneldin is never going to send anyone after me for this,” said Manochei, in a glow, his complexion warmed by the conveince of the fire. “If he does somehow find out I’m making and selling bankucha outside the kingdom, the person he sends to collect me will imprison me, and His Highness will deploy our agents to release me.” He gave the spit a few more turns and then mounted it on the two holders on either side of the trough. “I’m making this to appease Calepei.” The corners of Manochei’s mouth curled. “He didn’t get the yuwa he asked for from home.”
“None was sent because it would have taken longer to send the message,” Calepei sulked, slumping farther against his fist, his chest sinking. There was a sigh, a pout furnished Calepei’s features, and he mumbled to himself, “…I only wanted one.”
“You poor and unfortunate minnock,” Danaco cooed, “how you do suffer for my sake. Bankucha will cure you, however, as it always does me. It was the first letter from our prince to me, and you must allow for a first letter to come on its own. Do forgive me for getting in the way of your happiness.”
Caleipei promised he would try, and without endeavouring to improve his disposition, he kicked a pebble aside and sulked in silence, avowing to eat all the yuwa in the world when he should get home.
“Here, My Lord,” said Manochei, handing Danaco a small letter from his pocket. “From His Highness to you direct. Take your time reading it while I cut this.”
Manochei went behind his stall, to recover his slicer and find out a few of the folded bakery boxes, and Danaco went to work on his letter, standing with his back toward the markets, his head bowed, his features low, his aspect avid and blissful. A letter from his sovergien: it was the moment of his salvation, the one that would reinstate him as a standing member of Lucentian society, and his hands gripped the sides of the note, his fingertips assimilating every groove and grain in the paper. A letter from his sovergien…the notion that he had a sovergein at all made him a inhabitant of that impending Lucentia, the one that lay dormant under the guise of regal satisfaction and moral insolvency, and the captain was in raptures over the prospect, silenly regailing in the feelings of fidelity and mutual association. He had a king to praise again, a country to belong to, a revolution to lead, and after the first wave of sanguine mitigation was over with him, he opened the letter and applied himself to its contents.