Season Content notes: con noncon*, pain play, sexual contact, trauma reactions, people handling emotions badly, rape (not explicit), torture (not explicit), pony play, mind fuck (minor)
When he got to the kitchen Mattin found Cook had anticipated him. In the middle of all his fancy work to impress Falthro’s gourmet palate, Cook had found time to create a small spun-sugar sculpture, which he presented to Mattin with a flourish. “By the Mare, you did it! Good for you, lad. Was the popinjay well pleased?”
Mattin shook himself and grinned, “Is it that obvious?”
“Only to the Mare tossed. Sit! Eat! Tell!”
So Mattin sat and savored, and told.
When he finished, Toerff paused in stirring the night’s stew to flick him a quick salute and Cook clapped him on the back with a hearty “Well done, lad!”
Mattin stayed in the kitchen the rest of the afternoon, helping cook and Toerff prepare dinner. Through the mysterious alchemy by which news passed through the manor, word of Falthro’s agreement spread. As a result, the kitchen saw an unusual number of visitors, dropping in to grab a drink and offer Mattin their congratulations. It warmed Mattin, and surprised him. He hadn’t realized how much support he had from the others in Jahlene’s service.
As the flush of victory faded, Mattin couldn’t help thinking and worrying about Elose, and what Falthro might be doing. Which reminded him of a question that had been teasing his thoughts for a while. “Cook? Is there a reason the fae have glamourhai? Besides liking it, I mean?”
Cook’s eyes widened as he stared at Mattin. “Will wonders never cease? The lad is starting to think!” With a laugh, Cook opened one of the high cupboards and took out a small bag Mattin hadn’t seen before. “Now this calls for a celebration!”
Toerff, when she saw what Cook had, dropped her ladle and danced around the kitchen. Mattin stared in confusion. “Cook?”
“A glaze, this time I think. Mixed with milk and honey over the sweet biscuits?”
Toerff ran out of the room and Cook plopped the bag on the table. It was filled with a dark brown powder. Cook slapped Mattin’s hand away when he tried to get a closer look. “Xocalt, Jaffrey’s people bring a small amount each year, and it’s worth more than its weight in gold.”
Mattin’s eyes bugged out. For a moment he stopped breathing. “Cook!”
Toerff came back—still dancing—with a jug of milk and a large honeycomb.
The half-fae grinned at Mattin and twitched his ears. “It’s a fine day, lad. Now, what was it you were asking?”
Mattin groaned and buried his head in his hands.
“Just teasing lad.” Cook sat down at the table and began carefully measuring some of the xocalt into a small cup. “Yes, some fae—powerful fae—need glamourhai. They—we—don’t just taste emotions, we eat them. They feed our glamour. A halfling like me, or the weaker fae, can get enough from daily life. It takes an effort not to taste and feed on the emotions around us. But the stronger the glamour, the more… hungry… it is.”
Jahlene, Mattin remembered, often had a look of hunger about her when she was in the glamourhame. And other times as well. He shivered.
“If a fae’s glamour doesn’t get enough to feed on in daily life, the fae starts to starve. So powerful fae, like Jahlene and, damn him, Oeloff, use the glamourhame. They create emotion to feed on.”
Cook stood and carried the measured cup of xocalt to the stove, and mixed it into a pot of milk Toerff had heating. “Now, keep stirring. I can handle the rest of dinner. Do not let this burn!”
“Yes, Cook!” Toerff hummed to herself as she stirred, occasionally leaning over the pot to inhale the steam. Cook put the bag with its remaining xocalt away and turned to check the birds he had baking. No one else spoke as Mattin absorbed what Cook had told him.
When Crait and Harth arrived to start serving dinner a short time later, both seemed strained. Crait’s whispered congratulations were sincere, but his thoughts were elsewhere. Mattin nodded his thanks and wished he could ask the big man what was wrong.
He didn’t need to wait long to find out. When they returned to collect the next round of food, Harth asked Mattin, “Did the mistress say where she would be dining tonight?”
Mattin started, he hadn’t even thought of dinner for Jahlene and Falthro. “No… no she didn’t, and she hasn’t sent word either.”
“She wanted to be flexible. She was to send a message when she knew what would be needed,” Cook said. “I admit, I expected to hear from her before now.”
Crait grunted. “We were right then. They’re still in the glamourhame.”
Several uncomfortable looks were exchanged. “Is that… normal?” Mattin directed his question to Cook, but Crait answered.
“For the Mistress, rare, but sometimes we get lucky. For a visiting fae…”
“Never in my memory,” Cook said.
“Jahlene won’t let her be harmed.” Cook’s voice was firm and his eyes steady. The others—even Mattin—nodded in agreement. But they were still worried.
Mattin made a quick decision. “We need to have a meal ready for whenever they come out. Cr-Cook,” he caught himself, “what about using the balcony? A picnic-style dinner?”
Crait grinned, but he let Cook reply, “Aye, lad. I’ve some delicacies on hand and the birds can be broken for picnic fare.” He glanced at the pot Toerff stirred and sighed. “I’ll use the xocalt to fancy it up.” A collective moan, but Cook ignored it. “Crait, have Housekeeper set it up. Toerff: take the pot off and get Nonnet out of the buttery to help Harth serve the next course. Mattin, make sure Jahlene knows what we do. If she doesn’t need you, come back and help me with the food.”
They scattered. And if no one mentioned that this would give Mattin an opportunity to check up on Elose… well, no one saw a need to.
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