Chef Jakub – Written By Stephen Fahey. Part 32
Renewed since we had last seen other people and surrounded by a mesh of faces, many from lands we had never even heard of, Luke and I marvelled at the complex nature of the Bay of Ferns. We spent days watching the varied multitude of ships docking and departing and wandered the slums and the one road in and out of the area. The local market was like nothing you could picture, there were stalls that overflowed with all the goods of the world. There were fruits and vegetables of strange and phallic shapes, each in a kaleidoscopic range of colours. There were gems and jewellery and tools. There were weapons, maps, books and furs. There were oils, animals, birds and fish. And everything else I haven’t mentioned here. It was as overwhelming as it was intoxicating. I loved it immediately.
Along our way we noted the one building which outshone all others in the bay – the residence of the unofficial mayor of the bay. It had been a processing plant for fishermen a long time before it was converted by the so-called mayor, one Narosh Cran. He had been a merchant all his life and had wrestled control of the bay by buying out or murdering all of the competition. Though a dangerous man, he was cultured – having grown up on the seas and in the every port for thousands and thousands of miles. He knew men and knew how to control them and use them for his own ends. And furthermore, he had amassed incredible wealth. Mayor Cran, as the locals called him, never showed his face in public. He ruled his empire through his lieutenants, two men with savage reputations, neither of whom I had any desire to meet. These grizzled brutes were named Brin Roan and Eli Raine. Both had worked for the Mayor for years and he trusted them, which made them all the more dangerous. People would move aside when they walked down the street, it us took one day to know who they were and who the Mayor was.
As is the way in such communities rumour and idle talk were rampant. The sailors told stories and the residents listened, everyone drank beer and spirits and the smugglers and traders bought and sold information. It was a pit. A den seething with endless talk of all things. Luke and I knew to lay low and say nothing about our intensions, not matter what, so we listened and we learned and soon came to the realisation that the Mayor’s kitchen is where we needed to be. But there was one problem, he already had a cook. Now, we weren’t above outclassing someone, but that place was so violent by its very nature that we feared, with good reason, a lethal reprisal for such an act. We did, however, have such a colossal selection of foods at the market that we were sure we could create a feast like nothing even such a man as the Mayor Cran could dare to imagine. And so we began to experiment.
I wanted to take the Mayor on a journey that even he couldn’t have otherwise taken. I decided that I would begin the feast with deep sea fish, a flavour that Cran would no doubt be familiar with. I would then serve shallow water fish. Next I would serve meat from the lowlands before moving on to highland fruits. Then the real magic would begin. I would serve the second generation Sky Fire oranges which Luke and I had reared in our cabin before coming to the Bay. Taking Cran beyond this world. Or course, this all relied on us gaining the opportunity to entertain the Mayor and, of course, that he buy into the. Regardless, I prepared the Mayor’s feast within a month of our arrival and Luke tested it for me.
The small servings helped to speed up the feast, ensuring that the second serum would be administered within the two hours. At first Luke moaned in what appeared to be disgust but then his an all-encompassing smile evaporated my concern. Next, the shallow water fish continued Luke’s saline appreciation before hare and then Royal Plum raised him up to a height I must admit I was jealous of. Then the peak, the Sky Fire Orange, lifted Luke into the heavens from his rickety wooden chair in our room. It was beautiful to watch him sail amid the stars, his soul reeling. His face was blank and yet serene, his limbs limp but for the occasional twitch to one side or other, his lips agape, releasing the tiniest whimpers of delight, until he returned with ten minutes left to consume the second serum. Once Luke had settled back into this world he spoke of his journey.
He had felt the depths of the darkest ocean at first but sensed himself rising up to the second serving, the shallow water fish. He could also feel the air on his face and in his lungs, and the relief which that gave him, as he ate the hare. The plum had thrust him up into what had felt like the sky, but it wasn’t until the taste of orange took hold of him that he ventured out beyond land and sea and took to the stars. He reported that at the time he felt as if he was journeying from the deepest oceans onto land, up to the peak of a mountain and then lifting up out our world and into the maddening grace of the heavens above. He was elated despite his exhaustion and felt no worse for wear.
I was ecstatic. It couldn’t have gone better, Luke was happy and healthy and my plan was falling into place. After everything that we had been through it was a great relief to know that we were making progress. Secure in the knowledge that if we met with the Mayor then he would provide us with patronage, we set about arranging said audience.
Because he almost never went outside, there was no chance of meeting Mayor Cran without getting into his guarded house. After much disappointing soul searching Luke and I both admitted that we would have to first gain a reputation in the Bay to lure his attention. It would take time, but it was the only possible path we could see to Cran’s kitchen.
To be continued…
© Stephen Fahey