Chef Jakub – Written By Stephen Fahey. Part 36
And so it went for us. Cran soon used my skills as a cook to impress business associates and to indulge his own want for pleasure. It was pleasant at first and soon we didn’t even notice the Mayor’s guards, who to us became no more than armed attendants. Our lodgings were spacious and the resources at our disposal were second to none, every item that came off a ship in the Bay or up the road with the traders and smugglers were ours to have first refusal on. I could not have asked for more from a patron. Even the climate was optimal.
The Mayor then began to host guests, captains of the largest vessels and the like, and I did enjoy the attention and prestige, but there was always an air of tension in that house. Behind the veneer of the trappings of success Cran never relaxed. Between meals he was always either at his desk working on expanding his wealth or giving orders to Roan and Raine. I didn’t want to know the workings of Cran’s business, but from what I was exposed to he used violence when he felt it necessary and he was merciless. I never once saw him smile or laugh when he wasn’t enjoying my cooking, so there was a sad seriousness to him at all other times.
Needless to say, the Mayor gained from the presence of his new cooks, however, it wasn’t long before his greed bled into his kitchen. One day he called Luke and I into his study and demanded that we change the ceremony and produce far larger meals to accommodate a banquet. Now, I could have altered the ceremony, omitting some of the pomp to hasten the dining experience, but to feed dozens of people was far too dangerous – for the diners, and for Luke and I. Too much would be out of my control. Most of all, I couldn’t ensure that they would all take both serums and at the right time. It was inevitable that something would go wrong and of course Luke and I would be first on the chopping block. And so, I declined.
Cran, as one would expect, refused all arguments against his wishes and informed me that he had already begun arrangements for a large feast for the crew of a vital ship that was docking at the bay that week. My heart sank and I refused outright. Without a word, the Mayor’s face shifted to that of a man who wanted blood, but Luke and I were too valuable to him as his golden geese. I continued to plead our case and even said that if I cooked for too many people then the quality of the food would be far less than he had become accustomed to.
He wouldn’t listen. And so I attempted to lambasted him with harsh truths, but as soon as I raised my voice Cran lifted his hand and waved Roan over to him. Once Roan stood next to the Mayor’s desk he lowered his ear to Cran’s lips and received an order. Roan then nodded and left the room. Next, Cran requested a private audience with me and I assured Luke that it was ok to leave me alone with him. After another heated exchange Cran acceded, agreed to cancel the banquet and excused me. Surprised but pleased, I went to the kitchen to tell Luke what had happened, but I couldn’t find him. I searched outside and I looked in our rooms and all over the Mayor’s house. But then, when the only room left was Cran’s office, it dawned on me. I knocked on the office door and was received, but when Cran spoke my blood stopped pumping in my veins right there and then.
Luke wasn’t to be seen again until I learned to comply. With one sentence Cran tore my guts out. Luke was all I had. Even if he was to be treated well, being held prisoner would crush Luke’s gentle soul and there was nothing I could do about it. Cran had a veritable army surrounding him so even if I could locate my brother there was no way that I could liberate him. And the Mayor knew it. I asked to be allowed to see Luke to prove that he was alive and Cran lifted his hand again. At which point Raine stepped forward and then led my into the bowels of the house – an extensive basement that I didn’t know existed. Through corridors deep underground Raine walked ahead of me until we came across Luke locked in a room that was guarded by Roan. The room was damp and empty but for a mattress on the floor and a table with a bible on it. I scoffed; no man of God would keep Luke locked away like an abomination. Not to mention that by then Luke and I had both long since turned our backs on religion.
Distraught my, I tried to calm Luke, assuring him that I would get him out. I had no idea how, but I did what any brother would and swore on death itself that I would free him. Before even a minute had passed Raine tore us apart and manhandled me back up to the Mayor’s office. With no other choice I agreed to cook the banquet with one condition, that on the night of the banquet I be permitted to bring food to all of the staff of the house, including Luke. Cran agreed, but he was scornful and boasted to himself, as only such a man could.
I returned to my quarters at once and the instant that the I closed the door behind myself I lost it. I don’t really recall what I did next, I just remember shreds of paper and clothes and books flying through the air and my knuckles throbbing. When I calmed down and emptied my stomach onto the floor I started plotting. There wasn’t a moment to waste. Every minute until the banquet would be an hour to poor Luke. But what to do? I didn’t want to just poison them all and there were so many variables.
To be continued…
© Stephen Fahey