Cecily clomped down the hall in her orthopaedic shoes. Down the corridor were such delights as the Wine Cellar, the Salt Cellar, the Cool Room and the Potato Cupboard. Every time she had ventured this far into the culinary catacombs beneath the manor she had wasted hours in complex adventures. For three weeks she had had the head of a fish and lived in an aquarium. Good job the Vinegar Tender had been doing his rounds or else she would probably still be blowing bubbles.
Her heart thumped a little faster as she passed the Can Cave, partly from fear but also a romantic stirring at the memory of the brave knight who maintained order in that terrible realm. It had been nearly six months since she had come to his aid, dealing out vicious twists with a tin opener as he lay trapped under a mountain of corned beef. Just thinking about those rebellious misshapen tins made her hands shake.
Kindred spirits, at least that’s what the knight had said before stealing a kiss and lancing an enormous tin of tuna in sunflower oil which was sneaking up on her. Leaving him had not been easy, though she had kept the armour they’d fashioned from that punctured can even though it was too weak and reeked of fishy oil. Maybe it was just not meant to be.
Nearing her destination in a sort of daydream was unwise. Ordering herself to pay attention, Cecily noticed that the door to the Potato Cupboard was already subtly ajar. Prying it open further with her foot she drew her twin weapons – the silver masher and a nine-inch slab of sharpened steel she called The Dissuader. Quince, or rather quince’s slightly sour smell came from the shadows… but that was impossible.
Rory, the Provisions Master, had sworn to her that the quince was safely imprisoned. Seething, vicious fruit whose embitterment at being sidelined by larger, sweeter fruit had utterly soured them and they had sworn vengeance upon the new staples. That included potatoes, whose own turnip forerunners were merely a sulky stew-doomed bunch with no ambition to former glories.
Under the sacks of potatoes that filled the chamber Cecily could hear a sour chuckling, which grew louder as she tore open first one then further sacks with The Dissuader. Violated hollow spuds rolled out. Within each potato lives a potato fairy, from whom it obtains its magically versatile properties. Extinguishing the fairies was an unimaginable crime – if the Potato Fairy Queen still lived then perhaps all was not lost. Yet there was no sign of her, just the darkling shades and tuberous corpses.
Zoetrope-like, the quince rolled and hopped out from their hiding places. Arms borne aloft Cecily mashed and slashed at the fiendish revenging fruit. Boots many times larger and heavier than normal footwear proved their virtue, pulping the fairy-slayers. Cook would doubtless scold her when she returned without his ingredients, but perhaps he’d like to make some quince conserves.
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