Entry #19: Sleepless
Things had nearly returned to normal at the Canal Street Bakery. Nearly.
For a time, people were confused when the restaurant kept odd hours. That is, it kept normal hours. People in the Canal district knew that the bakery was a strange place in that there were fresh-baked goods at nearly any hour of the day, yet there was only one chef on the payroll there, the proprietor. And for a time, the proprietor was missing. Business faltered. There were no goods to sell. What of the other workers, the patrons asked.
Anyone else was simply serving staff or trying to enroll in one of the cooking classes that the baker offered for free on special days, if you got on his good side.
Some surmised that the reason for this was that the more who could bake fine cookies, the happier the world would be. This was a fine belief in dark days during the Cataclysm, or even before when Arthas still ruled. Now, it was simply a fine recipe for cookies.
However, the people in Stormwind now felt a little better that there were fine meals at any time of the day. As long as one recognized there was an hour or two every day that was reserved for the baker's private time plus the occasional fire that required extinguising, everyone could be happy.
Everyone, perhaps, save the baker himself. He still couldn't sleep, even when he thought he was alive. Now he knew the truth of it, and two histories came together as one.
Though it removed the uncertainty in his (un)life, and opened up so much more time for idle pursuits, the baker couldn't help but feel...something.
But that was why he spent his free time running a restaurant. It took his mind off the sleeplessness and uncertainty, and directly transferred effort into tangible results.
Entry #20: Without Whom
There are some people that could completely ruin one's perception of an entire species. It may be somewhat shallow, Eredis conceded as he listened to the rapid-fire tones of a language that set his teeth on edge even in death, but some people are simply that annoying.
So it was with this Huntress that prattled on about the combat readiness of her troops and how she had single-handedly defended the entirety of Kalimdor without the assistance of the vaunted Alliance. He stood in Darnassus alongside another Knight while on a trip of diplomacy, though in this case 'diplomacy' translated to 'listen to the goat-faced woman whine about a lack of reinforcements she never requested in the first place.'
As the Huntress continued to prattle, Eredis tilted his head and raked his eyes over the assembled regiment of Kaldorei. They puffed their chests with pride in their commander and remained mostly in silence, save the occasional breaking of said silence with some quip in Darnassian.
Their formation was sloppy and their discipline matched it. It was no wonder Eredis didn't like this woman - she was all speech and no action.
Entry #21: Forget Whom
It would be simple, Eredis surmised as he poured batter into pans for baking.
Thunder Bluff was easier to get to these days, now that the flight restrictions had been lifted over Mulgore. A simple combat drop during a resource raid from the nearby Alliance outposts would coax Bloodhoof out long enough for Eredis to drop off his gryphon and run the bullman through.
He would smile as his men screened the guards long enough to twist the blade in and declare, "Magatha Grimtotem sends her regards." Make sure the damage was enough that no manner of healing would fix the Tauren as his life's blood fertilized the dry mesa soil.
With acceptable losses, they would drop off the mesa's edge, reacquire their bone gryphons, and exfiltrate. The Tauren would be aghast at losing the next in the Bloodhoof line. They would be scattered, weak. Useless. Another becalming influence on Garrosh, gone.
Either they would retreat to lick their wounds and deny the Horde their support, or they would charge right in alongside the Orcs, and fall victim to a prepared defense and sweeping counterattack.
Eredis placed the pans in the oven and tapped the heating crystal. The fire elemental within blazed happily as it always did, and the cupcakes began to form.
He shook his head. A flight of fancy with too many risky elements. Their time would have to come in a different manner.
Entry #22: The First Taste is Always Free
The ovens were open and the trays were cooling on racks in the kitchen. The baker had paid out an inordinate sum to a trio of Dwarven architects to put together a proper ventilation system for the bakery's kitchen. It wasn't that the building's air control was substandard (for the area, where none of the buildings had adequate jakes), but that it could be better.
For instance, Dwarves know how to vent a cooling confection's aroma out into the street to properly entice passers-by who may not even stop in for a bite to eat.
However, the Canal Street Bakery had its share of regular patrons, walk-ins, and then the die-hard fanatics of sweets. They were the ones who didn't hesitate to hand over a year's worth of wages for any farmer or sawmill's hand for a fine meal and bottle of wine, eat more food in a sitting than a peasant family would eat in a week, and debate endlessly about the battles of the day and how they fared after the smoke had cleared.
They were, of course, adventurers, which are the bread and butter of the restaurant industry.
Today's cuisine junkie, however, was a noblewoman from the castle. She had been discussing the week's petitions to the King with her compatriots, who had each ordered five golds' worth of food and wine, and commanded the leavings be carted off to be burned as they could in no way be fit for leftovers after they had been in the august presence of nobility.
The baker wholeheartedly agreed, and preferred to set out the day-olds for the kids in the alleyways who knew when to come up to the door - and if work was busy that day, they even got a copper or two in order to run messages or deliveries.
The noblewoman, who once was a skinny thing who was exiled from Lordaeron during their time of troubles (and had since gained about twenty pounds as her mouth needed to be filled with food in order to keep words from tumbling out of it), loudly proclaimed that the redress of grievances of the Confectioner's Union #6, Stormwind, would never reach Varian without her approval. Her compatriots were in the midst of a ten-minute argument of agreement with this notion when the last course arrived - a box of cupcakes for each of them to take home.
This did meet with the noblewoman's approval, and they filed out into the afternoon to stagger back to the castle for the afternoon's meetings.
The baker, naturally, had heard every word. When one hires a trio of Dwarven architects to redesign a bakery's ventilation system, you may as well go the extra mile and ensure that the conversations from every table can reach one's ears.
Eredis turned from the trays and scribbled a note to hand off to an urchin standing at the back door of his establishment. Adding a copper to the young whelp's hand, he said, "Run this to the clerk at the castle, and let him know to subtly spread the word that if the Confectioner's Union's redress is not heard, then the luxury sweets the nobility is used to will go elsewhere."
Elling Trias, Eredis thought as he went back to work, certainly had the right idea.
Entry #23: If Only
The Borean Tundra had its chill moments, especially when the northerly wind blew off the ice caps onto Valiance Keep, where the assorted Knights attached to the Alliance Expeditionary Group had claimed a stake for a headquarters. The cold didn't bother them much at all, nor did it bother two of the three Horde who had come to the floes to speak to the gathered Knights that day.
They had come under a flag of parley, and the major was feeling charitable. The expedition had achieved many successes in the face of what many considered to be certain failure, so a flag of parley would be honored. Eredis was curious about what the trio had to say.
The Doctor and the Dark Ranger were well known to Eredis as figureheads within the Horde's Combat Operations division. Yulenia and Rasomil flanked the third, an orc which Eredis had heard much of, and whose actions made him none but a steadfast opponent in everything the Knights did.
Choosing an ice floe away form the Keep itself where the chill winds bit and caused icicles to form on the armor of the various corpses in attendance, Urgas made a heartfelt (and chattering) plea - not for leniency in the face of a tactically superior foe, nor for one of cessation of hostilities. His plea was one for amnesty - for the Knights.
Uttering justifications for the Knights to turn and join the Horde that Sylvanas would later echo during the Cataclysm, Urgas touched on the Alliance's lack of support for those dead who still served the Lion of Stormwind, the hatred that the Alliance members felt for the former Scourge, and the understanding that they would indeed find a home within Thrall's Horde.
Curious, Eredis listened to the entire plea, and offered one word in response: No.
Entry #24: Looking Ahead
Bakeries tended to change little with the times. Certainly, more powerful and more efficient ovens could be installed, new recipes could be experimented upon and tinkered with to the delight or dismay of patrons, and prices could rise and fall.
In the end, however, a bakery sold tasty goods at a price that patrons could afford in order to assuage their cravings.
Canal Street had branched out in the aftermath of several wars, a Cataclysm, and the nonsense in Pandaria. After Velen's 'Unstoppable Army of the Light' made its debut and achieved its costly victory, Eredis found he had nothing but time on his hands while the Ebon Blade withdrew more and more of its people to stand the Long Vigil in the frozen north.
Where there was a single bakery in Stormwind (and a delivery service that had to be seen to be believed), there were now several: Stormwind, Lordaeron, Ratchet, Dalaran and Shattrath. Each had an 'executive baker' he had trained over the years - a never-ending cavalcade of ne'er-do-wells, young pups looking to make a living, or retired soldiers looking to do something quieter with their time. Each knew how to make all the recipes that the people loved, and had specialities that were true to the locations they served. Ratchet had succulent meat pies that caused a riot that nearly capsized a ship at the dock when they ran out, Lordaeron's Undercity location was known worldwide for its pumpkin gourd soup, and Dalaran's 'Professor Macgillycuddy's Magical Moonwell Brew' confounded the mages with its carbonated nature.
Eredis still talked with all of the people who ran his bakeries, and kept in touch with the Knights that still wandered Azeroth and Draenor instead of standing the Long Vigil or simply dying off. When the world of war had come to a close, there was little reason for a Death Knight to remain with the living. The dead should stay with their own kind at times, though to let a blade rust in the mud is a travesty.
And so Eredis remained in the original Canal Street Bakery, known for its cupcakes, and kept the knowledge alive that even the dead could still be of use, and even the dead could make something wonderful.
((After a lengthy drive, Val's exhausted and I'm feeling creative. Go figure! She'll have hers up tomorrow, likely, while I squee over a new car stereo from Crutchfield. lolpackingwut))
Entry #25: Succulence
"The secret is in the succulence."
Eredis pulled a hefty cast-iron pan away from the stovetop. It was filled with a mouth-watering array of chopped vegetables, finely-sliced strips of some sort of meat (by the smell, it may well have been warp chaser), and a bevy of spices and additives that were known as 'the Colonel's Secret Recipe.'
(That wasn't well known, as other restaraunteurs may have taken offense and lodged a complaint with King Wrynn. He was a Brigadier now anyway, so it wasn't as dangerous.)
The baker began adding the concoction to rounds of flat dough placed in small pie pans, cutting vents into the pietops and readying them with a dash of melted butter to go into the oven. A rather fat noblewoman was watching him do this, her beady eyes on the small parchment next to the Knight's left arm. The text atop could barely be made out, and suggested something about said secret recipe.
The noblewoman herself had a box of cupcakes next to her, and was no longer loudly proclaiming difficulties for the Confectioner's Union Local. Instead, she had huffed, and puffed (and sat to take a few deep breaths), and demanded a private audience with the Executive of the Canal Street Bakery. There would be answers, she demanded.
Eredis had acceded to her whims, on one condition: That she would come in the early hours while he prepared the day's menu. There, all questions would be answered.
To hear the truth as she told it, she only had two: Why did this bakery bring in so many golds, and how could she get some of those golds into her pocket?
Eredis was only willing to answer the first, though he did ply her with another tray of cupcakes that had just come out of the oven when she had arrived, alone - as agreed - and promptly began feeding her sweet tooth.
"The flavor has to be locked in," Eredis continued while the tray of cupcakes continued to dwindle. He pretended not to notice, but there as a minute nod every time he saw the confections in their no-holds-barred Last Cake Standing.
"Succulence," he repeated. "Do you know what that means?"
Ignoring any reaction from the noblewoman (who was looking a touch drowsy), he continued. "Juicy. Tasty. Filled with flavor. That is why the Canal Street Bakery excels at what it does, Your Grace. We endeavour to ensure every bite is bursting with flavor, and that is why our customers are so loyal."
He continued to prepare his pies, ignoring the clatter of the tray as it landed on the floor. "And when the nobility decides they should take what is rightfully someone else's, the Canal Street Bakery has a quiet agreement with the other businesses in the area. It helps to have the contacts I do, Your Grace."
Eredis looked over, to see the noblewoman near unconscious, her mouth caked with frosting.
"And when the source of such trouble is so addicted to succulence that she gorges herself on cupcakes planted by an egregious impostor, who had laced the frosting with Dreamfoil, something the Canal Street Bakery would never do, well, one would wonder why she tried to eat all that evidence. Fortunately, I have here a writ signed by your hand that provides the answer, Your Grace."
Eredis permitted himself a small smile as the woman began to burble. Her incoherence had a cetain...succulence to it.
"The investigation into your holdings will not be pleasant, Your Grace, but...Who would believe a mere baker would be capable of such work? Have a most pleasant evening, Your Grace."
After the burbling turned to snores, he set the pies in the oven, and summoned the urchins to ensure the noblewoman made it home safely...if not considerably lighter of purse.
Entry #26: Beauty
The dead woman was furious, and Exarch Ortuuze found it captivating.
There was something to the undead Draenei that he found so alive, Perhaps it was the angry flick to the sway of her tail, the way the Saronite plates in her gloves creaked when she clenched her fists, or the subtle burr in her voice as the Common caught on the scar across her throat.
When she spoke Draenei, it was pure and unaccented - what one would expect from millenia aboard a ship of the Nether. When she spoke the local tongue, it was thick, angry, and rough - but alive. How could a woman so dead feel so alive?
Ortuuze was not certain, but he knew this woman in life and again in death, and even now as she raged at him in two languages for his naturally upbeat demeanor, he could barely tell where life ended and death began.
It was seamless. Her skin was smooth as the finest of silks, and as cool as the freshest Nagrand springs. Her rage burned hot, bubbled as magma boiling to her eyes and mouth before bursting forth with the fury of the choicest, most considered curses as to his lineage and training. Her arms trembled with barely-contained fury, each sinew taut like a cable ready to snap, and send her axe flying forward into his skull.
But even then, there was control. Buried behind the life in her eyes, there was that cool blue spark of control. The Exarch knew his death would not be found that day, and the Naaru had other plans for him - and for her. Even as her heart ceased beating, they in their myriad of ways had found purpose to keep her moving, thinking, and being.
To stay alive, even when life had fled. And she was beautiful for it.
Ortuuze knew better than to say such, however. The Naaru may have a plan for everyone, but even they cannot save an Exarch who had stepped too far over his bounds. If it wasn't the vision of beautiful fury before him, it would be another who would be just as furious at his dalliances with the past, and was far less cautious with her thunderbolts.
Entry #27: Beggars and Thieves
"'Scuse me sir, might you spare a moment for a homeless man?"
Boyd froze. A man was asking for his time. That was a code. Wasn't it?
Thieves, naturally, had lots of codes. Cants, ciphers, drops, passes, cons, flukes, runs, trips, angles and even offers. Was-was this an offer? One he couldn't refuse?
"I 'AVEN'T DONE NUFFIN!" he cried, whirling on the-wait, what was this?
He was clearly a homeless man! He wore no shirt! He wore tattered pants! No shoes! He stank of a life in the sewers and alleyways of Stormwind City, of dried blood from fighting off other hobos for a fish, and of fish from eating a fish he'd fought off other hobos to devour!
His tradecraft was amazing! What was his angle? (Thieves had angles.)
The 'homeless' man looked confused. Or was it an act? Boyd was sure it was an act. "I was just wonderin' if-"
Boyd interrupted. "Wot's your angle? Fancy a dip? Bob and weave? Hair of the were? Who's your marker? Your boss? Are you the boss? Wot's the code? Is your code the code?"
"Sir, I ain't sure wha-"
"You with the Dock Street Doxies?"
"BAKERMEN? IS THAT IT?!"
"I jus' want a cheese!"
That brought Boyd up short. He had an idea of most of the criminal groups in Stormwind (having run afoul of nearly all of them in the past month for some reason or another) and 'wanting a cheese' was the first cant he hadn't heard of.
"A cheese?" Boyd asked.
"Yessir, heard you muttering about cheese and the Watch earlier."
He was a buyer's rep! Amazing! Well, two could play coy.
"Yessss," Boyd drawled as he reached into his pocket. "I have a...cheese right here."
The man looked hopeful as Boyd dumped something small, heavy, and likely of questionable value into the man's hand. Boyd, to his credit, beamed.
"You run on and tell your boss that Arthur Pilkington's got all the cheese in Stormwind," he said, turning on a foot and continuing on his way. Behind him, the homeless man looked at the shiny brass pocketwatch that the odd Gilnean had dropped in his hand and ambled off towards Trias' place to see if he could swap it for a wedge of Swiss.