Unfortunately my friend didn’t have the chance to read over this one. But I wanted to post a story. So, this is the unedited version. If he does get time to look over it, I’ll replace it.
This story is a part of Aldrich Stories. You can find the other stories here.
With Darts still on his shoulder Oak stood up. He was heading to the kitchen for some tea before heading back home.
Darts seemed to want to come along from how he happily clung. Oak couldn’t tell if the noises the creature was making was just due to the slight bump of the young man’s walk or if it was humming a song he didn’t know.
Oak noticed the kitchen light was on. Which was curious.
Heading inside the room Oak was shocked to see Baker in the kitchen. The young man knew Baker was piping something onto a tray. But his knowledge of kitchen… stuff wasn’t much more than that. There was only so much a couple of home etc class in school can teach you.
“Hello Benjamin.” The man said as he worked. “Hollow could you check on the ganache?”
The creature’s head popped up from behind the counter and it moved over to the stove.
Baker stopped his work on the tray which now that Oak was looking at it revealed to be white chocolate piped to look something like berries.
“Why am I up at-“ Baker glanced at the clock “-2 am baking?”
“Yes?” It didn’t get past Oak that the man seemed to be amused. But at the same time, he looked tired.
The type of tired bed rest wouldn’t fix.
“Because I’ve been working on this idea for a black forest gateau, that I’ve been meaning to try.” The man let out a sigh. “I have a feeling, I’ll be seeing an old friend soon and this was always their favourite cake so… Thought I should start doing some trials and seeing what works.”
Ganache ready! Hollow called, turning off the heat. Baker smiled.
“Do you want to put it on?” Excited the creature grabbed it with a shadowy appendage and took the pan to the twelve squares. They sat on a rack above a pan. Baker noticing Oak’s confusion, explained. “You have to pour the ganache on the cakes. The tray is there to avoid mess.”
“The white stuff coating them?”
“Cream. Black forest gateau’s are a layered cake. Chocolate cake with cream and berries inside. I needed to coat the cakes with something to make sure the ganache looks neat. So I thought cream would be best.” With care Hollow coated the cakes. “I’m trying a mixed berry compote inside too, thought with this size fresh berries might not be the best… Not sure if there will be too many flavours though… hmmm.”
With that Baker went back to the white chocolate berries. He added darker chocolate to the shapes to create the visual effects like the seeds on the outside of a strawberry.
Oak watched a little while before he spoke again.
“You’re pretty at home with this.” The man just laughed.
“Yes, it surprises everyone. Before the Black War I was an apprentice at a very prestigious bakery in Truestin.” Truestin was the capital of one of the smaller islands that was once a part of the Isles of Prosperity.
“So, your last name suited you well?”
The military advisor gave Oak a strange look before replying.
“On the Isles of Prosperity. One’s last name is their occupation. My father’s last name was Doctor my mother’s Liberian. Children generally have the more ‘prestigious’ sounding name until their first job.”
“Why?” Oak asked. “I mean wouldn’t that just get confusing?” Baker had stopped and was now looking at Hollow’s work.
“Good job.” He told the creature with a pat. “Why do you think we call everyone by their first name? The tradition is a left over from when our culture was very divided and class based. Now… Well.” It was rare for Baker to be at a loss for words.
It took a moment for Oak to realise why. Baker was thinking about the Black War. About how the Isles of Prosperity payed the price for Daiz’s refusal to give into the Raven’s Kin.
The only known survivors were Moey Farmer and Baker himself.
“Anyway. It’s a way of saying I see you as a person and not as your job. Granted, both Moey and I tend to not perfectly adhere to those customs as she still uses Famer and I still use Baker.”
Hollow had moved on to the dishes now. Throwing soap around like a child would. Baker competed the image by looking like a parent, happy but exasperated.
“Because you don’t really want to be involved with the military.” Oak said. Baker’s expression instantly changed. He was watching Oak now. A quiet look, different from the narrowed eyes he had once given the boy. But this did not stop Oak feeling like he was a few centimetres tall under that gaze. “You really just want to be a baker.” He finished quietly.
Baker turned away with a soft “heh”.
“You are very good at readying people.” He said, before he turned to Oak. “But you lack the skills to use that insight.”
“What do you mean?”
“Darts might enjoy your company but what about Arthur? You may have been coming from a place of understanding with that comment about how obvious he was being-”
The cakes having cooled somewhat, Baker started preparing the chocolate berries. He peeled them off the sheet of transparent plastic they sat on as he continued talking. “-However, did you think it would help him? I don’t think it was spite. Bluntly I don’t think you are capable of that. I think you just spoke your observation out loud -as you just did- and it hit the mark -as it did again-.”
The man then got to work removing the cakes from the rack and putting them on a square plate. Each one was perfectly distanced from each other.
“You think I was rude?” Oak had heard this before.
“Yes. But that isn’t the point. I think your words would be more potent if you learnt to use them. After all, now your work relationship with Arthur is off to a rocky start.” Baker checked the cakes before turning back to Oak. “Words are a mighty weapon. One I have had to regularly employ, so I know it’s power. But as a weapon it is very much a double-edged sword.”
The man began to put little dots of dark chocolate on the cakes and placed a single berry on each in the left corner.
“Done.” He said. “Would you like one? Perhaps take a few home to your sister?”
Oak blinked he hadn’t been thinking about getting back home tonight. But Amethyst should have finished her shift by now. Baker had already packed a few in a take away box.
However, Oak noticed he put a single one in a separate box.
A bitter sweet smile came across Baker’s face.
“It’s for someone.” He gently pushed the box over to Hollow the creature gently (as if it was a precious treasure) took the box and disappeared into a shadow.
Oak noticed all the shadows in the room were correct. Hollow it seemed was off making a delivery.
“I’m sure your friend will enjoy it.” Oak said not enjoying the silence himself.
Baker gave a long sigh.
“I’d prefer seeing h-their face as they take a bite.” With another sigh, he covered the rest of the cakes and pushed the larger box over to Oak.
“Good night Benjamin. See you in the morning.”
And with that the man was gone.