The chefs all bowed and hurriedly returned to their workstations while the head chef, a slim woman with ginger hair and a freckled face, approached Daz and curtseyed politely. "Greetings, Your Grace. I am the head chef, as made clear by my hat," she said as she smiled and scratched her neck a bit shyly. "It's an honour to meet you and cook for you and your people."
"What's your name?" Daz asked in a friendly tone.
"Em... Head Chef is fine," the woman replied. She was slightly shocked. She hadn't been serving as the keep's cook for that long, but she had met a few lords before. Daz was the first to ask for her name.
The young Reaper held his chin for a bit and thought about what answer would be the most appropriate one right now to increase Harriot's impression of him. Nodding his head lightly, Daz said, "Okay. If you're comfortable with that. Would you mind making breakfast for me? I'm a little bit hungry."
"Sure!" The Head Chef wore an excited smile. "What would you like? Something light? Something heavy? A mix? Maybe just a drink? I can even make little cubes that are full of flavour and nutrients. Fancy things from some space planet."
"Something heavy. I could stand to gain some weight," Daz responded with a slight smile.
"Perfect!" The Head Chef seemed to be full of energy as she put her palms together and grinned. "Something that your world is familiar with... Hmm... How about a 'Full English'? It should be easy enough to make at the five-star level."
"Why not?" Daz laughed a little bit. 'She's amusing. Much better than Will or Crosius.'
Now with the chefs' attention diverted to making breakfast for their lord, Daz was free to talk to Harriot who had been patiently waiting with a somewhat scared expression on her face.
Daz occupied the stool next to the woman who was easily a dozen years older than himself and he sighed. "You don't need to be so terrified of me, you know? Yes, we didn't meet in... perfect conditions, but I care for you just as much as I do for any of my other citizens, so please, put a little bit of faith into the idea that I won't just randomly off you, okay?"
Harriot's false smile cracked. "Well... You did technically kidnap me, and you also threatened to kill me..."
Daz held his face in his palm. "Empty threats that were made by a stupider, less mature me."
"But it was only a few days ago..." Harriot wasn't convinced. In fact, she was startled with herself for actually speaking honestly to Daz right now. Not that it would have mattered since Daz would have been able to tell if she was lying or not just from her body language. His racial ability, Eyes of Truth, wasn't needed for such an honest person like Harriot.
Daz chuckled. "People can change in a second. A single powerful event is all it takes to flip a person's personality. Look at Ellie. Ah, you might not know her, but she's one of the fighters. Her father and twin sister both died to the Frost Phoenix. You were at the funeral, right?"
"I-I was," Harriot responded as she shovelled another spoonful of tart into her mouth.
"Well, she was very... what's the right term... Peaceful? Maybe that's wrong, but anyway, she's like a different person now. Filled with hate and a desire for revenge over the system." Daz shook his head. "I'm not explaining this very well, am I?"
For the first time in their few short interactions, Harriot giggled softly. "No. No, you're not. But I think I understand. Did something like that happen to you as well?"
"Thankfully, no. My reason for changing is somewhat different, and it's not entirely unrelated to you, in fact," Daz said somewhat mysteriously on purpose to gauge the woman's response.
"Me?" Harriot looked confused. "It can't be. We've only spoken properly twice before including now. Ah! Not that I-I've been av-avoiding you or any-anything!"
It was at the moment, that the head chef thought that she should interrupt. Putting a large platter filled with lots of food that Daz recognised as well as some that he didn't in front of him, the red-headed woman smiled proudly.
Of course, the head chef took it upon herself to fully explain the overwhelmingly-sized meal. "Your Grace, breakfast, is served. First, to explain the meats. We have your obvious back-bacon rashers, special Ayrshire middle-bacon, and your usual link sausages, all of which have been pan-fried with seasoned, luxurious butter."
Daz found the smell of the food to be absolutely enthralling. He wasn't sure how they'd cooked so much food so quickly, but he appreciated nonetheless.
He followed the head chef's finger as she pointed at a big clump of grey stuff that honestly seemed quite unappealing at first glance. "I chose to go with the Scottish variant, Your Grace. It's a bit more exotic in my opinion. This here is haggis. There is a fairly common misconception from my understanding about this food, Your Grace."
"And that would be?" the young reaper asked.
"Well, from what the system's told me, a lot of your fellow Earthians seems to think that haggis is an animal of its own. It's commonly joked about as being akin to a three-legged rabbit of some sort. Anyway, it's actually a pudding containing a bunch of a single sheep's organs. They're minced with onion, oatmeal, fat, spices, and a bit of salt. I added in my own special stock, and even cooked it in the sheep's own stomach, as is done in traditional. Supposedly it was getting more and more common to use artificial casing instead. What an offence to cooking." Head Chef's face contorted upon thinking about it.
Harriot's expression paled. "She-Sheep's organs...?"
Daz had no issue with the grotesque nature of the food. Considering his childhood as a thief and a scrounger, it mattered little where his food came from so long as it was delicious, and from the smell and general looks of everything, he was about ready to dig in.
"I know what all of this is," he said as he pointed to the tomatoes, mushrooms, the eggs, the buttered toast and the baked beans before his finger stopped at the two circular wedges of meat, one white and one black, then what looked like a square sausage, and lastly, some sort of bread that smelled oddly of potatoes. "What's all this?"
"Ah, the puddings - the circular things - Your Grace, are white pudding and black pudding. Black pudding is a bit notorious, but it is equally delicious. I can guarantee that. White pudding is an almost sweet delicacy. Both of these are made up of... somewhat undesirable parts, but I have a feeling that you don't mind that?" The head chef asked with a happy smile on her face. It was nice to meet someone who didn't seem afraid to eat something just because if its origin. In the end, all that mattered was the taste and the texture when it came to food. In her opinion, that was true, at least.
"Nah. I've lived off of nothing but bread and biscuits before, so I won't turn my nose up at food if it's edible, let alone delicious," Daz replied a bit dismissively.
The head chef nodded vigorously. "I can completely understand, Your Grace. Anyway, onto the other two items of interest. This is what's known as a lorne sausage in Scotland. Essentially, it's just a flat square sausage, but I've added some special herbs from another planet to make it taste even more distinct than normal from your regular link sausages."
Moving on to the final bit of food that Daz was unfamiliar with, the head chef said, "These are tattie scones, or more commonly, potato scones. To simplify it, Your Grace, it's just mashed potatoes mixed with flour. I don't want to bore you with the details, but as with all of my food, I can guarantee the flavour."
"Great. I kinda wanna ask about the calories, but I doubt I'll suddenly get a heart attack from eating all of this since I'm an Archreaper, now will I?" Daz joked lightly.
"Of course not, Your Grace. I do have to ask though, what drink would you like? I wasn't sure when I was preparing the food and I had forgotten to bring it up beforehand." The red-headed woman scratched her neck once again. A habit of hers when she was embarrassed, it would seem. She and Crusher shared that same trait, Daz thought.
He picked up his fork and knife which were sitting on a napkin a secondary chef had brought him before he answered, "Just some coffee, please. Black."
"Right away, Your Grace." The head chef grinned before she spun around and got to work on brewing some coffee for her lord.
Daz enjoyed the rich savoury flavour of one of the tattie scones and closed his eyes in appreciation. It was only after he had finished two scones, a lorne sausage, two link sausages, a single fried egg and the fried tomatoes that he finally spoke to the silent Harriot once more.
"I saw it on your status. 'An ordinary office worker who has a tendency to find herself in unfortunate situations. She has been cursed by an esper of Earth to always be unlucky.' That's what it said. I myself am an esper apparently, and my powers are the reason for my sudden change in personality, or more, an awakening of my emotions via those powers unsealing," Daz explained.
Harriot didn't reply and just sat there for some time. When she finally spoke, Daz was almost finished with his gargantuan meal and coffee. It was a wonder where he had put all of the food, to be honest. "Maybe my brother...?"
Daz raised an eyebrow. "You did mention him in our talk a few days ago, but you didn't elaborate. No more than saying that he disowned you, at least."
Harriot smiled wryly. "I honestly find it hard to believe you, but I can see descriptions of people's statuses too, and I don't know why you would lie to me. It also makes some sense if I think that it was an esper power. Those are like superpowers, right?"
"Something like that, yes." Daz nodded his head. 'So she can see descriptions too? I am a bit curious about what my status description says. I never did ask Robert when I let him see my status.'
"Well, my brother, he was always the luckiest person around. Like, incredibly lucky," Harriot said with a bit of a sad look on her face.
"How lucky, exactly? And how do you think that relates to your curse?" Daz couldn't help but ask.
"Well, he won the lottery," Harriot responded.
Daz laughed very lightly. "People win the lottery all over the world-"
"He won seven times in a row." Daz was left speechless by the words that interrupted his. Harriot's expression got even darker. "It gets worse. I never really thought much of it, but it makes sense now. Everyone, literally everyone, that he ever met, ran into bad coincidence after bad coincidence. I'm starting to think that this was his esper power, assuming what you said is right."
"What? Some sort of ability to drain people's luck and give it to himself?" Daz was mildly confused. 'If that's the case, then shouldn't he be the champion of the Goddess of Luck? She's never admitted it, but isn't Ellie that champion? Unless this brother of Harriot's is actually the champion of the god above the Goddess of Luck. After all, the Goddess of Luck is a lesser god, right?'
He tapped his fingers against the table a few times. 'Doesn't that also mean that Harriot is an esper? No. She'd have awakened her power by now if she had one. Was she born with a bloodline but no power, or was she adopted? Maybe her brother was adopted? So many questions...'
Harriot shook her head gently and adjusted her glasses. "I don't know. I'm just telling you what I do know. This could all be nonsense, but considering the state that the world's now in, it's not so hard to believe anymore."
"I see." Daz leaned back in his chair and thought for a moment before he came to decision. "I'm glad you opened up a bit to me. I was scared you'd be terrified of me forever."
Harriot chuckled. "Well, watching you eat so much food and be so nice to the head chef painted you in a slightly different light than watching your clone snap Joseph's neck and you cutting a tank in two with a shovel did."
"I guess that's true." Daz laughed. "I was wondering if I could ask you a favour?"
Harriot looked a little bit hesitant, but she agreed nonetheless. "Okay. What do you need, Lord?"
"Could you read me my status description, please? I'm curious about what it says," Daz requested.
Support "Shovels In Spades"
- The Scottish Slothy Sloth
Bio: Hey there, nice to see you. I'm just an ordinary man who enjoys writing, which is great since it's my full-time job now thanks to the support from you guys over on Patreon! I hope you enjoy my novels if you read them, and if not, I hope you enjoy looking at my profile.