A deep, savory smell wafted through the air, rousing Esper from her slumber inside of the cocoon that she had created in the depths of the large bag. Slowly her eyes opened, as she became somewhat more and more aware of her aching body that was returning to wakefulness. Shifting the masks beneath her away, the girl raised her arm and rubbed her eyes. Gazing upwards she lifted a hand and opened the bag and saw that it was still dark outside. Pulling the fabric down, Esper rose to her feet and scrambled out of the sack, flopping out and onto the ground like a worm in the rain.

The grass beneath her was dewy and cool and it felt refreshing to lay on top of, even if it was with her face planted down into it. After a moment though, she rose up and stretched, rising to the tips of her toes. Turning to the side, Esper saw the tall man. He was hunched down over a pile of rocks and wood, his hands cupped together over it with another piece of paper clenched between them. “Glimmrig,” he uttered as before and the pile set alight with a bright blue glow. Pale blue and white flames exploding from the tinder through the man's gloved fingers.

“Wow!” said Esper, already having found new excitement for the day. She ran towards the tall man and stood next to him, his hands were still held over the flames and he twirled his fingers around, darting through the flames. Espers stared. “Isn’t it hot?”

“This is Kobold's fire, child. It isn’t capable of burning flesh, only metal and stone.”

“What?” Esper watched with wide wondrous eyes at the palely dancing flames that were flickering about like ghosts in the darkness. She lowered herself closer towards it, sinking to her knees next to the tall man.

True, she felt no warmth from the flame. Curiously she raised her own hands and held them before the small, brightly burning fire, but felt nothing from it. Quickly, she swiped a hand through the blaze and still felt nothing. “Haah?!” Her mind was racing. “Wow! Wait…” She stopped herself. “If there’s no heat, then what does it do?”

“It heats metal and stone, child. Lean closer.”

“But I’m not metal or stone,” replied Esper, doing as she was asked to nonetheless. Then she felt it. A gentle warmth began to grow on her chest, as the necklace that she wore began to grow hotter fairly quickly. She leaned back and pulled it out to make sure that it was okay, it was almost hot beneath her fingers and she had to juggle it from one hand to the other, until it cooled down, quickly resuming its chilling effect on her skin. It was a strange contrast with the warm metal. The tall man turned towards her, his mask was a vivid, bright whitish-blue with a kind face and wrinkles carved into the wood. The wise man held a finger in the air.

“Kobold’s fire is excellent at heating metal and stone and even though it produces much less light than a normal fire, it transfers heat much quicker; which makes it ideal for cooking. Go to my bag and fetch the pan, girl.” Esper snapped to her feet, forgetting that she wanted to ask the man why his face was different again today and jogged over a few steps back to the bag, climbing over and bending into it and then digging through it for a moment, until she felt the coarse metal beneath her hands. The girl fell backwards with the pan in hand and returned to the wise man. “Yes, thank you,” he said.
He took the pan from her and then wiped off some mud that had gotten stuck on to it before placing it on the rocks.


Reaching to the ground beside himself, the wise man picked up a small already open jar, which sat next to a long, but thin wooden box about the size of a glass. It fit snugly in the large palm of his hand. As he raised it closer, Esper realized the powerful savory smell had come from it.

“This is a traveler's breakfast. It is a mix of tallow, ground dried berries and spices. It is more expensive than a meal in a town per serving, but is easy to carry and very nutritious. Though you will get sick of it, after you’ve eaten only it for a month.”

“What’s tallow?”


“Fat from an animal that has been boiled and made pure.”

Esper nodded, excited about every word she was hearing. Her mouth watering at the smell the waxy goo emitted. The tall man handed Esper the jar “Here, hold this for a moment.” She grasped it with both her hands, it was heavy. Looking inside she saw the content was thick and had an oily sheen to it. Chunks of what she supposed were the fruits were scattered throughout the mix of the off-white composition. A string ran around the outside of the jar, clamped beneath it was a short wooden spoon.

The wise man took the spoon, pulling it out from beneath the string and dipped it into the jar, taking a thick glob of the contents out. “It is safe to eat like this-” he began.

“Are there mushrooms in it?” interrupted the girl.

The wise man cocked his head. “No, there are no mushrooms in it.”

Esper nodded, satisfied. He repeated “It is safe to eat like this, but I find it more enjoyable if you heat it.” He held the spoon over the pan and the mixture quickly dripped off the utensil, as the now searing heat from the pan rose upward to meet it.

Once more he dipped the spoon in and laid a second globule onto the pan. Satisfied, he held the spoon over the pan on its own for a moment, shaking it to allow the excess remnants to drip off. Then he placed it back, tucking it beneath the string, pressing down on it and causing Esper to strain, to hold the jar up to meet him. The wise man took the jar back from the girl and clamped the lid back tightly on, placing it off to the side. Her eyes followed it, but then returned to him to watch as the man shook the pan, the contents melting into a thick, fragrant slurry.

Esper had never smelled anything quite like it. It was deeply aromatic and rich, the melting fats carrying a deep savoriness, which mingled with the tart sharp scents of the fruits and berries that were swimming inside the now hot, completely liquid mixture. “It doesn’t smell like porridge,” said the girl.

He looked up in the air for the moment and returned to meet her curious gaze. “I suppose it doesn’t,” he said, not quite sure why that was relevant. Taking the wooden handle of the pan, he lifted it up out of the fire and placed it on a rock next to them.

She held her stomach, as a deep painful hunger ran through her body, making itself known with a loud growl. The wise man laughed, causing Esper to recoil slightly at the man’s strange behavior. He hadn’t seemed like the type of person to laugh yesterday. The wise man grabbed the wooden box and held it out over to her. Taking his other hand he slid off the lid. Inside were several, pale yellow to lightly golden squares, each only about as thick as five or six sheets of paper, she supposed. The wise man motioned forward with the box once more and Esper reached over and took one of them out of it.

Holding it closer to her eyes, she looked at the strange, wavy texture and perforations it had. “Is this bread too?” she asked, remembering the sweet thing from the day before.

The wise man scratched his head “Well, these are called biscuits. I suppose they’re bread, in a sense…” He pondered, scratching the chin of his mask. She stared at him unsure. Sensing her confusion, he placed the box down onto the ground and took one of the biscuits out himself. He reached towards the pan and slid it through the contents, scooping some of the mixture onto it.

A wheel turned in Esper’s mind and she understood now, following his motions, she ran her biscuit through the mixture, collecting a small mound on top of it. Holding it to her mouth she blew on it and took a bite. Her eyes exploded open with delight at the rich, meaty taste. It was dense and thick with warm, hearty flavors. The texture of the little biscuits was dry and crumbly, but it gave way with a satisfyingly sharp ‘crunch’ like stepping on an autumn leaf. The dry, almost flavorless thing acted as a balance to the savory tallow and the sharply sweet berries which exploded with a tart tanginess as she bit into them.

With delight she looked up to the wise man, his hands were empty. “Ah! How did you eat that with a wooden face?”

“It is still a mask, child.”


He pushed the box towards her. “Eat your fill. We will arrive in Achtel today and there is much to do.” Esper nodded with glee, still processing the events that had brought her to such good fortune. A realization hit her of what she had neglected and she looked up to the man “Thank you for the food!” she shouted, crumbs flying from her mouth.

“You are very welcome.”

“What’s your name?”

“I am a journeyman,” he responded.

“What’s a journeyman?” she replied, following the same flow of the conversation as yesterday.

“Well you see, Oratoria, our nation, is a very large place-

“What’s a nati-” she began.

The tall man interrupted. “-A nation is the area made up of all of our towns, cities and land as well as the people who live inside of it.”

Esper nodded. “So… Neuntel and Achtel are our nation?”

The man nodded “Yes, Neuntel and Achtel. And Siebtel and all the rest of the ‘tels all the way up to Erstel, which is at the very top of the great chasm. Inside of the chasm there are nine towns. Well, eight now.”

Esper looked perplexed at the wise man. “What about outside?”

“Outside of the chasm there are many, many more. Including our capital, Adelina, the biggest city in our nation-” he raised a finger “-and where our royal majesty king Aloric resides.”

Her fascination at the subject was great, but not so great that she didn’t reach to take another one of the biscuits and dip it into the mixture, scooping up a much larger glob this time. She was silent for a while as she ate with delight. The wise man sat there quietly, waiting for her to finish. It would be unwise if she starved under his care.

Once she had stuffed the last of the second biscuit into her mouth, chewing with wide cheeks like a squirrel, he continued, knowing she couldn’t interrupt him now. What a wise man he was. “And so, as you might imagine, our nation is a very, very big place. And the king is just one man, even with the noble houses and the clergy, it’s not enough. So there are those, like myself, who travel down roads, from place to place, to make sure that all is well. To collect what is owed and to bring the word of the capital.”

Esper looked at him curiously, still chewing as he went on. “There are a handful of people who can use magic, like you for example, who can use their magic to travel quickly. But for the most part, we do the work by foot or by horse.”
Esper nodded, not sure she understood entirely, but decided to continue eating. The biscuits were small, but the combination of them and the mixture fell into her empty stomach with incredible weight.

“We also have several other duties,” said the man rising to his feet. “But that’s not important. Eat your fill, we will move on when you are finished.” He looked down at her leg, which was now adorned with a dark blue ring around its lower half; the limb swollen and bruised. “I will carry you once more today, until we reach Achtel. But do not accustom yourself to it.”
She nodded with a loud “Mm!” and took another biscuit from the box, scratching the very last of the tallow from the pan. The wise man stretched, tilting his neck from side to side, an audible crack ringing out with each tilt. Esper was eating with delight, when she realized that the man hadn’t answered her question once again. She supposed it didn’t matter though. He was weird, but nice. The prospect of seeing this new place, the town her father went to so often, filled her with glee and she wolfed down the last biscuit noticeably faster than the first two.

A note from Razzmatazz

*~+---SPECIAL THANKS---+~*

Shadowsmage, The Grey Mage, Spencer Seidel, Slime girl chapters 4 lyfes, chp2001, Shaoraka, James_is_Playing, Collin Love, SageDiu Lei Lo Mo, Lord DragonRose, MetusZerum, Pike, ItsCool, Beowulf, Yenin, Darastrix, Chymor, Sebastian Viller, Chotley Ferguson, Matthew Forlines, Lasse, Harley Shockley, Halima, Colin Clark, Anna Turner, Dontspam Meho, David G Ross, Steven Lindsay, Missus Mouse, Imran, Indigo, Stefan Mensink, James Panao O'Connor, Igors Zvaigzne, Zikarioa, Dionisio Trigo, Ingo Wiarda, Michael Maddox, S T, All-In-Vane, Autonomous Spaghetti, Alex, Nick Tinsley, Michael Lau, Mackintackin, Jose, Tzucaza, Alexis Lionel, Carlos Ramirez Guerra-librero, Jo Gucoka, Matticide FOWD, Matthew Orenstein, Popper369, Boohya, Enleed, Oliverthms, Ignatius Colotta, Christian Kenney, Andrew B, Casel002, Tomas Wood, Chris Meeker, Ivan, Scryde, Krimson Fox, Jacob Imming, Zaire Mudu, Slippery.John, Tom Meda, Zeruke, Joshua Shon, Mark Baitinger, Christie, Vikram Valame, Alex, Sonny C, Pieter, Yates!!, Kris, Benn, Victor, John J Riggan, Chris, Howard Roark, Niraada, Deane L Uptegrove, Patterson

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About the author


  • Floor 69 of the metaphorical-dungeon
  • Novice Writer

Bio: Socially awkward witches, sad hugs, dramatic adventures, spooky stuff, and comfy dungeons: My name is D.M. Rhodes, but I love to write about those things under the moniker 'Razzmatazz'. (Hopefully full-time, one day soon!) I’m a hobby occultist and, more boringly, I’m an XR expert, as well as a government-trained media and information specialist.

The main genres that I write in are litRPG-fantasy, action, adventure, romance, tragedy, horror, and slice-of-life. I seriously vibe with religious and occult overtones mixed in with super obscure story concepts. °( ~ )°

Thanks for taking an interest! Because of supportive readers like yourself, I can keep following my socially unacceptable dream! (I'm going to become the wizard-king.)

– Always open for feedback!

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