This is the third short story in this collection. These are fun little peeks into the background of Mystery of the Golden Shells, which comes out on August 15th. If you missed the first two stories, you can find them here: The Scribe and the Rug and The Dresser and the Color. (You don’t have to read the other stories to understand this one, but it does help on some of the details.)
Otherwise, let’s jump into the next peek 🙂
The Shellfish and the Cook – A Mystery of the Golden Shells Story
Stay open-minded, Marissa. They’re trying.
The pep talk did not make the plate of noodles and sauce in front of her look any more appetizing. Since the Capital was a coastal city, the main staple happened to be fish. Marissa had thought she liked fish until moving here but half the time they set a plate in front of her, she couldn’t even tell what kind of fish she was eating.
Like this plate. The noodles were long and thin. No problem there. They were just noodles. But the white sauce harbored small chunks of pink fish peeking out that looked almost raw. And the smell. There was a sharp stink to the steaming plate.
But she’d come down to the kitchens midday and had asked for a snack outside of the cook’s regular schedule. They’d been kind enough to provide a plate.
The young, white haired cook shot an inquisitive smile over her shoulder from where she stood stirring the stew for the evening meal. She was probably wondering if her queen approved of her snack.
Her queen hadn’t even tasted it yet and it’d been five minutes according to the water clock over the mantle.
Just try it.
She clutched her fork and twirled the noodles onto the tines, being sure to skewer a few of the suspicious fish pieces on the end before taking the bite.
It was…surprisingly good.
The sauce coated her tongue, leaving a mixture of garlic and butter flavor behind after she swallowed. There was something else too but she couldn’t place it as she took another bite.
The noodles tried to stick in her throat but she managed to get them down.
It was on the third bite that she realized her skin was starting to burn. It started around her lips and she brought a hand up to her mouth to find large lumps.
“Your Majesty!” someone exclaimed.
She looked up and blinked, finding the skin around her eyes beginning to infringe on her sight like when she’d hit her cheekbone as a child and the swelling slowly covered half her eye.
Did I just eat shellfish? She wondered. Her father was allergic, but she’d never tried shellfish herself to find out if she shared the allergy.
“Shafsh,” she slurred, trying to say something to Robert, Ashwin’s steward, as he appeared beside her.
“Call for the physician!” he shouted. “Who gave her this?”
Marissa focused in on the white-haired cook as the steward asked. Unable to speak, she simply pointed and the girl gasped.
Robert threw his cloak around Marissa’s shoulders and ushered her out of the kitchens. “Bring the girl for questioning,” he hollered over his shoulder.
“Am I under arrest?” The girl sounded scared and Marissa wanted to reassure her.
“That’ll be up to the King,” Robert answered.
Ashwin! Marissa forgot about the cook as she realized how she must look. She didn’t follow the rest of the cook’s words as all she could think was, please don’t let Ashwin see me like this.
Thank you for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed the story! We’ll return next week with the fourth story in this collection.
Until then, blessings,
P.S. Pre-orders for Mystery of the Golden Shells will open on August 1st.