a knightly feast

chapter 1, part 1

“Well,” the old witch said with a sly smile, “eat up!”

“Why,” Maya asked slowly, surveying the veritable feast in front of her, “are you doing this for us?” The captive mage drummed her fingers on the rough-hewn wooden table, hoping that her voice conveyed more measured cunning than anxiety. Based on the way Greldedor’s grin widened, she somehow doubted it.

“My dear, I provide nothing but the best for my houseguests. I can’t starve you, now, can I?”

From beside her, Maya heard Sylvia, the knight who had been assigned as her protection on this quest, shift in her chair. She spoke up cautiously, “I’m not complaining, milady, but it’s a little odd that you’re treating us to a feast, given that we’re your prisoners.”

Greldedor put her elbow on one of the few bare spots on the table and placed her head in the palm of her hand, looking Sylvia up and down. “Well, let’s think of it as less of a gift and more of an ultimatum, them.”

Maya snorted. “An ultimatum?”

“Yes, my dear,” Greldedor replied. “I expect you and your well-muscled companion here to eat everything that’s put before you… or I’ll let Brightscales take a bite out of you.”

Maya saw Sylvia’s head turn involuntarily to the window, where the eye of the enormous dragon that slept curled around the witch’s tower could be seen looking in on the dinner party. Maya swallowed drily.

“You don’t really need to threaten me, milady,” Sylvia said; Maya didn’t need to look at her to know that she was grinning. “I love to eat as much as the next underfed knight in the queen’s employ.” Without any further comment, she reached a hand across the table to grab a hunk of bread and begin serving herself from the large pot of stew.

Maya snapped her head toward her companion. “Sylvia!”

Sylvia chewed the mouthful of bread she’d somehow already stuffed her face with and swallowed. “What?”

“It could be poisoned! Don’t just start digging in without asking more questions first – you don’t know what she’s planning!”

“I know,” Sylvia said in a measured tone, “that I can either die because I’ve been eaten by the dragon, or risk that there might be something off with the food.” She paused, and lowered her voice before continuing, “Maya, if Greldedor wants us dead, we’re dead. As long as she has my sword and my armor and your staff, we don’t have much we can do other than go along with what she wants.”

Maya frowned and was about to answer when Greldedor broke in. “I’d eat up, you two, before it gets cold… or before my dragon gets hungry.”

Sylvia looked at Maya for a moment before her face softened and she stood up to serve her some bread and stew. Maya accepted the bowl without changing her expression.

Quietly, she stirred the food with her spoon, not eating any, and trying not to acknowledge the wonderful aromas rising up from the table: freshly-baked bread, thinly-sliced meats, fruit preserves, and potatoes; the hearty stew, a large roasted river fish, a platter of beautiful cheese. Off to the side was a medium-sized cake decorated with berries, which Maya could only assume was for dessert.

She knew that the two of them hadn’t eaten this well since the start of their quest three weeks ago. In fact, Maya doubted that Sylvia, a lowly guard hastily knighted for this quest, had ever eaten this well, period, and the times when Maya herself had been allowed to sit in on royal feasts at the castle were few and far between.

Under any other circumstances, she would have been ecstatic to have this spread before her. As it was, however, her suspicion and her misery at having been captured so stupidly far outweighed any kind of appetite she may have had. Even seeing Greldedor serve herself some fish and begin taking small, even bites wasn’t enough to quiet her fears.

Sylvia, however, clearly had no such compunctions. She had tucked her thick red hair behind her ears and was now, Maya noticed, deeply absorbed in her meal. She had already destroyed her first bowl of stew and the hunk of bread, and was now layering the sliced meats and cheeses atop another piece, which she immediately began taking huge bites out of.

Maya watched with a kind of fascination as Sylvia moved onto the fish, serving herself roughly half of what was on the platter – probably leaving the rest for Maya. She rolled a few of the small potatoes onto her plate as well, and began eating the two together, each bite of fish speared with a chunk of potato.

Maya asked the witch, “Where did you get all this food out here? I didn’t see any kind of a garden outside the tower. Is there a village nearby?”

Greldedor chuckled. “Oh, no, my dear, this is all magic. Do you think that I have time to both cook and plot the single-handed overthrow of that mad authoritarian you call Queen? No, I manage it all with spells. I can have whatever food I like out here whenever I like.”

Maya let out a little huff. “I can see.” Greldedor wasn’t the largest person that Maya had ever seen, but she was certainly much better fed than the average subject in the kingdom. Her mage’s robe, rather than modestly covering her figure, was instead cut (or, rather, conjured – if she couldn’t be bothered to cook, Maya doubted that the witch could be bothered to sew) in such a way that it clung in a most unseemly fashion, leaving precious few of her curves to the imagination. If Maya weren’t so annoyed with the woman, she’d be embarrassed for her. What bad taste!

Greldedor’s smug smile wavered. “You ought to eat up, child. Your friend is doing all the hard work for you, and I do expect these plates to be clean.”

“I’m no child,” Maya muttered mutinously. “I’m twenty-four.”

“Eat,” the witch commanded.

Maya reluctantly brought a spoonful of the stew up to her mouth. Greldedor was right – it had gotten cold, but it was still delicious: rich and meaty with chunks of vegetable suspended in it. The flavor coated her mouth, prompting her to salivate. Her stomach growled loudly. Greldedor smirked.

Maya eyed the table. If Greldedor was serious about killing them if they didn’t eat everything, she was actually a little worried. It wasn’t a truly enormous amount of food, she supposed, but it was certainly much more than a meal for three people.

Greldedor had helped herself to a good-sized serving and seemed to be content with watching what the two younger women decided to do. Sylvia had slowed down by now and no longer seemed to be eating solely out of appetite but was rather approaching the feast methodically now, trying to clear half of everything on the table. Maya sat before her bowl of stew.

Slowly, she ate, letting herself savor it, trying to ignore the way her brain screamed at her to feast, to stuff herself to the gills as compensation for the weeks of travel. The bowl empty, she used her piece of bread to mop up the remaining gravy, ate it, and then pushed the bowl away.

Sylvia looked up from the cheese-and-fruit-preserve monstrosity that she was eating. “What next?” She began to stand up to serve Maya something else.

“I’m done.”

“What?”

“I’m done,” Maya repeated. “I’m full. I’m not eating anymore.”

That was a bald-faced lie – she was aching to have more of everything before her and she knew it, but she wasn’t going to give in to Greldedor that easily.

The witch laughed. “Alright, lady knight, I suppose it’s up to you now.”

Sylvia looked helplessly from Greldedor to Maya to the food still on the table and back to Maya. “Come on,” she said in a tone that was near-pleading.

Maya thought about everything that Sylvia had already put away and glanced down at the guard’s belly. She could see that in spite of its usual tone it had become swollen and rounded from the weight of all the food packed tight inside it. She must already be terribly uncomfortable, but…

“No.”

Sylvia let out a breath. “Why not? It’s just food.”

Maya looked at her imperiously. “No! I am a member of the royal court and a mage of the school of Alzeanath. I will not be told what to do by my own guard.”

Sylvia’s face slackened, surprised.

Greldedor chuckled. “Should I call my dragon now, lady knight, or are you still planning to try?”

Guiltily, Maya watched as Sylvia surveyed the table. It wouldn’t be an insurmountable quantity for a hungry person, but Maya knew that Sylvia was already stuffed. There was still a small portion of fish left, another large portion of stew, half the loaf of bread, eight thumb-sized potatoes, a few slices of meat, and a fist-sized piece of cheese.

With resolve, Sylvia pulled the pot of stew over to herself. She took the platter of potatoes and dumped them into the pot, mixed it around to combine the two dishes and then began eating out of it directly at almost the same pace she had started out. She glared at Greldedor as she chewed and swallowed each bite.

Finishing that with astonishing speed, she pushed it away and grabbed the cheese, which she shoved directly into her mouth, taking huge bites out of it and chewing it slowly. She repeated the process with the remainder of the fish. Maya heard the other woman’s stomach let out a distressed gurgle, but she continued on, her pace slowing but never stopping.

Sylvia took the loaf of bread and tore it into chunks, shoving them into her mouth with the last slices and scraps of meat. After a time that seemed to never end, she took the remainder of the bread and used it to sop up the gravy and juices that had collected on her plate. She popped the dripping morsel into her mouth and chewed it noisily, making direct eye-contact with Greldedor all the while.

“Done,” Sylvia choked out.

“Very nice,” Greldedor said, “but I
9 chapters, created 3 years , updated 3 years
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Comments

Dragorat 3 years
Very nicely done!
Akwolfgrl13 3 years
This was wonderful!!!!
Akwolfgrl13 3 years
Thire so cute!
Akwolfgrl13 3 years
Facanting