Chapter 13:

Breakfast served within a bite of sunshine

Your Heart has Meaning.

I felt a hunger within me that I could not seem to sate, and I wondered fully if it coupled alongside the constant ache of my heart.

I wanted more, and I wanted everything.

Selfishly, I was myself.

Ingredients were hard to find amidst the mass-produced foods of the undine. Amidst the quiet bustle in the early day of the Great Market, I had found a spriggan merchant who had such a thin body that it looked as if he could be snapped into two pieces by a simple wind.

He had stark-white hair, with blindingly-violet eyes that were a wonder to stare into. With the few coins I had, I had bought the product necessary for the will I would enact. He was happy to part with such a thing, for it brought him great joy to see one within the undine lands slow their bustle down for even a second.

The coins of Crelle were fantastical in their shape. They consisted of three shapes, minted in circular, triangle, and square-like fashions. The circular coin was made of bronze and copper, with a square-shaped hole in the center. It was a familiar shape to me.

The triangle-shaped coin was silver in its shade, and rounded at its edges. It had a singular triangular hole in the center.

The square-shaped coin was a stark-black, as if it had been forged well from iron. It had a singular circular hole in the center.

All of the coins within my hand had varying values, ones I had not yet conceptualised. I was more than happy to hand them away all at once, however.

The ingredients I had been seeking out were more than worth it all.

I stood then gently within Theresia’s kitchen, holding in hand a satchel that carried my own will.

A cook stove had been slotted in between the countertop against the wall of the kitchen. Coal burnt gently in its exterior, giving off a faint heat that seemed to coalesce with the warmth that sat softly in the air.

With softened hands, I slipped a slab of marbled red upon the surface of the cook stove. The meat I had bought from the man in the marketplace had been chilled slightly, beads of moisture dripping down its pristinely-carved surface.

I had never eaten meat. It was not something I had ever thought of imagining, nor was it something I was wholly interested in. Upon earth, I had lived and died without ever having had the flesh of an animal grace my lips. It was not often that I lamented the lack of that experience, for it was something I had never known.

Now however, as I stood amidst the food that sizzled gently upon an open flame, I couldn’t help but chastise myself for the drool that dripped down my jaw without warning. It was as if my mouth had lost control of its inhibitions in favour of my stomach’s latent will.

It was the forefront tease of a new experience; an expansion of my ever-so-small world.

It had forever been banned. Meat was something I was not legally allowed to even gaze upon. Standing before such a delicacy, I could not help but feel apprehensive towards it. I knew then however that I was no longer part of the world I once resided in. I needed to hold no apprehension towards such a thing, for it was not a law that mattered where I stood in the present.

Slicing a piece off of the slab, I then placed it against my lips with my softened fingers.

It was salty, and oddly juicy. It was both thick, tough, and soft in unison. It was everything and nothing all at once. I could see then why it had been enjoyed in all parts of the world outside of my country. It was a mixture of everything that everyone loved.

I had then determined myself even further.

Within the dead of morning, I would show Theresia a flavour she had never thought herself the potential to experience.

I would show her then the depth of a constantly-expansive world.

Within the satchel I had brought with me, contained an assortment of vegetables, roots,

It was not often that the spriggan merchants within the Great Market conducted business over their wares. For the most part, it was the simple fact that the undine were too busy in their bustle to pay them mind. The mass-produced delicacies they suffered on a daily basis were enough for them.

The remainder of their apprehension was a product of the cruel and unnerving divide between two. The spriggans and the undine had been forever at war, and despite the aggression of the undine themselves, the monologue of the nobility served to sow hatred against each other. It was all to justify and provide purpose to a never-ending war.

The ones who felt it most were the people.

The ones who felt it most were the spriggan merchants within the Great Market of Aethine, who sat endlessly ignored by those who hurried hastily past them.

While lost within my thought, and as I cut up the roots and vegetables before me, I had not noticed as my eyes had been graced with the appearance of the beholder of beauty. Within the morning light, I had not perceived her as the person she was. Within that moment, her identity was torn from her, and only allowed for my ever-beating heart to stop for a singular second.

It was as if time had paused simply so I could gaze upon the stark difference between her and the world we stood within. In the blinding harshness of Crelle, Theresia was everything that encapsulated the stars I had once beloved.

She sat simply at the edge of the countertop, staring at me with wondrous eyes.

“You look good in an apron.” She spoke simply with a smile.

I could only blush upon her words, for then I still viewed her with eyes that seemed as if they were gazing upon a grace unlike the world they perceived so falsely.

In return, I simply slid to her a plate filled with the product of my effort. Placed upon it, meat and vegetables sat simply, scorched by the pan I had settled them into. Theresia reached forward with a fork pulled from the countertop, pressing it gently against the meal set before her.

Against her lips, she could only smile against the taste. It wasn’t like the bustle of the undine. It wasn’t like the harshness of Aethine. The flavour was new.

To her, the flavour was Agreste.

“It’s...” She spoke softly, setting the fork down shakily upon the countertop. “There’s no... there’s no word I can use to describe this. As a writer, I known of none.”

“Delicious.” I smiled in return. “That’s the word you’re looking for. Something pleasing to the tongue, is simply delicious.”

She lurched forward, wrapping her arms around me in a near-moment. I was left swaddled by her warmth. It was all too much. I hated the heat.

“Then, your food is delicious.” Theresia spoke happily.

Theresia’s warmth felt different, however.

Theresia’s warmth extended past my skin, and made its way to settle upon my bones.

In her arms, I want to be softened up like butter.

I was sure that as an assistant, that wasn’t how I should have been feeling.

But it was something I chose to ignore. It wasn’t a feeling that mattered.

I was happy.

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