Perdi opened the back door of the kitchen. It was late in the evening, and she could hear the common room starting to really get going.
“Oh hey Perdi, I didn’t expect you back until very late or tomorrow morning.” Devin had an apron on and was dishing up some stew into bowls on a tray. “You look like hell.”
“Gee thanks. Getting my butt kicked by little blue skinned creatures who like darkness wasn’t bad enough I have deal with a comedian.” Perdi removed her pack and sat it on the floor. “On the bright side, I don’t stink this time.”
“Matter of opinion oh boss of mine.” Devin smirked.
Perdi sniffed her shirt. “Yeah might have picked up something, but a set of clean clothing should fix that.” She picked up her bag, disabled the lock on her door, and went into her room.
“Perdi!” Devin shouted from the main kitchen door.
She stuck her head back outside her room door. “What?!?” She glared at him annoyed.
Sighing, “Would you mind kiting up and coming out and helping tonight? I’m swamped.”
Perdi raised an eye brow. Devin shouldn’t be needing help. The place was busy but nothing that he and Adelaide couldn’t take care of. The food was made and just needed serving up. The boss should be back soon so he would be taking over the tavern portion for Devin. “Something wrong?”
“Yeah, but I need to get this to the customers or they will be even more pissed.” He gestured to the main room.
“Go… Go. I’ll get dressed and be out to help. By the time you get back we should be able to talk.” Devin nodded his thanks, and headed off. Perdi walked back into her room and quickly dressed for work. She was finishing washing the ichor from her hands when Devin came back in.
“Sorry about that Perdi.” He looked apologetic. “It’s just been me for the past couple hours running this place.”
“What do you mean ‘only you’?” Perdi raised an eyebrow. “Where is Adelaide? “
“We had a messenger at the back door a couple hours ago. I thought it was for you but turned out if was for Addy. She said she would be right back, no more than a half hour. She said it was urgent and would be fine. That was two hours ago. I thought she would be back by then. “
“Do you know where she went?”
“I thought I heard her say something about cleric, spiders and a name starting with a Cal or Cast something.” Devin sighed. “I just hope she is alright.”
Perdi pursed her lips. She had an idea where Adelaide might have gone, but now was not the time to discuss it. “If she isn’t back by 9 tomorrow morning, we will go look for her. It is too close to curfew to do anything now. “
“But what if she…” Devin started to ask.
Perdi held up a finger at him, “If she is in trouble, there is nothing we can do right now. We are not sure where she went, nor if she is still there. By the time we investigate where she might be it will be midnight. That means we are stuck where ever that is until dawn unless we want to be arrested by the order of the nail. And Devin, you do NOT want to be the prisoner of the order of the nail. For now we keep living, and give her time to get here. If she is someplace and is smart, she will stay there until dawn then come home. My guess is that she didn’t expect me to be home until after midnight, or even dawn tomorrow. I’m sorry but we have to play wait and see. “
“I don’t like it.” Devin growled.
“Didn’t expect you too but that is life. In the mean time we need to make as much money while we can until the curfew starts. And that is in just couple hours. Then we will deal with all the problems.” Perdi got in his face, “Now get out there and start cleaning tables, and I’ll work on the back log of orders.”
Obviously annoyed but knowing there was little he could do about, Devin grabbed a tub and went out to collect dishes.
Putting on a happy face Perdi went out to talk to the guests. “So what can I get for you gents?”
“Perdi, we missed you and your cookn’ . No one has died in days. Where you been? “
Perdi smiled, “Why collecting rats for your stew, darling.” The people around him laughed.
“So what can I get all of you tonight? I got fresh stew on the fire, and fresh beef fritters fried this morning…… “
The next morning at dawn Perdi was up doing prep for the day. Soon as the curfew was lifted Perdi sent Devin off to get supplies. Things were a little tight in the cupboard, and they were in need of a few things. She told him to get the best price he could.
The careful chopping and cutting of the meat, and vegetables was therapeutic for Perdi. It gave her a chance to work off her frustration from the night before and to work through things on her mind. To be honest she had suspected her little ‘handpicked’ assistant was up to more than just cooking when she was hired. The tavern was a good place for gathering information as it was neutral territory for everyone. The tips from the place were good but they were not THAT good. Perdi paid her assistants well but not THAT well. Devin had things he needed, and was even saving up for good equipment. Occasionally he would sneak down to the bakery or confectioners and get a treat but never spent more than 2-3 copper for his indulgences. Adelade on the other hand seemed far better off than Devin. From the state of her clothing, and jewelry it showed she had more money coming in than just her tips. A poor down on her luck serving girl does not wear silks of any sort. She was supplementing her income. But how was the question. If she was stealing from our clients, woe be her head. This tavern is neutral territory, I’m not saying theft doesn’t happen here, but you would have to be terribly desperate or incredibly stupid. Neither of those describe Adelaide. She wasn’t stealing from me, trust me, I checked.
With a little prodding Perdi managed to get out of Devin that Adelaide would leave for a little while every day. Could be the morning, could be the evening, but always when I was gone. He assured me the place was never left unattended. He assumed that she had a boyfriend or some family. When I told him she was an orphan and had no family, he concluded it had to be a boyfriend. She was nearly marrying age so it was possible. Sadly Perdi knew the truth of her betrayal.
Adelaide was hired at the suggestion of her old friend, Carista. Within days, Perdi knew she was being played. Adelaide was a good cook, but did not want to be a cook. The look on the girl’s face when Perdi asked her to slice up the raw sheep livers told Perdi more than she wanted to know. Adelaide was there not because she wanted to be, but because Carista wanted her to be. Perdi was being played. Did she have solid proof? No, but if you think you are being played, you probably are. Carista planted Adelaide not only to learn the ropes of the trade but also to keep an eye on Perdi. Ithamore, Perdi, and the rest of their group frequented the tavern, and have recently been gaining influence across the city. And given the recent offer made by the queen, the group are people that need to be watched. Having an ear to what business we are up to would quite profitable for those who deal in information, which Carista certainly does. Perdi couldn’t blame her for doing it, because you have to pay the bills someway, but that is not to mean she liked it. Though it did raise the question of what to do with Adelade. The knee jerk reaction was to fire her little ass, and toss her to the wolves. She broke the rule, “Always work WITH your team.” However Perdi do understand the concept of, “You don’t waste good.” Adelaide is a good cook, and she is training to be a purveyor on knowledge. Just because she is collecting information on the team, doesn’t mean she can’t get information on others. The trick is to only give her the information we want her to have. Before now she had the upper hand, now it is time that Perdi break her hand.
About 7:30 AM Perdi heard Adelaide coming up the back alley. She always sung a particular tune when she was happy. “Good morning Addy.” Perdi said cheerfully from where she was chopping up a chicken.
Surprised, Adelaide walked in the back door, her face white as a sheet. “Uh, good morning Perdi. “
”Sleep well?” Perdi chopped through the joint of the chicken.
“Yes… Everything ok?” Adelaide hung up her cloak.
“Just starting the day.” Perdi moved the cut up chicken to a disk of dough, then began wrapping the dough around it for a pot pie. “How is the room?”
“One of the psudo dragons this morning said that they saw you coming out of my old room over at Carista’s. I assumed when you left here last night, I thought you had taken my old room. I am glad to hear that you are doing so well that you are able to take the room. I guess that means you won’t be living here anymore.” Perdi dumped in a few handfuls of dried prunes, apricots, figs and candied ginger before pinching the dough lid on the chicken.
“Yes tips have been good.” Adelaide smiled, washed her hands and started prep for the morning porridge. “I can still work here even though I live else where?”
“Won’t be a problem.” Perdi took the dough wrapped chicken of the oven. “Given the time, I assume you ate Carista’s.”
“No actually, I wanted to get away before anyone woke up.” Adelaide dished up a small bowl of porridge.
“Eat quickly then. We have a lot of work to do today.” Perdi dusted off her hand, “Speaking of which that should be Devin now.” Perdi grabbed a silver and went to open up the back door.
“Good timing Perdi. “ Devin was standing there with a 50 pound bag of flour over his shoulder.
“I’ll tip the cart man. Adelaide, you help Devin unload.” Perdi couldn’t help the smirk when she heard Adelaide groan in annoyance. Typically Devin and Perdi did the unloading since they were stronger than her, but this time Adelaide was not going to get off easily.
She grabbed what she could and took it in to the pantry. It didn’t take them long to unload the cart and get the man on his way. Even with the pantry door shut she could hear Devin yelling at Adelaide for abandoning him and the tavern the previous night. She let it go on for a while before she called them back into the kitchen.
“I have good news and bad news.” Perdi leaned against the work table and crossed her arms.
“And what is that?” Dispite being obviously sore, Adelaide’s attention obviously peaked.
“The good news is that from now on there will be someone running the kitchen full time.” Perdi smiled.
“And the bad news is it won’t be you.” Devin sighed.
“Somewhat. The message I had you send off was for a possible job offer to another cook I know. She knows the recipes and should work out well here.” Perdi could tell both of her assistants were disappointed, but for different reasons. “On the other hand I will be around for the remainder of the week to help out around here.
“Where will you be after that?” Adelaide asked curiously.
Perdi couldn’t help the wicked smile. “Kess has recently been doing amazing performances for the Queen. As the Queen has abdicated, and wishes to go traveling for the next couple months so that the anger in the city dies down, Kess was asked to accompany her as entertainment. Kess was able to put in a good word, and got me hired to work in the queens traveling kitchen. The boss is also going along as Kess’s personal body guard.”
“That is an amazing opportunity.” Adelaide’s eyes bugged.
“Congrats Perdi that is going to do wonders for your reputation. To be cooking for the Queen is an honor.” Devin clapped her on the back. “As much we will miss you, it is a great opportunity.”
“Thanks, so…” Perdi clapped her hands together, “We have a week to get this place in shape, and for me to find a new cook. Ithamore is taking care of the bar. Adelaide I need you minding the counter, and taking orders this morning. Devin, I have already started prep for dinner. Make sure any dishes are done, and set up the bar for tonight. Then you can crash out since you have worked a double shift. I have to take care of some business to get ready for the trip but I should be back in a few hours. Adelaide you can work until 3 and then head out the new cook will be arriving about then, and she and I can cover dinner with Devin. Since you have your own place now it would be difficult to get home in time for curfew.”
Adelaide tried to hide her annoyance but didn’t work well. “I appreciate you thinking of me.” She knew that the evening shift is when the good gossip happened, and when the best tips were made. Perdi had effectively cut her tips in half, and there was nothing she could do about it without showing her hand.
“Now that everything is settled, I am going to go run my errands. Have fun you two.” Perdi grabbed her things, and the bag of look and headed out the back door. Perdi couldn’t help the smirk as she walked down the alley.