[Story] A Story a Week 12
March 24, 2016 Leave a comment
[[ Prompt: A story about a contest or competition. ]]
“What’re you doing, ann’da?” Malwen asked, peeking over the counter. “Making a cake?”
It was a bit of a silly question, Terellion always baked at this time of day. But it’s true he was usually finished by now, and one was already safely in the oven. Now he was mixing the ingredients for a second. “Yep,” he said. “Do you want to help?”
Malwen nodded eagerly and set her doll up in one of the chairs so she could watch. She raced over to the sink to wash her hands without even being asked to. Terellion set the bowl of manaberries in front of her. “Can you squish those up for me? Get them nice and smashed.” He probably should have given her an apron, too, but he figured her dress was dark enough that any stains wouldn’t show too much.
Terellion read the flyer again. Tik had brought it back from one of his supply trips to the city; it advertised a baking competition to be held this afternoon. He hadn’t thought very much of it at first, but Hethurin urged him to enter — with the manaberry cake. It’s true that everyone at the school liked it, but Terellion wasn’t sure it was good enough to compete with the bakers in Silvermoon. He suspected that Hethurin might just want him to make manaberry cake so he could eat it, which wasn’t a bad idea in itself. There weren’t many rules. The recipe had to be original, it must be three layers high, and baked in a standard round pan. No dragon-shaped cakes this time around, not that he had time for one of those today anyway.
He sprinkled a dash of sugar into Malwen’s bowl, and she stirred it into the mashed berries. They looked just about ready to add to the mix. “Is your schoolwork all done for today?” He asked, sifting together the flour and other dry ingredients.
“Yes, ann’da,” replied Malwen. “I’m learning about plants.”
“Oh? What about them?”
“The parts and things,” Malwen explained. “Like the stem and roots and leaves. I had to draw a picture.”
As she watched, Terellion added the dry ingredients to the eggs and milk, stirring often. If they were added too quickly, there was a chance it wouldn’t mix properly. Everything had to be perfect. “Do you want to go to the city with me this afternoon?” He asked.
Of course she did, even if there hadn’t been cake involved, Malwen loved looking at all the shops. Maybe they’d even have time to visit her friends at the orphanage.
Malwen held open the oven door as he carefully slid the three round pans inside to bake.
“Ooh, look at them all!” Malwen exclaimed, pointing to the table full of cakes. Terellion saw them. They were all different colors, and they all looked perfect. Some were dusted with sugar crystals to make them shimmer, others sported delicate flowers made of sugar that looked exactly like the real thing. Terellion had added manaberries to the icing, too, so his cake was a subtle pastel purple, and he’d decorated it with purple swirls and flourishes. There was a layer of manaberry jam between each layer, accented with the fresh cream of the icing. He knew it would taste good, but now he wasn’t so sure that entering the contest was such a good idea. Carefully, Terellion set the plate down beside the other cakes and filled out the little card with his name and what type of cake he’d made. He was sure to add “Fairsong Academy” so everyone knew about the school.
They walked around the tables, admiring every one, and pointing out which ones they’d like to taste. There would be a chance later, after the judges had their slices. Right now his stomach felt too tied in knots to eat much of anything, but maybe he’d feel differently later.
The judges wore little ribbons to identify themselves, and carried plates and little silver cake knives. Terellion wondered how one got to be a cake judge. Hethurin would surely like that position, but would he ever be able to choose one winner? Terellion wasn’t so sure. He held his breath when the judges got to his cake and cut a thin sliver out to taste it. He couldn’t tell from their expressions whether they liked it or not, but he thought he saw one of their eyebrows go up. Was that good or bad? Malwen held his hand so it wouldn’t get too sweaty.
While the judges met to discuss, the guests were free to sample the cakes. A lot of people tried Terellion’s, but a lot of people tried other cakes, too. “Don’t worry, ann’da,” Malwen whispered. “Our cake is going to win.”
Terellion wasn’t so sure. Every cake that he tried was delicious in its own way. There were cakes with chocolate and coffee, cakes with lemon, cakes with swirls, and everything in between. He did get a lot of ideas for new flavors to try — he especially liked the one made with oranges. The judges finally emerged, holding ribbons in their hands. He held his breath as they stalked among the tables, placing ribbons beside the cakes. The first prize went to a chocolate and coffee cake, the second to a fluffy peach cake, and the third to a bright minty chocolate cake. The judges paused near Terellion’s cake, and he held his breath. They placed a yellow fourth place ribbon beside it and Malwen squeaked excitedly.
“You won!” She jumped up and down.
Sure, it wasn’t first — or second, or third — but Terellion was thrilled all the same. All of those fancy Silvermoon bakers, and he’d got a ribbon. He couldn’t wait to tell Hethurin, and let everyone try some of his prize-winning manaberry cake.