It seems that Duke Pierson has again claimed aggrieved status with the king. He says that persons of the court have sabotaged his interests in the island nations by assassinating his main source of income, a merchant of some repute. Nevermind the fact that he has built a port on every sizable island and even garrisoned troops there to insure his tariffs for goods and docking are collected and sent back to his coffers. He thinks it is his right to control all the goods that come out of the island nations to the capitol. His majesty saw fit to dispatch several investigators (two of whom were suggested by the duke). I am going to the island nations to ensure that evidence is not manufactured. Kerrik assures me that there are no clues to be found. Kaleb is returning to the capitol amidst rumors of a gang of thieves operating around the dukes holdings in the islands; he did not get all the copies; we will have to try a different approach.
We have finally received the merchant ship promised last year by the king so that we may explore for exotic tastes without having to rely on others to find them. I am also finalizing the agreement with a minor chief of the island nations for export of nutmeg, mace, sugar cane, cacao beans, and vanilla beans through us instead of the duke. This will be the ship's maiden voyage. And I should come back on it within the year, sooner I hope.
While I am away, you will be in charge of keeping tabs on the duke's shenanigans as well as gathering the last few pages from the upper tiers of nobility. I send you these pages that I retrieved from the Grand Duchess Kathern, the great aunt of the king. It was a private meeting between his majesty, the grand duchess, and myself as head of the banquet staff. You are welcome to take credit for the deal; it might make your job somewhat easier for it to be known that you bested that old biddy.
Her offer for the return of the pages, (if she had them and could find them, of course this had to be stated): she insisted on being sat on the king's right hand forevermore at banquets. The king refused to relinquish the chair of his most loyal retainer to a relative not known for her staunch support. He agreed to only a year, and only at the king's table, not adjacent to the king. He said that otherwise she would hide or destroy the pages in spite. She did not disagree. She did wheedle a concession out of the king that she be able to re-negotiate in six months. The king agreed. She obviously has some plan in motion that will increase her appeal to the king and should come to fruition in a few months. Try to anticipate her machinations as well.
I realize that the politics of this duty are abhorrent to you; but I find no alternative personage that I can so truly trust. I will send messengers if anything important transpires. Keep me informed.
The Basics of Sweets
Boiled Custard None (Enchantment) Ingredients
1 pouch of white sugar, 1 literjon of milk, and 5 eggs (optional: 4 ounces of rye whiskey). Serves: 8 Drink Effects: Auroch milk and 1 hippogriff egg substituted for milk and eggs with the application of heroism gives the drinker a +1 bonus to attacks rolls, saves, and skill checks for 1 hour. Time to Drink: 2 rounds Directions:
Fill a large cauldron with water, put the milk, eggs, and sugar into a smaller cauldron that will fit into the water-filled cauldron so that the heat is through the water, use a hellpine fire and cook until thickened (so it's not actually boiled.) Chill it (usually in a securely corked jug dangled in a mountain stream) and serve in mugs, (preferably with a shot of rye whiskey). Craft (cooking) DC 12; Caster Level: Not applicable, auroch milk and hippogriff egg: 5, heroism; Market Price: 20 gp plus cost of hippogriff egg and auroch milk. Serves: 6 (does not count as a meal) Cook's Note: This is a favorite holiday drink in parts of the island nations. The islanders add a local alcoholic beverage that is particularly unpalatable.
Brown Sugar Ingredients
Sugar cane. Directions:
You can easily make brown sugar from sugar cane by first extracting the juice from the cane. This can be done by crushing and pressing the canes. The juice should then be filtered through cheesecloth to remove any debris before gently simmering to draw off most of the water. As the water evaporates the sugar should start to crystallize, this can be aided by sprinkling in a spoon of ready made sugar crystals and by stirring with a wooden spoon. Leave the remaining paste of sugar crystals and juice to dry out over a few days to yield brown sugar. Craft (cooking) DC 10; Market Price: 10 gp per pound. Cook's Note: This is the type of sugar used most often in the island nations where the sugar cane grows.
Buttermilk None (Illusion or Transmutation) Ingredients
8 drams of milk; 1/2 dram of white vinegar. Drink Effects: (Auroch): +1 enhancement bonus to Strength with application of bull's strength spell; (Stench Kow): +1 enhancement bonus to Fortitude saves with application of bear's endurance spell; (Nightmare): +1 competence bonus to Hide skill checks with application of invisibility spell. All for 10 minutes. Time to Drink: 1 round Directions:
Take milk and mix in white vinegar in a small bowl.
Stir and let stand for 5-10 minutes. Craft (cooking) DC 3; Caster Level: Not applicable; auroch milk: 3, bull's strength; stench kow milk: 3, bear's endurance; nightmare milk: 3, invisibility. Market Price: 5 cp; (auroch): 1 gp; (stench kow): 2 gp; (nightmare): 15 gp. Cook's Note: Works for any kind of milk. Assassin vine berry wine vinegar substituted for white vinegar raises the bonuses from the milk (no matter the kind) to +2, but seriously makes the drink bitter.
Cocoa Butter See Cocoa Liquor.
Cocoa Cake See Cocoa Liquor Cook's Note: This substance, powdered, can be added to milk with powdered white sugar to produce a most intriguing drink that clears the head. I call it "cake drink". I think the king will heartily approve of this beverage.
Cocoa Liquor Transmutation Ingredients
8 ounces of cacao beans (also known as cocoa beans); 2 ounces of dry sugar crystals; scraping of 1 vanilla bean. Liquor Effects: +5 feet to speed for 10 minutes. This is an enhancement bonus. Butter Effects: None Cake Effects: +5 feet to speed for 5 minutes. This is an enhancement bonus. Directions:
Layer mounds of cacao beans with palm fronds for a fortnight in the island heat. This is called fermenting.
Lay dried beans on drying racks to further dry for a fortnight and maybe a sennight more until the white film that protects the bean sloughs off and the beans are fully dried. (These are the type of cocoa beans with which I start.)
Roast cacao beans on a hardwood fire for 12 hours.
Kibble the beans to make about 6-7 ounces of roasted cacao nibs.
Fine grind the roasted cacao nibs. Pour into a bowl and set aside. Fine grind dry sugar crystals (white preferred). Add the scraping of one vanilla bean and grind with the sugar.
Mix ground nibs and sugar mixture. Melt resulting mixture on peat fire. Pour off the liquid. The liquid forms two layers, a white surface layer and a brownish layer beneath. The white surface liquid is dipped off and set aside (this is cocoa butter), it melts easily so care should be taken to store it in a cool dry place. The remaining liquid is cocoa liquor. Any remaining solids (not poured off) are cocoa cake. Craft (cooking) DC 15; Caster Level: 2; Market Price: Not sold in the capitol, but I am thinking of offering the cocoa cake drinks for only 2 gp per mug. Cook's Note: For an interesting taste twist, try using a pillow plant for the fire. Finally, I got my first shipment of cacao beans from the islands. I still had to use Duke Pierson's merchant ships, so the savings were infinitesimal. I checked on my ship today, The Epicurious, it should be finished by spring.
Cream Cream is a by-product of making butter and can usually be found sold by the same farmer that provides milk, butter, and cheese at market. The white liquid atop churned butter is cream. Cook's Note: I now have a large assortment of creams available: Auroch, catoblepas, cow, goat, sheep, stench kow, and the newest one, nightmare. The royal vizier rages about me filling the capitol with demons. I tried to explain that it is no demon, but rather a different kind of creature entirely; but he insisted I was having congress with a demon lord. His majesty made him apologize, and rightly so. Demons are known to be untrustworthy; this creature, though fierce to anyone else; always follows my orders.
Cream Cheese None (Illusion or Transmutation) Ingredients
4 mugs of milk; 2 pinches of sea salt, finely ground; 1/2 mug of buttermilk. Food Effects: (Auroch) +3 enhancement bonus to Strength with application of bull's strength spell; (Stench Kow) +2 enhancement bonus to Fortitude saves with application of bear's endurance spell; (Nightmare) +3 competence bonus to Hide skill checks with application of invisibility spell. All for 10 minutes. Directions:
Place milk in a small pan and heat over low heat until it begins to bubble.
Stir in sea salt and buttermilk.
Pour milk mixture in a half gallon size jug and secure the lid tightly. Lay the jug on its side and allow to sit out at room temperature for 16-24 hours or until the milk has clabbered. When the milk has clabbered, it will be thick.
Once the milk has clabbered, place cheesecloth (layered about 4 times) in a colander and strain the clabbered milk through it.
Allow straining at room temperature for up to 8 hours. The longer it is allowed to strain, the thicker the cream cheese will be. The liquid strained out is whey; it can be reserved for another dish. Craft (cooking) DC 10; Caster Level: Not applicable; (auroch): 3, bull's strength; (stench kow): 3, bear's endurance; (nightmare): 3, invisibility; Market Price: 2 sp/pound; (auroch): 5 sp/pound; (stench kow): 1 gp/pound; (nightmare): 5 gp per pound. Cook's Note: Duke Pierson claimed aggrieved status with the king today. It seems one of his retainers has received credible death threats. He asked the king for permission to let the retainer, a Baron Erlitz, add a personal taster to his entourage. I tried to explain that the retainer was seated at a table that allowed for no extra room for an additional person to stand around; but the king assumed I meant making room for a seat for the taster, when I merely meant that the servers would be jostling such a person around trying to put the feast on the table. The king's table is different, extra room is allowed for tasters and guards. Retainers do not need such. But the king overruled me since no extra chair was needed. Maybe I can move the baron away from the dwarves to the other side of the hall in order to discomfit the ambassadors as little as possible. It will take a bit of jostling but I think we can survive this catastrophe. This meal needs to be a masterpiece from the forge starter appetizer, through the main course unto the nightmare milk chocolate mousse desert. I have hopes of a trade agreement that includes my recommendations to the king.
Custard Transmutation Ingredients
1 1/2 gills heavy cream; 1 pegasus egg yoke; 15 sprinkles powdered white sugar; 3 sprinkles of sea salt, finely ground; 2 drops of vanilla extract. Serves: 4 Food Effects:levitate for 5 minutes. Time to Eat: 5 minutes Directions:
Heat cream in a 1-literjon kettle until hot. Whisk together yolks, sugar, and salt in a metal bowl until combined well, then add hot cream in a slow stream, whisking until combined. Transfer mixture to small pan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Pour custard through a cheesecloth-lined colander into a bowl and stir in vanilla. Cast levitate on custard. Craft (cooking) DC 12; Caster Level: 3, levitate; (stench kow): 5, levitate plus nondetection; (catoblepas): 7, levitate plus death ward; Market Price: 150 gp; (stench kow): 155 gp; (catoblepas): 162 gp. Cook's Note: To vary the flavor, you can replace the vanilla extract with 1 ounce dwarven brandy (whisked into custard). Using any other type of egg doesn't hold the magic. Substituting stench kow heavy cream and casting nondetection on the custard adds nondetection for 1 hour to the effects. Substituting catoblepas heavy cream and casting death ward on the custard adds death ward for 5 minutes to the effects.
Egg Nog Divination Ingredients
1 giant eagle egg, separated; 1 pouch of white sugar cubes, powdered, plus 1 handful also powdered; 2 mugs of goat milk; 1 mug of catoblepas heavy cream; 1 drip of whiskey; 1 handful of freshly grated nutmeg. Serves: 4 Drink Effects: +4 enhancement bonus to all Spot checks. Time to Drink: 1 round Directions:
In a large wooden bowl beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Add the milk, cream, whiskey and nutmeg and stir to combine. This is the nog mixture.
Place the egg whites in a large wooden bowl and beat to soft peaks. Still beating, gradually add the ground sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
Whisk the egg whites mixture into the nog mixture. Cast arcane eye on mixture. Float mixture in a mountain stream for 10 minutes and serve (I now use chill metal on a cauldron filled with water on which the wooden bowl containing the mixture floats which takes less than a minute). Craft (cooking) DC 15; Caster Level: 7; Market Price: 125 gp per mug; nonmagical with heavy cream from a cow and 4 chicken eggs: 7 gp. Cook's Note: This is a dwarvish dessert/drink reserved for special occasions and feasts (though the nutmeg is my addition). Some dwarven clans substitute other alcoholic spirits. For the dwarven ambassadors, I plan to serve this after the trade talks are finished, as a celebratory drink. Catoblepas heavy cream and the giant eagle egg can be substituted but all magical effects are lost if either or both are substituted with anything I have tried. The taste is unaffected with any substitution.
Heavy Cream None (Illusion or Transmutation) Ingredients
2/3 cup of milk; 1/3 cup melted butter. Drink Effects: Same as buttermilk. Directions:
Mix milk and melted butter. Craft (cooking) DC 5; Market Price: Not sold, must make your own for about 3 sp. Cook's Note: Works with any type of milk.
Nightmare Milk Chocolate Illusion and Transmutation Ingredients
1 mug of cocoa butter, 2 mugs of cocoa liquor, 1 pouch of powdered white sugar, 2 pouches of nightmare's milk, 1 achaierai egg Serves: 8 Food Effects: In addition to cocoa liquor effects (increased speed duration increased to 1 hour), nightmare milk chocolate provides translucence; the eater becomes almost see-through for 10 minutes. This garners the eater a +4 circumstance bonus to Hide checks for the duration. Time to Eat: 3 rounds Directions:
Mix all ingredients on a large floured table. Fold and flatten mixture repeatedly until it forms a cocoa mass (about a sennight, I use teams of slaves in shifts). Place in large cauldron and heat on peat fire for a fortnight while vigorously and constantly stirring the mixture. This is called conching.
Pour the final liquid into molds (the islanders use half-coconut shells as molds, I suggest a small pan (buttered to ease removal from the pan) because the resulting discs are easy to store as long as kept out of sunlight and relatively cool). Cast invisibility on the disc, this also makes the brown disc translucent. Cut the disc with 4 easy cuts into 8 wedges to serve. Craft (cooking) DC 25; Caster Level: 3; Market Price: Not usually sold, I will be offering some few in the market for only 1,000 gp per disc (nightmare milk); (cow milk and chicken eggs): 25 gp per disc. Cook's Note: Keeps for nearly a month before losing its transparency and turning white. Discard. Cow's milk and 4 chicken eggs can be substituted but the effects are then limited to only what the cocoa liquor provides. No other viable substitutions yet found.
Nightmare Milk Chocolate Mousse Illusion and Transmutation Ingredients
1 cup of custard; 1 7-ounce nightmare milk chocolate disc, quartered and chopped; 1 cup of stench kow whipped cream. Serves: 6 Food Effects: In addition to the effects of nightmare milk chocolate, and cocoa liquor (transparency and speed duration increased to 1 hour) and any special custard, nightmare milk chocolate mousse makes the eater light on his feet for 1 hour (+4 circumstance bonus to Move Silently checks for 1 hour). Time to Eat: 5 minutes Directions:
Melt chocolate in a metal bowl set in a kettle of simmering water, stirring frequently. Whisk custard into chocolate until smooth, then cool.
Whisk one fourth of whipped cream into chocolate custard mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whipped cream gently but thoroughly.
Spoon resulting mousse into metal bowl and cast chill metal on bowl (it is also possible to let it float in a cold stream for about 4 hours). Let stand at room temperature about 20 minutes, then cast silence on mousse before serving. Craft (cooking) DC 20. Caster Level: 5, silence; Market Price: 10 gp plus price of nightmare milk chocolate disc, stench kow whipped cream, and custard. Garnish: Top with lightly sweetened whipped cream, and sprinkle with crushed steel acorns (if the acorns are enchanted and are put on the dish before the duration runs out; this adds barkskin for 1 hour to the effects listed above). Cook's Note: After the fiasco during the main course I was forced to improvise with the dessert by adding crumbled mana wafers to the mixture to ensure the guests were fully fed by the shortened feast because the main course was ruined! Baron Erlitz will never again be allowed to attend any feast I prepare!
Sour Cream Transmutation Ingredients
4 drams of buttermilk; 1 cup of heavy cream. Food Effects: (Auroch) +2 enhancement bonus to damage for 1 hour; (Catoblepas): +2 enhancement bonus to Fortitude saves for 1 hour; (Stench Kow): +2 enhancement bonus to Constitution for 1 hour. Directions:
Add buttermilk and heavy cream stir. Auroch: cast bull's strength on mixture; catoblepas: cast death ward on mixture; stench kow: cast bear's endurance on mixture.
Let set for 1 to 2 days. Craft (cooking) DC 3; Caster Level: Not applicable; (Auroch): 3, bull's strength; (Catoblepas): 7 death ward; (Stench Kow): 5, bear's endurance; Market Price: Cook's Note: Eric found a halfling farmer with a small herd of aurochs within a day's ride of the capitol. We have established a lucrative trade deal for milk, butter, cream, and even cheese.
Sugar Crystals See Brown Sugar or White Sugar
Vanilla Extract Ingredients
2-gill Bottle or Jar; 7 Vanilla Beans; 2 gills of rye whiskey*. Directions:
Slice each bean once long-ways and place in bottle.
Pour one cup of whiskey into the bottle. Make sure vanilla beans are completely submerged.
Shake once or twice a sennight.
Wait about 4 fortnights. Presto, your alcohol has turned into delicious vanilla!
Store out of direct sunlight. Craft (cooking or brewing) DC 5; Market Price: 30 gp plus cost of rye whiskey (15 gp per bottle, 90 gp per barrel, 200 gp per cask). Cook's Note: The islanders use a type of alcohol called rum, but the taste remains the same no matter the liquor. *Rye whiskey is only available here in the capitol, only one brewer sells the spirit as far as I can tell. It seems to be popular among the nobility.
Whey See Cream Cheese above. Cook's Note: A popular dish with dairy farmers is curds and whey, or watery cream cheese. Whey has the exact same effects as the cream cheese.
Whipped Cream Necromancy or Transmutation Ingredients
1 cup of heavy cream; 2 ounces of powdered white sugar (lightly sweetened: 1 ounce). Food Effects: None; (Auroch): +1 enhancement bonus to attacks for 20 minutes; (Catoblepas): +1 enhancement bonus to saves versus poison for 20 minutes; (Nightmare): +1 enhancement bonus to saves versus mind-affecting effects for 20 minutes; (Stench Kow): +1 enhancement bonus versus necromantic effects for 20 minutes. Directions:
Take cream and stir in sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Craft (cooking) DC 8; Caster Level: Not applicable; (Auroch): 1, bull's strength; (Catoblepas): 3, slow poison; (Nightmare): 1, resistance; (Stench Kow): 1, resistance; Market Price: 1 gp, (Auroch): 25 gp; (Catoblepas): 50 gp; (Nightmare): 300 gp; (Stench Kow): 35 gp.
White Sugar Ingredients
Brown sugar, water, white sugar crystals. Directions:
Making white sugar is a little more intensive and complex, and requires drawing off the brown colored molasses that surrounds the sugar crystals. This can be done by preparing a saturated solution of brown sugar in water (and adding some white sugar crystals to seed crystallization). Over time, these crystals will grow as the pure sugar crystallizes out of the brown sugar solution. These cubes of sugar can then be powdered to yield white sugar. Craft (cooking) DC 12; Market Price: 15 gp per pound. Cook's Note: I am still experimenting with both types of sugar. So sweet that it makes ale and mead taste bitter.
The Earl of Eastwich, Shield Lord of the Northern Realms, handed over these pages. He only asked for a larger garrison of the king’s troops to help patrol the eastern frontier. I assured him that I would relay the request along with his personal message to his majesty with no delay. He stressed that the barbarian raids always increase in the spring, and he can barely cover the whole of the eastern border with the few troops he has at his command now in the autumn when raids are mostly done for the year. His own troops, some of whom are still recovering from multiple wounds, and the rest are fighting off a contagious cough can barely hold the outpost. He requested that I also relay this verbal message to the Curate of the Vesper. “Your clerics were among the casualties of the last battle with the barbarians as our main outpost was overrun. We have regained the outpost (mostly because the barbarians abandoned it), but we have no healers and a disease threatens the whole of the watch. Please send some divine guidance to the kingdom’s battered defenders else there won’t be an Eastwich come winter.” When I asked how someone like him way out here on the frontier had gotten the pages; he would only say that a private messenger delivered them last month. He refused to say whose messenger. The name in the dead merchant’s ledger was definitely the Earl, it contained his seal as verification. I verified that his grace has not left Eastwich in over a year and his only messengers were to his majesty and the curate, so something is definitely amiss.
I dispatched a messenger with the curate’s verbal message so I could take care of a few odd jobs on my journey back to the capitol. I will hopefully send you another short note with yet another page or two of the cookbook from our other esteemed shield lord.
Frangelico (Hazelnut Liquor) Illusion Ingredients:
1/2 pound raw hazelnuts with skin, roughly chopped (about 2 cups); 1 cup of vodd-ka; 4 ounces of dwarven brandy; 2 ounces of sugar, powdered; 2 ounces of nectar; 1 vanilla bean, split. Serves: 3-4 per bottle Effects:Blur for 20 minutes but requires a Fortitude save DC 12 or tipsy (-1 Dex, Int, Wis, and Chr penalty and +1 Str and Con bonus while the blur effect lasts). Time to Drink: 1 minute (sipped, not guzzled) Directions:
Combine chopped hazelnuts, vodka, and brandy in a sealable clay jar. Shake and let steep at room temperature for a fortnight.
Combine sugar and nectar in a clay bowl and heat until sugar is dissolved. Let cool, then add to the hazelnut mixture. Shake and let steep for 3 days, then add the vanilla bean and let steep for additional 3 to 5 days.
Sample often. Once desired flavor is achieved, strain through sieve and then again through cheesecloth. The liquor stays fresh and tasty for only about a sennight before going bad (the taste is off and the magical effect no longer works). Craft (brewing) DC: 15; Caster Level: 10, blur; Cost: 10 gp plus cost of vodd-ka (500 gp per mug; which includes the dwarven tariffs), dwarven brandy (75 gp/bottle, which though still expensive, I can get from the Royal Cellars and not have to deal with the unscrupulous dwarven merchants), and nectar (which must normally be negotiated; for which I pay a measly 100 gp per jug). Cook's Note: Last year my scouts returned with a new alcoholic spirit, one I had never heard of before: Vodd-ka. They brought it back from the lands surrounding the dwarven mountains (as the dwarf nation is known). Obviously it is a dwarven concoction made from, of all things, potatoes. The brew is abhorrent, but Eric’s assistant, Jasper, is also a proficient brewer and his experiments with this beverage have yielded a delicious flavor. Subsequently, I have named the experimental liquor, Frangelico, after my beautiful wife. Here is the recipe Jasper developed for me. I spent fortnights working to create a dish worthy of this strange taste.
Mana Yeast Ingredients:
Quart-Sized Wide-Mouth Clay Jug; Nectar; Finely ground mana wafers; Cheesecloth for covering the jar Directions:
Day 1: Put 1/2 cup ground mana wafer and 1/2 cup nectar into jug. Mix them thoroughly together. It should be thick and viscous. If it’s too thick or thin, you can add more nectar or mana as needed. The consistency is more important than the actual measurements. Once you’ve mixed the mana and nectar, cover the jar with cheese cloth. This is the starter.
Day 2: About 24 hours later, feed the starter by giving it another 1/2 cup of mana and as much nectar as it needs to reach the same thick batter consistency as the first day you mixed. The starter should have a few bubbles in it by this point. Stir and cover again.
Day 3: By now, if not sooner, the starter should be looking quite a bit more bubble-ly, and the top might look almost frothy. Feed again the same as on Day 2, stir, and cover again.
Day 4 and following: Keep feeding the starter about every 24 hours. It should look actively bubbly. By now, it might be ready to bake with. Craft (cooking) DC: 10; Caster Level: 5, blur; Cost: 1 gp, 2 cp plus cost of mana wafers and nectar. Cook’s Note: I recently met the Grand Duchess Penelope of Westhaven, the great aunt of the king. During the weekly strategy sessions of the royal council, the dame suggested ‘bear sign’ (the common name for donuts) for the dessert course of the grand banquet during the stay of the elven delegation. I suggested, “but maybe something more appropriate such as ‘Royal’ bear sign.” The king agreed and directed me to make a ‘royal dessert dish’ in addition to the normal feast. I tried to explain that the tastes of all parts of the meal, from appetizer to dessert, needed to form a symphony for the mouth; but his majesty had spoken. I took her grace’s suggestion to heart and developed the Royal Bear Sign recipe. I must say that I was impressed with the grand duchess’ insight into the heart of the matter, even though she put me on the spot. I predict a long and fruitful association with this canny noble.
Royal Bear Sign
(Brown Butter Hazelnut Doughnuts) Abjuration and Illusion
For the doughnuts: Ingredients:
6 ounces of butter*, melted; 6 ounces of buttermilk *; 7 drams mana yeast; 6 drams sea salt, finely ground; 3 large eggs*, lightly beaten; 4 ounces of brown sugar, powdered; 1 gallon and 10 ounces of finely ground mana. Cook’s Note: *Butter, buttermilk, and eggs work with various mixes. For the doughnuts I used: stench kow buttermilk made with assassin vine berry wine vinegar [+2 enhancement bonus to Fortitude saves for 10 minutes, immunity to electricity for 10 minutes], reindeer butter, and a giant owl egg.
For the candied hazelnuts: Ingredients:
4 drams white sugar, powdered; 4 drams hot nectar; ½ cup hazelnuts; 4 drams brown sugar, powdered
For the glaze: Ingredients:
4 drams butter, melted*; 1 cup white sugar, powdered and sifted; 1 dram sea salt, course ground; 12 drams Frangelico (hazelnut liquor)*; 12 drams milk* Cook’s Note: Butter and milk of various types work. For the glaze I used: auroch butter and cow milk.
Serves: 14 Effects:mage armor, +2 enhancement bonus to Fortitude saves, immunity to electricity, and blur, all for 1 hour, counts as a meal. Time to Eat: 1 full round action Directions:
Cook butter in a small kettle over medium heat, stirring constantly until it foams, turns clear, and then turns a deep brown, about 6 minutes. Pour browned butter into a large mixing bowl and cool to room temperature. Whisk together brown butter, buttermilk, yeast, salt, eggs, and brown sugar until combined. Add flour and mix in with a wooden spoon until incorporated. Cover bowl with plate and let rest at room temperature for two hours, then set the bowl in a cauldron and cast chill metal on the cauldron to chill dough.
When ready to bake, line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and flour counter well. Scrape dough out onto board. Dust dough with flour and use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll dough into a ½-inch thick rectangle. Use a floured 3-inch cutter to form 14 rounds; cut out the center of each round with a floured 1½-inch cutter. Place doughnuts on prepared baking sheets and let rest at room temperature for 45 minutes.
While the dough rests, make the candied hazelnuts. Load a clay oven with stonewood (if available, otherwise skilled use of a flaming sphere will have to suffice), light it, and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together brown sugar and hot nectar in a small clay bowl until sugar is dissolved. Add hazelnuts and powdered white sugar; toss to coat. Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on prepared baking sheet and bake until crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes (same time with flaming sphere). Let cool, then chop with a sharp knife.
Bake doughnuts for 18 minutes, until golden. Place on a wax paper-lined stone table to cool for 5 minutes. For the glaze, whisk together melted butter, powdered sugar, salt, Frangelico, and milk until smooth. Dip doughnut tops into glaze, sprinkle with candied hazelnuts, cast mage armor on doughnuts, and set back on stone table for 5 minutes before serving. Craft (cooking) DC: 20; Caster Level: 12, mage armor, bear’s endurance, blur; Cost: 977 gp, 9 sp, 2 cp. Cook's Note: The king has asked me to apologize to the head dwarven ambassador (I’m told he is the equivalent of a shield lord during war) for the banquet that became a debacle. He hoped it would help un-stall the trade talks. I practiced the dwarven greeting I had been rigorously taught and swallowed my pride. I faithfully repeated the tutored phrase with just the right inflection, then I humbly apologized to the Shield Lord, pulling out my only copy of the Forge Starter recipe. I promised to never again attempt to make a dwarven dish (unless a dwarf asked me to), and furthermore I would destroy the rare recipe here and now. With that, I tore up the recipe in front of his face then dashed the pieces into a nearby brazier. Only time I’ve ever seen a dwarf smile; it was scary. But it seems the stalemate was broken. His majesty later confided in me that most of the things I had asked for were approved. I will have to peruse the trade agreement to determine what items I need to find elsewhere.
At least the elves are more receptive to new versions of their famous foods. I took their doughnut recipe and added the candied hazelnuts and glaze. They seemed very pleased with it, especially when the blur effect started; consequently, most nobles gasped in horror at first thinking I had drugged them. I presented the elven ambassador with a baker’s dozen of the Royal Bear Sign, since it is well known that elves favor the number 13 and think it auspicious.
The common folk call doughnuts by the more fanciful name of “bear sign”. No doubt it was given because the shape is reminiscent of bear tracks (or so Jasper tells me), I took the liberty of using “bear sign” (royal of course) to name my new dessert.
Several things have come into focus once I arrived at Port Royal (or so our esteemed Duke calls it). The duke has spent a fortune building this port alone, staffing it with a complement of troops, multiple venders, a fully stocked smithy and stables, and even a decent-sized keep. The port was crowded, even more so than the merchant district on market day in the capitol; with humans, elves, dwarves, halflings, and gnomes in seeming abundance as well as various barbarian types from jungle warriors to gnolls, bugbears, and lizardfolk filling every lane and alley. A veritable city of tents, teepees, lean-to’s, straw huts, and even dugout hills surrounds the port on every side except the sea. Fully a dozen ships were tied at the enormous docks and three more were maneuvering in or out of the bay. All ships were merchants of various types but for one man-o-war flying the duke’s flag.
I overheard enough just passing through the crowd to the dead merchant’s shop to realize that the duke has more than several of these ports here in the islands: Westport, Mariner’s Reef, Bay of Sharks, South Isle, and Bearclaw Island to name a few. The number of soldiers wearing the duke’s liveries was astounding; they far outnumbered the rest of the colorful crowd.
Once at the shop, a line of the duke’s guards blocked the way but quickly allowed us to pass. Finally free of the press of bodies around the port, we entered the shop. A curiously rapid search led to a bundle of letters tied with a string. The letters seemed to be from the chef himself, threatening the merchant with bodily harm if he did not lower his prices. I verified signatures, sigils, and seals; but something about one of the investigators chosen by the duke bothered me; he seemed oily and though he never actually found anything, he always seemed to point out things about the letters from across the room. The style of the writing is not the chef’s, but it is surely his handwriting. I am at a loss for what to do.
In other news, I was able to locate a merchant on our list (not affiliated with the duke, as far as I can tell, more of a small independent trader with only a boat or two) and he handed over these pages, asking only to recoup his payment for them. The price was negligible so I paid it out of my pocket, the chef will reimburse me when I return to the capitol. The chef needs to prepare for the fallout from these revelations when we arrive back in the capitol in a fortnight or two.
Hippogriff Stock Ingredients:
8 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley; 6 sprigs fresh thyme; 4 sprigs fresh rosemary; 2 bay leaves; 4 drams whole black peppercorns; 1 pound hippogriff-stew meat, cubed; 5 pounds hippogriff bones, sawn into smaller pieces; 1 large onion, peel on, quartered; 2 large carrots, cut into thirds; 2 stalks celery, cut into thirds; 2 cups dry red wine Directions:
Build a mesquite wood fire. Make a bouquet garni by wrapping parsley, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, and peppercorns in a piece of cheesecloth. Tie with kitchen twine, and set aside.
Arrange meat, bones, onion, carrots, and celery in an even layer in a large cauldron. Roast on mesquite fire, stirring and turning every 20 minutes, until the vegetables and the bones are deep brown, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the meat, bones, and vegetables to a stockpot, and set aside. Pour off the fat from the large cauldron, and discard. Place the large cauldron over mesquite wood fire. Add wine, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits; boil until the wine has reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Pour all of the liquid into the stockpot.
Add 6 quarts of cold water to the stockpot, or more if needed to cover bones. Do not add less water. Place on mesquite wood fire and bring to a boil, then move to a lignite coal fire to reduce to a very gentle simmer. Add the reserved bouquet garni. Liquid should just bubble up to surface. Skim the foam from the surface, and discard. Simmer for 3 hours; a skin will form on the surface of the liquid; skim off with a slotted spoon, and discard. Repeat as needed. Add water if at any time the level drops below the bones.
Fill a cauldron with icy water (chill metal works wonders on a metal bowl, just transfer the contents before they freeze solid). Strain the stock through a fine sieve into a large (metal) bowl. Discard the solids. Transfer the bowl to the ice bath cauldron, and let cool to room temperature floating on cold water, about 10 minutes. Cast fly on the bowl. Effects: None (but see below); Caster Level: 5, fly; Craft (cooking) DC 10. Cost: 25 gp plus cost of hippogriff bones, and hippogriff stew meat (thanks to his majesty: only a 15 gp carters guild fee) and cost of wine (apothecary). Cook's Note: I have found an excellent vintage of apothecary wine that works well in this stock. The hippogriff meat and bones are from wounded mounts of the king's aerial battalion; we usually have to put down several each year. I petitioned the king to gain their carcasses upon such a tragedy.
Espagnole Sauce Abjuration and Transmutation Ingredients:
1 small carrot, coarsely chopped; 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped; 2 ounces of cow butter; 2 ounces of manna, finely ground; 4 cups hot hippogriff stock; 2 ounces of tomato sauce; 2 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped; 1 celery rib, coarsely chopped; 10 whole black peppercorns; 1 bay leaf. Effects:Fly, resistance 5 to electricity for 3 hours; Caster Level: 5, fly; Craft (cooking) DC 12. Directions:
Cook carrot and onion in butter in a large kettle over a stonewood fire stirring occasionally, until golden, 7 to 8 minutes. Add flour and cook roux over a peat fire, stirring constantly, until medium brown, 6 to 10 minutes. Add hot stock in a fast stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, then add tomato sauce, garlic, celery, peppercorns, and bay leaf and move to a mesquite fire and bring to a boil, stirring. Move back to peat fire and cook at a bare simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 3 cups, about 45 minutes.
Pour sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, discarding solids. Cast fly on contents of bowl. Cost: 16 gp plus cost of manna and hippogriff stock.
Gorgon Steak with Shrieker Mushrooms and Shallots Abjuration, Divination, and Transmutation Ingredients:
16 shallots, whole; 1/2 lb. shrieker mushrooms, thinly sliced and coarsely chopped; 2 magic mushrooms, sliced; 52 oz gorgon blade steak, de-boned, with fat trimmed, and cut into eighths, 3 cups espagnole sauce Directions:
In a large pan arrange steaks and shallots in a single level. Cover with both types of mushrooms. Stream on espagnole sauce and cook thoroughly on a very hot elemental fire; about 10 minutes. Cast true seeing on meal and serve. Serves: 8 Time to Eat: 1 hour (counts as a full day’s meals) Effects:true seeing for 3 hours, plus espagnole sauce effect (fly and resistance 5 electricity for 3 hours); plus magic mushroom effect (+4 to caster level for divination spells for 3 hours). Caster Level: 15, true seeing, flyCraft (cooking) DC 17. Cost: 12 gp plus bribe(s) for precise elemental fire (~15,000 gp worth of red gems), cost of shrieker mushrooms (~50 gp/pound), cost of gorgon steak (only 1 gp/pound, but had to buy the whole beast at 5,000lb.), cost of magic mushrooms (50 gp each), and cost of espagnole sauce. Cook's Note: Gorgon must be cooked by elemental fire of some kind, I suggest that it is worth it to get a more intelligent species like azer or efreet and bribe them with handfuls of jewels. Gorgon cooked by non-elemental fire shrivels and blackens immediately as if overdone, even with magical or fiendish fire; and the taste is ruined. Gorgon cooked on a fire elemental's flames can be nearly as bad. The magic mushrooms still give their bonus to divination spells, but no longer include the nausea: properly cooked gorgon meat neutralizes the mildly poisonous effect of the mushrooms.
The cost of the gorgon does not include the cost of criers and bills to entice adventurous types to track, kill, and retrieve the beast.
I can’t believe what that atrocious minor noble did! After getting his way and securing an extra spot for his food taster, Baron Erlitz, long may his name be despised, destroyed my otherwise perfectly planned banquet for the dwarven ambassadors. The trade talks will now assuredly fail as well and it will be on my head.
The taster died in the panic that set in, before we could get the proper spell to the poor slave. That is bad enough; but the baron took it upon himself to look the hero and save everyone at his table by casting putrefy food and drink on all the food at the table he shared with seven other nobles. He then jumped to his feet and shouted that the food was poisoned to the rest of the hall, causing a great commotion and hindering help, until the king was forced to have his guards remove the baron just to restore order. Later investigation revealed that only the baron’s food was poisoned; there was no danger to anyone else. Nevertheless, the dinner went to the trash heap without so much as a taste from anyone. We later caught the murderous culprit and beheaded her on the spot; but the dinner was already ruined and everyone was afraid to eat any of my prized main dish.
I had to prepare and serve the dessert without delay. I added ground mana wafers to ensure no one went away from one of my banquets hungry. I know the dwarves blame me for the disaster, so my hopes of cheaper dwarven foodstuffs are dashed before the trade talks begin. I must find a way to make amends; Duke Pierson’s prices are driving me to the poor house. I wish he were not in charge of the Royal Cellars, or of all goods coming out of the island nations, or of most goods arriving in the capitol by caravan.
The Western Shield Lord, Viceroy Tameron, received me on the battlements as he was inspecting the recent repairs of the keep walls. He confided that he no longer trusted the Royal Messenger service. All missives he has sent to his majesty have been neither answered nor acknowledged. Other messages to other persons had gotten through and he even received replies; until he mentioned his inability to receive communications from the king, and then no reply from any message since. He said that these 5 pages arrived here by private messenger just a fortnight ago. He claimed they were an answer to his prayers. It seems the frost giants are starting early this year, but their raids seem stronger and more focused than ever before. Instead of running off with a herd of sheep or goats, they have been bombarding the castle then fading away into the mountains. He said he is barely able to keep up with the repairs and has no one to spare to track down and harass the raiding party, much less send them to the capitol for a month-long journey. Winter is not here yet and he cannot hold this border without a castle in the winter. He claimed his majesty would be well-advised to have plenty of those scrolls made, magicked, and distributed, along with enchanted rubies aplenty, for something sinister is going on.
He asked that I take a sealed message from him to the king with due haste; he can spare no one at the moment. He told me that contained within the message was a copy of the spell for his majesty’s eyes only. He also retained a copy for himself. He claimed such a spell was necessary for the protection of the empire and that the king would reimburse the chef for its use.
I realized that I had used the Royal Messenger service when I sent a message to the curate from the Earl of Eastwich. So I am including a copy of that message along with these pages; I’ll just have to use two rubies tonight.
Instant Message Conjuration (Teleportation) Level: Brd 5, Clr 5, Sor/Wiz 5 Components: V, S, M, F; see text Casting Time: 1 hour/1 round/1 standard action (see text) Range: Touch Target: 2 scroll cases/1 scroll case/1 ruby (see text) Duration: Instantaneous Saving Throw: None Spell Resistance: No This spell can be used in three ways: First, the spell can be cast on a pair of identical scroll cases to link them magically forevermore. This is the only version that requires both scroll cases as focus components; but no other version of the spell will work except on a scroll case prepared with this version.
Second, the spell is targeted at one scroll case (of a previously enchanted pair) and has a casting time of 1 round. This version of the spell is used to transfer one to five pages placed in it to the other scroll case no matter how far the two are separated. This spell can be used to transfer non-magical writings and/or magical writings (up to 5 spell scrolls, no level maximum, any number of spells per scroll; magic item recipes; magical maps; or even up to 5 pages of a spellbook thus limiting it to a maximum of 5th level spells or lower from spellbooks). The material component in this version is not consumed, rather it is transferred to the other scroll case. Only one scroll case is needed as a focus component for this version.
Third, the spell is instead targeted at a 1,000 gp ruby and has a casting time of 1 hour. The gem then stores the spell until the gem is crushed. When crushed, a scroll case, which must be within 5 feet and already prepared with the first version of this spell, is the target of the gem’s magic. The spell from the gem then operates as the second version. Crushing the gem is a standard action. (This version allows the gem and scroll case to be given to anyone, and they can activate it; whether they can cast spells or not). Material Components: 1 to 5 sheets of parchment, papyrus, or paper: rolled up and placed inside one jeweled ivory scroll case. Focus Component: A pair of identical jewel-encrusted, ivory scroll cases (worth 500 gp each)/one such scroll case or a 5,000 gp ruby. Cook's Note: No one but Eric and my beautiful wife even know it is my birthday. Eric has presented me with this special spell that he created to improve my communication with my scouts and ambassadors. This spell will remove my need to have several Royal Messengers on stand-by, speed missives to and from my scouts, and thus will leave increased investments for more important ventures. I have requisitioned 15 pairs of jeweled scroll cases from Ambrose and he assures me he will have them in my hands by spring’s end. I am dispatching tradesmen to acquire rubies from the dwarven mountains, I fear that will seriously deplete my gold reserves initially, but the savings should be quickly apparent.
It was a relief to finally get away from the duke’s cloying port as well as the duke’s slick and oily appointed investigators. A scant sennight later found us anchored off a small island with no apparent dock or even sign of civilization. We took the longboat to the shore where a small horde of islanders appeared through the jungle foliage and greeted us warmly. They led us inland to a cozy village of mud and straw huts set next to a small sheltered lagoon where I was introduced to and met with the chieftain. He immediately sent about a dozen runners (actually paddlers as they all took canoes, I found out later) to notify all the nearby villages to bring their trade goods. We finalized our agreements and a feast was held to celebrate.
Two days later found the shore closest to the Epicurious festooned with canoes, outriggers, dugouts, and rafts all loaded with many different goods and foodstuffs; and all from the nearby isles just as our scout reported. I will amend a copy of the ship’s bill of lading to this message. Needless to say, your orders for cocoa beans, vanilla beans, sugar cane, bananas, nutmeg, and mace were easily filled with extras should we want to sell some at market. I speculated on coconuts, papayas, oranges, dates, yams, marsh mallow root, and pineapples (not an apple!), I hope they do not rot during the month-long voyage home to the capital.
The ship has two holds, the main hold and a smaller forward hold; I cast wall of ice on the bulkheads of the smaller hold to help keep some of the fruits and other foodstuffs fresh for our long voyage back to the capitol. I plan to recast the spell periodically as needed. We easily filled both the main hold and the smaller, cooler hold almost to capacity; we should make a tidy profit from merchandizing some of the foods in the capitol market. I, later, transferred some of the goods to the special rooms explained below. I will also amend a list of these goods which will not appear on the bill of lading.
I did not find any pages of the cookbook here, but I did manage to acquire an elvish recipe from the druid (a position akin to captain, owner, and custodian I learned) of the elven ship, that I think will intrigue you. I am including it in this missive.
The day after our arrival at the island that the natives call Honuku, an elvish ship, Dolphin’s Dawn, delivered the requested elven carpenters to our ship as we lay anchored by the island. The carpenters immediately went to work as soon as the crew left for shore leave. They pulled the necessary materials from storage in our holds. Over the next two days, they outfitted the ship with the agreed-upon two secret rooms including cleverly crafted doors that looked like nothing more than normal bulkheads. The first “room” cut into the ship’s main hold slightly but gave us a massive space for hiding highly taxed goods from the duke’s tax collectors.
The second room cut into the captain’s cabin and is to be for more expensive items like the mission’s coffers, gems, and anything particularly rare or valuable that we acquire (including my jeweled scrollcase and my golden pear) as I had taken over the captain’s cabin for this trip). This second room ended up being a bit larger than I expected but it was still completely unnoticeable to me until shown the right spot to spring open the door. I put a large chest in there (in anticipation of future special goods) in addition to the expedition’s coffers contained in a small leather sack, my golden pear, and my jeweled scrollcase. There was still room to stand with the door closed so another small chest could be added with no problem. I had the carpenters add a peephole from the secret room into the captain’s cabin to make sure no one was around, so secrets could remain secret. They hid the peephole as a knot in the wood, very ingenious. The elves insisted on slightly altering the size and shape of the captain’s map table to further hide the secret room from even the practiced gaze of the captain (who thankfully had also been ordered to take 5 days shore leave like the rest of the crew). The royal chef, himself, can reveal or conceal the existence of the rooms to whomever he wishes. The chef asked me to keep it secret for now.
After the carpenters finished their job, they invited me to a celebration meal aboard their ship. I was escorted into a, I hesitate to call it a “mess” hall because the term seems somehow derogatory to the actual beauty of the room; so I will call it a dining room equipped with a large oval banquet table made of beautifully carved dark oak, with scenes of animals, birds, and plants dancing and/or twining about everything. The center of the table continued upward to and through the ceiling, looking much like a tree springing up from the table where, above deck it became the main mast. It wasn’t until dessert that I noticed that the table was actually part of the tree that was the ship and had simply grown that way.
Indeed, the whole ship was a living plant. The sails were huge fibrous leaves shaped like lateen sails and instead of ropes, the elves sang to the tree to furl or unfurl the sails. There were different songs for each sail position and different pitches for each mast. It was wondrous to behold the ship getting underway after I returned to my own ship. It was much like witnessing a symphony sailing away into the sunset.
Dessert with the elves, though, was a masterpiece (find the recipe below). The elves have no special name for it, to them it is just a salad, I call it “Elvish” salad.
I made sure to invite the captain to dine with me on his map table upon his return to the ship to gage whether he noticed the changes to his cabin or not. He seemed to notice nothing amiss at all and we had a thoroughly enjoyable meal.
I showed the spirewood stick I had been given as an example to the chieftain and all his villagers as well as all the villagers from the other islands that visited and also to the elves; but none had any clue where such a tree grows. One villager from another island brought me a few limbs of darkwood; which I quickly bought. He claimed that there had once been a whole grove of darkwood trees on his island; but last year, the duke’s men cut down and carted off all of the trees, missing only the few fallen limbs he had secreted in his hut to trade with passing ships (a practice he had built his living upon).
Elvish Salad Ingredients
6 bananas, split; 4 oranges, squeezed for juice, 2 gills orange juice; 1 pouch of coarsely grated coconut; 2 handfuls of elvish way-breadcrumbs; 1 pinch of nutmeg; 1 pinch of cinnamon, finely ground; 1 pinch of sugar, white, finely ground Serves: 6 Effects: Haste for 2 rounds, counts as a full meal. Time to Eat: 5 minutes Directions
Place split bananas in small kettle.
Mix orange juice and sugar and pour over the bananas.
Mix together crumbs, coconut, nutmeg and cinnamon.
Sprinkle over top.
Load clay oven with anthracite coal and light.
Use a bellows until the coals burn bright red.
Bake for 20 minutes keeping the coals red.
Serve warm. Craft (cooking) DC 10; Caster Level: 3; Market Price: 12 gp, plus the cost of the elvish way-breadcrumbs; Wt. 3 lbs.
Epicurious Bill of Lading *bananas - 1 cart (about 16 bushels) - cost 22 gp
*clams - 1 bag (about 3 gallons) - cost 15 gp
coconuts - 1 cart (about 16 bushels) - cost 13 gp
*dates - 2 carts (about 32 bushels) - cost 300 gp
darkwood - ¼ cord (about 500 lbs.) - cost 3,000 gp (worth 5,000 gp!)
lampuka (fish) - 1 cart (about 16 bushels) - cost 500 gp
licorice root - 1 bag (about 3 gallons) - cost 75 gp
marsh mallow root - 1 bag (about 3 gallons) - cost 50 gp
*oranges - 2 sacks (about 1 bushel) - cost 6 gp
*oysters - 4 sacks (about 2 bushels) - cost 5 gp
*papayas - 1 bag (about 3 gallons) - cost 15 gp
*pineapples - 7 sacks (about 8 bushels) - cost 26 gp
*swordfish - 1 bag (about 3 gallons) - cost 40 gp
*yams - 1 canoe (about 45 bushels) - cost 48 gp *placed in the iced hold. As our scouts reported, all the islanders in this area use the standard gold piece (mostly empire coinage, but coins from elsewhere are seen as of equal worth. Other isles use shells or beads as money, and some even only use barter.
I did acquire 4 pieces of shell-money in my trades, they are called “dollars” and are somewhat flat and somewhat circular in shape, the smallest about gp size and the largest a double-handspan width, but all vary in size and color that somehow determines their value. Each is pierced with a central hole to enable carrying large amounts on a string, all of different sizes, but colors are never mixed on a string.
During the feast in the village, the crew was regaled with a selection of musical adaptations of their myths. One in particular mentioned a troop of elven riders mounted on giant sea horses accompanied by their officers mounted on hippocampi who fought a major battle just off shore against a huge band of pirates on at least 10 ships. The elves lost and dispersed never to be seen since. The pirates still rule these seas (according to the song), but have had their attention elsewhere since the battle. The song spends a whole verse describing an underwater elven city with spires of ivory just past the reefs of the lagoon. The song ends with a promise that those heroic elves protect the nearby islands still. I spoke to everyone who would listen after the song; asking if anyone had ever seen a water elf, a giant sea horse, or a hippocampus. The answer of course was, “no one alive has”; everyone seemed to have heard the story from someone who is no longer alive. We need to send a scout to investigate this rumor of an underwater elven city. What foods would they eat there? Try to acquire several potions of water breathing to supply such a scout and send him as soon as possible.
Secret Goods cocoa nibs - 2 canoes (about 100 bushels) - cost 125 gp - worth 1,125 gp
*elven waybread - 4 loaves - cost 200 gp - worth 800 gp
*enchanted elven waybread - 2 loaves - cost 1,500 gp - worth 5,000 gp
*healing apples - 1 dozen - cost 500 gp - worth 660 gp
*mace - 3 pouches (about 2 lbs.) - cost 4 gp - worth 30 gp
*nutmeg - 7 pouches (about 4 lbs.) - cost 7 gp - worth 130 gp
*saffron - 1 handful (about 3 ounces) - cost 3 gp - worth 45 gp
sugar cane - 2 keelboats (about 350 bushels) - cost 75 gp - worth 17,000 gp
*vanilla beans - 3 sacks (about 3 bushels) - cost 150 gp - worth 25,000 gp *placed in the chest in the secret room of the captain’s cabin. Note: “Worth” is the cost of buying that much in the capitol from the duke’s personal venders, err I mean the Royal Foodstores.
It was with heavy heart that I read that both the Epicurious and Eric are overdue back at the capitol. I was especially surprised to learn that the Grand Duchess had invited Eric to join her for tea in the castle gardens. My only suggestion is that you send her a missive informing her of Eric’s tardiness and offering to attend as his personal representative in his stead. The timing is curious and she must have important tidings to impart, probably some scheme or another that will affect us, so beware. I am especially alarmed to hear that the chef is under castle arrest until the duke and Eric return and the trial can begin. Even though the duke is not back in the capitol yet, crows from his ship off somewhere in the island nations brought messages to his majesty personally (I do not know why the duke uses crows for messages instead of the Royal Messenger Service or even something similar to our scroll case and rubies. Maybe the crows are magical creatures he has bound to his will, or maybe they are creations of some magic item he has, they could also be a summon spell he has learned, or possibly it is just his winning personality that has drawn those loathsome beasts to flock around him) pushing for the charges to include treason. Treason, as you know, will throw a shadow upon everyone associated with the chef, too. Send out scouts immediately to see if they can ascertain the reason for Eric’s delay and rush him back to the capitol. Without Eric’s testimony, the chef is in dire trouble. His majesty has yet to rule it treason, but should the duke return to the capitol before Eric; heads could roll, including ours. Interestingly enough, I was glad to hear of Baron Erlitz being restricted to the castle dungeon until the investigation into the Royal Messenger Service can exonerate him; which it won’t, I’m sure. That will be treason for sure, pay my respects to the Baron, in case he loses his head before my return.
Things have not gone as well as expected for me. The caravan is definitely missing. I tracked it to the Flail Snail Inn on the frontier, and for about a day’s ride further, then I lost all trace of it. How can a whole caravan disappear? Six wagons, 50 oxen, drovers, guards, merchants, even the cook’s cart; all gone. No one at the inn seems to have a clue what happened to it. It seems to have dropped off the face of the earth. Send Colin, he is especially good at tracking most things; maybe he can find the clues I missed. We really need our yearly ambrosia supply, the most important thing on the lost caravan (in kegs no less; bless the elvish gods), as our own production, though stable, is extremely slow, (only 10-12 mugs per sennight); this supply is essential for royal meals.
I did see one of the Royal Hippogriff Wings fly over us going to the Shield Lord’s aid, confirming that my message (to the king) got through. They probably had to land and walk the final few miles to the shield lord’s keep because of the snowstorm. I assume similar troops are headed to the other Shield Lord, too.
Winter is on the horizon in the capitol, but it has already arrived at this northern shield-hold; snow was waist deep until we were well down the mountain from the pass. We were lucky to get through at all, an evil storm hit with high winds and loads of snow just as we turned the last switchback towards the pass. We couldn’t wait out the storm at the top of the pass without risking getting snowed in until summer; so we pushed on past the warm and friendly guard post at the top of the pass wading waist-deep snow to try and get the mountain between us and the storm and then make a camp there, cold but out of the wind and falling snow. We did lose one mule, though; it held most of our rations, so we had to make do with trail rations instead of a hot meal. On this side of the mountain, there is still a medium blanket of snow here at the inn, nearly a fortnight away from the shield lord’s keep; though it only lightly dusted us with snow twice since the pass. I am returning to the capitol and intend to be there in only two fortnights or so, barring inconveniencies.
The owner of the inn closest to the last vestiges of the missing caravan’s trail, a rock gnome by the name of Gnude (pronounced gah-NUE-dee, he informed me), owner of the Flail Snail Inn (or so purports the painted sign outside the inn proper, a caricature of a flail snail wielding a sword and shield with arms coming out of the main body below the flail heads); the locals just call it the “inn”) was an exceptionally talkative person. He immediately invited me to try his blue plate special (at a cost of 25gp per serving, I almost balked but I am glad I tried his fare. During our conversation and meals I acquired some more pages of the purloined cook book from him. [He also claimed that gnome (nome) is properly pronounced gah NOM ee; but he winked and smiled to show it was a joke when I burst out laughing]. Again as with the shield lords, he would not tell me who had sent the pages to him but did insist that he had never been to the capitol. He also claimed to have memorized the recipes, very smugly, I might add; and, further, had added them to his menu at the Inn. He firmly refused to stop using the chef’s private recipes for bar food. As I am still outside the boundaries of the king’s normal patrols; and I know of no nearby lords on whom to call for military aid (the shield lord being the closest and most likely snowed in until late spring or early summer; and the gnome’s extended family and elvish employees and retainers far outnumber (and look to be tougher than) my own paltry souls fatigued by cold and privation; so if the chef objects to his foods being traveler’s fare; other methods must be applied: force is not possible at this juncture (Kaleb and/or Kerrik could deal with this if the chef deems it necessary).
The gnome and I parted on amicable terms, and I acquired the original pages from him. He did not charge me anything for the pages but did insist that I try his versions of the chef’s lofty foods; I was impressed enough to buy several of his versions of the chef’s “pockets” for my men and I for the road back. Unfortunately, the gnome scribbled his own musings at the bottom of the chef’s recipes, talking mostly about his personal modifications of the recipes to fit his supplies.
I regret that I have only two rubies left (only one after this message); so I will send the gnome’s recipe along with this note. My next missive will include the original of the missing cookbook pages, expect it in about a fortnight or so. I thought it prudent to send the new recipes to the chef first.
I was also fortunate in that he had enough of his “blue plate special,” as he called it, (served appropriately on a blue plate) that I was able to try it and even gain the recipe for Flail Snail Escargot from Gnude. We talked of many things, as my lips seem to be loosened with good food and I was also able to acquire the magic item recipe for Unguent of Timelessness from the gnome, his own personal version. He claims that it keeps his flail snail escargot fresh and ready to be eaten indefinitely. He claims that he used to run out every winter when the passes were closed and the flail snail caverns were snowed in for the season. Now, he can stock up on his flail snail stores properly preserved with this salve and just make more escargot whenever he runs short, no matter the month.
Here is the recipe for Gnude’s Blue Plate Special Flail Snail Escargot Transmutation Ingredients
1 flail snail, de-flailed, removed from shell, rinsed and cut into 1 inch cubes; 16 ounces of yak butter (bull’s strength spell); 1 bushel of finely minced shallots; 21 heads of garlic, peeled and finely chopped; 12 ounces of sea salt, finely ground; 150 course-ground black peppercorns; 36 bunches of parsley, chopped; 12 bunches of tarragon, chopped; 3 loaves of toasted enchanted elven waybread, sliced and cut into dice-sized cubes (see below) Serves: About 20/cauldron; recipe makes about 12 cauldrons; serves 120-150 from the whole flail snail. Meal’s Effects: Carrying capacity increased as if one size larger (humanoids only), +7 enhancement bonus to Strength; both for 24 hours, haste for 10 rounds, counts as 3 full meals per serving, removes fatigue. Time to Eat: 1 hour
Load clay oven with mesquite wood.
For the escargots: Melt the butter in a large cauldron over peat fire and add the shallots, snail cubes and garlic. Slowly saute for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and then stir in the parsley. Set aside and let cool.
For the garlic and parsley butter: Ingredients
2 gallons of yak butter, soft (bull’s strength spell); 16 ounces of sea salt, finely ground; 75 course-ground black peppercorns; 15 bunches of parsley, chopped; 6 heads of garlic, peeled and chopped. Directions
Mix together the butter, sea salt, pepper, parsley, garlic and tarragon in a gnomish grinder (also known as an iron handmil) until very smooth. Cast bull’s strength spell and enlarge person spell on mixture.
For the waybread croutons: Ingredients
3 loaves of enchanted elven waybread; 1 cup of oil of the olive; 3 drams of sea salt, finely ground; 12 black peppercorns, finely ground Directions
Load a clay oven with bituminous coal
Slice the bread about 3/4-inch thick. Cut off the crusts and then cut the slices into 3/4-inch dice. You should have 18 to 24 cups of croutons.
Place the croutons on a sheet pan and toss them with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, tossing once, until they're nicely browned on all sides. Cool to room temperature. Gnude’s Gnote: Enchanted elven waybread, though expensive is well worth the ability to remove fatigue, too.
Combine: Scoop 3-4 snail cubes into each stone bowl, and then cover with garlic and parsley butter up to the brim. Top each dish with several waybread croutons. Bake until the butter is bubbling and the bread is golden brown, about 7 minutes. Craft (cooking) DC: 25; Caster Level: 10; Market Price: 2,000 gp plus cost of flail snail, Wt. 1 pint per serving. Gnude’s Gnote: I do this in batches, it usually makes 12 batches, which are each decanted into separate cauldrons (the inside of which are previously coated with unguent of timelessness. When a cauldron is full to the rim, the lid (of which the underside is coated with more of the unguent of timelessness) is placed firmly on the cauldron so that it touches the top of the mixture as well as seals the cauldron. Wipe off excess and discard. Unprotected flail snail escargot must be discarded after only 3 days as it goes bad very quickly.
Magic Item Recipe Unguent of Timelessness When applied to any matter that was once alive, this ointment allows that substance to resist the passage of time. Each year of actual time affects the substance as if only a day had passed. The coated object gains a +1 resistance bonus on all saving throws. The unguent never wears off, although it can be magically removed (by dispelling the effect, for instance). One flask contains enough material to coat eight Medium or smaller objects. A Large object counts as two Medium objects, and a Huge object counts as two Large objects.
Faint transmutation; CL 3rd; Prerequisite: Craft Wondrous Item; Market Price 150 gp. To make this item, you must start on the set date (or one of the optional ones), have acquired the ingredients, fulfilled all conditions and requirements, and followed the directions. Ingredients
1 heart of a stone golem (for the slow time effect)
1 gil of sweet vitriol
1 drop of vitreous from a basilisk eye (for the protection effects of petrification)
1 handful of chalk Date: At midday during high summer on a jade-inlaid* marble table. Optional Date: At midday on the summer solstice on an ebony table inlaid with lapis lazuli*. This option yields double the unguent (the extra hour wiping of the heart does not double.) Optional Date: At midday on a religious holiday of the god/goddess of time on an altar (which may or may not have the symbol of the deity inlaid in silver or platinum) dedicated to the god/goddess of time. *The design must be an infinity symbol, though it can be quite elaborate in its presentation of the symbol. Requirements: Craft Wondrous Item, appropriate table/altar, vestments and divine fire (if divine creator), laboratory and elemental fire (if arcane creator), stone mortar, obsidian pestle, iron kettle, silver spoon, flask, all ingredients, caster level 3+, Craft (alchemy) 1+ ranks. Condition: Cloudless Day. Directions: Mix the vitriol, vitreous, and chalk in a stone mortar [I use marble] with an obsidian pestle. Chant the ritual incantation (“Presto Chango”). Pour the mixture into an iron kettle; and, being careful not to splash the ingredients, add the heart. Heat the mixture on an elemental/divine fire for 1 hour. Remove from heat and let dry for two days (until noon) for solidifying into a paste. Using a silver spoon, decant into a flask for storage. Gnude’s Gnote: The heart can be wiped off and reused [careful wiping will garner enough additional unguent to coat one more Medium-sized object, but this takes an extra hour of work].
A close friend of mine from the capitol sent me this recipe so that I would not have to continue to discard most of the escargot (“not enough customers,” says Gnasti, the wife; “equals lots o’ loss”). This friend also instructed me to offer a copy of the magic item recipe to any cook that asked about any of my food recipes.
The stone golem heart was very difficult to acquire, but my men found a ruined wizard’s tower defended by one (and only one, thank the gods). After several forays, we were able to dismantle the beast, deactivate it permanently, and thus gain its heart.
I was able to purchase the basilisk eye from a merchant that usually passes through here in the spring (though it took him nearly 2 years to find a pair for me); so far that first eye has lasted for multiple batches of the unguent (I use the unguent on the basilisk eyes themselves, to keep them fresh).
This unguent does NOT work on actually still living creatures, else my cousin, Gnauseous, would be a conversation-piece at the entrance to the inn rather than the over-talkative hostler that pesters my guests with incessant small talk about crops and weather.
I apologize for taking so long to pen this letter, but circumstances prevented me from contacting you. The new captain is a slob and it took me a while to locate a candle; but I am getting ahead of myself. Let me start from the beginning.
We left the island where we had received such a warm welcome and planned to circle a few other isles in the hopes of gaining more tribes to trade with on our next voyage before we headed home. On the second evening after we set sail, I went up on deck to get some fresh air when a shout rang out that the local tribesmen were approaching the ship in canoes and outriggers (a practice that we had grown accustomed to in our winding trip through the islands. They would climb the ship sides to show us their wares in hopes of gaining some trinkets, baubles, or metallic items that they could not get in their own villages). Nets dropped over the ship’s sides provided easy access to the main deck from the sea. Today though when the first few natives gained the deck, swords appeared in their hands from nowhere and the trade talks immediately became a fight to the death. I retreated back into the captain’s cabin looking for a weapon with which to defend myself, having only a small dagger otherwise. Several of the sailors were able to grab gaff hooks or belaying pins to fend off the swords of the natives but I didn’t hold much hope that they would be able to fight off the villagers turned pirates. Indeed more pirates were standing that sailors when I last looked.
In the cabin, I found nothing of worth as a weapon and even opened the secret compartment to search in there when I heard someone stomping down the few steps to the cabin. So I quickly swung the door shut, hiding in the secret room. I looked out the peephole to see a bunch of guys dressed like natives but speaking common scan the room (grabbing my spellbook which I had inadvertently left on the table) before leaving to search the rest of the ship. Shouts and cries of pain were all I heard for a long time.
Eventually a man entered the cabin and flopped on my bed, immediately falling to sleep, it seemed. Another man entered after a knock and addressed the sleeping figure as “captain.” He claimed that all crew had been found and put to the sword and the bodies dropped overboard. He then went on to tell him that the ship was now getting underway and heading to Bearclaw Island.
The sleeping figure grunted but did not otherwise move and the new first mate (I assumed) left without another word.
The next few days were a blur with me practically starving while watching through the peephole. The captain rarely left the cabin and his only visitor was the first mate. The room quickly became a pigsty because the captain was always drinking or sleeping; only stopping those activities to eat or relieve himself. If he knocked over something or dropped something, that is where it lay. His food smelled so foul and dangerous that I wondered if his cook was actually an assassin using poison to try and relieve the captain of his position. Even as hungry as I was, the food turned my stomach. On the third night, I finally gained enough courage to sneak out in the middle of the night to grab some food scraps off the table, now piled high with dirty dishes and crumpled maps. I found several pieces of fruit that didn’t seem too bad and cut off the bitten parts to retreat back into my sanctuary. This midnight run for food became my normal means of gaining sustenance; essentially I became a mouse hunting for scraps.
Three days later we pulled into some port or another and I think they offloaded our cargo and probably restocked supplies. There were more people onboard; at least it seemed so to my ears. Two heavy somethings were brought onto the ship (the sound of men grunting and heaving was unmistakable). After this time; fruit became rare, so I had to resort to trying the meat (usually half burnt; never good) and vegetables (always undercooked, usually beans). If the crew had gone ashore it would have given me a chance to slip away, but the ship only stayed in port for that single day.
Before we left port, I was surprised to see the Duke and two liveried guards enter the cabin. The duke talked in low tones to the captain, so I couldn't make out what was said; but they seemed to know each other and from the captain's deference, it seemed he was employed by the duke. After the duke left, we sailed out of port almost immediately.
It was about this time that I decided I needed to find some way to be able to see in my little hole so I could write to inform you of my whereabouts. I feared that lighting a lamp, if I could get one; would be dangerous, as the light would shine out the peephole revealing my hiding place. Mulling over this I finally came up with the idea of plugging the peephole with wax from a candle which could also provide light. So my midnight runs now included a search for candles. The captain had devolved the room into an orc lair with nothing in its place and everything on the floor. But even then I could find nothing. Eventually I had to screw up my courage to leave the cabin and make my way stealthily to the ship’s stores for the candle (I also retrieved a small sack of hardtack, a few oranges, and a waterskin full of water-I had had my fill of rum for drinking). On deck, I scanned the horizon hoping for a landmark to let me know where I was, but nothing looked familiar. The night watch, luckily, had fallen asleep and I briefly thought of tossing him overboard, lessening my opponents by one; but I refrained from fear that he would awaken and give a yell as he fell. The trip was especially arduous as my muscles easily cramped and hindered my movements. My hiding place was not big enough to move around in unless I removed the chest, so my only physical activities were limited to my nightly snoopings. It wasn’t until much later that I realized that I should have used that chance to abandon ship and make my way home otherwise. I haven’t been out on deck since; but I will have to when my supplies run low.
With some candles firmly in my grasp, I was able, finally, to read some of the missives sent to me while I hid from the pirates. Then I took pen in hand and endeavored to bring you up to date. I will write again when the situation changes.