My latest short story to appear in the wild is ‘Seven Kinds of Baked Goods’, part of the anthology Just Desserts from WolfSinger Press. (It’s available now at Amazon.)
‘Seven Kinds of Baked Goods’ is a fantasy tale about revenge (that is the theme for the anthology, after all), and it is also the story of two female characters: Dwarven baker Disa and the Northern tea-shop owner Leyra. In my fantasy-verse, Dwarves are famed for their ability to enchant and imbue weapons and armour with special, magical properties. Disa uses her powers while baking rather than in the smithy, and this leads to her family disowning her. She eventually meets Leyra, a Northern woman with a tea-shop and a tragic past and a deep, dark grudge against some highly placed people in the big city…
The characters Disa and Leyra have been with me for many years in various MMORPGs (at least since the original EverQuest): they’ve been healers, clerics, shamans, druids and warriors in various games, and I am rather attached to both of them. It was a lot of fun to bring them together and set them off on a quest of vengeance. If you’ve read my short story ‘The Breaking of the World’ in the anthology ‘People Are Strange’, you might notice some slight connections to this story as well…
The story’s title was inspired by the Swedish tradition to serve seven kinds of baked goods (cookies, cakes, etc.) when you have someone over for a fancy “fika”, AKA coffee and something sweet to go with it. I’ve wanted to incorporate that tradition into a story for a while, and in this story it finally found its proper place.
Here’s an excerpt from ‘Seven Kinds of Baked Goods’. This is Disa remembering when she first met Leyra:
First time I met Leyra was on the street when I checked her pocket for loose change. She slapped me right over the head with that big hand of hers and held me by the braid when I tried to get away. Should have known to tack my braids down tight, but you don’t always find good hairpins in the offal heaps and gutters.
“You’d be that Dwarven sneak-thief I’ve heard tell about,” she said. “It’s said you’ve got a knife as won’t kill anybody.”
I guess I’d stuck enough people that word had gotten ‘round, and when I told Leyra about Fang and Bleeder, she laughed so hard she had to sit right down.
“What else can you make?” she asked, and it might have been the way she laughed, or the fact that she’d shared a dram of Northern spice-wine with me, but I told her everything: up and down, inside out, the story of my life.
When she heard I was a scuttled baker, something lit behind those freeze-blue eyes.
“I run a tea-shop,” she told me, and I saw the gleam of something darker sunk deep in her eyes right then, heavy stones of grief and pain, gone right down in the depths, but I chose to ignore it for the dazzle of that smile. “I could do with hiring a baker. But you should know it’s not the teas I make the money on, not really. Most of the profit’s in killing people. Which means you’ll get a life of nought but disrepute and danger.”
“What kind of people do you kill, would you say?” I wondered, sipping on that spice-wine, and she said they were mostly the kind that had murdered old women, swindled widows, and were known to beat up children, pups, and kittens.
“Deserving, then?” I mused. “I’d be handing out some justice. Working for a just cause.”
A sideways glint, the smile widening enough that I could see the hunger lurking just beneath.
- You can pick up your copy of Just Desserts at Amazon.