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Once upon a day ago, in the time of King Merrik of Gardia, there lived a man called Seemore Caker. He was a baker by trade, a rarity in the Pavanschall town of Spiru. Most of the menfolk of Spiru were fishermen. And, those who weren?t were soldiers, guards and politicians and often even those men spent a lot of their time fishing. Even the womenfolk of Spiru spent much of their time fishing, especially those that lived in the Burns, the northwest third of town, where Seemore Caker lived. The other two thirds of Spiru, for those of you who?ve never been there, are Byford to the east and Calder to the south. But, the Burns was the largest third, accounting for more than half the township and nearly all the industry. The Burns consisted of a series of strips of water coming in off the southside of Oakenbrook, deadend inlets where fish were easily captured en mass. Many of these inlets were owned outright by a particular family or business venture, but some of the ones farthest west, that is downstream, were publicly owned and shared by whoever got out to their shores in the morning. It was along one of these westard inlets that Seemore Caker lived.
Seemore Caker lived alone though he?d been courting for sometime Bek Suffield whose family was one of the well to do families in Spiru despite not being involved in fishing. The Suffields lived in Calder and farmed blackseed root and shallots mostly. They had some dummalo, but mostly used them to pull plows and carts. They provided much of the food in Spiru that was not fish related, which really wasn?t much. If Riston Suffield, Bek?s father, were not Elderman of Spiru, their family probably wouldn?t be too important, but Riston Suffield had been Elderman for many of his years and Spirufolk had little choice but to accept that the Elderfamily of Calder was not a fishing family. There were many, of course, that hoped that Bek Suffield would marry a good fisherman and make things better. And, that Bek had been seen around with Seemore Caker was a sad, sad thing for much of Spiru. Everyone thought there had to be something wrong with Seemore. Nothing good could come of a man who lived alone in the Burns and didn?t even fish. And, no one could recall ever having seen Seemore fish or even spend much time near the water. There were some that said he never even ate fish, perish the thought. On a clear day, it made no sense, no sense at all. Especially since, his relatives, the Wainwrights, were great fisherfolk. And, there were those that wanted Seemore to move on, to move out and leave his life in Spiru behind, not that there was much to leave behind.
Though he wasn?t too keen on travel in general, Seemore really would have loved to leave. And, he saved up what money he could to pay for the move. Though Spirufolk looked down on Seemore, no one could fault his ability to bake a good cake or breadloaf, and who doesn?t like a good cake or breadloaf? There was always someone throwing a party, celebrating a reapday or bannday or a wedding or just looking for some bread to go with a good hadoc or spirusteak. Seemore wasn?t as successful in the making of money as the average fisherman of the Burns but he made do. And, what he didn?t spend on the upkeep of his small home and on foodstuffs and supplies he might need from day to day, he put away.
One day, a dispute arose on the inlet by Seemore?s house. James Sapper and Ford Quarryman had hooked the same fish, a large trowt, so large it could feed a family for a week. It started as a shouting match and fisherfolk all around looked to see what was happening. Seemore, sitting on his porch and thinking about his future with Bek Suffield while a cake cooked in his oven, looked out to see what was happening. And, seeing who was involved in the shouting, Seemore didn?t like it one bit. See, he didn?t care much for James Sapper. Sapper liked to get to that particular inlet firstthing in the morning, before most folk, even Spirufolk, were breaking the fast, and he?d spread out his equipment over much more space than he would need. And, when other fisherfolk would show, Sapper would just grunt at their requests he make some room and go on with his fishing. Normally, this wouldn?t be of much concern for someone like Seemore but more than once, Sapper, in spreading out his equipment and laying out the fish he?d caught, had put his things right onto Seemore?s frontlawn. And, that just wouldn?t do. Thismoment, seeing Sapper arguing with Ford Quarryman, Seemore marched right down from his porch to see if he could help things.
And, it was right about then that the argument of words erupted into something more. Punches were thrown and, though many would admit Ford Quarryman had thrown the first, all would agree that James Sapper was at fault. Not a one of them liked Sapper, you see. The Reeve of Spiru, Worden Mortarmaker was called and both men were arrested. Most of the fisherfolk wandered off to other inlets, wanting nothing to do with anything official regarding the matter. Seemore, living right there and with a cake in the oven, could go nowhere, so he was listed as the chief witness of the matter.
Days later, Reeve Mortarmaker came to talk to Seemore (and, as it turned out, to eat a few small cakes between sentences) to establish that Ford Quarryman had started the fight. Tucker Washburn, who?d learned lawyering in Piperston, was representing James Sapper and was claiming Sapper had done nothing untoward and was asking for compensation from Quarryman for his stay in the Spiru jail. Washburn had even gone so far as to imply that he would seek some sort of retribution from Seemore, if Seemore didn?t see to it to support Sapper?s version of events.
?I?m sorry to get you involved in this, Seemore,? Mortarmaker said. Reeve Mortarmaker had always been one of the nicer folk in Spiru, more accepting of those who didn?t fish. ?But, Washburn said he?d make a play for your property and Sapper wants to buy the inlet outright to keep anyone else from using it.?
?Buy it outright? It?s for sale??
?They?re all for sale, the public inlets. Most folk who use em, though, can?t afford such things.?
?How much is it??
Mortarmaker told Seemore how much it would cost to own the inlet and Seemore?s eyes lit up. He had enough in his savings, just barely. If he could own the inlet and keep out the fisherfolk he could live right there in Spiru in peace, making his cakes and his breadloafs and he wouldn?t have to travel. Seemore went straight to the town center with Reeve Mortarmaker. There, Seemore met with Stod Woodman of the Elderman?s Office and arranged the purchase of the inlet. Twodays time, the inlet was his. Bek was quite happy, as was her father. Though not a fisherman himself, Riston Suffield had a mind to appreciate the chief industry of his town and was glad to hear the man who would likely marry his daughter was going to taking up fishing in such a serious fashion (for, why else, Riston must have thought, would Seemore need his own inlet?).
But, James Sapper and Tucker Washburn hadn?t had their whole say just yet. They took Seemore to court and claimed he?d cutcharacter against ?Master Sapper, an upstanding member of the community, a good fisherman.? Washburn, knowing plenty of Seemore?s character and the stories Spirufolk told about him, made sure to add, ?Master Caker, here, doesn?t even plan to fish in the inlet. He just wants to keep everyone out.? And, that ruined everything for Seemore. Elderman Suffield, judging the case and assuming outright that he?d have no reason to find against his future lawson, understood what he had to do. He couldn?t let a man who didn?t even fish own one of the inlets. He couldn?t let a man who didn?t even fish cutcharacter against good fisherfolk. Knowing his daughter would hate him for it, Riston Suffield found against Seemore and, as restitution, handed over the ownership of the inlet to James Sapper.
Seemore appealed the decision right then and there. More accurately, he yelled a whole lot. Riston didn?t care for Seemore?s attitude and ordered him removed from the building. Seemore looked for a lawyer in Spiru but none would take his case. With a ruling against him, it was now quite acceptable to not like Seemore. No one cared for the details. No one cared to think about how the ruling had been in favor of Sapper, who they also did not like much, despite his love of fishing. There was opportunity to look down on Seemore Caker, and everyone took it. Everyone, that is, except Bek Suffield.
Bek came by Seemore?s home, which was still his even if the inlet was the property of James Sapper. Seemore was packing all his clothes into a large trunk.
?What are you doing,? Bek asked him.
?I?m leaving. Everyone wants me to go. Now, they all get their way.?
?You can?t go, Seemore. Not everyone here wants you to go. I don?t want you to go.?
Seemore looked at Bek and her smile broke his heart. He couldn?t stay, even for her. ?Come with me,? he said.
?My father would never allow it.?
?Your father got me into this mess.?
?I?m sorry. If that helps any, I?m sorry for what my father did.?
?Doesn?t give me the inlet back, does it??
?You didn?t really want the inlet anyway. You just wanted to keep the fisherfolk away from your house.?
?You say that like it?s a bad thing.?
?It is a bad thing, Seemore. Fishing it what it?s all about here. You know that.?
?Oh, I know it. But, I don?t like it. I didn?t ask to be born here. I didn?t ask to grow up here. You know what it was like growing up with my family??
?You?ve told me.?
?The Wainwrights are always fishing, Bek. They took me to doctor after doctor as a child, thinking there was something wrong with me. There is something wrong here, but it?s not with me. These people, Spirufolk?they?re not right in the head. So I don?t fish, so what??
?But, will I see you again??
?When I find a place where I can be who I am, I?ll send for you.?
?My father won?t let me come.?
?Your father won?t be able to stop you. I love you, Bek and you love me. Marry me, Bek Suffield. I will go find us a home, a place where I can make a living doing what I do without everyone looking down on me and you will come be my wife.?
?Yes,? Bek said, her eyes bright, her smile brighter.
Seemore wrapped his arms around Bek. Then, he pulled back, closed his trunk and carried it outside. Bek followed after him. ?Where will you go??
?First stop is Aeodith, I think. I?m not sure your father had the authority to do what he did, giving the inlet to Sapper. I want to find some good lawyering folk to see for sure. After that, I don?t know.?
?Can I come with you, thismoment??
Seemore set his trunk on his cart and turned back to face Bek. ?Oh, my precious Bek, you stay, you prepare things, pack things, and I?ll send for you. Leave the dirty, boring part to me.?
Seemore hooked his cart to his dummalo then hugged Bek again. They said their goodbyes and Seemore climbed onto the dummalo and set off, pulling the cart behind. He went right through the center of town, sending a wave of whispers and rumors spiraling outwards. By the time he was on Sacrifice Road heading toward Crale, Spirufolk with nothing to do were lining the road, sending him off in style. ?Good riddance to the Caker,? some cried. ?Good riddance to badfolk.?
At Crale, Seemore turned his dummalo north toward Bridge. He didn?t have much money with him but he bartered a good blackseed loaf for a night in an inn. Nextmorning he crossed Oakenbrook to Sifuge and set out north for the city of Aeodith, the largest city in the Pavanschall and in all of Gardia.
In Aeodith, Seemore met with Stod Tilman, who did ?the best lawyering in all the Pavanschall? if one was to believe the sign outside his office. Six loafs of bannocbread and three farlcakes later, Seemore was on his way east toward his one hope in all this.
?See, the thing is,? Tilman told Seemore, ?right or wrong, what the Elderman says goes in a Pavanschall town. There?s no higher authority unless he?d broken a law outright.?
?What about the king,? Seemore asked.
?Well, obviously he?s got more authority, but he wouldn?t bother himself with such matters, and he?s so far away.?
?How do I get to see him??
?You want to meet with King Merrik??
Tilman went to his desk, filled out a paper and gave it to Seemore. It was a simple writ, expressing an official entrance to Faraway Castle. ?This will get you in,? Tilman said, ?but you?re wasting your time.?
?I?ll be the judge of that. Thank you for your time.?
And, so, Seemore headed east. He slept under his wagon that night not fortyyard from Salogee, the stone arch that marked the border of the Pavanschall, something he?d never thought he?d see in all his days. Nextmorning, Seemore Caker, a bakerman from Spiru set out on the Eternal Road. And, it was a long and arduous journey, as any trip along the Eternal Road is wont to be, but there occurred little of consequence to the tale at hand. Seemore sold some farlcakes to Dwarrow in Boro. He had a bag of rosesugar buns stolen by a giant eegle near Perth. And, he bought off some bandits near Feytop with butternut cookies. And, finally, he came to the Notop and the Wending Stair to Faraway Castle. And, with little thought for bandits, he left his dummalo and his cart at the bottom of the Wending Stair and headed up.
The trip up took most of a day. Late in the afternoon, suddenly, the air grew cold and all was enshrouded in clouds. Seemore didn?t slow down. He just marched on. And, then, as abruptly as the clouds had come, they disappeared and he found himself standing before the entrance to Faraway Castle.
He showed the paper given him by Stod Tilman in Aeodith and made it past the main gates. Inside, all was chaos. People were running all around, hectic, crazed. Seemore tried to ask one man what was going on, but the man just pushed him aside and kept running. Seemore found a guard and inquired as to the busyness. ?Is it always like this in Faraway Castle,? he asked.
?Only on banquet days,? the guard replied. ?And, thisday?s busier than usual even for a banquet day.?
?How is that,? Seemore asked. But, right then a woman?s cart full of capons hit a pillar nearby and broke open. Capons jumped and fluttered all about and the guard hurried to help catch them.
Seemore headed into the inner gatehouse and showed Tilman?s writ again. That got him into a Ward?s office. There, Seemore relayed his tale, how he?d purchased the inlet and had it taken from him by Elderman?s order.
?And, you expect what, for the king to give it back to you?? The Ward rolled his eyes. ?Your little land deals in the Pavanschall are of no concern to the king. It is banquet day.?
?A party is more important than a citizen?s complaint??
?This party is for the Queen?s relatives from the Trade Lands, not a minor matter in any way.? Mostly to himself, the Ward added, ?if we could just get some refreshment already, that is.?
?What was that about refreshment,? Seemore asked.
?Oh, nothing with which you need concern yourself, Master Caker. Bandits intercepted the caterer?s caravan on its way up from Feedertown.?
?You have no caterer??
?No, we have not. The chefs here at Faraway are working overtime to put something together but I?m afraid it will not be fine enough for??
?You need fine foods??
?Fine cakes and breads??
?And pies, yes. What are you getting at, Master? Master Caker, you said you were from Spiru. You are a fisherman, are you not??
Seemore was angry that the ward hadn?t listened closely enough to his tale, but that matter could wait. ?I?m a baker,? he told the Ward. ?I?ve many fine loafs in my cart and ingredients??
?We?ve got ingredients like you couldn?t imagine,? the Ward said.
?And recipes,? Seemore said. ?I know many fine recipes and have many more written in books in my cart. I could cater your party if you?d let me.?
?And, you?ll be well compensated, I?m sure,? the Ward replied. ?Where is this cart??
Seemore looked down.
?What is it? What is the problem??
?My cart?s at the bottom of Notop. You?d never get it here in time for the??
?No problem.? The Ward pulled a rope hanging near his desk and a bell rang in the distance somewhere. A guard appeared in the doorway seconds later. ?Take the lift down and find this man?s cart. Get it up here now.?
?What?s a lift?? Seemore had never heard of such a thing.
The guard left on his errand. The Ward looked over at Seemore. ?The lift goes down through the mountain. Your cart will be up here in notime. Now, come with me and I?ll show you your kitchen and staff.?
The Ward got up, grabbed Seemore?s hand and pulled him down a long hall, up a spiraling staircase two flights and they came out into a kitchen bigger than any of the buildings in Spiru. His old house could have fit in the dishwashing section in the corner.
The Ward introduced Seemore to the staff and left him there to get acquainted with the place. Minutes later, all the contents of his cart were brought in and Seemore got everyone started on the finest, most extravagant feast he?d ever prepared, with the grandest cakes and pies and breadloafs to boot.
The chaos about the castle died down and the banquet went on as planned. And, Seemore Caker?s breads and cakes stole the show. And, halfway through the banquet, King Merrik himself came looking for Seemore.
Seemore knelt before him and the king pulled him back to his feet. ?None of that, thisday, Master Caker. You?ve just made this the finest banquet we?ve ever had. And, I wish to reward you. I understand you had some land matter with which you needed help.?
?I just want a place to live, somewhere away from the fisherfolk of Spiru.?
King Merrik thought for a moment then said, ?there is some land acrossriver from Capital. Would you like it??
Thinking it would only be a tiny tract of land, Seemore still nodded emphatically.
?And, you?ll cater all our banquets to come to the end of your days?? The King said this with such eagerness, Seemore couldn?t possibly say no.
King Merrik excused himself and returned to the banquet. A Ward, a different one than before, came and found Seemore and took him downstairs to sign some forms. And, it was then that Seemore saw on a map the tract of land that was to be his. Nearly as big as the city of Capital, a peninsula formed by the mouth of Ravnsbrook and Hide Lake, it could have fit all of Spiru many times over. Seemore?s mouth dropped open and the shock didn?t wear off until well after he found himself there on his new land, having been taken down Ravnsbrook by royal coachship.
A construction crew was already there waiting. Seemore was shown several possible plans for his new house. He picked one and construction began right then and there. Seemore mostly just stood there, awed by the construction, awed by the site of Hide Lake and the towers of Capital acrossriver.
Not long after, the house was completed and Seemore, true to his word, sent for Bek Suffield. They married soon thereafter. And, Seemore went on to cater all the royal banquets in addition to local business acrossriver in Capital. His business got so big, he had to hire employees, and on his land they each got homes, and some of those homes included farms and gardens, and support buildings and businesses moved in, all with expressed, written permission from Seemore Caker, owner of the land.
A charter was signed officially designating the land ?Caker?s Village? which over time, was shortened to Cakers. More and more people moved acrossriver from Capital and Cakers grew into a town and into a city, the third largest in all of Gardia, which it remains to this day.
When Bek?s father retired from public office, even he came to live in Cakers. He took a house next to that of his lawson and daughter. Seemore made peace with Riston Suffield and bought the man a fishing boat. Riston took it out on Hide Lake everyday. Strangely, enough, it was the most fishing he?d done since he was a child, and he?d lived in Spiru all his life.
The city of Cakers grew crowded and busy, but Seemore didn?t mind so much. He was Elderman now, and as long as he lived, he had official say on who lived in his city and what they were allowed to do there. Some people fished. Some people baked. Some people farmed. Some people did other things. And, none of those fields took precedence, not even baking. Seemore had found a place where he could live how he wanted to live and do what he wanted to do. He and Bek had many children and lived happily ever after until the end of their days.
13-14 january 2004