Chapter Fifteen: Miss Licorice & Sir Lazorus
Immortal Rose's Journal
Upon exiting the strange music hall, Tuomas led me further down the same castle wing and turned the corner into a large open room. It was set up nicely as a grand dining hall with a large chandelier suspended overhead. The many crystals set into the fixture sparkled upon the table underneath. The latter set with pristine linens, settings of polished silverware and porcelain dishes. I pondered momentarily at the absurdity of such things, especially amongst those who may well disregard them entirely for other methods of sustenance. Perhaps it was more for show than any real purpose...or possibly even the room where an all too mortal victim would take a last meal.
This last thought made me shudder, yet such fear soon gave way when I noticed an aroma of fresh baked goods wafting from behind a small door adjacent to the room. I glanced to my guide who gave an encouraging nod. Hence, we entered into the small room which proved to be a cozy kitchen. The air here was warm and inviting, the complete opposite of most other rooms in the castle; and smelled of rich desserts and savory entrees. Busy at work here, I was surprised to find a young girl. She bustled about, carrying trays of pastries to a small countertop as her hair bounced about in a pair of twin ponytails that she had set high upon her head.
She did not notice our entrance into the small room, and was much involved in her work when Tuomas cleared his throat to garner her attention. At this, she paused. Her green eyes were wide and jovial, and she set the tray down instantly to bound over to us. Here, she gave a polite smile to the physician and turned to me with concern.
"Oh! Tuomas! Why didn't you tell me that you would be visiting? I would have cleaned up a bit more. And look at the poor dear! Here she is in this ghastly place, and scared out of her wits! Shame on you, you could have at least done so much as feed the poor girl. She looks half-starved as is! Come, come, let's get you some proper food. Oh, these ruffians. They know next to nothing about ladies, and even less than that about us mortals."
She continued rambling on, not allowing Tuomas or myself a single word of refusal or anything else. Though I was at that moment much too surprised to speak. It seemed this girl knew me, or at the very least, about me and my stay inside the castle. She spoke as though an acquaintance would in reuniting with an old friend. This was puzzling in itself, yet she also had spoken of being mortal too. I wished to question her further on these matters as she pushed me out of the kitchen and guided me to a seat in the dining hall, yet my stomach interrupted me at the most inopportune time. It was a faltering realization that I had not yet taken a single meal in my time at the kingdom. There was no way to distinguish day or night with the everlasting moon, much less appropriate dining times. I lowered my head, ashamed at the organ's loud call for food, yet she smiled in understanding.
"Don't worry, Rose. I'll fix something for you right away!"
She passed Tuomas on her way back to the kitchen, and I heard his remarks to her.
"Miss Licorice, how is it that you know of Miss Rose? This is your first meeting of her, is it not?"
"Oh, yes, but you forget that Lazzy keeps me up to date with that side of the castle." She gave a small giggle, the first happy laughter I had heard in what seemed ages. "You can't hide these things from me. Besides, girls must always stick together!"
I watched for them to return to the dining hall, yet only the physician did so, shaking his head in an exasperated notion. He caught my eyes however, and did what he could to offer better explanation.
"Forgive me. That is Miss Licorice. She is the baker here, as well as the cook for the entities that are not... blood-drinkers."
He said this last part in hesitation, his eyes doing what they could to avoid my throat and the area where the markings had been. The awkward silence was short-lived as the girl known simply as Licorice rounded the corner and set a small plate in front of me. I looked down to see a small frosted pastry. Not exactly a sustaining meal. She noticed my confusion and offered an apologetic smile.
"I'm sorry. All I have are cookies, cupcakes and sweets at the moment. The time for dinner is about an hour or two from now, and the meal will be much much bigger. For now though, please eat something. Would you like some tea as well? Lazzy said you like tea."
I frowned, remembering her using the name before.
"Forgive me, but who is..."
At that moment, a high-pitched squeal resounded in the dining room, followed by the appearance of the small bat from my chambers. He flew directly overhead, circling the chandelier in a dizzying dance before landing squarely in the cupcake on my plate. The furball then proceeded to consume the entire confection without a single thought. Licorice gasped, giving a frown to the small creature.
"Lazzy! That is no way to behave in front of company! Oh, I am so very sorry, Miss Rose. He does know better than that. I'll get you a new plate."
She took the plate, bat and all, into the kitchen as Tuomas smiled.
"That would be Sir Lazorus, or 'Lazzy' as Miss Licorice affectionately calls him. He is a common guest at the castle. I remember seeing him flying about in your chambers earlier. He must have informed Miss Licorice of your arrival. You must pardon his manners. He is quite an avid fan of sweets, especially those made by Miss Licorice. Otherwise, he is a perfect gentleman, I assure you."
My stay within this kingdom seems to grow stranger by the hour.
- Immortal Rose