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To Serve Man, British Cuisine?
(2013-01-21 - 2013-03-07)
No description.
Percival It was just before twilight, and he was already up. The mere sight of the sun, above the horizon line had him gawking at it from the garden for a full half an hour, before he came inside to actually be productive.

It wasn't much longer before various smells started wafting out of the kitchen in various degrees, from the raw ingredients he'd raided from the larder, to the smell of a roast cooking with chopped potatoes inside the wood-burning oven. At the moment, he seems to be stirring batter made from flour, eggs, and milk inside a claybowl, while measuring out oil on the side into ramekins, and preparing a second cooking fire. His sword and shield seem to be abandoned by the threshold of the kitchen, and forgotten, while he hums out the second verse to a jaunty tune before singing it aloud.

"They call her Sally Sweet, she's the queen of Delancy street. When she starts to dance everyone goes, chick chicky boom, chick chicky boom. Excuse her Mister Pete? Have the Cubans a different beat? If they have will you teach her to chick chicky boom, chick chicky boom."

Its becoming painfully obvious that he would never, ever sing this in the company of others, but for some reason Avira's performance the other night had been stuck in his mind.
Leida Usually at this point in the night, everyone else that resides in the Shard Seekers dorms has already passed out for the evening and this day is no exception. The constant bombardment of difficulties that has lain siege to the city has left its defenders weary and stressed out. Nothing a good night's rest can't fix at the moment but the problem was becoming worrisome.

However, one other person besides their resident gargoyles was finding that she preferred the silence and the cool breezes that came with the setting of the sun. Even after a month living here the heat was painful and foreign to the delicate princess, draining her strength and making her irritable, though she would never show such sentiments to her friends.

The door to the female dorms creaks open quietly to admit the passage of the small girl and she is careful to shut it equally silently behind her. Lenn and Lily were pretty heavy sleepers but there was no reason not to be careful.

Leida pads towards the front room, rubbing the sleep from her eyes with a yawn. However, upon stepping out of the hallway and catching sight of the bizarre display in the kitchen, her mouth freezes half open as the yawn turns into surprise and then amusement. It is all she can do to stiffle a giggle behind her hands.

As amusing as it would be to duck into hiding and eavesdrop on Percival's private moment, she is not nearly that mean. Priel would probably do that. And take pictures. And the mere mental comparison to the dragon-lady firmly sets her against such a thing.

Once she is sure her face doesn't give her mirth away, Leida offers a polite cough to draw attention to her presence and waits for him to notice. Sadly, she has the worst poker face on the planet and is still grinning intermittantly.
Percival Percival sets to pouring the batter into the little ramekins, and then putting a bit of oil into each of them. He's already back to the main chorus. "They call me Cuban Pet..."

And then the cough. And he freezes, his wings actually lifting off his shoulders. A little strangled noise escapes his mouth, as he tries to calm himself before he drops the bowl of batter. Turning his head, he notes the Princess' grin almost immediately.

"Ah, uh, your Highness. I do hope that my off-key singing did not offend."

He would have kneeled immediately, except for the bowl of batter, in fact he seems to be caught in like a half bow, with the bowl still in his hands, and then he puts it down, and kneels, obviously flustered.
Leida Leida looks away, unable to even fool herself that she is keeping a straight face at this display. One hand comes up again to hide her amusement, covering her mouth as if she were holding back a yawn. She's not very convincing.

After he gets all of the awkward posturing and juggling with the utensils out of the way, the girl glances back at him, her hand tucked within the long sleeves of her shirt still concealing her face. "Ah... no, no, Percival-sensei... i-it was... lovely..."

Clearing her throat, the princess bows back to him when he kneels then turns her gaze towards the state of the kitchen, looking over the array of foods being prepared. She is clearly impressed. "I did not know you were also skilled at cooking, sensei."
Percival Percival's facial features twitch, beside himself, several of the bony protrusions at his brow lifting. Its alright, he was entirely used to being humiliated. In fact it was par for the course lately. And now he knew he was embarassed as he was making golf metaphors mentally.

"Uh ah, not skilled per se, but I'm passable enough that my master in chivalry complimented me with the statement that my food was adequate enough to not be given to the clan beasts."

Which was his master's usual way of complimenting something that he found to be delightful. Percival was not as good a chef as several of the squires who served as Arma Patrina, but he did find that cooking was a calming mental exercise that took a lot of discipline.

"It is simply a roast, with potatoes, and Yorkshire pudding, your highness. Nothing that is worthy of gracing your palate."
Leida "Hmmm... well, how will I know if I never try it?" Leida gives a genuine smile back at him, clasping her hands behind her back. She had never actually been one for the fancy foods that tended to get served at her father's table. Cooking the internal organs of beasts just... wasn't appealing no matter how they tressed it up. Her husband wasn't much better about that either. Must be a male dominance thing.

Closing her eyes, the princess takes a delicate sniff at the air. "Well I do not believe that I have ever had this food of yours before but it smells wonderful." She wanders over to his side and motions for him to stand with a gentle wave of her hand. "I hope you will indulge my curiosity?" She tilts her head to the side slightly with this question, playfully peering up at him.
Percival Percival tried to keep his expression entirely stoic, but the corners of his mouth tug into a smile despite himself.

"Uh, well, of course your highness. I would be delighted for both your company and for you to partake of the meal I'm preparing."

He made a few mental calculations on the wood-burning oven. It wouldn't take long for the the Yorkshire 'pudding' which were really just simple muffins or cakes to finish once he put it in. And the roast would be ready soon enough. Once he feels that he has leave to rise, he eventually does do so. "Uh, well this food comes from my homeland. It is called Yorkshire pudding, but its not truly pudding, nor do we think it originated from Yorkshire. Its a rather simple cake." He finishes pouring the batter and oil into the few clay ramekins, and places them on a thin sheet of tin, before sliding that into the oven, bare-handed. Yikes. Apparently he hadn't figured out exactly what to use in a kitchen that didn't come from the late 1960's onward in his world. The lack of insulated mits was a problem he'd have to solve before the roast finished.
Leida Leida smiles again at his response and gives a single nod. "Wonderful. I always enjoy trying new things."

Fortunately for Percival, there are cloths available for that as well as some old fashioned pie shovels sitting next to the stove. Now that he's looking for them, he shouldn't have too much trouble figuring out what they're for. And he can always ask, Leida is actually a pretty decent cook herself and since she's here most of the day, usually the one who ends up preparing the meals.

The princess wanders back over to the far wall and takes a seat in the usual fashion, leaning back to use her feet for a cushion. She watches him work out of curiosity but since he's already done the important part there isn't much to be gleaned about his methods. "Cake with meat? How strange."
Percival Percival chortles at that.

"We British are a bit odd like that. We serve sweets at times as side dishes to the current course rather than as seperate courses. Except, Yorkshire pudding isn't especially sweet. Its more like somewhere between a biscuit and an actual cake."

Given that he hasn't yet apologized for the little incident the other night, Leida would either surmise that he had no idea the frog was her, or that he was in fact taking advantage of a frog. Which would be incredibly weird but not entirely out of the question. He seems to solve his problem by eventually locating a long wooden pole with a thin yet hard wooden sheet attached on the end of it, to slide underneath the roast within the oven and to extract it very carefully, before placing it on the kitchen counter. He then sets to unwrapping the covered contents delicately, to allow it time for the roast beef au jus cooked with potatoes and carrots to cool down.
Leida If the princess has even given the events of the previous night much thought it doesn't show. She was actually far busier trying to stay out of the water herself while Imi seemed intent on throwing her into it, likely a nefarious scheme meant to give her an excuse to go kissing her in public again. Not that Imi seemed to actually require any particular reason.

"I see. Well this shall be a fresh experience in many ways then." The aroma released upon the roast's unveiling is quite intoxicating and Leida again can't help but inhale it like some sweet perfume. The fact that she had been too tired to eat properly earlier may have some influence on her particualr interest in this cullinary adventure.

"Hmm. Tell me a little about your home, sensei."
Percival The question takes him momentarily off guard, but he takes it as best as he can in stride, before he removes two simple clay platters from one of the cabinets. "Well, its difficult to say. You see, in my world, my kind remain hidden. There are so few of us left, and we replace our numbers so slowly that we can't afford exposure." He looks over her shoulder, giving her a polite and yet self-depreciating smile.

"You see, your highness, humans hated and feared my kind for generations, even though we served as the loyal guardians of their strongholds. And now we're written out of the history books. Noone knows we exist. And if we reveal ourselves, we're considered monsters. So my Order dwells outside of London in a manse of sorts that serves as a secret Aerie. The only humans that come by that area are the few allies we have. You see..." He begins to cut up the roast with one of the larger knives. "...the monarchs of Britain no longer have power, and yet we are sworn to loyally serve them. They exist, as figureheads, but the people elect those who actually rule. And so, the Queen and her progeny no longer know we even exist. Instead the spymasters of her country wield us as they see fit. Thus far they have not wielded our Knighthood dishonorably." He remains there, his head cocked to the side in thought, before he hurriedly moves to the oven to remove the 'Pudding' in a similar manner as he did the roast.

"Our world has forgotten the 'monsters', the magic, the supernatural. It is a world where technology has replaced us, and it allows those who can afford it to live in leisure that even royalty of old could not have dreamed of. My clan spurns most technology, but even so, some still creeps through, to allow us television and the cinema. As well as radios to communicate on the rare mission. And our missions are rare. We live as a family. Everyone in the clan is my brother, my sister, or my elder. We all know each other, train with each other, laugh with each other, fight each other during the occasional disputes. But most of all we love each other, and I miss them terribly." He clears his throat as he starts doling out thick cuts of the roast onto the platters, as well as a bit of the juices it was baked in to serve as gravy, and the carrots and potatoes.

"This may come as a bit of a shock to you, but in my world the differences in gender were much like those within your own, until the past century. However, it is not so among my kind. Our females have always been equal to the males, and vice versa. They have always served as knights as well, even when the humans did not allow it of their own people. It is not uncommon for them to be the one to approach the male for courtship, rather than the other way around as is typical amongst humans."
Leida The girl listens with quiet fascination to his descripition of a world that is utterly alien to her mind. Certainly there are some parallels to the way he lays out the gargoyle society to her in her own world. Demons and spirits of all sorts and sizes inhabit the lands and they too prefer to remain secluded in many cases. Often the ones that show themselves are the less benevolent sorts which has lead to an unfortunate view by most that the majority of their kind are evil.

However, she learned as a little girl, from poems and old books, that not all things that looked monstrous on the outside were bad, nor was a pretty face to be trusted. Demons were a tricky sort and could manipulate the hearts of man to see what they wished. She was living proof of that.

The mention of technology causes her to nod. Leida has already seen some of what these advanced worlds had created and much of it was strange and frightening for a simple girl such as herself. There was also cars...

Leida shakes her head to clear the thought of those metal monstrosities from her mind. Instead, she latches onto one thing he said that gives her pause. "Your land has royalty... but they do not rule...?" Her head tilts slightly in confusion. "I do not understand."
Percival After finishing his portioning onto each plate, he tops each off with a single Yorkshire "pudding" each. He places down the larger platter in front of Leida. While he does not question that it is likely too much for her, she was still royalty and deserved to be offered the larger portion. He then places a set of wooden utensils down beside it. "What would you like to drink your highness? I'm unfamiliar with any of the local vintages, or I'd offer you wine." He moves back over to the cabinets to locate two glasses and whatever she states would be her preference.

" more a matter of pride now. It has been decided for years amongst the humans that the divine right by blood, no longer makes one a fit ruler. Instead, the smallfolk are given rights and say in how the country is run. Thus we have a parliament, in which they are elected to sit in a house of commons, alongside the house of Lords, which are the nobility. However even now it is being questioned whether the house of Lords still ought to exist. Then there is the Prime Minister who serves as an executive of sorts. While the royalty grants their 'consent' for this to take place, it would not actually be permissable for royalty to rule. However we are a proud people, and it is a matter of pride to still have the tradition of royalty in place. They are....celebrities of sort. That is perhaps the healthiest way of looking at them."
Leida Leida tries not to stare at the giant mound of food placed infront of her. Definately too much. She starts to ask if Percival accidentally got their stomach sizes mixed up in his head but thinks better of it. This was probably just another one of his strange reverences to her bloodline.

Daintly, she picks up the fork and looks over the contents of the plate, recognizing most everything offered here even if it is prepared in a strange manner. She pokes at the meat, quirking an eyebrow when it proves to be exceptionally tender, and lifts some of the roast to her mouth. It is only a tiny portion that barely counts as a bite but she chews at it delicately and nods her approval after a few moments.

"The flavor is very rich. You are an excellent cook, sensei."

Considering his question, she puts a finger to her chin and peers at the ceiling thoughtfully. What she'd really like is some sake but the merchants who bring what little of that is to be found here from abroad charge rather steep prices. Instead, she says, "Oh... I think there are a few bottles of wine in the cupboard."

While he prepares their drinks, she ponders further on his strange society, occasionally taking bits of food from the plate to nibble on. "But... I still do not understand. How can commoners know what is required to rule? Many of them do not even know how to read or write and certainly do not receive the necessary schooling in etiquette or law or governship that a king can afford."
Percival Hearing her preference, he looks through each of the bottles of wine, and eventually picks a cabernet, or at least what looked to be this world's equivalent of a cabernet. He then takes it and the two glasses to the table, where he sets it down in front of her. Lacking a corkscrew, he simply inserts a talon inside of the cork, and removes it gingerly, then off of his talon, before he begins to pour a small amount for her to sample and show approval God above, that seemed too gauche for words, he hoped the Princess wouldn't notice....or even worse, Maximilien. The Frenchman would have a field day with that. He does try to maintain a stoic look on his features as the Princess compliements his cooking. He wondered inwardly if she was just being polite.

"You are entirely too gracious your highness. my world, it is now common for the commoners to be educated. Education is mandatory until a certain level, and then intellect and merit decide whom goes on to be educated further. Those who do, can specialize in studies which may eventually give them the knowledge and wisdom that comes with the art of ruling. But even then, there are checks against those who would rule improperly. Namely that each person in parliament receives a vote. Thus, if the measure is foolhardy, then the theory is that it will be voted down. And if the measure is wise, then it will become the law of the land."
Leida This makes her blink. Educated commoners? That's... an oxymoron, right? While there were certainly intelligent and wise people among the lower eschalons of society, their lot in life was to work the land or learn a trade. To waste time on things that were of little use to them seems... counterproductive.

Leida hides her thoughts by taking the glass and sipping at the wine idly, giving him a faint nod after a moment. "Yes, this is alright." She gathers her thoughts while continuing to eat, each bite careful and delicate out of habit. Honestly, no one but Percival even knows she's royalty and she could eat as messily as Reize and Lily without too much fuss if she wanted.

"Well... where I come from the right to rule is passed down from generation to generation. It is the duty of the lords of the land to know the best ways to govern and protect and the duty of the workers to respect their judgement and pay taxes. In this way, all of the land florishes." She shakes her head in wonder, fork still resting on her lip. "I cannot imagine trying to impress that wisdom upon an entire court. Why the squabbling between my father's vassals alone was worthy of poems and songs..."
Percival Percival finally seats himself, hoping he's not being too bold by doing so, and pours his own self a glass of wine, before starting to work at his meal, with the utensils of course. He almost would have laughed at Leida's statement, almost, if only for the irony of it. Instead he decides to explain.

"Uh, well, it is much the same with any system of rule I imagine, your highness, and ours is no exception. There are squabbles amongst all of the politicians constantly. They belong to 'political parties', think of those as an alliance of sorts between your nobles who share similar ideals, and you will get the idea. Without belonging to that alliance, they don't have a voice that can reach anyone else. And it is still much the same insomuch as the role of the government is to support and protect the smallfolk, and the smallfolk return such with their labor and taxes, however technology makes labor easier. And as such, the smallfolk have more time to learn, and more time for leisure. Their opinion is not always the most educated, but by our system of rule it still remains that if they can dredge up enough popular support, then their voice might be heard." He smiles at her.

"Ours was once a great empire, but now it is stretched thin and confined. Even colonies which were once provincial govern their own selves now, and our monarch's opinion only gives them traditional consent. Some...despite the changes to society, still dwell upon the past, and do not forget the slights against them when they were a conquered people. Many of my clan's battles were fought against those who decided to spread terror amongst the people for those past slights." He pauses at that, as if some ill memory of one of those battles lingered. The glass of wine that is in his hand does not reach his lips, and he does not expound further. He just seems to be lost in the recollection.
Leida The princess takes note of her dining companion's sudden change in mood and looks away, afraid that she has touched on a sore nerve. Her own glass is raised again and she adds sipping at the wine to her slow and deliberate eating methods, taking small bites of each of the various items on the plate in turn as if eating them in a certain order enhanced the flavor.

She tries to put together a mental image of how such a system might have looked in her husband's court, weaving the various alliances she suspected would have formed between the strange characters that populated the nobility. She never had a good head for these sorts of thoughts, however, and soon Leida's lost herself in a maze of her own making.

"War and honor was a way of life for us. The strong were more fit to rule and conquest was accepted but a cruel warlord would inspire hate and his neighbors would rise up to put him down. Thus was fairness and strength tempered throughout the land." She pauses to take another drink. "Ofcourse, honor also demands that insults be repaid. The spirits of our ancestors cannot rest easy knowing that their kin are slaves or trophies."
Percival Percival takes a long sip of wine after her commentary snaps him out of his reminiscence. It was definitely not a happy memory for him. He was grateful that she did not ask about his battles.

"Our Order used to serve in a manner which was similar I suppose. We would aid the monarchy in their conquests. Now, wars are only fought out of a sort of a moral obligation by our country. Tyrants are viewed harshly by most civilized countries of my world, and if enough harm is done to their smallfolk then we feel that we ought to step in. Sadly that is normally weighed by simple political gain, and then the moral obligation is spun out of it to promote it. Other tyrants are unfortunately ignored by civilized countries, unless they attempt to conquer other countries. Only when they seek conquest, do we normally step in, and sometimes not even then."

He cuts off a morsel of the roast beef, and puts it into his mouth, chewing and swallowing it entirely before he continues. "My people have been a state secret for nearly five hundred years. We've fought few battles in actual wars. And if we have, then you could not call them we are only used against opponents which we can ambush while maintaining our honor. For example, you may have some experience with firearms. Now imagine individuals who use them to cut down civilians indiscriminately, for no reason other than to promote a twisted ideology. 'Those' individuals are whom we are sent to vanquish."

His tail twitches nervously. "We uh, don't actually honor our ancestors in the same way though. We do have genealogies, for nobility in particular. We write down their accomplishments but......we our culture just does not have the same reverence for ancestors. Gargoyle culture is perhaps a bit different. We do honor our ancestors, but we do not keep genealogies. You see, your highness we uh..." He scratches the back of his neck, as he wonders if this particular subject might be uncomfortable for her.

"...we lay eggs. And since our females only can lay one egg every twenty years, and it takes ten years to hatch, we raise our young comunally. I don't know who my parents are, for example. All of the Knights and clan elders are my parents, but I do not know who birthed me, even to honor them for the act. I could make an educated guess, but I would not know, and our kind does not care about such things. Thus while we honor the ones who came before us, we don't know 'whom' our specific ancestors are."
Leida Yet more wonders and strange pieces of the puzzle. Truly these gargoyles and their lands were things of very different idealogy. She is instantly rather glad that their worlds had never come in direct contact, the people of her land were rather firm in their adherence to their ways and viewed non-conformity to be a negative trait. There would almost certainly have been war.

"I cannot imagine not knowing the significance of my family's past. Our ancestors define who we are, what we can be proud of. A farmer does not simply wake up one morning and know how to tend a field, that knowledge is fostered and passed down as much as the proper ways to rule and govern are taught by a lord to his successor."

She shifts her focus back to something else he said. Comparing their structure of government was interesting but ultimately pointless. Neither of them had much political power to exert on their current homes. Instead, she considers his choice of words for describing their battles.

Secret warriors who took on deadly foes that preyed on the weak. There was an analogue for this from her land as well. "We had warriors who fought much as you describe, though they were more of a... well... a secret that everyone knows about? But no one liked to talk about them for fear of earning their wrath. They operated in clans as well but they were often beholden to no lords, instead offering their services for a fee."
Percival "Ninjas?"

And then he realized that she just stated that they weren't talked about for fear of earning their wrath.

"Ah uh...beg, we're not exactly the same though. We're more akin to samurai than the other sort. We're forced to operate out of the shadows out of necessity, but we only take on missions which do not conflict with our sense of honor. We're not paid for them in the traditional sense, but perform them out of a sense of duty, and because we believe its the right thing to do. Even so, it is still difficult and at times conflicts with our own personal code. We are a straightforward folk, and it is hardly valorous to engage in a sort of shadow war, even against those who deserve it." He sighs morosely. "Songs are not written about those who run someone through before they have the time to react. And yet it must be done. Or so, I tell myself." A taloned hand is run down his facial features, as he rubs the bridge of his nose. These are obviously battles that he does not want to remember.

"I think your highness, that despite the ever-present threat of the darkness, my clan, my Order, they would prefer it in this world. Here there is a foe we could fight in the way that we desired, without fear that we would be wiped out by our allies were we revealed. But no, I find myself here without them. And in that sense, I am in my own personal sort of hell. I have the oppurtunity to live valorously, but my family? They have vanished into the darkness. It is....maddening."

This scene contained 21 poses. The players who were present were: Leida, Percival