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A Skillet From a Helm

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William, as might be expected, was not one for cooking. Sure, he could usually roast a piece of meat over a campfire without burning it too badly or leaving parts too raw, but he couldn't actually make anything taste good, only passable. In his family, that was always left to the cook, of course.

Kaelyn could cook fairly well. As an only child, she had traded the duty off with her father as she grew up and learned from him. She did have something of a limited repertoire, however; eggs, she could prepare perfectly in any number of ways, and she could prod any random assortment of greens into something reasonably tasty. But baking was a mystery to her, and she didn't have the enthusiasm to make anything very complicated most days.

Aren, on the other hand, could cook.

This came to light one day, early in their journey, when they were weathering a bad storm overnight in an abandoned house. The previous owners had apparently left in something of a hurry; while the house was mostly empty, there were a few blocks of cheese and some preserved meats left in the pantry, and the spice cupboard was intact. There had also been a pile of wood that had let them get the hearth going despite the driving rain outside. While William and Kaelyn huddled close by the fire, trying to dry off what they could, Aren volunteered to make dinner.

Kaelyn cursed under her breath as she laid out her wet sleeping roll. William draped their jerkins over the remains of the furniture in the room, checking each one over for damage as he went. Aren worked over a pot on the fire, and occasionally one of his friends would look up, sniff the air, and feel their mouth water. Whatever he was making, it had meat, and spices, and a heavenly smell.

Finally, their wet goods were laid out so that they might dry during the night, and the food was done. The three of them fished out their mess kits and sat close to each other in front of the fire. William barely looked at his food before spooning it up into his mouth. He paused. Kaelyn dug her spoon into it, raised it to her mouth more carefully than William had, and slid it slowly into her mouth. She paused.

Aren peered at both of them. "What's wrong?" Surely there couldn't be anything wrong with the food....

"This is great, Aren!" Kaelyn exclaimed, before she dug in for more.

"Where did you learn to cook like this?" William asked with a laugh.

Aren shrugged. "I grew up in an inn. I've helped out in the kitchens as much as anywhere else." He dug into his own serving. It was really the spices which made it, he thought. The ones left here were the same ones his mother always used.

William and Kaelyn looked at each other and came to a mutual agreement about who would be doing the cooking from now on.