New Egypt: The Revelations of Oriceran, Soul Stone Mage, Book 5
By Sarah Noffke & Martha Carr
A scream sent Azure into a full sprint. She nearly tripped on her yellow gown as she rounded the corner and threw open the swinging door for the kitchens. The chef, a round woman with a head full of orange curls, had her hands clapped over her mouth and her wide eyes staring up at Manx. The pooka was in his black stallion form, his eyes beams of white light as he stared down at the pudgy woman. He regarded her with a narrowed stare, huffed and then turned, putting his head into a large pot on the stove.
Azure let out a sigh of relief. “It’s okay Matilda. This is Manx. He’s a pooka and completely…well, maybe not completely harmless, but I assure you there’s nothing to scream over.”
The old witch was visibly shaking as she stared at the stallion who sounded to be polishing off whatever was simmering in the pot. “I saw a raven sitting on the rack of pots.” Matilda indicated overhead. “I went to shoo the pest and it transformed into a stallion right before my eyes. What kind of magic is this?”
Azure strode forward, wrapping an arm around the chef’s shoulder and leading her away from Manx, who was now making quite the mess. Split pea soup splashed up from the pot as he ate his way to the bottom. “Manx is a pooka, a fairy who can shift into different forms. He’s mischievous and apparently hungry. I’ll take care of him.”
Matilda nodded, her eyes dazed. So many in Virgo hadn’t left the comforts of the kingdom and therefore had lived very sheltered lives. Since Azure’s rule she’d introduced Light Elves, Gnomes, werecats, pixies and now a pooka into the ancient land. The people, especially those in the House of Enchanted, were getting quite the education in diversity.
“Queen Azure, is it too much to ask to not have your new friend, Manx, in my kitchen? I have quite the responsibility, feeding the House,” Matilda asked. Every day her staff served hundreds of meals to those who visited the House on business. This big job made the witch very uptight and often she could be found fretting nervously like a wound up doll who had been over cranked.
A loud clang made both witches startle slightly. Manx’s ferocity had taken the pot off the stove where it landed on the tile floor before he continued licking it clean.
“No, that’s not too much to ask. Don’t you worry. I’ll take care of Manx. Why don’t you take a break? Maybe stroll through the gardens and get some fresh air. It will do you good. I’ll have the kitchen cleaned and emptied in ten minutes,” Azure said, ushering the older witch out into the corridor.
Matilda nodded, wringing her hands in her damp apron. “Okay, you’re right. But I have to make a new batch of soup, so I can’t be gone for too long.”
“I do believe if the Queen Mother doesn’t have her soup before dinner she’ll survive,” Azure said.
“I don’t mean to overstep boundaries and realize the Queen Mother is your grandmother, but she doesn’t take well to not having her aperitif and soup. I’ve only made that mistake once,” Matilda said. She wore her lavender soul stone around her neck just as Azure once had. Absentmindedly Azure clutched for the soul stone that used to warm her chest on the end of a silver chain. Of course her fingertips found nothing because her stone was gone…forever.
“Don’t you worry about the Queen Mother. I’ll take care of her if there’s no soup. But knowing you, which I have my whole life, you’ll make a new soup in no time.” Azure pushed open the swinging door and paused, watching as Matilda shuttled away, shaking her head.
Azure straightened, pressing the fabric of her dress down. She cleared her throat as she turned to the giant stallion who took up a major portion of the large kitchen. Manx flicked his tail, his head still buried in the pot as he made a great deal of noise licking.
Again Azure cleared her throat, crossing her arms in front of her chest. Manx’s muscles spasmed along his back. He was a beautiful creature, albeit more impish than most. He lifted his head, his mouth was covered in green split pea soup, his eyes seeming drunk.
“Manx,” Azure said, her tone punishing. “I thought we discussed not turning into stallion form while in the House of Enchanted.”
The large black stallion disappeared and was replaced with a furry round black bunny. He twitched his nose and lifted onto his back legs in a show of the cutest thing ever.
“Don’t you try that on me,” Azure said, her tough act starting to crack.
“I was so very hungry, my lady. So hungry. And the only way to the pot of soup was as a stallion. I didn’t know it would frighten the chef so badly,” Manx said.
“You also didn’t appear that concerned when you did.” Azure tapped her foot impatiently.
“Who can think clearly when eating homemade split pea soup? You know before I came here I had to catch my own game and eat it raw,” Manx said this with great offense like it was the most disgusting thing ever.
“It sounds like I’m enabling you by having all your meals provided. Maybe I should still make you hunt. That will keep you honest.”
The bunny’s ears perked up. “Speaking of honest, you might want to move to the side, out of the way of the swinging door.”