Ivar and Akademos
The previous evening;
Ivar stretched and yawned, looking at an assortment of cleavers with a puzzled look. Many times before, Thralls have asked him why he looks so indecisively at cleavers. Each time (and I’m sure it’ll happen tonight Ivar thought), he always shakes his head and laughs at their ignorance. Cleavers aren’t just an edge; they are a painter’s brush, a Skalds’ lyre. Through a cleaver, art just as beautiful as anything can be made, and those that cannot see it are foolish, blind in their pedestrian ways.
Ivar picked a cleaver with a slightly curved edge and an old, well-worn handle. It reminded him of past successes and that seems as good an omen as any.
Some Thralls came in from the basement door, bringing with them the cold air and the fresh snow. They looked cold and stood around, warming themselves while Ivar sharpened his cleaver.
“You’re late!” He said, his voice bellowing across the room at them, warming their blood more than a few minutes by a fire would.
“No we’re not! We’re early! And we just got here, can’t we just stand a little while by the fire?” The Thrall’s voice was high-pitched voice and nasally, no doubt from the diseases his ancestors carried. Ivar just hoped he wasn’t getting sick, else he’ll be banned from the kitchen for a while. That particular Thrall (Rolandson is his name I think) was efficient even if he complained too much.
“I don’t pay you to stand by the fire, now get!” The Thralls grumbled but got to work. Ivar turned to cut apart the remains of a cow when Akademos descended the stairs, his night robe looking as tired as he did. “My Lord, Akademos!” He said with no small amount of surprise. Akademos did not often frequent the basement, and most of the House would be abed at this hour. Akademos nodded and walked over. The two have had many conversations, but always in more respectable parts of the House.
“Ivar, my friend, I cannot sleep,” Akademos said, his voice heavy and worn. Ivar put his cleaver back into its place and looked in a small crate of herbs. After fetching a few, he threw a kettle on the fire and tossed the herbs into a nice ornate cup, everything about his style suggesting nonchalance. Akademos laughed. “Ivar, what awful concoction are you making me this time?”
“One of my own making, my Lord. I drink it myself when the nights are too long and I much need rest. Trust me, you’ll love it and ask for it every night, though I can only provide it once in a few moons, as the herbs grow sparingly.” He took out a bottle of brandy and poured some into the cup, filling the rest with warm water. The herbs changed the color from a light amber to a slight purple and the aroma reminded him of many a moonlit night in the woods gathering mushrooms and herbs
“Try this.” He handed Akademos the drink, who took it without question and drank some of it. He smiled. “Delicious.” Well of course it is! Thought Ivar but said nothing. Akademos set the cup down and rubbed his eyes.
“I keep having these dreams, my friend. Like I’m on the ocean again, but I’m sailing to some new world. It frightens me, though I don’t know why. I always loved traveling. I wake up in cold sweats and I look out onto the city and… I don’t know. What do you think it means, Ivar?” Ivar frowned. After many an in depth conversation about philosophy, Ivar had never seemed so distraught about something so minor. He laughed, his great belly shaking with mirth and making Akademos smile.
“I’m sure it’s just your mind tricking you so that you could get some of my well-rest brew! Let it out of your mind for now, my Lord.” Akademos laughed and took the cup with him. “All right then, my friend, if you’ll give me naught but a drink, then I’ll be on my way!” He waved and walked towards the stairs but stopped just at the door. Light from the upper floors illuminated his face and torso but shrouded his back and legs, giving him a peculiar look.
“Ivar, thanks for the recipe.” Ivar waved and Akademos was gone. Poor man, so much on his mind. We’ll have to make damn sure his breakfast tomorrow is perfect! He looked back at the cleavers, wondering whether to deal with the cow carcass later so as to ensure that Akademos has some sausage for his morning eggs.
“Why do you always look at cleavers so ridiculously?” One of the Thralls asked. Ivar shook his head as the Thrall coughed into his hand.
“Cough into your Gods-cursed elbow, you imbecile! Do you think Akademos wants your filthy spit on his food? Go wash your hands, now!” Needing to vent some rage, Ivar grabbed the previous cleaver and walked over to the cow carcass. Idiotic damn Thralls.