Shaved Ice (Stone)

Rhianon stood before the kitchen counter in the back of the Pig and Whistle, beating furiously at the contents of ceramic mixing bowl with a wooden spoon. A half empty jar of cream perched precariously on the edge of  the wooden cutting board in front of her and an open canister of sugar, white dunes billowing against its metallic lip, poked its head out from a pile of discarded cutlery. Although hard to see against her dusky skin, raspberry juice stained the tips of her fingers clutching the spoon and there was a decidedly red smudge on her cheek where she had absently wiped her face.

A sharp voice broke through the dull rhythm of mixing. “You almost done in there? I need to start the loaves for dinner service! Bread doesn’t bake itself!”

Rhianon looked up, momentarily startled, having been lost in the pink creamy peaks of the mixture in her bowl. With a quick glance at the bowl, she called back, “Yes, just a moment! I’ll just need to put this in to freeze.”

“Well, hurry up then! Your five gold bought you an hour, not the whole morning, girl.”

Rolling her eyes, Rhianon stowed the mixing bowl on the counter top and ducked down to retrieve her bag which had been stuffed under the counter. She disliked having to rent the kitchen in the Pig and Whistle almost as much as they disliked having her; the counter space was limited and their utensils, battered with use, were poor at best — not to mention the ungodly hours she had to show up to actually accomplish anything before they needed the kitchen back to start service prep. Never once had they even bothered to thank her for leaving left over ingredients in the pantry for their use or for the thorough top-to-bottom cleaning she did one morning when she found a dead rat under the prep table. Rhianon was certain they would have just left the rat there anyway – or worse, they might have incorporated it into one of their dishes.

She fished a large burlap bag from her satchel and tossed it onto the counter. Ice crystals spilled from the bag, gliding across the wooden cutting board, but Rhianon was careful to scoop them up before they fell onto the floor. These crystals were her prize. She had spent the last two weeks trying to make ice cream in the summer heat and failing miserably. Nothing froze; her ice melted before she could even finish packing it into the ice cream maker, leaving her with a puddle of cream and flavorings as ice cream. The cook at the Pig and Whistle hadn’t been surprised at her troubles, explaining that the kitchen spent a good deal of their summer budget hiring mages fabricate charms to cool their butter and meats. Rhianon, however, did not have a “summer budget” to speak of – and she was so set on surprising all of her friends with ice cream that she didn’t dream of bothering either Henii or Daevra to assist with the chilling. Last week, she ended up calling on minor ice elementals herself – but being elementals, they had been rather obstinate and had decided to leave before the ice cream had frozen completely.

The Ice Stone, however, seemed to be another matter entirely. After she had watched Lord Ahune crumble back into his frosty realm, her gaze had returned to the glassy pillar of ice that had summoned him.  She had waited for the other members of the Earthen Ring to turn away, doling out rewards to eager adventurers, and had shaved several large hunks off the side of the Ice Stone, hiding them away in her satchel. They might have lost their bond with their newly fallen Lord, but they remained bleak and cold, shimmering with innate frost energy. She wouldn’t even need to add salt frost energy would just continue to consume the heat around it until the ice cream mixture properly froze.  It would be perfect.

Rhianon retrieved two metal canisters from the shelf over the counter. She poured her ice cream mixture into the smaller of the two canisters and placed that canister inside the larger one, carefully packing the ice crystals from the Ice Stone around it.

“Come on, girl; I needed to be in there five minutes ago!”

Rhianon glared at the voice. “Just a moment! I just need to wrap this up and then I’ll be out of here! Is there a cheesecloth I can borrow?”

“On the shelf by the door! Hurry up!”

The shaman furrowed her brow, turning around. Who would store a cheesecloth on the shelf by the door? That was where they kept all their cutlery and spare dishes! She muttered to herself, heading over to the offending cabinet, eyes searching its crowded shelves for the cloth.

A crash interrupted her complaining – a very loud, metallic crash that finished with the glorious sound of ice cream mixture splattering everywhere.

The voice on the other side of the door fumed. “What in the name of the Light are you DOING in there?!”

Swallowing hard, Rhianon didn’t respond, turning slowly on her hooves to the source of the commotion. The ice cream canisters were no longer sitting comfortably on the counter top; instead, the canisters (now empty) were scattered across the floor and a pool of raspberry flavored cream was gathering underneath the counter. In the center of the pink pool, a mound of ice crystals rolled around, splashing in the liquid. Rhianon gasped – and upon hearing that, the ice crystals picked themselves up to form a single frostling and that little frostling turned to look at her.

The cook, red-faced, burst into the kitchen, his gaze falling first on the mess and then on the wide-eyed shaman. “You — what — what is this mess?! How am I supposed to cook in here!? I thought you said you were done!”

The frostling bristled, kicking up waves of raspberry cream. The cook’s nostrils flared. “What in the name of the LIGHT?”

Rhianon dove down and retrieved the frostling from the raspberry pool, clutching him tightly against her chest. “I don’t know what happened – “ How exactly did someone explain that she had shaved ice from a stone that had been linked with a frost lord and now those simple ice crystals seemed to have a life of their own?

“You don’t know what happened?” The cook wiped his brow. “That’s what I get for renting the kitchen to some good-for-nothing shaman. I should have listened to Miranda. Your kind is just trouble, that’s for sure.” He grabbed Rhianon by the shoulder, shoving her out the door. “I’ll clean this up myself. Just get out of here.”

“What about tomorrow?” Rhianon stammered, stumbling out of the kitchen and trying to shake his grip. “We’re still on for that, right? I need the kitchen from five until ten in the morning…”

The cook burst into laughter. “Yeah, right! In your dreams, girly! I’ve had enough of you to last me a lifetime.” He gave her one final shove out the door and slammed it behind her.

Now standing in the empty common room of the Pig and Whistle, Rhianon stared at the closed door and then down at the ice elemental squirming in her arms. “Look what you’ve done!” she snapped at the frostling, but as she spoke, she regretted it. It wasn’t exactly the frostling’s fault that he found himself stuffed into an ice cream maker; she shouldn’t have tampered with the Ice Stone, however tempting it might have been. She was an experienced shaman; she knew better than that.  She just always let her big ideas get the better of her.

The frostling agreed, apparently.

He puffed himself up, whirred a little on his crystal feet and then tossed a large raspberry-flavored snowball directly into her face.

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