To celebrate the hospitality of their family and friends in Frewyn they would be leaving behind on their departure, Kai Linaa resolved to make a cake in their honour but to ensure the safety of this cake, and to be convinced of its lasting more than five seconds out of the oven with the Den Asaan around, she contrived to make something she had not made in some time. Carrot cake, a delicacy in Lucentia, would supply delight for the entirety of the keep and Kai Linaa made it her object to bake enough for everyone to enjoy. She requested the use of the kitchen and it was granted. Martje would remain with Shayne and allow Kai Linaa the run of her domain while she spent some much needed time with her husband in their quarters. The profession made Kai Linaa giggle and smile and she thanked Martje for her forbearance of her desires as the cook left the kitchen.
During Kai Linaa's baking excursion, she could not help but feel as though she were being watched. Considering her visitor's history with scouting and the need to know what everyone was doing at every moment of the day in the keep, she could be under no mistake as to who was surveying her every action. She ignored him, hummed to herself, and was determined to mix her batters without any worry to the cakes' security.
The Den Asaan watched from his silent perch, shadowing his large form with the outcropping in the wall from the larder to the main room of the kitchen. He loomed in the darkness, observing every ingredient she added to the bowl. He believed he saw some orange shavings enter into the mixture but he marked these as a sweetener and continued his scrutiny of the event. He discerned something odd in the character of her manner. She was too complacent. He knew she was aware of his presence from her pause when she became conscious of his watching and yet she did not cower or stir with apprehension as she ought to have done. She must be contriving something. She must be planning his demise. Perhaps those orange shavings were a toxin of some kind. They would be of little consequence. His years spent in training as an Amghari of Sanhedhran would secure his wellbeing. He would consume the poison and there would be no change. He will have beaten her machinations and she will have crumbled at his triumph. He already had his messenger gull looking in from the window to make certain she would not sneak something into the batter without his knowing but he required additional assurance to make certain the cake would be safe for others. It was his duty and his right to do so, or so he professed, as he was the protector of the Diras Castle keep and would allow no infiltration and archness to occur from within as well as from beyond the walls of his home. He waited in watchful quietude as the cakes baked. He waited for her to take them from the oven and place them onto the range for cooling. Just as he was forming a plan of attack, he heard Soledhan from the main hall skipping toward the winding stair to visit the commander for their nightly visit. Here would be his opportunity.
When Soledhan could be seen from the pathway from the larder to the main hall, the Den Asaan motioned to him. Soledhan took instant notice of his father skulking in the shadows and was prepared to attack him with his usual embrace when a series of wordless instructions followed his drawing of attention. Soledhan hid behind the kitchen door, surrounded himself in his wolf furs and gave his attention to the Den Asaan commands. He recalled their means of communication from their games of Dhovhola and Endaraas together. He waited until the unspoken conversation had done and then he nodded as he immediately went to fulfill the Den Asaan's commands. He stood from his place and skipped into the room, assailing Kai Linaa with hugs. "Linaa," he sang in his small voice. "Can we play together in Iimaa's room?"
Kai Linaa had inkling that this was part of the Den Asaan's masterful plan and as she could not say no to the darling child, she followed him out of the kitchen and up the stairs to the commander's residence.
The Den Asaan emerged from his lair and crept over to the cooling cake. Its scent was decent, its top was delicately brushed with cinnamon, its consistency was correct, and everything recommended to him the innocence of this cake. There was the duplicity, he believed. Its appearance would be so beguiling to those who came to eat it that they would be obliged to do so. He would not allow such deception to prevail. The Den Asaan would exhume Kai Linaa's plot. He cut a piece from one of the corners and bit into it. He chewed it for some minutes before realizing the poison utilized in its make. His expression grew dour. The taste was unbearable and he grimaced in agony as the odious flavour assailed his mouth.
Unghaahi, who was looking for his mate, came to the kitchen in search of her just as the Den Asaan discovered his horror for what Kai Linaa had done. He was pleased to see Rautu so eager to eat something his mate had taken the time and care in preparing but his hope for his brother's enchantment was unfounded. Where he had expected him to be overjoyed at the amount of cake to be shared, Unghaahi found his brother growing agitated and frustrated. He asked what was wrong and was given a slice of the cake for his own appraisal in reply.
"This was made for you," the Den Asaan grunted in disgust. "I am certain of it."
Unghaahi examined it thoroughly as Kai Linaa and the commander entered the kitchen with Soledhan and Hathanta. They were in time to see Unghaahi try his sliver of cake and though it was a food he usually deemed unwholesome, he was inclined to believe that this kind of cake could not be too terrible for consumption. The presence of carrot misled Unghaahi's assumption but since everyone was certain to want a piece, no one said anything to the contrary.
The Den Asaan, however, was not so determined to be silent. He growled at Kai Linaa and pointed his finger at her smiling face. "Vegetables do not belong in cakes, elf," he shouted down at her.
"This is carrot cake, Den Asaan," Kai Linaa simpered, staring at the finger between her eyes. "It's supposed to be made with carrots." She waited for some recognition but when there was none, she explained, "just like pumpkin cake is made with pumpkins and zucchini cake is made with-"
"And?" the Den Asaan demanded.
Kai Linaa shrugged. "You would eat it if I put icing on it."
Rautu paused. "No, I would not," he lied. "This is unacceptable. You will make it again without the vegetable and then I will give the cake my assessment."
"He's disappointed you made him eat it," the commander said in an audible whisper, giving Kai Linaa a wry look. "A vegetable in a cake shall be the ruin of him."
The giant huffed and folded his arms with stubborn conviction.
"You would do well to ignore his scowling reprimand," the commander told Kai Linaa. "One day, he shall learn that not everything made in this kitchen is his."
"This is my residence and therefore that cake is mine," Rautu asserted. "I am being generous in allowing her use the facilities."
Kai Linaa raised her small brows and certain that the giant's conjectures were not entirely true. "Actually, this is everyone's residence and this is Martje's kitchen-" She was quieted by the commander's hand gracing her shoulder and was given a wink that promised the Den Asaan's further displeasure.
"Very well, Iimon Ghaala. That cake is yours. Enjoy it," the commander said smilingly to her mate.
The Den Asaan glowered and averted his gaze. "I will not eat what was not made correctly."
Unghaahi could not be silent any longer when hearing his brother's ridiculous arguments. He burst out in deep, bellowing laughter and held his sides while he made no attempt to conceal his feelings on the subject.
"Brother," Rautu said firmly, "Tell your Traala to correct her mistake and I will give her Khostaas."
Unghaahi contended that there was no need for forgiveness to be given on his mate's account and told his brother that the last thing he needed was more cake in his regimen.
In his irritation at the notion that everyone would be enjoying cake except for him that evening, the Den Asaan stabbed his finger toward the stove and looked at the commander. "Traala, you will show the elf why I have chosen you."
"Because of my ability to make cakes with chocolate instead of carrots?" the commander fleered. "Yes, I am certain that is exactly why you chose me, Iimon Ghaala."
Rautu pouted, his shoulders wilted, and he must resign himself to defeat. He was consoled by the idea of having some cake from Diras Delights once his vigilant brother was gone from the keep but he was disposed to sulk while he would be forced to watch others enjoy what he could not.