Chanis stood at her eldest brother's grave. The graveyard was empty, except for marker-stones and weedy grass. A few of the other graves bore small, still-smoldering grave offerings. The Holy Bishop said that grave-offerings were pagan nonsense, and the next thing to rank heresy. Chanis always found them comforting, however, especially when she felt she needed to ask the dead permission for something.
She knelt, and drew from her pocket a small pouch of herbs. She spilled a modest pile into the cup on the top of the grave-marker, and lit it with her taper. A wisp of black smoke curled up.
"Well, Marak." The girl sighed. "I never did like you, but I always felt bad, for Father's sake, that you were killed. I know you...lived the feud, but...it's got to end. If, when Grandmother was the Tosek, she had convinced the Jahtan to--it has to stop some time. Please, do not hate me for what I seek to do."
Chanis rose smoothly, dusted stray grass off of her knees, and padded quietly to a final grave. Her scholar's robes swirled gently around her bare feet. She knelt, shook a generous heap of herbs into the little stone depression, and lit it. The acrid smoke stung her eyes almost as much as her unshed tears.
"The secret ingredient," she said, "is herbes de provence. Allez cuisine."
Marak had lost too many battles, and the ratings had sunk like a pierogi in burgoo. They'd had to try something new, something avant garde. But this?
Challenger Chef Achatz added more herbs to the depression on another grave marker, to smoke a sliver of haddock, and Chanis felt the sting of humiliation. Filming Iron Chef America in Arlington National Cemetery . . . she should have taken the job with Rachael Ray.
Opening: anon......Continuation: Mignon