By S. F. Brooke
Shera gripped the shaking knife as she hovered it above the ceremonial animal. Tens of nobility sat on the other side of the divider to welcome her master’s new fortune with a feast. He hired her-a female ritualist- to impress his guests.
Shera had to get through this last course with no one suspecting a thing. Through the other courses, she smiled as she placed each dish in its ritual place, but Madam’s face made her break down at last.
A chair scraped across the floor and footsteps directed towards the kitchen. Madam entered through the door, “You will be sure to tell me which piece is safe for me to eat, won’t you?” Shera hesitated before Madam’s leading nod. “I wonder if your husband suspects you consorting with his cook on the day of his triumph,” Shera offered. Madam passed a handful of herbs to Shera, “It is natural to be inspired by the power a ritualist possesses.” Shera accepted the herbs but rolled them around in her hand. “The meal is my creation, is it not? Do I not deliver the knife?” The knife glinted in the firelight before them both. Madam shivered, taking it in her hands, “May you also be inspired as I have been by you.” Handing the knife into Shera’s trembling hands, “Freedom.” Shera nodded, “For both of us.”
Madam turned sharply and left the kitchen. “She will deliver the knife shortly,” Madam exclaimed to the group, who all cheered as the final ritual neared. Shera sprinkled the herbs and cut the meat in front of her. Sparing one cut, she presented the meal to the nobility. The master accepted the knife as an honor to serve the company their final meal. Shera noticed Madam confirm the safety of the meat with one glance. Shera nodded and returned to the kitchen to walk straight out the back door and into the night. Behind her, the house glowed with firelight, but Shera glowed with newfound freedom.
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