Once upon a time, there was a King who walked astride his world—here, there, and everywhere. He became poor in order to be like the people he loved, and he lived among the outcasts in order to feel their pain.
The baking complex was hidden in the ‘heart of Deepest Forest, close to the clearing where the Great Celebrations were held. It was important to the Chief Baker that the breads from his ovens be served Warm and fresh at the banquet tables. He had carefully planned this cluster of stone houses where the bakers lived and the many, outdoor clay ovens—some large, some small, some with roaring fires, some with smoldering charcoal beds. Each oven was designed to bake a different kind of bread to perfection.
The baker who loved bread had worked hard to become chief. His father had been a baker and his grandfather before that, but he had his own particular genius for making bread. His doughs were lighter and more nourishing than any his ancestors had ever kneaded! There Wasn’t a dough of any kind—wheat or rye or corn—that didn’t become tasty and delicious after his touch.
The Chief Baker particularly loved making special breads for the Great Celebrations. He loved to twist and braid dough. He loved to invent new recipes for sweet breads. He loved muffins and biscuits and brioches and croissants. He loved to hear the “Oooohs!” of the King’s subjects When, with a flourish, the banquet procession was begun and his many bakers carried his creations into the feast in great baskets.
“Chief Baker’s done it again!” everyone always exclaimed. “No one can make breads that melt in your mouth like these!”
Bread, the Chief Baker knew, gave special strength, so he prepared baskets of round, black loaves to feed those who had spent the morning at the practice field. He admired the Rangers, and enjoyed preparing nourishing squash-and-cheese breads for them to carry on Watch.
After that, however, he drew the line. He refused to send baskets of bread to the old Mercie, though she had never requested it from him. She has a fireplace and recipes of her own, Chief Baker thought…