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Oliver D. Bernuetz's Stories

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Eurmal Takes the Cake

Tolmund the Teller sneaks a peek at the crowd.  They are well into their cups and the mood is morose with the bad news from the front.  He will need a good one tonight to draw their attention and cheer them up he thinks.  He ponders and then it comes to him.  He smiles to himself and then spinning his pellet drum almost maniacally he steps up on the stage.  The crowd turns disinterestedly towards him and he asks them a question without waiting for a response.

“Do you like cake?  Ernalda makes the best you know.  Such cakes she bakes!  The smell is almost better than the taste.  They melt in your mouth and leave you longing for more.  People eat one and think of leaving their loved ones for another.  When she bakes, and she does not bake often enough she leaves them on the window sill to cool.  The smell draws a crowd of varmints and ne’er do wells who float in as though their feet don’t touch the ground.  The worst of the worst of course is Eurmal.  That sneak, that crook, that pest!  He always thinks everything should be his and he will spend far more time thinking of how to get his mitts on something for free than he would ever spend doing it himself.

Tolmund stops and shudders, “I had a taste of a cake Eurmal baked once mind you.”  He shudders again.  “The taste haunts me still.  And…the texture. Personally speaking cakes have no more allure for me”.  A shudder starts in his toes and ripples through his whole body.  He shakes himself and continues. “But Ernalda’s cakes.  Her cakes are the best.  And that’s why Eurmal spent so much effort and time to steal them.   She tried everything to stop him from stealing them.  Once she tried putting horrible ingredients in a batch thinking this would discourage him.  It did not.  She dug a pit outside the window and filled it with poisonous serpents.  What did that rascal, that imp, that gnat do?  Why he filled that pit with snake oil and slid right over them and snatched his booty!

Ernalda wrapped the hall with a giant snake to keep Eurmal away.  What did Eurmal do, that boor, that bum, that nincompoop!  He stole a little bit of Winter from Valind and made that snake fall asleep for the season!  Walked right in on some shoes he’d made of rawhide and bent sticks and stole those cakes!  She even stood guard herself with her rolling pin, Mighty Thunder and catching Eurmal beat him into the shape of a loaf of bread.  As satisfying as that was she  had too much to do to watch the cakes herself.

Ernalda was frustrated and tired of all this so she asked Orlanth for help.  He was warring with someone, as usual, so he couldn’t spare anyone to watch for her.  He was lounging on his seat while Ernalda stood angrily before him flour up to her armpits.  “Do you want cakes for your warriors or not?  I do not have time to watch the cakes and bake them.”  Orlanth frowned, he did like those cakes.  His gaze idly wandered the hall avoiding Ernalda’s angry visage and lighted on Yinkin sleeping before the hearth.  That gave him an idea.  He took a stale roll from the table and hurled it at Yinkin.  Yinkin rolled out of the way just in time and stretching lazily asked, “What?”  Orlanth said, “Can I borrow one of your children?”  Yinkin sat up straight and warily eyed Orlanth.  “Which one?”  “That one you keep in the pit deep in the forest.”  “Oh, you know about him do you.  I’m not sure he’s well suited for, well anything.  He’s got a bit of an anger problem.”  Orlanth nodded, “That’s why he’s perfect.  Let’s go fetch him.”  Yinkin grimaced and started to protest.  Ignoring this Orlanth grabbed him by the scruff.  Kissing Ernalda on the cheek he breezily said, “Won’t be a mo.”

Two weeks later Orlanth and Yinkin returned.  Both were the worse for wear and Orlanth carried a large sack wrapped in iron chains slung on his back.  The sack was almost shredded and huge paws with claws like kukris poked through and tried to rip Orlanth apart.  “Who, or better yet, what did say this thing’s mother was?”  Orlanth asked again.  Yinkin looked sheepish and gave the same reply he’d been giving for days.  “I honestly can’t remember.  All I know is that he’s definitely one of mine.”

Summoning Gustbran and a host of warriors they managed to get a stout collar around the kitten’s neck and attached an iron chain as a leash to that long enough so it could reach anyone trying to steal cakes.  Standing safely outside the leash’s reach they kept an eye on the terror that now guarded Ernalda’s window.  Orlanth nodded in a satisfied manner.  “That should do.”  Smacking his hands together to knock the dust off he shook his head in a bemused manner.  “I must say that I have never heard such a perfect name for such a creature.  Wrath indeed.”

Ernalda of course made friends with Wrath right away and started baking again.  Once more the tantalizing scent drifted on the wind straight to Eurmal who had been missing them dreadfully.  He gleefully rubbed his hands together and slunk his way to the windowsill.  He was just straightening up to delicately liberate a cake or twelve when he heard a rumbling growl that sounded like a True Dragon had swallowed a Mostali army and was trying to clear its throat.  He turned his head in time to avoid losing it, shrieked in terror and fled without losing too much skin.  Inside the hall rolling out more dough Ernalda smirked thinking no more stolen cakes for you!

That should have been the end of that but Eurmal , that scoundrel, that blackguard, that poltroon, he loves a challenge more than anything.  He brooded on his brooding rock.  Hmmph, Wrath indeed.  I don’t want Wrath, I want sloth or something mild.  Hmm.  Thinking all of Yinkin’s kittens looked more or less the same he went searching.  As he went he gathered all those plants that cats loved, especially the ones that make them sleepy.  He searched high and low and wasn’t scratched too badly.  Finally he found Sloth who to his eye looked identical to Wrath.

Orlanth was well pleased with Wrath and the fact that the cake stealing had stopped.  Ernalda wasn’t so pleased and worried a little about what Eurmal was up to.  Yinkin who had never cared still didn’t though he was obscurely glad Wrath had found such an important job.

Eurmal returned to the stead one day straining from the weight of the two mighty sacks on his shoulders.  He snuck back in making sure no one saw him.  Taking a big ball of plant matter from one sack he carefully rolled it towards Wrath.  Wrath had been sleeping but when he smelled that heavenly scent he leapt upon the ball and tore it to pieces.  Eurmal turned pale at the sight and was just glad it wasn’t him.  Finally the catnip did its magic and Wrath flopped down on the ground.  Pulling a nine foot pole from his pocket he slowly and carefully poked Wrath.  No reaction. He poked again a little harder.  Nothing.  Finally he poked him hard enough to roll him over.  Still nothing.  Chortling he took the collar off of Wrath and fetching the other bag pulled an identical cat from it.  He put the collar on Sloth and stuffed Wrath and all the bits of shredded plant matter into the bag.  Hoisting the bag onto his shoulder and snitching a single cake, no make that two cakes, well, no one would miss three cakes would they, he strolled off into the forest whistling.

The reputation of Wrath served Sloth well who was so lazy he didn’t even care if he was called by the wrong name.  Orlanth was still smug about his solution and Yinkin still didn’t care but Ernalda suspected something was different as she scratched behind Sloth’s ears.  She sighed and thought at least Eurmal wasn’t taking ALL the cakes.  That was an improvement, wasn’t it? 

Last updated May 15, 2021

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