A Special 200th Arrival Anniversary
Wizard Dueling Dilemmas and Warty Wishes
The Cosmic Trickster Nyarlathotep looked out the window of his cozy cottage as it floated through the Universe past worlds, stars, and galaxies. The Outer God glanced down at his daughter Yadira, who lay sleeping on her play mat covered by a whimsical patchwork quilt that they had created together.
Nyarlathotep gave a discouraged sigh. An immortal was far from immune from ennui, especially when he had lost his true love in the massive attack that had obliterated Zaïs, Yadira’s birthplace and the world that Nyarlathotep had come to call home.
“I am weary, Nathicana,” Nyarlathotep sighed. “I would without hesitation render myself eternally dormant and float forever unknowing through space were it not for our daughter. Time has not healed my heart, which I often feel may burst from its longing for you.”
Nyarlathotep added another log to the dying fire.
“It would not do for Yadira to sense these grim emotions from the one she trusts to guide and protect her,” Nyarlathotep chided himself. “I must refresh myself for her sake. My child is more adept and wiser than ever I was and is perhaps even more gifted than her peerless mother.”
Nyarlathotep moved to the kitchen, where he looked through the cupboards as he continued his monologue.
“I had not a childhood, for I sprang into being fully grown,” he observed. “My daughter shall have a time of innocence. When she is older, she will no doubt recognize those discouraging emotions that can stunt one’s resolve and shake a soul’s confidence to its foundations. I forbid myself to allow my face to contort into a frown or my soul to exude despair. Yadira will sense my discontent, and that cannot be permitted.”
“Papa, is everything all right?”
As Nyarlathotep opened and closed cupboards, his daughter toddled over to him, pulling at the leg of his trousers. He bent down to lift her up, greeting her with a warm smile.
“No, my pet, not entirely,” the Outer God admitted. “You see, I was hoping to make you a delightful dinner followed by a scrumptious dessert for your arrival anniversary, but the contents—or lack thereof—in these cupboards perplex me. Have you any quick astrology or stone carvings that can assist an addled wizard in making his warty wishes come true?”
“Come sit with me, Papa,” the toddler commanded soberly as she led her father to the kitchen table. She conjured up a sketch pad and a variety of paints, pastels, and crayons.
“We will need to gather the ingredients for our dinner from the far reaches of the Cosmos,” Yadira explained.
The little sorceress closed her eyes and held her hand above her art supplies. She grabbed a green pastel crayon and began drawing fervently. When she stopped, there was an image of a green man with his feet against the wall, his torso folded over his long legs and his arms hanging down. Slender green vines grew on the wall in a dizzying series of interlocking patterns.
“This is Ghusa,” Yadira explained. “He is one of the Ghaaq’aks species from Vrunqrel. Can you guess what he sounds like when he talks?”
“He looks froggy,” Nyarlathotep surmised, touching the image of the green man. “He comes from a world where amphibians of the Anura variety evolved to become the dominant species.”
“Correct,” Yadira replied in a croaking language that only she, her father, and Ghusa’s people could have understood. “Some people call the Ghaaq’aks goblin frogs. Do you know why they sleep this way?”
“Their manner of sleeping evolved to avoid becoming a meal for predators,” Nyarlathotep replied. “Do Ghusa’s people have something that will help us prepare for our party?”
“Ghusa’s people live in a world of green growing things,” Yadira revealed, drawing a grand structure hewn from eggshell-white stone. It was surrounded by marshy gardens, and its walls were laced with vines. “They will be happy to let us select a few items from their gardens. Ghusa is the temple priest, and he is my friend. He is sometimes troubled because of the weight of his responsibilities, but I visit him in his dreams and bring him happy thoughts.”
Nyarlathotep’s eyes grew moist, and he reached to caress his precocious child’s face.
“How like your mother you are,” he praised. “It was important to her to make others happy.”
“Mama and Ghusa both had lots of people to take care of,” Yadira surmised. “Ghusa has his whole planet, and Mama had the whole Universe. You and me, Papa, we tend to help one soul at a time, but there are so many wishes. Some are good wishes, and some are bad wishes. Ghusa’s wishes are good wishes. I would like to make one of Ghusa’s wishes come true for my arrival anniversary day, and he will give us good green things for our dinner.”
“Then let us be off to Ghusa’s world,” Nyarlathotep declared. “I have just one pressing question. Do Ghusa and his people eat insects?”
“Yes, but we don’t have to,” Yadira giggled. “I wouldn’t want to eat insects unless I turned into a goblin frog. We usually look like celestials, and celestials don’t eat insects, right?”
“You are quite correct, my love,” Nyarlathotep replied.
Crispy and Crunchy
When Nyarlathotep and Yadira returned to their cottage, they were surrounded by massive baskets filled with produce. The High Priest Ghusa had been so pleased to meet the magical child from his dreams that he simply could not stop showering her and her father with gifts.
Everything that the pair could possibly desire for a delectable dinner was available and then some. Scraeqnains were delightful, multicolored sprouts. Each color had a different flavor. The ruby-red sprouts tasted like fresh young radishes, the orange sprouts like tiny new carrots, while the yellow sprouts had a flavor reminiscent of lemongrass. The jade-green sprouts were mildly nippy like a hint of wasabi while the blue sprouts tasted like slightly salty blueberries and the violet sprouts had the flavor of hibiscus tea.
The flesh of the Indriel gourd resembled tofu and tasted like sake. It absorbed the flavors of the other foods that it was cooked with and perfectly complimented the savory Threx fungus, which was a snappy Kelly-green color and tasted like a perfectly grilled hamburger with blue cheese and portobello mushrooms. When sauteed together and served with the crunchy sprouts, this plant pairing made for a combination that couldn’t be beat.
The pulpy flesh inside the tough Caincuts stalks could be mashed to release a delightful beverage with the flavor of lightly sweetened coconut milk. The desaturated pulp could be used in baked goods, giving them a slightly spongy texture while providing a delicate flavor like sugared snow.
Milpho was a bright green root with a flavor that tasted like a blend of potatoes and spinach. Scrolu was a tall flower with plump, droopy magenta petals that made the plant resemble a waterlogged sunflower. The petals tasted like slices of watermelon with crunchy flecks of sugar and salt.
The Scrolu’s soft seeds looked like candy corn and tasted like a combination of white and sweet potatoes. Ghusa chuckled when he told Nyarlathotep and Yadira that some visitors expected the seeds to taste like an obscenely sweet confection that went by different names in different places but there seemed to be a version of it on almost every world.
While Nyarlathotep prepared dinner, he sipped a glass of Ineah, a golden-orange wine with flavors of salty saffron and cloves. Yadira took a small sip of the potent beverage, made a face, sneezed, and conjured up a group of thirteen tiny devils to stomp the Caincuts pulp. She carefully washed each of their feet before they set about stomping, and as they danced, she made miniature plates so each of them could join in the birthday feast.
“Papa, the devils might enjoy a bit of your wine,” Yadira suggested. “For me, it looks much prettier than it tastes.”
“Well, Pet, one must acquire a bit more saltiness of the soul before one can appreciate a briny beverage such as this,” Nyarlathotep explained as he finished his glass. “As the offspring of primordial chaos, I emerged from my father’s turbulent thoughts with a saline spirit from the start. Your brine, however, is tempered by your mother’s sweetness.”
Dinner with the Devils
When they finished stomping the juice from the Caincuts pulp, the well-behaved devils waited their turn for Yadira to wash each of their feet again. They filled their tiny plates with hearty portions of the delicious dinner and Nyarlathotep poured each of them a thimbleful of wine.
After dinner, everyone enjoyed the plump petals of the Sondae, a flower that tastes remarkably like a banana split. Yadira conjured up a cabinet with a gateway to the Infernal realm so the devils could come and go as they pleased, and she made little beds for each of them and placed the beds in the cabinet.
“You are welcome to stay, my friends,” the little sorceress invited. “If you are here in the morning, we can have breakfast together.”
Not being quite ready to return to the Infernal Realm, the devils gathered around the fire, inquiring if they might have a little more wine. Nyarlathotep indulged them, and while Yadira drew pictures and planned how they would gather the ingredients for tomorrow’s breakfast, the Cosmic Trickster asked the helpful devils what they usually did with their time.
“We mine for molten metals,” replied Zaahods.
“We make magical items,” added his brother Zalgid. “We are a sorcerer’s best friends. We are wondering, good Sir, if we might give a special gift to your daughter for her 200th birthday.”
“I certainly don’t see why not,” Nyarlathotep agreed.
Zaahods and Zalgid hurried off through the portal in the back of the cabinet. When they returned, they had with them what appeared to be a bag of marbles.
“Each of ‘em does different things and leads to a different realm,” Zaahods explained, placing the marbles before the delighted Yadira. “But the one that is the most useful is this smooth, clear one. You just rub your hands over it, decide what size you wish it to be, and you can see wherever and whenever you need to see.”
“So long as there ain’t no magic blocking your sight,” Zalgid interjected. “Some witches and wizards and powers that be might not want pryin’ eyes peering in. But you’ll know if that’s the case, and we’ll figure a way to work around it. We’ll always appreciate your kindness for washing our feet and inviting us to your special dinner.”
Yadira warmed the clear marble between her palms, and it grew to a size that she could easily gaze into. As she watched, a flurry of white appeared. Sweet, melodic female voices filled the cottage. The precocious little sorceress drew images of tiny fairies clad in white gowns with full skirts. The skirts billowed as they swirled through their magical world of white snow.
“The world of the Flower Girls is where we find the sweet sugar for our breakfast donuts,” Yadira announced. “We must also find coffee for the devils and a savory protein with the flavor of salted meat. We should also have apples and acorns and something chewy and cheesy to make the meal complete.”
As the devils set about drawing up plans on Yadira’s sketch pad, fine-tuning the magic marbles, or relaxing while sitting beside the fire sipping Ineah, Nyarlathotep waved his hand, creating a shimmering white gate with sparkling snowflakes surrounding the perimeter. A strong, stout devil named Maxwell wished the pair good travels from his vantage point with his feet up on a small stone table near the fireplace.
“Enjoy your journey, Good Sir and Little Miss,” Maxwell called. “It looks a mite cold for my liking. My mates and me will keep the fire stoked and everything neat and tidy.”
“You have my gratitude, Maxwell,” Nyarlathotep said. “All of you have my fondest gratitude. Thank you for making Yadira’s 200th arrival anniversary extra special.”
Yadira, clad in a cozy white snowsuit with fluffy trim about the hood and cuffs, smiled cheerfully and waved to the devils. She took her father’s hand and the pair stepped through the gate.
“There is a shadow of gloom upon the Master,” a wiry devil called Cruise observed. “The little one keeps him occupied with quests more for him than for herself. Were it not for the clever babe, surely he would place himself in a night of eternal sleep. The longing for his beloved is like an icy hand around his heart.”
“I am devoted to helping the Master and the Little Miss, but we are up against powers far greater than ourselves, Boyos,” declared a square-jawed devil called Belmin, who wore a green checkered paddy cap over his thick black locks. “When even the Lord of Chaos himself is forced to run through the winding corridors of space and time for the safety of himself and his wee daughter, the pathway back to his lost love will not be solved simply by a coven of determined devils, no matter how industrious we are or how committed we may be to the cause.”
“Our humble nature works to our advantage, Bell,” insisted a tall, rail-thin devil called Proudstride. “Listen, those Big Powers That Be will expect kickback from the likes of the Master and whatever mystical forces he may recruit. The Master knows this, so he doesn’t launch a frontal assault against the forces he believes are involved in his lady’s disappearance. He works smooth and subtle, he bides his time, he keeps his eyes wide open, his wishes close to the chest, and his mouth shut. The Master is wise, and that’s why he’ll win in the end.”
“It wasn’t him that called on us, though,” observed a canny devil named Joser. “It was the little miss. She knows that her daddy needs help, but he can’t be the one to ask. Those forces that conspired to separate him from his lady, they know his energy. They have feelers out for him everywhere. They don’t suspect his daughter of being anything but a precocious little sorceress who likes to visit all the worlds and sometimes make a few herself.”
“I for one am going to do whatever it takes to help ‘em,” declared a wild-looking devil named Brushace, who had a vertical row of colorful spines on his head. He rolled a handful of marbles onto a star chart, circled each marble, made a notation, and drew lines between the circles.
Flowers and Snow
Nyarlathotep and Yadira arrived in a lovely white world of sweet-tasting snow. They were quickly surrounded by fairies in full-skirted white gowns with golden tops who resembled white flowers. They were approached by the Queen of the Fairies, who introduced herself as Nyx Snowshimmer.
“We are so happy to meet our dearest little dream friend,” Nyx praised in a high, vibrating voice. “We Daughters of Lelphi welcome you to watch as we dance in your honor, and then you may collect as much snow as you require. It is wonderful to meet you and your father in person, my dear Mistress Yadira.”
Nyarlathotep conjured a waterproof blanket from which he constructed a little tent where he and Yadira could stay warm and dry while they watched the flower fairies dance. Yadira pondered the whisperings of a young fairy who watched her father with admiring eyes.
“He is so handsome.”
“Yes, but his heart belongs to another. Can you not sense it? There is a shadow upon his soul.”
“I could make him forget. I well know what pleases a man.”
“He is not a man but a god. Would you be prepared to help him raise a precocious goddess to maturity? Stay your tongue, Ulgrea, and respect the bond between the dashing trickster and his lost love. Appreciate, but do not pursue.”
Sensing Yadira’s confusion over the exchange, Nyarlathotep attempted to both explain and deflect her thoughts elsewhere.
“My dear, the fairy fawning over me with amorous intent is, as her companions have noted, young and foolish. She thinks that love is all daisies and dandelions and silvery centerpieces and rosebud rims. She is oblivious to the fact that roses have thorns, silver tarnishes with time, daisies go dormant between growing seasons, and dandelions become seeds that scatter to the winds. Like a thriving garden or a pleasant home, real love requires work, not only longing looks and hungry touches.”
“Papa, I think you should not look at or touch that silly fairy,” Yadira replied. “We have hungry devils at home, and as soon as the fairies are done dancing for us, I think we should take our buckets of snow and return there.”
“I quite agree with you, my dear,” Nyarlathotep laughed. “I am pleased to have such a wise daughter whose priorities are in perfect order.”
Nyarlathotep is the creation of H.P. Lovecraft, initially appearing in his 1920 story of the same name.
Nathicana and the Gardens of Zaïs are the creations of H.P. Lovecraft, initially appearing in his 1927 poem Nathicana.
Everlasting Speech Endow Improper Weary Maim
Vast Impressive Refresh Immune
Obliterated Astrology Forbidden Render Airless Frown Hesitation Quick Stone Carvings Massive Burst Perplex
Putting my Feet in the Dirt
Write a story that involves a secret or magic ingredient.
The piece was submitted to this prompt on 1 July 2021.
It was also inspired by these prompts.
Write about a character preparing a meal for somebody else.
Start or end your story with two characters sitting down for a meal.