-09- An Outing to Zedron's

“Thalica my sweet! Miss Nefe and Master Teek have come along as well I see, welcome to my humble store.”

“Hello again unca!” Trev said cheerily, “We came along to help Gard find things that he and mommy might overlook.”

“I see, I see. Then I’m sure you both will be very helpful. Now then, since I do recall that you were looking for oats and raisins, shall we start there, and work our way around?”

I must give credit where it’s due. Zedron was the every bit the consummate businessman. He could disarm with a smile, and knew how to direct a conversation with ease, never showing for a moment that he wasn’t paying attention to a customer, especially a child.  In a way he reminded me of one of those snake oil salesmen from old westerns I used to watch as a kid sometimes when my father was home on the weekends, relaxing in his lounger.

The building itself was huge, but didn’t look like one of those membership club value centers my mom paid a yearly fee to be able to shop at. It looked more like a used book store, with tables and all sorts of things on display. It wasn’t only foodstuffs that was sold here, there were plenty of household goods, and furniture as well.

And a good many of them were well out of our price range.

We were escorted to a side room, and where the main objective of our outing lie. Large racks made of iron and wood held sacks and barrels of various goods. There were wooden boxes with thick glass on one side to display certain products within as well. It was as close to a supermarket as one could hope to find in this world, I imagine.

There was one such glass case that caught my attention before all the others.

“Excuse me, but are those by chance… Walnuts?”

“They certainly are. We have walnuts, almonds, and pecans. I import them from up north, though I find only marginal sales with them at best.”

I felt my heart nearly jump out of my chest.

Walnut bread. Walnut cookies. Almond cookies. Almond butter. Pecan pie! In my youth, as my mother owned every new blender that was ever sold on television by some scam artist at three in the morning… I had experience making every single one of those things.

“Gar, are you okay? You’re looking pale.”

“Ha… haha… ah.. hah? Ye..yeah. I’m fine.”

Holy ship-in-a-bottle!

“I’d like to take a small amount of each of those, if you don’t mind.”


We continued on towards the fruits, and more and more I began to sweat when I saw what was available.

“Raisins, Grapes, Boysenberries, Elderberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, and Cranberries!”

Cranberry walnut loaves, blueberry muffins, raspberry and boysenberry jams to go with the almond butter to make what would essentially a PB&J sandwich!

I gripped Mrs. Thalica’s arm.

“Excuse me… can… can I have a moment to speak with Mrs. Thalica privately.”

“Go right ahead.”

I tugged her along a bit away, and after taking a few deep breaths, I calmed down enough to tell her we needed everything.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean each thing so far that I’ve seen here… I can make at least two or three new things with. With your help, we can make about three new types of bread which I know will be well received. I can make about six new types of cookies, and with the fruits… muffins and a certain type of sandwich that no child can possibly resist.”

“You sound confident.”

“There won’t be a household in the city that wouldn’t know the name of your bakery in less than a month.”

“But… we only have so many coins, Gar. I have enough flour to last the rest of the month normally, but if you will be using it for your new creations…”

“I know. The problem right now is what to focus on.”

“Trevor thought selling cookies was a good idea. How about we focus then on one new bread, and the raisin cookie you spoke of?”

I exhaled, almost defeated.

“I know in my heart sandwiches will take off…”

“But sandwiches go hand in hand with the bread we make, right?”

“Yes. The raisins served two purposes, both for bread and cookies. I can make use of the walnuts and cranberries for a different type of bread that would be of interest to an adult’s taste. The almonds I can turn into something along with either strawberries or raspberries which the children will go wild for. The only thing so far that would be the most troublesome would be the pecans.”

“Alright, so let’s rule out the pecans for now. Raisins are a must, as is the bag of oats. You believed in that, so I will believe in you. What else can you maximize the use of?”

“I could make walnut cookies, but the cranberries… I’m not fond of cranberries to be all that honest. Blueberries would be great for cookies and muffins, and a blueberry muffin is one of the few things that surpass a cookie in my opinion. It would also, if processed along with the almonds...”


She took my hand in hers and gently held it.

“There’s still more to see, right?”

“Ah… yes. There probably is.”

“Just make a priority list based on two things: one, how easily it works with bread, or how easily it works with cookies. For all the other things, we can get a small amount of a few other things, and we can take our time seeing what works. Let’s start slow… okay?”

I nodded.

She gave me a soft kiss on the cheek.

But let’s definitely go with the blueberries.” She whispered into my ear.

As my angel wishes, blueberry muffins it is!

We continued on, and I made a mental checklist of things which were high priority, and things which weren’t. At the top of the list were almonds, walnuts, and blueberries.

We passed some more fruits, apples, pears, peaches, and some citrus, mainly lemons and limes. Those were more suitable for pies than bread or cookies, unfortunately. The lemons would be handy for making more mayonnaise. Even the rinds could be used as an agent for a few things if grated.

We had come to a wall full of heavy burlap sacks.

“We have many different type, coming from all over the continent. Barley, most often purchased by the brewers. Emmer, Millet, which is superb for porridge as I understand, Oats, Rye, which makes for an excellent whiskey, Spelt, Wheat, Buckwheat, Rice, and… Corn.”

“Corn?” I interrupted.

He opened up a bag, and there were tons of dried corn kernels.

Cornmeal. Corn muffins. Corn bread. With a bit of sugar and honey…! My mouth watered. Come to think of it…

“Do… you by chance have honey or honeycomb?”

He smiled.

“Oh yes, plenty of it.”

Honey raisin bread.

I sighed.

“Mrs. Thalica. It’s imperative to have a little honey.”

“How much honey?”

“I should be fine with a single jar for now.”


“Let’s see. Walnuts, Almonds, Raisins, Blueberries, A bag of Oats, and when we get to the spices, Cinnamon. Those I would consider the main priority.”

She nodded.

“Ew, what are those!”

In a bin at the corner was something almost rotting. Zedron wore a frown on his face when Trev pointed it out, but I couldn’t have been happier that he did.

“Those my dear Teek, are what is known as a bad investment.”

I walked over to the bin and saw the bunches. There was almost no doubt in my mind what they were, but I wasn’t entirely certain.

“May I… open one up. If it is what I think it is, I may be able to use them even in this state.”

“Be my guest.”

It was a familiar fruit, one which was a bit much to eat raw in that state, but excellent for mixing into bread. I could be wrong and discover it’s a Plantain. But my gut was telling me from the size, it had to be a Banana.

I tried peeling it from the stem instead of the base, pleased to find no mold on it yet. The insides were mushy and though I hated the too-ripe sweetness of it at this stage, one taste told me it was exactly that.

A banana.

“Those came from an island in the Sea of Bisqart not two weeks ago. They turned rotten before I could do a damn thing with them.” He explained his failed investment.

“How much for what’s in here?”

“Take it. If you can use it, take it. It’s only going to go to waste.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’d consider it a fair deal just for ridding me of the rotten fruit.”

“Then, how about I trade you a piece of advice in exchange, as well as a taste of what this rotten fruit is still good for?”

“A wise merchant never turns down the former, and always accepts the latter.”

I laughed.

“It’s how it was stored that caused this problem. These fruits are native to lands that almost never see winter. But they ripen and rot within eight to ten days from being harvested. If you could keep them as cool as a winter’s day, they would last much longer. Also, when transporting, it is important to let them breathe from time to time. They release a gas as they ripen and if they stay in contact with that gas in an enclosed space, they rot even faster, along with any other fruits or vegetables stored near them.”

He stroked his wispy beard.

“Is that so?”

I nodded. “These fruits were commonly sold in my homeland, the outer skin when green meant the fruit wasn’t ripe and had a bitter taste. When it turned yellow it was perfect in taste, and when it turned black, it ripened into a powerful sugary state that would make a person ill if ingested directly, and poisonous if a mold was found growing on the blacked form.”

“Yet those are black.” He answered.

“Yes, but free of mold. There is still enough time to use them.”

“You are certain of this information? Mages who command the cold are not cheap to hire.”

“I’m certain.”

“Then I shall look forward to what you make of it.”

“Thank you, Zedron.”

“Bah.” He held up a hand, dismissing it.

I ruffled Trev’s hair. “I knew it was good luck to bring you along, kiddo.”

“Do those really taste good, Gard? They look dead to me.”

“Just you wait, one of the tastiest breads in the world can be made from those.”


“Really. You might like it as much as a cookie.”

“A bread that tastes as good as a cookie?”

“Heh, looks like I’ll be busy making lots of new things tonight. I’ll let you be the one to decide what taste the best, okay?”

“Yeah! I’ll be a big help!”

“No fair! I want to help decide!” Nefe chimed in, sounding upset.

“Alright, how about this: All three of you can be judges. Whatever gets the most approving voted from each of you will be the best. That way even your mom can help. You saw how much she liked the cookies too, right, you two?” Then I brought my voice down to a whisper, “And if she likes them, we might get to eat them more often…”

I winked at them.

They both grinned at the same time.

“Okay, we’ll all be your judges! Mommy! Mommy! We’re gonna all be judges for what Gard makes!”

“That does sound like fun, Trevor. I’m looking forward to what he makes with the blueberries we saw earlier.”

I knelt down and met the eyes of Nefetina.

“Is there any special fruit or nut or something else that you like, Nefe?”

“I do, but you didn’t say anything when we passed them.”

“Well, I was thinking of what would sell the best, but this isn’t about what will sell. I can make a small amount of something using a fruit or nut that you like.”

She looked down at her feet.

“…apples. I really really like apples.”

I put my hand on her tiny shoulder.

“I can think of a few things we can make with apples. Sweet, delicious things.”



“Then we can have apples?”

“As many as you want.”

She gave me a hug. I guess she really, really liked apples as much as she said.

“Mrs. Thalica, I think we should stop here for now. Even my head is a bit overloaded with all that’s available.”

“Alright. Are you sure you don’t want to see the rest of the spices Zedron carries?”

“Cinnamon is the main one we need. Though even only a few peppercorns would be great if we have the coin for it. Everything else can come later. I’m sure we’ll be returning here again.”

After Nefe let me go, we made a list of what was needed and negotiated the price with Zedron.

“Ten silver. Two casks of Walnuts, one cask of Almonds, Two casks of Blueberries, two casks of Raisins, one sack of Oats, one bushel of apples, ten sticks of cinnamon, half a hand of peppercorns, and one crate of rotting bananas at no charge, in exchange for a sample of the product made with it.”

“Zedron… that price is a bit off. It should be a lot more…”

“Come now, Thalica, you wound me. Can I not be kind to my dear god niece and god nephew?  Look how happy Nefe is munching on that apple. Have I not been a long time friend of you and your husband?”


“How long has it been since you smiled so brightly? You haven’t once scowled since you’ve come to my store. It’s been five long years, and now you smile again. Let me treat you a little so the lack of coins that remain doesn’t steal it from your face.”

She clicked her tongue.

“I have tasted those bananas before. It is exactly as Gardavan here has said. They are bitter when green, and most delicious when yellow. If he says they transport well when cold as a winter’s day, then should I hire a mage to fetch and keep them so, I should be able to sale them fresh on the next round. I happened to find them delicious when I tasted them the first time, and I know the nobility will as well. If he is going to make something with them even in that state, and I find it delicious as well, I can use it to promote sales going forward… Now can you please let me save a little face and come off as a kind uncle and not a shrewd businessman for once? Think what you want of me, but how far back do your husband and I go? I have never once overcharged you.”

“Alright! Alright! I get it. I get it, Zed. Ten silver coins.”

A perfect salesman’s smile.

She emptied ten silver coins from her pouch.

“I will have everything delivered to your place before sup.”

She sighed, her stubbornness having lost against his silver tongue.

“Thank you, Zedron.”

He stroked his wispy beard and laughed. “Gardavan, I look forward to what you will bring me later.”

We shook hands on it. “I’ll make a little extra so you can fleece those nobles after they get a taste.”

He laughed even harder. “I like that confidence, my friend. Oh ho ho!”

“Master merchant… you sell other things than food here, correct?”

“Of course, are you in the market for something else?”

“Do you have any paper and maybe pens or pencils?”

“I have such things, yes.”

I opened my own pouch of coins.

“Would this be enough for some?”

“May I ask what it’s for?”

“An idea. One that might prove more lucrative than bananas.”

His fingers which were stroking his wispy beard came up to his lips and were licked.

“Lucrative, you say?”


“I’m all ears.”

“A Collectable Card Game.”

“Card games? I’m not looking to get involved in that sort of market.  Gambling is a black-hearted business.” He frowned, displeasure obvious.

“They are not for gambling. Only for entertainment. It’s a game to teach strategy and literacy to children at the same time, but in a fun way, and the games they play with them are meant to be competitive, but also luck plays a factor as well.”

“How is that different from gambling?”

“It’s true it could be used in such a way, and in truth any game can be used in such a way, however the bakery will host competitions as well, with the most talented players winning prizes.”

“And these cards, how does it work?  How is the game then played?”

“There will be a number of fabricated decks containing a certain number of cards to be used by each player of the game, many cards which will be based on the elements.  Each element will be either weak to, neutral to, or strong against the others. The player will take the imagniary role of a monster tamer during the game, and they will be able to battle other players who are also monster tamers, as they start with a weak monster, and give it energy to attack and evolves into a stronger monster as the game progresses turn-by-turn. It’s quite involved, but the rules of what each card can do written upon the card itself.  The winner of each game will be decided in one of two ways, a loss occurring when a fixed number of the player's monsters are defeated by their opponent, or the player running out of monsters available to be put into play from their hand on their turn.”

“The game is… unique, to say the least.  This idea is yours alone?”

“It’s similar to one played in my homeland, but I’m certain you won’t find it anywhere on this continent. There’s a special part of this whole thing which I have yet to explain, and it is the main draw of it all.”

“Which is…?”

“Booster packs.”

“Two words that mean nothing without context, Gardavan.”

“The decks will be pre-configured to favor one element, however the rules of the game will allow for customization of each deck to a degree.  A mixing of elements, whole new decks that can be made. Infinite combinations of strength and tactics. But the cards that can be obtained come in a single pack, eight of which are in each pack, and all of different rarities. The more rare the card, the greater the likelihood that the card is significantly stronger than the ones which are more commonly found.  

These new cards which may be sanctioned for legal use in this game can be purchased only at one place: Thalica’s bakery, and only after making a purchase of an item sold in limited quantity.  Of course, children will be begging their parents to let them obtain one of these extra booster packs to further strengthen their decks.  That is where you can profit.  Should you be interested in doing so, you can sell officially sanctioned booster packs which the children, upset that they could not get their hands on a limited edition rare card, would still wish to acquire more new cards anyway, in an effort to figure out how to best shore up the strategies of their deck in case they challenge someone who has one of the rare limited edition cards. 

You would then sell those booster packs for a fee that assures you a good profit but doesn’t keep them so costly a child couldn’t buy it with their own money, or what they would beg from their parents who could spare it.  And over time, maybe a week or two hence from when the limited edition cards are no longer sold at the bakery, booster packs being sold by Zedron, will contain a special limited re-release of them, for the people who still desperately want to collect one to say they have it, or to have a second chance to obtain it, after much discussion among the children about how useful it is in the strategies they will ultimately discuss."



“I have been a merchant since Thalica and her husband were aught but children, covered in filth and mud and swinging sticks at each other as they pretended to be glorious knights.” He twirled his moustache. “I will give you what you ask for, but we must speak of this further. I travel the width and breadth of the continent, and if I could spread this game as I go…”

I nodded.

“Zedron, I’m curious… are there coins worth more than gold, or is that the highest denomination?”

“You speak of platinum coins.”

“If this game spreads, and you are sole distributor outside of the city, you will sleep comfortably on a bed made of Cold. Hard. Platinum. For the rest of your days.”

He laughed wildly for only a moment.

“Which of us now is the master merchant? I should call you Roach the Rogue, for having an idea so insidious that it targets the pockets of adults through their children under the guise education, yet being worse than gambling.”

His hand rested on my shoulder.

“If it is a card game you wish to create, then you will need cards, and not mere paper. It seems I will be busy henceforth. Go and away with you now, lest you tell me another idea that shall leave my throat parched in anticipation. I will send with the goods much paper and pen, that you may conceive this idea well.”

“Mrs. Thalica and I will look forward to our continued business together, master merchant Zedron.”  

After parting quite amicably. We took with us a few more apples to eat along the way back to the bakery. Nefe the most happy shiny red apple in hand, its sweet juices dripping down her chin, and Mrs. Thalica asking me questions all the while about what I was talking with Zedron about.

“It’s merely a game of cards which children play and learn from. It’s quite fun and in my youth I played it frequently with many of my friends who remained so even until I was an adult. There is no child in my homeland who does not know it, and no adult which does not know the grief of their child asking them for it.” I answered happily.

“Last night you told me of your family. Tonight, will you tell me of your homeland?”

“Is that an invitation to come upstairs and speak with you, Mrs. Thalica?”

“That depends entirely on you, Mr. Gardavan.” She said, adding an honorific to my name now. “On how impressive a tale you weave to me.”

“And if I weave it well, Mrs. Thalica?”

“Then perhaps you may find a certain part of me becoming unwoven.” She giggled, “But only if it is impressive.”

“Are you saying it’s not impressive?”

“Mmh… That, my dear Mr. Gardavan is a secret known only to me. Yet there is a way to make me tell, if you are so curious.”

She walked ahead a bit quicker as we approached the bakery, and once inside, I found myself wondering what tale I could beguile her with, not because I am curious as to how impressive it is to her, but because I am far more interested in what will happen should I manage to succeed in making her become unwoven.