A Feast Among the Dead, Chapter III

Author: Severia Quasitto

The first course of the meal consisted of a trio of wickwheat crackers, as eaten by the clergy of the Temple Canton in Vivec City. Each cracker received its own topping: a whipped guar-milk ganache for the Mother of Mercy, a spear of bittergrass for the Warrior-Poet, and a lard-like oil that, I am told, symbolized the machinery lubricant of the Father of Mysteries.

Our appetites having been whetted, the second course featured small dumplings in a sour gravy. The dumplings were made of ash-yams, each selected for their sweetness, that had been roasted, peeled, and pureed. Fermented saltrice, which I am told are grown in the lands surrounding Tear, was then ground into a flour which was mixed with the ash yam puree and boiled in the gravy. The sweet dumpling and sour sauce make for a delicious dessert, but an altogether unorthodox second course.

The third course was salad. Fennel, I believe, was piled onto each plate. I was rather unimpressed, but I was proven to be too impatient—one of my hosts soon ladled a quite piquant sauce over the sorry plate of vegetables. The sauce seemed to be primarily an oil-based decoction, for the servings that came from the bottom of the jug contained several small, chitinous bits that resembled lice. I asked, altogether too hopefully, if the bits were the withered remains of hot pepper—I had seen oils prepared from hot pepper on Cybiades and found the idea much more appetizing than the alternative. My question went unanswered.

The fourth, fifth and sixth courses were brought out simultaneously, in honor of the Tribunal—one course to honor each of the Living Gods, and none to take precedence (nor, I am told, gut-space) from the others. They were each magnificent in their own way.

The first dish I sampled came from a platter of steamed kwama scrib. Each guest received their own and, by some strange culinary alchemy, the hard shells of these creatures had been rendered as soft as jelly. I am told that the secret to this preparation involves blanching the creatures in solutions derived from the eluvium of Red Mountain. My hosts were quick to note that they had blanched each scrib over a dozen times in the solution to achieve such a tender carapace. I was also assured the procedure makes for an excruciating ordeal for the scribs. While I found that detail distressing, it apparently makes the meat much sweeter.

The second dish featured a number of kagouti sweetbreads. This is something of a misappellation on my part, for I couldn't make out the name of the dish even though it had been mentioned to me several times. Suffice it to say that, as with the sweetbreads of a creature such as a sheep, we were presented with several different glands of a kagouti. To each was ascribed a virtue in the manner of the Warrior-Poet. These, too, I cannot recollect adequately, but it was more due to my disdain for the Dunmer's vainglorious Living God than any complication of the Dark Elf language.

The final dish struck me as more performative than not. Eels, freshly killed, were filleted and set before us along with small basins of a caramel-colored brine that had been made from fermented marshmerrow. I watched my hosts as they carefully dipped their fingers into this brine and allowed drops to roll off their hands, falling upon the flesh of the eels. How the creatures contorted! They writhed and wriggled as though they were still very much alive (though the lack heads assured me to the contrary). The creatures' unnatural movement soon subsided as, most curiously, the flesh of the eel became cured by the brine. How this honored Sotha Sil I didn't quite understand. Probably a cultural thing.

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