"What? Thems still a movin' in there." Ugi flicked a claw against the stained slats of the teetering, moaning crate. "A baker's dozen, high quality, pre-seasoned. Pay up."
Zarth rubbed the dense scales of his ridged brow. "That stink and color are not indicative of seasoning, you idiot. It's decay. These are zombies, magic-infused reanimations. I asked for fresh lively humans."
"You asked for the pie baker's secret ingredient." Ugi snorted.Coils of smoke danced through the piercings in his wide-set nostrils. "If yous not appreciate the flavor of magic, well, maybe you don't deserve the high-hill kitchen, eh?"
The pie baker had won the bake-off five years running. Zarth would be damned if he'd lose to her again. No more second place. No more runner-up. No more consolation contracts. No more toiling away in the valley where the mountains trapped the aromas of the delicious dishes he made. Every hateful day, once sumptuous, sultry bouquets turned sour, lingering in layers upon layers of conflicting cloying stink. It didn't matter how good the flavor was if customers couldn't get past the stench.
This year he would win the high-hill kitchens where the strong, cleansing winds would disperse the scents of his scrumptious temptations to the entire horde. His business would finally overtake the bottle-bellied baker's. His culinary genius would finally be recognized.
Most of all, he'd finally enjoy cooking again.
This year, he had the sure-fire recipe to win the bake-off. Something unique, something novel. The inside-out pie. A tightly woven bacon crust with cow dumplings suspended in a gelatinous forest stew.
Zarth slammed a trunk of gemstones on the table. "Payment, as promised. But so help me, if these aren't--"
"They are," Ugi interrupted. The hunter pulled up a stool and draped his arm over the trunk. "We known each other too long. Knew you'd come 'round."
"You can go now," Zarth groused.
"You gonna need a taste-tester." Ugi patted his belly. "I'm already here."
"Fine. Make yourself useful. Light the combustion gasses." Zarth thew open the capture-crate and suppressed the rise of bile in his throat. He dipped his talons in brine, then hoisted a zombie by its head.
Time to make magic-flavored bacon.
Thank you, dear readers, for the six ad-lib words shaping this week's series of flash-fiction:
zombie, delicious, gelatinous, combustion, piercing, bacon.