The adventuring party came back with a sack of seeds and some scratches on them. Annie ran up to them when she saw them and immediately went to gush at Timothy, as he had an angry red scratch on his nose.
“Timmy, why weren’t you careful?” Annie asked and Timothy sighed.
“I am a berserker, granny. That means I can’t stay at the back. And these wolves were special summons. We gave the druid responsible for their summoning to the authorities,” Annie breathed a sigh of relief. She was glad that they hadn’t killed the man.
“Anyway, the druid was a chatty fellow. As it turns out, he fed his wolves with special mana enriched food. One that restored their health to the fullest. How he made them eat spinach is beyond me, but he did,” continued Timothy and Annie stopped her inspection of his cut.
“Health restoring food, you say?” If she could get a chef who made good enough food to restore the health of summons, which were more mana rich and needed food from someone with a power, then Harold would gladly welcome them.
“Yes, made the wolves a pain to kill since they would go back to him for a bite and then come back in the fray. And he had a whole of three packs with him,” Annie said a quick prayer for the poor animals, her hand going to her four-leafed clover.
“You did what you had to,” said Annie, and she went to inspect the rest. Krisina had a black eye, Annie gasped at that.
“Young lady, who gave you that?” Krisina chuckled. She pointed at her swollen eye.
“The druid knew some hand-to-hand combat. Took us surprised when took off his robe to show a six-pack and muscles to envy,” Krisina made a motion with her arms like she was showing off muscles and burst out laughing. “Knew to attack me first, too, so that I wouldn’t set his pants on fire.”
“Young lady, forcing men to go in the nude is unseeingly,” chastised Annie as Krisina nodded, but retained her bright smile. “And you, Lucita. Are you hurt.”
Lucita pulled down her mask and for the first time, Annie saw her face. And her split lip.
“That druid really hates women,” said Lucita. Annie tutted and petted the place.
“I have some healing balm in my sack. We can get that resolved right away,” assured her Annie, and then she looked to Zachary. He grinned.
“I was careful, granny. Not a scratch on me,” Annie nodded in approval and turned to Nyle, who had his right hand in a cast.
“Oh, my,” said Annie as she went to the healer. “The druid got you?”
The other four snickered, and Annie gave them all a disapproving glare.
“Tell granny, Nyle. Don’t be shy,” urged Lucita, a mischievous look on her face.
“I fell down a slope,” murmured Nyle, and he looked down. “My shoe laces were untied.”
Annie sighed and patted the healer on the head.
“Well, I am glad that you all came back,” she was going to say healthy, but then reconsidered. “Come meet Holly the nymph!”
The adventurers shared a look. A nymph had nothing against meeting them? But, why? Still, they followed Annie to the forest, and they left the clover seed sack before Alklair’s house.
Annie went to the door and knocked on it. Holly answered, and she looked at the adventurers with curiosity.
“Granny, you are back so soon. Who are these people?” Annie pointed at each of the adventurers and introduced them.
“And they brought clover seeds. Now, the forest could be covered in a good cover crop,” added Annie after the introduction, and Holly’s face split into a grin.
“Thank you,” the nymph bowed, and the adventurers all looked uncomfortable at that. “Could I perhaps ask you to help me spread the seeds?”
“We will be happy to help,” Nyle said, cheeks rosy. Annie looked between the healer and the nymph and smiled. Sure, the nymph was probably old enough to be Nyle’s great-grandmother. But they would be good together.
They spread the seeds across the forest and Alklair made a small drizzle fall from the skies so that the soil had enough moisture. When they were done, Annie made them some cocoa rice pudding, and they had a pleasant snack.
“Annie, you seem to like rice a lot. I have this recipe for a soup. But I don’t know if you don’t know it already,” said Holly. Annie’s face split into a grin. She always loved it when people gave her recipes.
“Please give it to me. Are the ingredients too hard to come by?” Holly shook her head.
“They can be found in the market, just fine. You will need minced shallots, peppers, with the seeds, a cup of diced tomatoes, 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, some chicken broth, rice, and vegetable oil,” Annie nodded along, her mind already piecing the ingredients together.
“Ok, let me guess. The shallots and the peppers need to be sautéed in a pan. Then the broth and the tomatoes need to be stirred in. Oh, I forgot to say that they had to be cooked on medium heat. It has to be brought to boil, and then the cooked rice has to be added. Then, finally, the cheese and everything needs to be stirred until the cheese is melted?”
Holly clapped her hands.
“Yes, that is precisely it. How did you know?” Annie looked down at her hands bashfully.
“I have made similar soups, but never ones with shallots. But I have made other foods with shallots and so, I know how those are prepared. Thank you for the recipe, dear. Can you check all my notes to see if I have forgotten anything?” Annie handed over her notebook with recipes to Holly, and holly ran her finger down the list.
“Yes, just one thing, the name. I call it cheesy rice soup,” Annie nodded and wrote down Holly’s Cheesy Rice Soup.
“Let us make it together tomorrow, Holly. That way you can show me your cooking techniques,” Holly looked excited about the prospect. Annie saw from the corner of her eye how Nyle got a dreamy look on his face while he was gazing at the nymph. “And Nyle can help, can’t you, dear?”
“Me? I…yes. Sure. I can cook,” Nyle boosted and Holly send him a brilliant smile. Annie nodded. Yes, things were turning out nicely.