Greetings and salutations. Dawn Blair here, your multi-dimensional, time-traveling tour guide, and today I’m adventuring out to learn more about Cauldron Fred and the flying hatchets of death. Mentioned twice in the Quest for the Three Books, we never get to see Cauldron Fred to learn who he is. Obviously this man had an impact on the lives of Dominus Steigan and Sapere Martias, but in what way?
I traveled today to New Lilinar with the sole purpose of learning the answer to that question. Of course, I didn’t have a scheduled an appointment, so I couldn’t get in to see Holy Sapere Martias. Apparently if I wasn’t the person delivering his daily muffin, he didn’t have time for me. When I was told that it would be several weeks of waiting before I could get an appointment with the Holy Sapere, I decided that I would just take this into my own hands.I found myself wandering around the side of the Temple, through the courtyard and around into the garden, and sneaking in the back door. I imagine that this is how Steigan and Martias had come in many, many times before me. I thought it might be a good way to start.
Unfortunately, my poor timing nearly resulted in a pot of boiling water being thrown upon me. I think I scared the poor girl carrying it half out of her wits when she saw me there. I startled her so much that she dropped the pot and splashed hot water all over the floor. Fortunately for us, both of us jumped out of harm’s way. I’ll count that as my lucky move for today.
She grabbed up several rags from nearby and drop them on the stone, now flooded with water. I bent down to help her and soon we both found ourselves laughing about the incident. I think she appreciated that I helped to clean up after giving her such a startle.
“Why are you coming in through this way?” she asked.
I told her of my quest to learn more about this Cauldron Fred that I had heard about and asked her if she knew anything about him. By her age, I guessed that she had been much too young to be working in the kitchen when Fred was here, unless. From the way that Steigan and Martias had spoken about Fred, I figured that he was no longer here.
One of the older cooks who had apparently been listening in on our conversation, piped up, “I remember Cauldron Fred. He’s the one who taught me, much like I’m now teaching my granddaughter,” he said, pointing toward the girl I was helping.
Having gained a lead, I proceeded to ask about Cauldron Fred.
It turns out that Cauldron Fred, his actual name being Cal Fredriks, was a baker in New Lilinar for many many years. He started in a bakery of his own. When the bakers at the Temple couldn’t keep up with feeding all those stationed and training at the Temple, they asked Fredriks to start bringing over extra bread. Soon, he was supplying all the bread for the Temple.
Not only that, but when he’d made his deliveries in the morning, he saw that the cooks in the Temple were woefully behind. He started helping out, until Holy Sapere Adonid asked him if he would just mind working for the Temple.
Fredriks didn’t want to give up his bakery, so he arranged to work at his own bakery early in the morning, then his wife would come in and take over sales at the bakery while he went to work at the Temple.
I had to ask, “So how did he pick up the name Cauldron Fred?”
The chef gave a boisterous chuckle. He told me that the mocking name was all the doing of Steigan and Martias. Why was I not surprised?
Fredriks was often known for starting the evening stew late in the morning, but generally before the mid-day meal. It seemed that Steigan and Martias would typically come in to raid the kitchens right about the time that Frederiks was preparing the stew. Martias started the joke because Frederiks was always standing near the cauldron, so instead of calling him Cal they began to call him Cauldron. Cauldron Fredericks.
“And the flying hatchets of death?” I asked.
That, was apparently an extension of the story. One day, Martias and Steigan came into the kitchen and snatched up a loaf of bread and a couple muffins. They were making their way out, running as usual, with Cal waving his butcher knife as he always did when they entered the the kitchen. But on this day, Steigan and Martias were way too joyful and bounced around Frederiks, dodging his attempts at catching them. And as they headed for the door, the knife slipped from Frederiks’ hand and sent it flying into the wall just as Steigan was calling him Cauldron Frederiks. All Steigan got out was “Cauldron Fred.” Martias began to laugh, “Cauldron Fred has lost his head.”
“But why is it Cauldron Fred lost his head?” Steigan continued the chant.
“In anger!” Martias said, grabbing onto Steigan and pulling him out the door.
Word soon got around and Cal Fredriks had a new name: Cauldron Fred.
After that, the snatching of food and attempts at defending it became a sort of game between them, and Cauldron Fred got good at swinging his knives. He never wanted to intentionally hurt either of the boys, but sometimes the game drew close to dangerous. It’s said that at one point, Steigan lost several inches of hair to those knives.
But as boys often do, they grew up and quit eating so much. Their attempts at snatching table scraps grew infrequent. Fred grew old and got to the point where he just wanted to keep his bakery open, so he left his position with the Temple feeling as if he had done more than his share of time. He worked in his bakery for many many cycles and then handed it over to other family members.
Fredriks lived a good life, and Steigan and Martias gave up their daily bread rations on the day that Fredriks passed from this world into the arms of the goddess.
So I had learned the life of Cauldron Fred and finished with my interview. The chef gave me a muffin before I left the kitchens in memory of having to tell the story of Cauldron Fred once again, and glad that his mentor was remembered still.
As I walked back through the garden, I broke the muffin in half and found myself thinking of Steigan’s favorite memory: of giving a roll to Keteria, who shared it with her knights.
I bent down, crumbled half the muffin to bits, and spread it under a little strickleberry bush. A piece sacrificed in tribute. “For you, Cauldron Fred.”
I stood and headed out of the garden, through the courtyard, and across the bridge. It was time to find my next story.