Flight Rising Discussion
Discuss everything and anything Flight Rising.
TOPIC | [LIGHT DOM] Brightshine Jubilee Hub
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[center][img]https://i.imgur.com/8GPklB3.png[/img] [color=#afb87d]Intro[/color] [color=#d4ab86]• [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742#post_33725166]Events[/url] • [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742#post_33725176]Story[/url] • [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742#post_33725182]Badges[/url] • [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742#post_33725200]Signatures[/url] • [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742#post_33725203]Thanks[/url] •[/color] [img]https://imgur.com/yaPcYFl.png[/img] [img]https://imgur.com/z4mTggp.png[/img][/center] [center][size=5][color= #775849 ]Welcome to [b]Brightshine Jubilee 2018[/b]! [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] This year, Light Flight is inviting all of Sornieth to Brightshine Bakery, a cafe and bakery run by several Light familiars. The Bakery has made many treats specifically for the festival celebration, and all of us in the Sunbeam Ruins are excited to share them with you! [columns][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/raf/2459812][img]https://i.imgur.com/FUhbBtu.png[/img][/url][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][size=4][color=#9c7967]Send your dragons to Light to help solve our bakery mystery! You'll receive payment for their services and be entered into a raffle to win delicious prizes![/columns] [columns][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/art/2461328][img]https://i.imgur.com/OYFykYq.png[/img][/url][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][size=4][color=#9c7967]Are visual shinies more to your taste? You can also send fodder to our Illuminarti for adopts and original art![/columns] [columns][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/fd8/2461797][color=transparent]__[/color][img]https://i.imgur.com/6mlt6oK.png[/img][/url][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][size=4][color=#9c7967]Finally, if you're a member of Light Flight, make sure to check out our [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/fd8/2461797]In-Flight Raffle[/url] for even more baked goods![/columns]
8GPklB3.png Intro EventsStoryBadgesSignaturesThanks

yaPcYFl.png

z4mTggp.png

Welcome to Brightshine Jubilee 2018!

XLuYPiZ.png

This year, Light Flight is inviting all of Sornieth to Brightshine Bakery, a cafe and bakery run by several Light familiars. The Bakery has made many treats specifically for the festival celebration, and all of us in the Sunbeam Ruins are excited to share them with you!


FUhbBtu.png __ Send your dragons to Light to help solve our bakery mystery! You'll receive payment for their services and be entered into a raffle to win delicious prizes!
OYFykYq.png __ Are visual shinies more to your taste? You can also send fodder to our Illuminarti for adopts and original art!

__6mlt6oK.png __ Finally, if you're a member of Light Flight, make sure to check out our In-Flight Raffle for even more baked goods!
[center][color=#d4ab86]• [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742#post_2461742]Intro[/url] [img]https://i.imgur.com/8GPklB3.png[/img] [color=#afb87d]Events[/color] • [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742#post_33725176]Story[/url] • [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742#post_33725182]Badges[/url] • [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742#post_33725200]Signatures[/url] • [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742#post_33725203]Thanks[/url] •[/color] [img]https://i.imgur.com/E4fiM6B.png[/img][/center] [size=5][i]For all flights[/i][/size] [size=4][color= #afb87d ][i][b]Ongoing events[/b][/i][/color][/size] [center][size=4][b][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/qnc/2460180]Sun-baked Chef[/url] [/b][/size] [color= #d48f70 ]17 ~ 30 June[/color] A physical cooking (not baking!) contest using some of the ingredients from the Brightshine Bakery. Winners of this contest will have their creations adapted for dragon tongues and shared with our local deity! [size=4][b][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/cc/2462150]Artsy Appetites[/url][/b][/size] [color= #d48f70 ]17 ~ 30 June[/color] This art contest includes three events: a daily doodle, the main competition, and special bonus creations! [size=4][b][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/qnc/2462261]Cutthroat Kitchen Mafia - Bakery Edition[/url][/b][/size] [color= #d48f70 ]24 ~ 30 June[/color] A fast-paced mafia game that runs starting BSJ week. Inspired by the hit TV show, Cutthroat Mafia takes the theme of food and kicks it up a notch competition-wise.[/center] [size=4][color= #afb87d ][i][b]New![/b][/i][/color][/size] [center][size=4][b][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/qnc/2462424]Design Your Own Light Rep[/url][/b][/size] [color= #d48f70 ]24 ~ 30 June[/color] A Light-themed triple basic G1 dragon will be provided, and each day players will be given a different creative challenge for the dragon. [size=4][b][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/raf/2462250]Hatch Madness Guessing Game[/url][/b][/size] [color= #d48f70 ]24 ~ 30 June[/color] Looks like the nesting mother meetup at the cafe is bigger than usual because so many mothers wanted to have special nests that hatch during the Brightshine Jubilee! But what will their hatchlings look like? [size=4][b][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/qnc/2462812]Frosting Frenzy Coloring Competition[/url][/b][/size] [color= #d48f70 ]24 ~ 30 June[/color] A coloring competition where participants can color or “frost” a cake template according to the theme of that day. [size=4][b][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/qnc/2465418]A Confusion of Cakes[/url][/b][/size] [color= #d48f70 ]24 ~ 30 June[/color] Three different couples have put in three different orders for wedding cakes, but their precise orders have been lost. Players must match the correct couple to the correct cake using provided clues! [size=4][b][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/raf/2467328]The Garment Gauntlet[/url][/b][/size] [color= #d48f70 ]24 ~ 30 June[/color] Dress-up challenges related to Light, baking, or both! Challenges and restrictions will make things more interesting. [i]Cinema Rolls[/i] Canceled for personal offline reasons.[/center]
Intro 8GPklB3.png EventsStoryBadgesSignaturesThanks

E4fiM6B.png

For all flights

Ongoing events
Sun-baked Chef
17 ~ 30 June
A physical cooking (not baking!) contest using some of the ingredients from the
Brightshine Bakery. Winners of this contest will have their creations
adapted for dragon tongues and shared with our local deity!

Artsy Appetites
17 ~ 30 June
This art contest includes three events: a daily doodle, the main competition,
and special bonus creations!

Cutthroat Kitchen Mafia - Bakery Edition
24 ~ 30 June
A fast-paced mafia game that runs starting BSJ week. Inspired by
the hit TV show, Cutthroat Mafia takes the theme of food and
kicks it up a notch competition-wise.

New!
Design Your Own Light Rep
24 ~ 30 June
A Light-themed triple basic G1 dragon will be provided, and each day
players will be given a different creative challenge for the dragon.

Hatch Madness Guessing Game
24 ~ 30 June
Looks like the nesting mother meetup at the cafe is bigger than usual
because so many mothers wanted to have special nests that hatch
during the Brightshine Jubilee! But what will their hatchlings look like?

Frosting Frenzy Coloring Competition
24 ~ 30 June
A coloring competition where participants can color or “frost” a cake template
according to the theme of that day.

A Confusion of Cakes
24 ~ 30 June
Three different couples have put in three different orders for wedding cakes,
but their precise orders have been lost. Players must match the correct couple
to the correct cake using provided clues!

The Garment Gauntlet
24 ~ 30 June
Dress-up challenges related to Light, baking, or both! Challenges
and restrictions will make things more interesting.

Cinema Rolls
Canceled for personal offline reasons.
[center][color=#d4ab86]• [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742#post_2461742]Intro[/url] • [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742#post_33725166]Events[/url] [img]https://i.imgur.com/8GPklB3.png[/img] [color=#afb87d]Story[/color] • [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742#post_33725182]Badges[/url] • [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742#post_33725200]Signatures[/url] • [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742#post_33725203]Thanks[/url] •[/color][/center] [columns][img]https://imgur.com/SqKNFrH.png[/img][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][color=#775849][size=4]Another early, early morning at the Brightshine Bakery. It wasn't easy for Lightweaver's children to get up before the sun, but Ming did it every day because he loved baking. Being in the quiet, empty kitchen with just him and the ingredients, and everything in its place, was his favorite part of the day. And as the sun rose through the high windows every day, the aromas of butter, nuts, and chocolate rose with it, and customers came from all around the Mirrorlight Promenade to get the perfect flaky pastries for their breakfasts. Coffee and tea, too, of course, Nuru was always at the counter to help them with all that, but Ming's everyday delight was baking. [i]Time to make wonderful things in my very own kitchen! ... Wait. What's going on in here?[/i][/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]Nothing was really wrong, but the kitchen seemed subtly different. He usually put things back in the same places, and this morning, they were a little off somehow. His tail twitched uneasily. Well, maybe he hadn't been very careful yesterday. He breathed deeply. Everything smelled right, anyway, and it was time to get started. [nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][img]https://imgur.com/cHyWk42.png[/img][/columns] [center] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [size=4][color=#775849][b]Today's recipe: [url=https://cookieandkate.com/2014/the-very-best-brownies/]Brown Butter Brownies[/url][/b][/size] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]Ming was slightly cross as he unlocked the door to the bakery kitchen. The morning was still dark, as always, and even at midsummer there was a little dew on the paving stones and herbs of the street outside. And while he supposed having worn stones outside your place of business was a sign of success, they were also a bit slippery, and he'd almost lost his footing. He took a deep, calming breath as he opened the door, expecting to smell only a touch of the vinegar Desta used to mop up at night. Instead, he picked up a slight whiff of burned sugar. He hadn't burned a pastry in months. [i]It happened again. Something is strange.[/i] He flicked on the light and saw that, once again, the canisters of flour and sugar were a little out of place. He checked the ovens and found that one had been cleaned recently, but the smell of burning was still stronger there. [i]Someone has been in my kitchen![/i] His ruff started to prickle, fluffing up with anxiety. [i]Who would come in here? What are they trying to do?[/i] [/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4] Ming still needed to bake for the morning customers, but who knew what else was wrong now? After testing the oven temperatures and checking all the ingredients, he went ahead and started, but his peace was thoroughly disrupted, and the pastries knew it. These were not among his best bakes. Once he finished, he went into the customer area at the front. Nuru was there already, of course. Since she'd taken the job, he'd never seen the counter without Nuru behind it. A real trooper, that one. When she'd finished making a fancy coffee for the customer she was serving, Ming said, "Nuru, I was wondering -- have you noticed anything odd in the kitchen lately?" Her impassive face told him nothing, as usual. "Not at all, Ming. Would you like a drink?" [nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][img]https://i.imgur.com/wl5EAFR.png[/img][/columns] [columns][img]https://i.imgur.com/788OsA4.png[/img][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][color=#775849][size=4]Ming sighed. "I suppose so, thank you. Something calming, though, no caffeine. The kitchen has just seemed wrong the last couple of days, and now my ruff won't lie flat. It's not easy to laminate dough when you can't look straight down." "Have a seat, Chef, and I'll get you a tisane," Nuru replied, and he did. As he sat down at the small table he favored, near the group of potted trees, Ming noticed one of the customers, a fellow Shining Goblin, smiling at him. [i]Oh, I recognize that guy... He really smiles a lot.[/i] Ming nodded in return. The customer's eyes crinkled at the corners and he nodded back, then took a sip of his half-full coffee before carrying it to the bus tub in the corner and walking out the door. Nuru waved, and Ming went to pick up his soothing drink, but his ruff already felt a little better.[/columns] [center] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [size=4][color=#775849][b]Today's recipe: [url=https://holycowvegan.net/vegan-strawberry-scones/]Vegan Strawberry Scones[/url][/b][/size] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]Ming opened the door to the kitchen, already suspicious. He looked around carefully but saw nothing out of place. He took a deep breath and smelled nothing unusual. After two days of strange circumstances, that in itself was suspicious... or maybe he was being silly. [i]Did all that really happen? Maybe I just need more sleep.[/i] Today was looking like a good day. He pulled out the flour to start making the day's various doughs. [i]Palmiers today, I think. And maybe a light, fluffy cheesecake, something to go with these fresh raspberries.[/i][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][img]https://i.imgur.com/WqzLVUm.png[/img] [/columns] [columns][img]https://i.imgur.com/sVQ5NB6.png[/img][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][color=#775849][size=4]After a lovely morning of baking and a cup of hot chocolate, Ming returned to his small apartment a few blocks away. The Lightweaver's entourage maintained comfortable rooms for every kind of familiar here in the Mirrorlight Promenade, since there was no telling when one of them might need a place to stay, and familiars with other jobs in the city were also welcome there. All the rooms had some sunlight, of course, but Ming thought his was especially nice: two wide windows and a skylight. It was absolutely perfect for a nap, and some extra rest should stop him fussing so much about nothing. He tossed a couple of large pillows into the widest sunbeam, curled up happily on them, and closed his eyes to enjoy the warmth.[/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]A couple of hours later, the sun had moved on, and Ming woke up refreshed. He decided to go out to the courtyard to read his new scroll about the history of magical cooking experiments in the Arcane Flight, but no sooner had he settled in next to a fragrant pot of basil than a neighbor interrupted him. He was sure he knew this Spirit of Light's name. Really he did. No. No, he did not. [i]Let's just avoid bringing that up[/i], he thought. She hopped quietly up to him and murmured, "Baker Ming, can I ask you a question?" "Of course," he responded. "What is it?" "Last night, I heard sounds coming from the bakery kitchen after everything was closed. Was it you? I thought you were asleep by then, but maybe you have a special project?" [i]Oh no.[/i][/columns] [center] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [size=4][color=#775849][b]Today's recipe: [url=https://rasamalaysia.com/japanese-cheesecake-recipe/2/]Japanese Cheesecake[/url][/b][/size] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [columns][color=#775849][size=4][i]All right[/i], Ming thought. [i]If someone was in the kitchen last night, Nuru has to know about it. If there were noises that could be heard outside, she must have heard them too. She's always behind the counter, I don't think she even goes home to sleep.[/i] Ming normally went to sleep early rather than visiting the bakery in the evenings, but he was too on edge for that anyway. [i]There goes the benefit of taking a nap. And I'm all bushed out again. Ruffpuff, ha. Time to go investigate.[/i][/columns] [columns][img]https://i.imgur.com/wl5EAFR.png[/img][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][color=#775849][size=4]He walked into the bakery and found Nuru behind the counter, of course, and Desta starting to clean up after the evening rush. Desta was just as rabbit-quick with a mop as with table service, but distractible, so he waved and let them get on with it. Nuru was balancing the till, but she looked up as he approached. "You're up late, Chef. What can I do for you?" "A neighbor asked me about some sounds in the kitchen last night. You must have heard something, right? What happened?" "At night? I didn't hear anything before I left last night." Her poker face was impeccable, but he couldn't get past the feeling that something was going on. "Nuru, please, if you know anything, I won't be upset. I just need to know what's happening in my bakery." "No idea, Chef."[/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]Just then, the door opened again to admit their daily supply delivery, carried by Johona as usual. The Sunbeam Ursa seemed to be in a friendly mood today and gave everyone a toothy grin. "Baker Ming! Don't see you much at this hour. How goes?" Ming sighed. "Been better, Johona. I'm trying to figure out what's been happening in here, but no one knows. What about you? Were you in here last night?" The bear shrugged. "I've come by about this time all week. What's wrong?" [nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][img]https://i.imgur.com/ikCnjkO.png[/img][/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]"Strange sounds at night, things out of place in the kitchen. It's frustrating. There has to be an explanation." Johona nudged Ming's shoulder in a friendly way. "You'll sort it out! Smartest baker I know." "Thanks, Johona. I guess I have some more thinking to do."[/columns] [center] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [size=4][color=#775849][b]Today's recipe: [url=https://www.finecooking.com/recipe/classic-baklava]Baklava[/url][/b][/size] [color=#d4ab86][i](bears love honey)[/i][/color] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [columns][img]https://i.imgur.com/39Jjvmo.png[/img][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][color=#775849][size=4]The bakery seemed fine again in the morning. Who knew if it actually was. Ming tried hard to focus and managed to make pastries that were almost as good as usual without too much fretting. [/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]When he finished, he rewarded himself by going over to the farmer's market to buy fresh ingredients in person. Most of the plants that grew in Light territory tended to be aromatic herbs that liked dry weather, and lavender was nice in pastries once in a while, but he needed more inspiration than that. Luckily, some parts of the Ruins got enough rain to grow fruit, and Ming suspected that a few of the vendors were passing on items from the Everbloom. No other part of Sornieth could grow such large, strangely shaped fruit, he was sure. Once his bag was full of cherries, strawberries, gooseberries, and apricots, Ming wandered over to the stands selling crafted items. He didn't often buy anything here, but he enjoyed seeing what everyone could make with their hands, claws, and tools. Today, there was a vendor with gorgeously patterned woven baskets, along with a potter who had unusual and interesting glazes. Glancing over at the painter's stall, Ming recognized his smiling customer from the other day, who seemed to be admiring a painting of the Beacon at sunrise. [/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]The customer looked up, smiled (as always), and strolled over to Ming. "Hello, baker! Out for some ingredients this afternoon?" Ming was a little flustered. "Y-yes, the cherries are just coming into season, and I found some other fruit as well. And yourself?" "I'm just getting some sun during my lunchtime. We can't allow too much light into the Archives. Not even Lightweaver has figured out how to keep scrolls from getting brittle if it's too bright or warm in there." "Oh, I didn't realize you worked in the Archives. Er..." Ming had never been that good at talking to people, and asking their names was the worst part. "I'm Ming, by the way." "Lovely to meet you properly at last, Baker Ming. My name is Prakash. Lightweaver's eyes in the stacks." His smile was positively beaming now.[nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][img]https://i.imgur.com/ANfITar.png[/img][/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]"You must, er, know some interesting things, working there." "I've found a few unusual documents in my day, yes. Maybe I can tell you about them sometime. For now, I must be getting back." Ming's tail twitched. Surprisingly, he didn't want to stop talking. "I'll hope to see you back at the bakery soon, then." Prakash waved and walked away cheerfully. Ming turned away and let out a relieved breath. [i]That went all right! Finally, something good happened this week.[/i] Just then, he noticed a Sunbeam Ursa in a delivery uniform trotting behind the booths. Was that Johona? Maybe he could ask her to help him investigate at the bakery tonight. Feeling suddenly energetic, Ming went to catch up to her.[/columns] [center] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [size=4][color=#775849][b]Today's recipe: [url=https://www.thespruceeats.com/how-to-make-mini-cherry-pies-4142632]Mini Cherry Pies[/url][/b][/size] [color=#d58586][i](ingredients in season)[/i][/color] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]Ming loped through the market toward where he had seen Johona, holding his bag of fruit carefully to avoid bruising them. He had to stop every few meters because of the crowds, but he'd managed to almost catch up by the time he reached a huge stall selling fresh corn, near the edge of the market. Unfortunately, an Imperial he didn't know was passing in the main road, and no one else could get anywhere for a minute. By the time she had gone by, Ming had no idea where Johona had gotten to. He asked the corn vendors if they knew Johona, but they didn't. [/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]Johona had seemed to be heading east, so Ming walked in that direction for a bit. He enjoyed the smell of the sea, which was stronger in the eastern part of the city, but there were no obvious clues to Johona's whereabouts. [i]I suppose I can chat with her at the bakery, if I can stay awake that long. I need to take the fruit in anyway.[/i][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][img]https://i.imgur.com/6mlt6oK.png[/img][/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]He skirted the outside of the market on his walk back, finding a few scattered stalls along the nearby streets. [i]I had no idea these were here[/i], he thought. [i]How charming.[/i] These smaller stalls seemed to have less polished offerings than those inside the market; one was run by a pair of young Spirits of Light who were play-fighting behind their display of friendship bracelets, which made him laugh quietly into his ruff. [/columns] [columns][img]https://i.imgur.com/8gOir9e.png[/img] [nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][color=#775849][size=4]His bag was full, but he couldn't resist picking up two pints of sunbeam figs from a stand run by a polite Sunbeam Soldier. Luckily, they came in their own bag, but now he really couldn't justify any more fruit this week. Laden but pleased, he spent the rest of the walk back to the bakery appreciating the summer sunlight.[/columns] [center] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [size=4][color=#775849][b]Today's recipe: [url=https://www.saveur.com/best-croissants-recipe]Croissants[/url][/b][/size] [color=#f0c6a9][i](traditional and still champion)[/i][/color] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [columns][img]https://i.imgur.com/mPnLUqW.png[/img][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][color=#775849][size=4]The sunshine and some iced tea helped keep Ming awake as he waited at the bakery for Johona to arrive. The fruit was safely stored, Desta's efficiency was always a pleasure to watch, and this had turned out to be a pretty good day. Especially with the addition of a few macarons. One more piece of luck fell into his lap, too, as Johona arrived early. She had a lot to carry, so he simply raised a hand as she came in, and she huffed cheerfully on her way into the kitchen to drop off the dry goods. When she was finished and heading out, Ming got up and approached her. [/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]"Johona, how are you? I think I saw you east of the market today." She grunted, surprised. "Er, no, wasn't me, Baker Ming. I should get to my next delivery, though." "That's fine, I'll walk with you." Ming waved to Nuru and Desta as he followed Johona out of the cafe. It wasn't easy to tell on a bear, but she seemed nervous, glancing over her shoulder at him frequently and not producing her usual friendly conversation. Ming wasn't sure how to start, given her silence, but he said, "I actually had a favor to ask you. Remember when I said something suspicious was going on in the kitchen at night?"[nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][img]https://i.imgur.com/ikCnjkO.png[/img] [/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]Johona grunted and kept looking around nervously. "... Right, well, I was hoping you could move my delivery later in the evening so you'd be going into the kitchen at the time these things seem to be happening. You've already got a key, so --" "Oh, yeah, sure, no problem, Baker Ming. Say, hadn't you better be getting to bed soon?" "Wait, Johona, are you trying to get rid of me?" Just then, another bear in the same delivery uniform ambled up from a side street. They looked very similar, but Ming thought [i]this[/i] might actually be the bear he'd followed earlier. Johona covered her face with a paw. The new bear smirked. "Baker Ming." "I... yes. What? Who are you?"[/columns] [columns][img]https://i.imgur.com/cHyWk42.png[/img][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][color=#775849][size=4]The new bear's face lit up with pleasure. "Well, sometimes I'm Johona." Johona swatted at her. "You are not! Ugh. Ming, this is Yanaha. She's a pain who likes to imitate me for fun." Yanaha ducked the blow easily. "Hey, you're not arguing with our bonuses for speedy delivery. If I find it fun, that's just icing on the cake, isn't it?"[/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]Ming was confused, but one thing was clear to him. "If you're Johona sometimes, then does that mean you've been to my bakery at night? Have you noticed anything strange?" Yanaha's smirk grew into an outright wicked grin. "Oh yes. And you'll find out about it soon enough. I'm not saying a word. It's a really excellent idea, just my sort of thing." She dodged another swat from Johona and trotted off chuckling to herself. [i]Argh![/i] Ming's frustrated tail-lashing was interrupted by a distressed Johona, who asked, "We're not fired, are we?" "Oh for Light's sake, Johona, of course not. Try to find out from her what's happening at the bakery, though, please? I really need to know." "I'll ask, but she's not gonna tell me. It won't be anything mean, though, she just likes fooling people. She's never done anything bad." Ming supposed he'd have to settle for that until tomorrow. [/columns] [center] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [size=4][color=#775849][b]Today's recipe: [url=https://www.chinasichuanfood.com/sesame-balls-jian-dui/]Red Bean Sesame Balls[/url][/b][/size] [color=#d48f70][i](perfect for a weekend brunch)[/i][/color] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]Ming supposed he was at least adjusting to uncertainty. Despite knowing something peculiar was going on in the bakery, he was much less ruffled about it, and having that lovely load of fresh fruit to play with helped a lot. He wasn't as relaxed as he preferred, but he actually enjoyed baking again this morning, and it was an excellent feeling.[/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]When Ming emerged from the kitchen in the late morning, Nuru and Desta were in the cafe along with a few customers. [i]Well, I know better than to ask Nuru anything else. She could think anything, and I'd have no way to tell.[/i] "Hey, Desta? Can you come into the kitchen to try this for me?" Desta bounded over energetically. "Sure, Ming!" "Great, thanks! I haven't made it since last year, and I wanted a second opinion." He really did; these berries weren't the same variety he'd used in the recipe before. Ming liked them, but Desta preferred sweeter pastries, and calibration was important.[nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][img]https://i.imgur.com/jQ5DCTi.png[/img] [/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]Ming plated a pudding for Desta, including a small cup of custard, and offered the plate and a fork. Desta carefully tried a bite without custard, then added the custard and tasted another bite. Then they poured on the entire rest of the custard and finished the plate so quickly their fork was almost a blur. It would have been impressive even without a mask in the way. "Thank you! Wow, it's refreshing. Very summery. I think that's enough sugar! Even without the custard, it's good." Desta handed the plate back to Ming. "Good to hear, thanks, Desta. One more question?" "Okay!" "Have you noticed anything happening in the kitchen after hours?" Desta froze for a moment, then their hind leg thumped lightly. "I, er, no?" "Really? Because it seems like maybe you have." "Nope! I definitely don't know anything about anybody being in here at night. No secret baking going on at all." They definitely knew something. Maybe Ming could find out more by investigating Desta. He'd certainly discovered something interesting about Johona yesterday.[/columns] [columns][img]https://i.imgur.com/39Jjvmo.png[/img] [nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][color=#775849][size=4]"All right, let's get back to work, then," Ming said. Desta bounced out of the kitchen, pausing in the doorway for just a moment before returning to waiting tables. Ming followed them out and saw his smiling customer at the counter. "Oh! Hello again, Archivist..." Ming was mortified to have forgotten the customer's name, but the archivist's wry look told him he was forgiven. "Prakash, Baker Ming. I'm glad to see you, as I have a favor to ask."[/columns] [center] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [size=4][color=#775849][b]Today's recipe: [url=https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/glorious-summer-gooseberry-recipes-a7704106.html]Gooseberry Pudding[/url][/b][/size] [color=#afb87d][i](sweet-tart)[/i][/color] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]Seated at a table with Ming, Prakash began to explain his problem.[/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]"Normally, I work with documents from a particular era about two hundred years ago. The details might not mean much to you, but I would be happy to tell you all about it another time." His eyes crinkled with amusement, and Ming smiled a little in response. "Now, however, to stick to the point: my latest shipment was several boxes from a newly opened underground room near the Beacon. I've reviewed the documents, and I know where they need to go, but the boxes also contained quite a few artifacts. Identifying those isn't my area of expertise, I'm afraid." "And you think I can help?" Ming asked. [nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][img]https://i.imgur.com/ANfITar.png[/img] [/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]"I thought you might, because the scrolls talked about kitchens and cooking. Since they came in together, the papers and items should be related. If they're not, I despair of our archeologists! I was hoping for an illustration or two, but I've been through all the scrolls, and there are none. Could you at least take a look?" Ming was flustered. "But how do you know you can trust me with that, Prakash? We've just met!" "I've been visiting your establishment for months, Baker Ming." [i]Months?[/i] Ming hadn't realized it was that long. "I'm flattered that you like my baking, but what does that have to do with --"[/columns] [columns][img]https://i.imgur.com/788OsA4.png[/img][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][color=#775849][size=4]"You're obviously meticulous about your work. You made a dessert typical of my historical period about a month ago, and it wasn't one that's common today, so you're also rather well read. You're very dedicated to the bakery, and if you care so much about your own work, then I think you will respect mine. You're perfect -- for this job, I mean, of course." Ming's tail had started twitching under his chair halfway through this recital of his virtues, and his scales felt like someone had been rubbing them backwards. He looked away to try to regain his composure. [i]Somebody noticed all that?[/i] "I'm sorry to have pressed you," said Prakash after a moment. "You don't need to decide right now. Here." He wrote his name and a room number on a scrap of parchment and slid it across the table. "Please do come by the Archives if you would like to try your hand at the problem. Have a lovely day." Prakash walked out of the cafe.[/columns] [center] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [size=4][color=#775849][b]Today's recipe: [url=http://blogs.reading.ac.uk/special-collections/2016/08/ready-set-bake-recipes-from-the-18th-and-19th-century/]Queen Cakes[/url][/b][/size] [color=#d4ab86][i](retro baking)[/i][/color] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]Ming was still uneasy the next morning as he walked into the kitchen. All the ingredients were in place, but his mind was still unsettled. He loved baking, and he was happy almost every day that he'd managed to arrange his life around it, but to have someone else value his work so highly was new and not really comfortable. Being the invisible source of treats who didn't have to talk to people much, that he could do. Talking to employees and vendors was fine. More than that had always been difficult. But it seemed like some people saw him, even when he wasn't trying too hard, and even when he forgot their names. Today, Ming chose recipes with doughs that required kneading. The kneading kept his attention, but the repetition was soothing, and more often than not, he would feel relaxed by the time he was done for the day. He made hot cross buns and cinnamon rolls and two loaves of chocolate bread, but he still felt upset.[/columns] [columns][img]https://i.imgur.com/6mlt6oK.png[/img][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][color=#775849][size=4]Maybe an old familiar recipe. He made a few batches of different cookies, too. [i]Nope, still not calm. But I don't think we'll sell more than that. Now what?[/i] He heard Desta arriving out in the cafe. [i]Hmm, I wonder how I can find out what Desta knows about the disturbances at night? That'll be a good distraction.[/i][/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]He knew Desta lived out at Sundial Terrace, though he didn't recall exactly where, so he walked home to check his files before taking the trip. Luckily for Ming's short legs, there were often large dragons making the trip who were willing to carry individuals or even carts full of those who wanted to come along, so he was able to ask a Guardian who was going to the Terrace and get a ride with her. She was from Earth originally, and her charge was something about clay tablets; Ming didn't really understand which kind, though he was sure Prakash would have. He was still not sure what to do about Prakash. He hoped that the Guardian didn't notice his momentary distraction from their conversation. Well, it was her monologue, really. Ming knew he was a good listener, as long as he didn't have to say much. When he arrived at the Terrace, he headed toward Desta's address, where he found a tumble of young Spirits of Light playing with paints. "Hello, all. Is this Desta's place?" They froze. "Is everything all right?" "Sure yes definitely, we are totally allowed to play with Desta's paints, but wehavetogonowbye!" They dashed away in different directions. Ming laughed. [i]Oh, what a mess. But it looks like there are some proper paintings on the walls. Did Desta make these? They're good.[/i] The paintings were a bit abstract, but they had a compelling energy and emotion. There were sketches and notes, too. It looked like Desta was struggling with their next designs. At the bottom of one page, they had scrawled "ARCHIVES?!" Ming guessed more research was needed for whatever they had in mind.[/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]He went back to the main Terrace and sat in the sunlight for a bit to think. Desta had always been great at waiting tables, and Ming had never realized that they had a strong passion for something else. [i]I hope they don't leave, but at the same time, they would be great as a full-time artist. Johona had an important secret I didn't know about, too. People are complicated, but learning about them is so interesting. Everybody is just[/i] more [i]than I realized.[/i] Maybe Ming was ready to try being more than an invisible baker, too. He took a deep breath, tried to relax his ruff, and headed for the Archives. [nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][img]https://i.imgur.com/JWACWWW.png[/img] [/columns] [center] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [size=4][color=#775849][b]Today's recipe: [url=https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/dried-cherry-and-almond-cookies-with-vanilla-icing-recipe-2009306]Cherry-Almond Cookies[/url][/b][/size] [color=#d58586][i](a perfect complement)[/i][/color] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [columns][img]https://i.imgur.com/ANfITar.png[/img][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][color=#775849][size=4]Ming looked in Prakash's open door. Prakash was seated at a desk covered in scrolls and other documents, and he was peering worriedly at something small in his hand. [i]I've never seen him not smiling before. He really must need some help.[/i] Ming gathered his nerve and tapped on the door to announce himself. Prakash looked up, and the lines on his brow smoothed immediately. "Baker Ming! I'm glad to see you. Did you have any trouble finding me?" "No, not at all. I haven't been to this part of the Archives before, but everyone was very happy to point me in your direction." "Excellent. I have one of the items I was wondering about just here, and I'm completely perplexed by it, so if you'd like to start looking...?"[/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]"Yes, I don't know if I can help, but I'd like to try." Prakash handed Ming the item. It was shaped rather like a stubby nail or tack with a button sticking out of the wide portion, and it was about as long as Ming's thumb. At the end opposite the button, Ming saw pieces of metal like dull blades. "Actually," he said, "this looks very familiar. But I shouldn't try to operate it, right?" "Probably best not to, yes. See, I knew you were trustworthy," Prakash smiled. "There could be dust and grit inside it that would cause damage if we tried to use it. For the same reason, I didn't want to take it apart. I'm not an artificer, and I wouldn't want to damage it or put it back together incorrectly. Whatever is this thing, though, Baker Ming?" "Oh, just Ming is fine. I think it's a strawberry huller. It seems silly, I know, you can do that with a knife, but they're actually very efficient. You push the button and these blades open up, then you push them into the berry and let it up, and the blades grab the hull so you can pull it out. Desta can clean and slice a pint of berries in about two minutes with one of these."[/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]Prakash was beaming and nodding as he quickly wrote down Ming's guess. "Wonderful! So they are kitchen-related artifacts. We should make some notes on the rest, as well, if you're available, just to be certain, but I should know where to send these now. Thank you so much, Ming." "Of course. I'm sorry for --" "Not at all," Prakash interrupted. "I didn't intend to make you uncomfortable, but I did, and I apologize. Thank you for forgiving me enough to come by, and please say no more about it."[nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][img]https://i.imgur.com/KP6CeXG.png[/img][/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]Ming smoothed his scarf nervously. "All right." [i]But how did you notice me for so long when I hardly noticed you at all? You're so interesting. That's what I'm really sorry about.[/i] Prakash took another artifact out of a shallow box on his desk. "Now this one does come apart easily, so it's all right to separate the pieces." [i]That's good, since the outside is just a metal cube.[/i] Ming took apart the metal pieces gently, arranging them carefully on the desktop so he would remember how to reassemble them afterward. Each piece had five smooth sides and one with a concave depression that had a shallow rim around the edge of a deeper hollow, and most of the time, the depressions were facing each other. [i]But why would you put them all together like this?[/i] Prakash looked curiously at Ming. "You seem puzzled. Is this one not a kitchen item?" "No, I think it is, only I don't know why you would make it this way. And one of the pieces was backwards. Is that all right? I mean, it seems like people two hundred years ago could put things in backwards as easily as any other cook in a hurry, right?" "Yes, that's fine. Details like that can actually make for a good museum display, because it gives visitors extra interest in the being who used it. But what did you mean by 'make it this way'?"[/columns] [columns][img]https://i.imgur.com/9JPYgIK.png[/img][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][color=#775849][size=4]"Well, I think this is a press for some kind of dumpling. You would put your thin dough here to make the outside, then your fillings inside it here, wet the edges, and press the halves together. It's reasonable as far as it goes. But if you were making very many, then you would normally have a line or grid of these, ideally in one plate. Here, there are four separate presses. Much less efficient than a strawberry huller!" Ming gestured to the last item. "So either they liked to make four different flavors and wanted to keep them separate, or they wanted to store it as a cube for some reason. Maybe they just thought it looked neat. I've never seen one like this, though, so whatever reason it was, we don't do it any more."[/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]Prakash wrote furiously. When he finished, he looked up at Ming. "I am so glad I met you. Do you know what most of the experts in our directory are like? They look things over, say five words, and wait for the next item. You didn't just name this item, you described how it works and suggested possible cultural connections. Ming, you're amazing, and I hope you can help us here much more often in the future."[/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]Ming's tail lashed with embarrassment, but he managed to respond evenly. "I'm really nothing special, Prakash. I admit I'm a good baker, but really." Prakash looked concerned. "You are something very special, but I can see it will take time for you to believe it. Can you help with another item or two?" "All right."[nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][img]https://i.imgur.com/RkSFD6r.png[/img][/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]Ming helped Prakash identify the rest of the artifacts in the box, which included an egg yolk extractor that gave Ming some ideas for improvement and something he thought might be a magical thermometer, based on his reading. By the end, Ming was almost at ease with Prakash again. The remaining emotion felt mostly like... excitement? As he left to head home in the early evening, Ming hoped Prakash would want his help again soon, too.[/columns] [center] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [size=4][color=#775849][b]Today's recipe: [url=https://www.crazyforcrust.com/perfect-triple-lemon-cupcakes/]Lemon Cupcakes[/url][/b][/size] [color=#afb87d][i](bright and sunny)[/i][/color] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]Returning to the bakery in the morning, Ming found himself humming happily. So much was uncertain right now, but he felt good anyway. [i]Which won't stop me from finding out what's happening in my bakery[/i], he thought. [i]I still need to sort that out.[/i] He felt equal to the task, though, instead of anxious. [i]Let's see if we can get some answers from Desta today.[/i] Ming thought about how to ask Desta again as he prepared the usual croissants and pains au chocolat, then some bar cookies, and started making up small tart shells. When he heard Desta's cheerful greeting, he poked his head into the cafe. "Good morning, Nuru, Desta. Can you come help with some fruit when you have a chance, please, Desta?" Nuru nodded regally. Desta called, "Sure, Ming! Be right there!"[/columns] [columns][img]https://i.imgur.com/91qL7uV.png[/img][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][color=#775849][size=4]Ming set up a station for Desta with the apricots and strawberries from the market, a strainer for rinsing, bowls and cutting boards, and knives. He added the strawberry huller, smiling to himself. When Desta bounded in, Ming let them get settled for a moment before trying out his plan. "So Desta, I know some cafes have paintings from local artists on their walls that the customers can buy. Do you know how that works? Might our customers be interested?" Desta hopped a little in place with excitement. Luckily, it didn't seem to affect their work. "Yes! I know about that, I love art. I think the customers like art as long as it matches the mood of the cafe, you know? Ours is kind of a calm place where you can be quiet and happy, so you would need to pick the right paintings. Or sculptures of course! Not many people make those though."[/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]"I've seen at least one of our customers looking at paintings in the market, so I think it would be good to try out hanging up a couple of them here. And I'd like to support artists. Do you know anyone?" "I, um, actually I paint things sometimes? And I have some friends who do too! We were thinking of putting on a show together at the Archives, but we kinda haven't asked yet and maybe this would be good first? I can talk to them!" "That's great, Desta, I'd love to see your work hanging in here." Ming looked over at Desta's progress. Good, they were in the middle of the strawberries, and things were kind of messy. "So why won't you tell me what's happening in the bakery at night?" "Oh, because it's really going to be a nice -- oh!" Desta thumped a hind leg. "Ming! I told you no one else is baking in your kitchen!" [i]So close. A nice what?[/i] Ming had gotten used to Desta's denials by now, though. [i]The little Spirits were the same. I wonder if they're related.[/i] "Is it no one I would know?" "Yes! I mean no? Ming!" Desta had rushed through the rest of the strawberries -- adding the efficient huller had been a tactical error -- and was now washing their paws very quickly and dashing out of the kitchen. Ming had been foiled again, but at the same time, he couldn't help but laugh. [i]All right, so someone I know is using my kitchen, but it's nothing bad and actually should be nice. I hope I can figure it out soon, though. I don't like that happening without my permission![/i][/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]Ming assembled the strawberry and apricot tarts and put them into the oven for a quick bake. The bar cookies were cool, so he sliced them and carried a tray of them out into the cafe to put behind the counter. Prakash was there, sipping one of his fancy coffees. He looked up and smiled directly at Ming, and Ming felt the same excitement as he had last night. He wanted to hide, but he wanted more to smile and wave back, so he did that instead.[nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][img]https://i.imgur.com/6WgfcQ4.png[/img][/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]Ming gave the tray to Nuru, and [i]then[/i] he went back into the kitchen to hide. Just for a little while, until the tarts were ready.[/columns] [center] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [size=4][color=#775849][b]Today's recipe: [url=http://mrpinchy.tumblr.com/post/164781180347/brawltogethernow-shapechangersinwinter]Butter Bars[/url][/b][/size] [color=#afb87d][i](sweet and rich)[/i][/color] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [columns][img]https://i.imgur.com/mPnLUqW.png[/img][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][color=#775849][size=4]When Ming came back out of the kitchen, the lunch rush was over. Desta was cleaning up around the two remaining customers, who seemed to be heading out imminently. Neither of them was Prakash, and Ming felt a little disappointed. He really needed some sleep, though, after yesterday's late evening. He waved to Nuru and Desta as he left the cafe. On his way home, Ming took a break on a bench overlooking the central part of the Promenade. For a while, he allowed the bustle around him to fade into background noise as he basked in the feeling of sun on scales. After a while, though, he kept being distracted by different people.[/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4][i]Oh my, her pearl is gorgeous. I wonder what kind of pastry is her favorite.[/i] [i]Those two are so sweet together -- look how excited they are when they meet.[/i] [i]Oh, there's Johona! ... I think.[/i] He peered at her. [i]Well, if it's Yanaha, I can ask her myself.[/i] Ming stood up and loped to catch up with the delivery bear.[/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]"Hey, Johona!" "Oh, hello, Baker Ming! How are you today?" "Very well, thanks. I wanted to check with you about what we discussed before." Johona hung her head. "Aww, I'm sorry, I asked Yanaha about the surprise, but she wouldn't tell me, like I thought. All she said was that you'd know soon enough and you'd be happy about it in the end." Ming sighed in frustration. "All right, it was worth a try. Thanks for asking. Er, I know it might sound strange, but it's nice to get to know you better." Johona raised her head and gave Ming a pleased nudge with her muzzle. "Thanks, Baker Ming! I knew you were smart and a good baker, but it's nice to really meet you, too. I should go, though, they want this before the next sunmark." "Oh, of course! I'm sorry to interrupt your work. I'll see you again soon!" Johona waved and continued on her way.[nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][img]https://i.imgur.com/2P7Jaxx.png[/img][/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]Ming walked toward his apartment, puzzling over the mystery. He wasn't really angry or anxious about it any more, but he badly wanted to [i]know[/i]. He did his best to calm down and go to sleep, but his mind was running in all directions like Desta's little relatives, and he kept waking up. Eventually, the sun was completely gone, and Ming was completely awake. [i]Ugh, this is so annoying. I need to sleep! Wait.[/i] He sat up. [i]It's night, and I'm awake. What if I could catch this person in the act?[/i] He wished he had special sneaking clothes, like in the adventure stories, but he had to settle for his usual checked scarf. Ming hurried over to the bakery, but all he found was the doors locked tight and a sweet, caramelized smell. The mystery person had been and gone. Ming sighed and headed home again.[/columns] [center] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [size=4][color=#775849][b]Today's recipe: [url=http://www.georgehart.com/trilobites/trilobite.html]Trilobite Cookies[/url][/b][/size] [color=#f0c6a9][i](the paleontology diet)[/i][/color] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]Ming was preoccupied and grouchy as he walked to the bakery the next morning. His failed outing as a secret agent was still frustrating, and not having slept much was definitely not helping. Baking cheered him up as usual, though. Today, he needed to use up the last of the fruit from market day, so he started by roasting the figs with rosemary honey from a beekeeper near the Beacon. Next was puff pastry, and beating the butter flat with a rolling pin was perfect for his mood. Satisfied, he moved on to the rest of the day's baking with a better attitude. He kept his eyes open for clues as he worked, but the mystery baker had improved at putting things away, and there was really nothing out of place. He did find a bit of shed fur, but it looked basically like his, and it was in a corner where Desta's sweeping could easily have missed it yesterday. There was nothing to go on, and no one he'd asked would tell him. Was there anyone else he could ask?[/columns] [columns][img]https://i.imgur.com/788OsA4.png[/img][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][color=#775849][size=4]He thought about it as he assembled the fig pastries. [i]I've asked everyone who would reasonably know, and I can't stay up every night trying to catch them. I don't know! Maybe it's time to ask people who[/i] wouldn't [i]reasonably know.[/i] When Ming finished the day's baking, he asked Nuru for a coffee for Prakash and a tea for himself, and he headed over to the Archives. As the cafe door closed behind him, he heard Desta starting to talk excitedly about something. Prakash's office door was mostly closed this time. Ming tapped on it, awkwardly, with the hand holding his tea. "Come in!" Prakash called. Ming pushed the door open, feeling uncertain. "Er, hello, Prakash. I brought coffee." "Ming! I'm glad to see you. You don't have to bring me anything, but it smells delicious. Nuru is excellent at her work."[/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]"Well, I wanted to ask you a question, so it seemed fair. And like it would be a good reason to take a break." "Of course! Let's go outdoors and warm up." Prakash brought his bag, but they didn't go out the main doors. He led the way to a courtyard in the Archives that was full of herbs. "I thought you might enjoy this spot." Fat, fuzzy yellow bees buzzed all around, visiting the lavender, oregano, and rosemary blossoms. "It's lovely! I was using rosemary honey just this morning." They sat together on a plain stone bench in the sunshine and sipped their drinks companionably for a few minutes.[/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]Ming took a deep breath, and Prakash gave him a sideways glance and a little smile. It was distracting, but Ming persisted. "I wanted to ask you... well, something really strange. There's no reason you should know about it, but no one else will tell me, so maybe you can help me figure it out?" "Of course." "Something odd has been going on at the bakery..." Ming told Prakash the whole story, including all his adventures and frustrations. "And in a way, it's been great, finding out more about everyone, but it's [i]my[/i] bakery, and I want to know what's happening there. Do you have any ideas?"[nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][img]https://i.imgur.com/Hk93Zll.png[/img][/columns] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]Prakash looked away, but yet another smile was tugging at his face. "I have more than an idea, Ming. I'm sorry for the trouble, though. You weren't meant to notice." "You know? Will you tell me? Unlike the rest of the world?" Ming laughed incredulously. "I will, yes. Though it's not how I'd planned it." Prakash opened his bag and pulled out a small wrapped package, which he handed to Ming. "I think this will make things clear." Flummoxed, Ming accepted the package. He carefully opened the end and slid the box out, then opened the box. It held... chocolate chip cookies? Ming stared at them, smelling the sweet, caramelized aroma from the bakery last night.[/columns] [center] [img]https://i.imgur.com/rIm1LEU.png[/img][/center] [columns][color=#775849][size=4]Prakash stammered a little. "I, er. I [i]am[/i] sorry, Ming. I wanted to surprise you so you would... want to know me. Baking seemed like the only thing you cared about. Then the box of cooking items showed up, and I got to know you without all this. But it turned out that baking was fun, and I wanted to get these right and give them to you even so." Ming was quiet for a long moment, staring at the cookies, his tail twitching with indecision. Then he picked up a cookie and bit into it. He chewed it slowly, then smiled and looked at Prakash. "It's good. A good choice for a beginner, and you read enough to know the dough should be rested overnight." "Thank you."[/columns] [columns][img]https://i.imgur.com/SqKNFrH.png[/img][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][color=#775849][size=4]"The other thing... Prakash, of course I want to know you. You're amazing. I..." Ming didn't know what to say. He reached for Prakash's hand. Prakash held Ming's hand gently. "Thank you again." Ming looked back at the cookies, started laughing, and looked back up at Prakash. "But if you ever use my kitchen again without permission...!" "I definitely will not, Ming. I promise."[/columns] [center] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [size=4][color=#775849][b]Today's recipe: [url=https://www.handletheheat.com/the-ultimate-guide-to-chocolate-chip-cookies/]Chocolate Chip Cookies[/url][/b][/size] [color=#9c7967][i](absolute beginners)[/i][/color] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [center][b][i][color=#775849]Epilogue[/color][/i][/b][/center] [columns][img]https://i.imgur.com/whDAYd4.png[/img][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][color=#775849][size=4]Prakash bent down to peer at the small circles of batter on the parchment. He touched one gently with a claw. "They seem dry," he reported. Ming left the basil buttercream and padded over. "Yes, they look ready. Go ahead and put them into the oven carefully." Prakash grinned. "I think my arms may have turned to dough after beating all those eggs, but I will certainly do my best." The macarons made it into the oven safely, and Prakash came to peer over Ming's shoulder. "It smells wonderful. Baking is like magic sometimes." "That reminds me, did I tell you about the latest scroll I found at the market? All about new fruit flavors being developed in the Everbloom." "Your favorite thing! I look forward to hearing the details." "I might have more than one favorite thing now." Ming smiled affectionately. By the time the macaron halves had baked and cooled, the basil buttercream was ready, along with the lemon and vanilla, and even Ming's arms were a little tired. Ming and Prakash filled the strawberry cookies with all three, carefully keeping them separate since the buttercreams looked fairly similar. When they were finished, they each took a plate, and Prakash opened the door to the cafe. Nuru turned around and clapped her hands, and Desta leaped out from behind the doorway, tossing something into the air. Glittery confetti drifted down over the startled Ming and Prakash. "It's edible glitter, of course! Happy Brightshine Jubilee, Ming! Prakash too! And happy macaron day! What kinds, what kinds?" Ming laughed. "Thank you, Desta. Happy Brightshine to you." The sun shone brightly in the cafe windows, the macarons had perfect feet, and life was sweeter than ever at the Brightshine Bakery.[/columns] [center] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [size=4][color=#775849][b]Today's recipe: [url=https://www.thespruceeats.com/easy-macaron-recipe-435221]Macarons[/url][/b][/size] [color=#afb87d][i](complementary partnership)[/i][/color] [img]https://imgur.com/XLuYPiZ.png[/img] [color=#d58586][i]This story is completed. Thank you so much for joining Light Flight and the Brightshine Bakery for our festival! We hope you've enjoyed playing with us.[/i][/center]
IntroEvents 8GPklB3.png StoryBadgesSignaturesThanks

SqKNFrH.png __ Another early, early morning at the Brightshine Bakery. It wasn't easy for Lightweaver's children to get up before the sun, but Ming did it every day because he loved baking. Being in the quiet, empty kitchen with just him and the ingredients, and everything in its place, was his favorite part of the day. And as the sun rose through the high windows every day, the aromas of butter, nuts, and chocolate rose with it, and customers came from all around the Mirrorlight Promenade to get the perfect flaky pastries for their breakfasts. Coffee and tea, too, of course, Nuru was always at the counter to help them with all that, but Ming's everyday delight was baking.

Time to make wonderful things in my very own kitchen!

... Wait. What's going on in here?

Nothing was really wrong, but the kitchen seemed subtly different. He usually put things back in the same places, and this morning, they were a little off somehow. His tail twitched uneasily.

Well, maybe he hadn't been very careful yesterday. He breathed deeply. Everything smelled right, anyway, and it was time to get started.
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Today's recipe:
Brown Butter Brownies


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Ming was slightly cross as he unlocked the door to the bakery kitchen. The morning was still dark, as always, and even at midsummer there was a little dew on the paving stones and herbs of the street outside. And while he supposed having worn stones outside your place of business was a sign of success, they were also a bit slippery, and he'd almost lost his footing.

He took a deep, calming breath as he opened the door, expecting to smell only a touch of the vinegar Desta used to mop up at night. Instead, he picked up a slight whiff of burned sugar. He hadn't burned a pastry in months.

It happened again. Something is strange.

He flicked on the light and saw that, once again, the canisters of flour and sugar were a little out of place. He checked the ovens and found that one had been cleaned recently, but the smell of burning was still stronger there.

Someone has been in my kitchen! His ruff started to prickle, fluffing up with anxiety. Who would come in here? What are they trying to do?

Ming still needed to bake for the morning customers, but who knew what else was wrong now? After testing the oven temperatures and checking all the ingredients, he went ahead and started, but his peace was thoroughly disrupted, and the pastries knew it. These were not among his best bakes.

Once he finished, he went into the customer area at the front. Nuru was there already, of course. Since she'd taken the job, he'd never seen the counter without Nuru behind it. A real trooper, that one. When she'd finished making a fancy coffee for the customer she was serving, Ming said, "Nuru, I was wondering -- have you noticed anything odd in the kitchen lately?"

Her impassive face told him nothing, as usual. "Not at all, Ming. Would you like a drink?"

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788OsA4.png __ Ming sighed. "I suppose so, thank you. Something calming, though, no caffeine. The kitchen has just seemed wrong the last couple of days, and now my ruff won't lie flat. It's not easy to laminate dough when you can't look straight down."

"Have a seat, Chef, and I'll get you a tisane," Nuru replied, and he did.

As he sat down at the small table he favored, near the group of potted trees, Ming noticed one of the customers, a fellow Shining Goblin, smiling at him. Oh, I recognize that guy... He really smiles a lot. Ming nodded in return. The customer's eyes crinkled at the corners and he nodded back, then took a sip of his half-full coffee before carrying it to the bus tub in the corner and walking out the door.

Nuru waved, and Ming went to pick up his soothing drink, but his ruff already felt a little better.


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Today's recipe:
Vegan Strawberry Scones


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Ming opened the door to the kitchen, already suspicious. He looked around carefully but saw nothing out of place. He took a deep breath and smelled nothing unusual. After two days of strange circumstances, that in itself was suspicious... or maybe he was being silly.

Did all that really happen? Maybe I just need more sleep.

Today was looking like a good day. He pulled out the flour to start making the day's various doughs. Palmiers today, I think. And maybe a light, fluffy cheesecake, something to go with these fresh raspberries.
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sVQ5NB6.png __ After a lovely morning of baking and a cup of hot chocolate, Ming returned to his small apartment a few blocks away. The Lightweaver's entourage maintained comfortable rooms for every kind of familiar here in the Mirrorlight Promenade, since there was no telling when one of them might need a place to stay, and familiars with other jobs in the city were also welcome there. All the rooms had some sunlight, of course, but Ming thought his was especially nice: two wide windows and a skylight.

It was absolutely perfect for a nap, and some extra rest should stop him fussing so much about nothing. He tossed a couple of large pillows into the widest sunbeam, curled up happily on them, and closed his eyes to enjoy the warmth.

A couple of hours later, the sun had moved on, and Ming woke up refreshed. He decided to go out to the courtyard to read his new scroll about the history of magical cooking experiments in the Arcane Flight, but no sooner had he settled in next to a fragrant pot of basil than a neighbor interrupted him.

He was sure he knew this Spirit of Light's name. Really he did. No. No, he did not. Let's just avoid bringing that up, he thought.

She hopped quietly up to him and murmured, "Baker Ming, can I ask you a question?"

"Of course," he responded. "What is it?"

"Last night, I heard sounds coming from the bakery kitchen after everything was closed. Was it you? I thought you were asleep by then, but maybe you have a special project?"

Oh no.

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Today's recipe:
Japanese Cheesecake


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All right, Ming thought. If someone was in the kitchen last night, Nuru has to know about it. If there were noises that could be heard outside, she must have heard them too. She's always behind the counter, I don't think she even goes home to sleep.

Ming normally went to sleep early rather than visiting the bakery in the evenings, but he was too on edge for that anyway. There goes the benefit of taking a nap. And I'm all bushed out again. Ruffpuff, ha. Time to go investigate.

wl5EAFR.png __ He walked into the bakery and found Nuru behind the counter, of course, and Desta starting to clean up after the evening rush. Desta was just as rabbit-quick with a mop as with table service, but distractible, so he waved and let them get on with it. Nuru was balancing the till, but she looked up as he approached.

"You're up late, Chef. What can I do for you?"

"A neighbor asked me about some sounds in the kitchen last night. You must have heard something, right? What happened?"

"At night? I didn't hear anything before I left last night." Her poker face was impeccable, but he couldn't get past the feeling that something was going on.

"Nuru, please, if you know anything, I won't be upset. I just need to know what's happening in my bakery."

"No idea, Chef."

Just then, the door opened again to admit their daily supply delivery, carried by Johona as usual. The Sunbeam Ursa seemed to be in a friendly mood today and gave everyone a toothy grin. "Baker Ming! Don't see you much at this hour. How goes?"

Ming sighed. "Been better, Johona. I'm trying to figure out what's been happening in here, but no one knows. What about you? Were you in here last night?"

The bear shrugged. "I've come by about this time all week. What's wrong?"

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"Strange sounds at night, things out of place in the kitchen. It's frustrating. There has to be an explanation."

Johona nudged Ming's shoulder in a friendly way. "You'll sort it out! Smartest baker I know."

"Thanks, Johona. I guess I have some more thinking to do."

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Today's recipe:
Baklava

(bears love honey)

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39Jjvmo.png __ The bakery seemed fine again in the morning. Who knew if it actually was. Ming tried hard to focus and managed to make pastries that were almost as good as usual without too much fretting.

When he finished, he rewarded himself by going over to the farmer's market to buy fresh ingredients in person. Most of the plants that grew in Light territory tended to be aromatic herbs that liked dry weather, and lavender was nice in pastries once in a while, but he needed more inspiration than that. Luckily, some parts of the Ruins got enough rain to grow fruit, and Ming suspected that a few of the vendors were passing on items from the Everbloom. No other part of Sornieth could grow such large, strangely shaped fruit, he was sure.

Once his bag was full of cherries, strawberries, gooseberries, and apricots, Ming wandered over to the stands selling crafted items. He didn't often buy anything here, but he enjoyed seeing what everyone could make with their hands, claws, and tools. Today, there was a vendor with gorgeously patterned woven baskets, along with a potter who had unusual and interesting glazes. Glancing over at the painter's stall, Ming recognized his smiling customer from the other day, who seemed to be admiring a painting of the Beacon at sunrise.

The customer looked up, smiled (as always), and strolled over to Ming. "Hello, baker! Out for some ingredients this afternoon?"

Ming was a little flustered. "Y-yes, the cherries are just coming into season, and I found some other fruit as well. And yourself?"

"I'm just getting some sun during my lunchtime. We can't allow too much light into the Archives. Not even Lightweaver has figured out how to keep scrolls from getting brittle if it's too bright or warm in there."

"Oh, I didn't realize you worked in the Archives. Er..." Ming had never been that good at talking to people, and asking their names was the worst part. "I'm Ming, by the way."

"Lovely to meet you properly at last, Baker Ming. My name is Prakash. Lightweaver's eyes in the stacks." His smile was positively beaming now.
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"You must, er, know some interesting things, working there."

"I've found a few unusual documents in my day, yes. Maybe I can tell you about them sometime. For now, I must be getting back."

Ming's tail twitched. Surprisingly, he didn't want to stop talking. "I'll hope to see you back at the bakery soon, then."

Prakash waved and walked away cheerfully.

Ming turned away and let out a relieved breath. That went all right! Finally, something good happened this week.

Just then, he noticed a Sunbeam Ursa in a delivery uniform trotting behind the booths. Was that Johona? Maybe he could ask her to help him investigate at the bakery tonight. Feeling suddenly energetic, Ming went to catch up to her.

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Today's recipe:
Mini Cherry Pies

(ingredients in season)

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Ming loped through the market toward where he had seen Johona, holding his bag of fruit carefully to avoid bruising them. He had to stop every few meters because of the crowds, but he'd managed to almost catch up by the time he reached a huge stall selling fresh corn, near the edge of the market.

Unfortunately, an Imperial he didn't know was passing in the main road, and no one else could get anywhere for a minute. By the time she had gone by, Ming had no idea where Johona had gotten to. He asked the corn vendors if they knew Johona, but they didn't.

Johona had seemed to be heading east, so Ming walked in that direction for a bit. He enjoyed the smell of the sea, which was stronger in the eastern part of the city, but there were no obvious clues to Johona's whereabouts. I suppose I can chat with her at the bakery, if I can stay awake that long. I need to take the fruit in anyway. __ 6mlt6oK.png

He skirted the outside of the market on his walk back, finding a few scattered stalls along the nearby streets. I had no idea these were here, he thought. How charming. These smaller stalls seemed to have less polished offerings than those inside the market; one was run by a pair of young Spirits of Light who were play-fighting behind their display of friendship bracelets, which made him laugh quietly into his ruff.
8gOir9e.png __ His bag was full, but he couldn't resist picking up two pints of sunbeam figs from a stand run by a polite Sunbeam Soldier. Luckily, they came in their own bag, but now he really couldn't justify any more fruit this week. Laden but pleased, he spent the rest of the walk back to the bakery appreciating the summer sunlight.

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Today's recipe:
Croissants

(traditional and still champion)

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mPnLUqW.png __ The sunshine and some iced tea helped keep Ming awake as he waited at the bakery for Johona to arrive. The fruit was safely stored, Desta's efficiency was always a pleasure to watch, and this had turned out to be a pretty good day. Especially with the addition of a few macarons.

One more piece of luck fell into his lap, too, as Johona arrived early. She had a lot to carry, so he simply raised a hand as she came in, and she huffed cheerfully on her way into the kitchen to drop off the dry goods. When she was finished and heading out, Ming got up and approached her.

"Johona, how are you? I think I saw you east of the market today."

She grunted, surprised. "Er, no, wasn't me, Baker Ming. I should get to my next delivery, though."

"That's fine, I'll walk with you." Ming waved to Nuru and Desta as he followed Johona out of the cafe.

It wasn't easy to tell on a bear, but she seemed nervous, glancing over her shoulder at him frequently and not producing her usual friendly conversation.

Ming wasn't sure how to start, given her silence, but he said, "I actually had a favor to ask you. Remember when I said something suspicious was going on in the kitchen at night?"
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Johona grunted and kept looking around nervously.

"... Right, well, I was hoping you could move my delivery later in the evening so you'd be going into the kitchen at the time these things seem to be happening. You've already got a key, so --"

"Oh, yeah, sure, no problem, Baker Ming. Say, hadn't you better be getting to bed soon?"

"Wait, Johona, are you trying to get rid of me?"

Just then, another bear in the same delivery uniform ambled up from a side street. They looked very similar, but Ming thought this might actually be the bear he'd followed earlier. Johona covered her face with a paw.

The new bear smirked. "Baker Ming."

"I... yes. What? Who are you?"

cHyWk42.png __ The new bear's face lit up with pleasure. "Well, sometimes I'm Johona."

Johona swatted at her. "You are not! Ugh. Ming, this is Yanaha. She's a pain who likes to imitate me for fun."

Yanaha ducked the blow easily. "Hey, you're not arguing with our bonuses for speedy delivery. If I find it fun, that's just icing on the cake, isn't it?"

Ming was confused, but one thing was clear to him. "If you're Johona sometimes, then does that mean you've been to my bakery at night? Have you noticed anything strange?"

Yanaha's smirk grew into an outright wicked grin. "Oh yes. And you'll find out about it soon enough. I'm not saying a word. It's a really excellent idea, just my sort of thing."

She dodged another swat from Johona and trotted off chuckling to herself.

Argh! Ming's frustrated tail-lashing was interrupted by a distressed Johona, who asked, "We're not fired, are we?"

"Oh for Light's sake, Johona, of course not. Try to find out from her what's happening at the bakery, though, please? I really need to know."

"I'll ask, but she's not gonna tell me. It won't be anything mean, though, she just likes fooling people. She's never done anything bad."

Ming supposed he'd have to settle for that until tomorrow.

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Today's recipe:
Red Bean Sesame Balls

(perfect for a weekend brunch)

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Ming supposed he was at least adjusting to uncertainty. Despite knowing something peculiar was going on in the bakery, he was much less ruffled about it, and having that lovely load of fresh fruit to play with helped a lot. He wasn't as relaxed as he preferred, but he actually enjoyed baking again this morning, and it was an excellent feeling.

When Ming emerged from the kitchen in the late morning, Nuru and Desta were in the cafe along with a few customers. Well, I know better than to ask Nuru anything else. She could think anything, and I'd have no way to tell. "Hey, Desta? Can you come into the kitchen to try this for me?"

Desta bounded over energetically. "Sure, Ming!"

"Great, thanks! I haven't made it since last year, and I wanted a second opinion."

He really did; these berries weren't the same variety he'd used in the recipe before. Ming liked them, but Desta preferred sweeter pastries, and calibration was important.
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Ming plated a pudding for Desta, including a small cup of custard, and offered the plate and a fork. Desta carefully tried a bite without custard, then added the custard and tasted another bite. Then they poured on the entire rest of the custard and finished the plate so quickly their fork was almost a blur. It would have been impressive even without a mask in the way.

"Thank you! Wow, it's refreshing. Very summery. I think that's enough sugar! Even without the custard, it's good." Desta handed the plate back to Ming.

"Good to hear, thanks, Desta. One more question?"

"Okay!"

"Have you noticed anything happening in the kitchen after hours?"

Desta froze for a moment, then their hind leg thumped lightly. "I, er, no?"

"Really? Because it seems like maybe you have."

"Nope! I definitely don't know anything about anybody being in here at night. No secret baking going on at all."

They definitely knew something. Maybe Ming could find out more by investigating Desta. He'd certainly discovered something interesting about Johona yesterday.

39Jjvmo.png __ "All right, let's get back to work, then," Ming said. Desta bounced out of the kitchen, pausing in the doorway for just a moment before returning to waiting tables. Ming followed them out and saw his smiling customer at the counter.

"Oh! Hello again, Archivist..." Ming was mortified to have forgotten the customer's name, but the archivist's wry look told him he was forgiven.

"Prakash, Baker Ming. I'm glad to see you, as I have a favor to ask."

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Today's recipe:
Gooseberry Pudding

(sweet-tart)

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Seated at a table with Ming, Prakash began to explain his problem.

"Normally, I work with documents from a particular era about two hundred years ago. The details might not mean much to you, but I would be happy to tell you all about it another time." His eyes crinkled with amusement, and Ming smiled a little in response.

"Now, however, to stick to the point: my latest shipment was several boxes from a newly opened underground room near the Beacon. I've reviewed the documents, and I know where they need to go, but the boxes also contained quite a few artifacts. Identifying those isn't my area of expertise, I'm afraid."

"And you think I can help?" Ming asked.

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"I thought you might, because the scrolls talked about kitchens and cooking. Since they came in together, the papers and items should be related. If they're not, I despair of our archeologists! I was hoping for an illustration or two, but I've been through all the scrolls, and there are none. Could you at least take a look?"

Ming was flustered. "But how do you know you can trust me with that, Prakash? We've just met!"

"I've been visiting your establishment for months, Baker Ming." Months? Ming hadn't realized it was that long.

"I'm flattered that you like my baking, but what does that have to do with --"

788OsA4.png __ "You're obviously meticulous about your work. You made a dessert typical of my historical period about a month ago, and it wasn't one that's common today, so you're also rather well read. You're very dedicated to the bakery, and if you care so much about your own work, then I think you will respect mine. You're perfect -- for this job, I mean, of course."

Ming's tail had started twitching under his chair halfway through this recital of his virtues, and his scales felt like someone had been rubbing them backwards. He looked away to try to regain his composure. Somebody noticed all that?

"I'm sorry to have pressed you," said Prakash after a moment. "You don't need to decide right now. Here." He wrote his name and a room number on a scrap of parchment and slid it across the table. "Please do come by the Archives if you would like to try your hand at the problem. Have a lovely day."

Prakash walked out of the cafe.

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Today's recipe:
Queen Cakes

(retro baking)

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Ming was still uneasy the next morning as he walked into the kitchen. All the ingredients were in place, but his mind was still unsettled. He loved baking, and he was happy almost every day that he'd managed to arrange his life around it, but to have someone else value his work so highly was new and not really comfortable. Being the invisible source of treats who didn't have to talk to people much, that he could do. Talking to employees and vendors was fine. More than that had always been difficult. But it seemed like some people saw him, even when he wasn't trying too hard, and even when he forgot their names.

Today, Ming chose recipes with doughs that required kneading. The kneading kept his attention, but the repetition was soothing, and more often than not, he would feel relaxed by the time he was done for the day. He made hot cross buns and cinnamon rolls and two loaves of chocolate bread, but he still felt upset.

6mlt6oK.png __ Maybe an old familiar recipe. He made a few batches of different cookies, too.

Nope, still not calm. But I don't think we'll sell more than that. Now what?

He heard Desta arriving out in the cafe. Hmm, I wonder how I can find out what Desta knows about the disturbances at night? That'll be a good distraction.

He knew Desta lived out at Sundial Terrace, though he didn't recall exactly where, so he walked home to check his files before taking the trip. Luckily for Ming's short legs, there were often large dragons making the trip who were willing to carry individuals or even carts full of those who wanted to come along, so he was able to ask a Guardian who was going to the Terrace and get a ride with her. She was from Earth originally, and her charge was something about clay tablets; Ming didn't really understand which kind, though he was sure Prakash would have.

He was still not sure what to do about Prakash. He hoped that the Guardian didn't notice his momentary distraction from their conversation. Well, it was her monologue, really. Ming knew he was a good listener, as long as he didn't have to say much.

When he arrived at the Terrace, he headed toward Desta's address, where he found a tumble of young Spirits of Light playing with paints.

"Hello, all. Is this Desta's place?"

They froze.

"Is everything all right?"

"Sure yes definitely, we are totally allowed to play with Desta's paints, but wehavetogonowbye!" They dashed away in different directions. Ming laughed.

Oh, what a mess. But it looks like there are some proper paintings on the walls. Did Desta make these? They're good.

The paintings were a bit abstract, but they had a compelling energy and emotion. There were sketches and notes, too. It looked like Desta was struggling with their next designs. At the bottom of one page, they had scrawled "ARCHIVES?!" Ming guessed more research was needed for whatever they had in mind.
He went back to the main Terrace and sat in the sunlight for a bit to think. Desta had always been great at waiting tables, and Ming had never realized that they had a strong passion for something else. I hope they don't leave, but at the same time, they would be great as a full-time artist. Johona had an important secret I didn't know about, too. People are complicated, but learning about them is so interesting. Everybody is just more than I realized.

Maybe Ming was ready to try being more than an invisible baker, too. He took a deep breath, tried to relax his ruff, and headed for the Archives.
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Today's recipe:
Cherry-Almond Cookies

(a perfect complement)

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ANfITar.png __ Ming looked in Prakash's open door. Prakash was seated at a desk covered in scrolls and other documents, and he was peering worriedly at something small in his hand.

I've never seen him not smiling before. He really must need some help.

Ming gathered his nerve and tapped on the door to announce himself. Prakash looked up, and the lines on his brow smoothed immediately. "Baker Ming! I'm glad to see you. Did you have any trouble finding me?"

"No, not at all. I haven't been to this part of the Archives before, but everyone was very happy to point me in your direction."

"Excellent. I have one of the items I was wondering about just here, and I'm completely perplexed by it, so if you'd like to start looking...?"

"Yes, I don't know if I can help, but I'd like to try."

Prakash handed Ming the item. It was shaped rather like a stubby nail or tack with a button sticking out of the wide portion, and it was about as long as Ming's thumb. At the end opposite the button, Ming saw pieces of metal like dull blades. "Actually," he said, "this looks very familiar. But I shouldn't try to operate it, right?"

"Probably best not to, yes. See, I knew you were trustworthy," Prakash smiled. "There could be dust and grit inside it that would cause damage if we tried to use it. For the same reason, I didn't want to take it apart. I'm not an artificer, and I wouldn't want to damage it or put it back together incorrectly. Whatever is this thing, though, Baker Ming?"

"Oh, just Ming is fine. I think it's a strawberry huller. It seems silly, I know, you can do that with a knife, but they're actually very efficient. You push the button and these blades open up, then you push them into the berry and let it up, and the blades grab the hull so you can pull it out. Desta can clean and slice a pint of berries in about two minutes with one of these."

Prakash was beaming and nodding as he quickly wrote down Ming's guess. "Wonderful! So they are kitchen-related artifacts. We should make some notes on the rest, as well, if you're available, just to be certain, but I should know where to send these now. Thank you so much, Ming."

"Of course. I'm sorry for --"

"Not at all," Prakash interrupted. "I didn't intend to make you uncomfortable, but I did, and I apologize. Thank you for forgiving me enough to come by, and please say no more about it."
__ KP6CeXG.png

Ming smoothed his scarf nervously. "All right." But how did you notice me for so long when I hardly noticed you at all? You're so interesting. That's what I'm really sorry about.

Prakash took another artifact out of a shallow box on his desk. "Now this one does come apart easily, so it's all right to separate the pieces."

That's good, since the outside is just a metal cube. Ming took apart the metal pieces gently, arranging them carefully on the desktop so he would remember how to reassemble them afterward. Each piece had five smooth sides and one with a concave depression that had a shallow rim around the edge of a deeper hollow, and most of the time, the depressions were facing each other. But why would you put them all together like this?

Prakash looked curiously at Ming. "You seem puzzled. Is this one not a kitchen item?"

"No, I think it is, only I don't know why you would make it this way. And one of the pieces was backwards. Is that all right? I mean, it seems like people two hundred years ago could put things in backwards as easily as any other cook in a hurry, right?"

"Yes, that's fine. Details like that can actually make for a good museum display, because it gives visitors extra interest in the being who used it. But what did you mean by 'make it this way'?"

9JPYgIK.png __ "Well, I think this is a press for some kind of dumpling. You would put your thin dough here to make the outside, then your fillings inside it here, wet the edges, and press the halves together. It's reasonable as far as it goes. But if you were making very many, then you would normally have a line or grid of these, ideally in one plate. Here, there are four separate presses. Much less efficient than a strawberry huller!" Ming gestured to the last item. "So either they liked to make four different flavors and wanted to keep them separate, or they wanted to store it as a cube for some reason. Maybe they just thought it looked neat. I've never seen one like this, though, so whatever reason it was, we don't do it any more."

Prakash wrote furiously. When he finished, he looked up at Ming. "I am so glad I met you. Do you know what most of the experts in our directory are like? They look things over, say five words, and wait for the next item. You didn't just name this item, you described how it works and suggested possible cultural connections. Ming, you're amazing, and I hope you can help us here much more often in the future."

Ming's tail lashed with embarrassment, but he managed to respond evenly. "I'm really nothing special, Prakash. I admit I'm a good baker, but really."

Prakash looked concerned. "You are something very special, but I can see it will take time for you to believe it. Can you help with another item or two?"

"All right."
__ RkSFD6r.png

Ming helped Prakash identify the rest of the artifacts in the box, which included an egg yolk extractor that gave Ming some ideas for improvement and something he thought might be a magical thermometer, based on his reading. By the end, Ming was almost at ease with Prakash again. The remaining emotion felt mostly like... excitement? As he left to head home in the early evening, Ming hoped Prakash would want his help again soon, too.

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Today's recipe:
Lemon Cupcakes

(bright and sunny)

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Returning to the bakery in the morning, Ming found himself humming happily. So much was uncertain right now, but he felt good anyway. Which won't stop me from finding out what's happening in my bakery, he thought. I still need to sort that out. He felt equal to the task, though, instead of anxious. Let's see if we can get some answers from Desta today.

Ming thought about how to ask Desta again as he prepared the usual croissants and pains au chocolat, then some bar cookies, and started making up small tart shells. When he heard Desta's cheerful greeting, he poked his head into the cafe. "Good morning, Nuru, Desta. Can you come help with some fruit when you have a chance, please, Desta?"

Nuru nodded regally. Desta called, "Sure, Ming! Be right there!"

91qL7uV.png __ Ming set up a station for Desta with the apricots and strawberries from the market, a strainer for rinsing, bowls and cutting boards, and knives. He added the strawberry huller, smiling to himself. When Desta bounded in, Ming let them get settled for a moment before trying out his plan.

"So Desta, I know some cafes have paintings from local artists on their walls that the customers can buy. Do you know how that works? Might our customers be interested?"

Desta hopped a little in place with excitement. Luckily, it didn't seem to affect their work. "Yes! I know about that, I love art. I think the customers like art as long as it matches the mood of the cafe, you know? Ours is kind of a calm place where you can be quiet and happy, so you would need to pick the right paintings. Or sculptures of course! Not many people make those though."

"I've seen at least one of our customers looking at paintings in the market, so I think it would be good to try out hanging up a couple of them here. And I'd like to support artists. Do you know anyone?"

"I, um, actually I paint things sometimes? And I have some friends who do too! We were thinking of putting on a show together at the Archives, but we kinda haven't asked yet and maybe this would be good first? I can talk to them!"

"That's great, Desta, I'd love to see your work hanging in here." Ming looked over at Desta's progress. Good, they were in the middle of the strawberries, and things were kind of messy. "So why won't you tell me what's happening in the bakery at night?"

"Oh, because it's really going to be a nice -- oh!" Desta thumped a hind leg. "Ming! I told you no one else is baking in your kitchen!"

So close. A nice what? Ming had gotten used to Desta's denials by now, though. The little Spirits were the same. I wonder if they're related. "Is it no one I would know?"

"Yes! I mean no? Ming!" Desta had rushed through the rest of the strawberries -- adding the efficient huller had been a tactical error -- and was now washing their paws very quickly and dashing out of the kitchen. Ming had been foiled again, but at the same time, he couldn't help but laugh.

All right, so someone I know is using my kitchen, but it's nothing bad and actually should be nice. I hope I can figure it out soon, though. I don't like that happening without my permission!

Ming assembled the strawberry and apricot tarts and put them into the oven for a quick bake. The bar cookies were cool, so he sliced them and carried a tray of them out into the cafe to put behind the counter.

Prakash was there, sipping one of his fancy coffees. He looked up and smiled directly at Ming, and Ming felt the same excitement as he had last night. He wanted to hide, but he wanted more to smile and wave back, so he did that instead.
__ 6WgfcQ4.png

Ming gave the tray to Nuru, and then he went back into the kitchen to hide. Just for a little while, until the tarts were ready.

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Today's recipe:
Butter Bars

(sweet and rich)

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mPnLUqW.png __ When Ming came back out of the kitchen, the lunch rush was over. Desta was cleaning up around the two remaining customers, who seemed to be heading out imminently. Neither of them was Prakash, and Ming felt a little disappointed. He really needed some sleep, though, after yesterday's late evening. He waved to Nuru and Desta as he left the cafe.

On his way home, Ming took a break on a bench overlooking the central part of the Promenade. For a while, he allowed the bustle around him to fade into background noise as he basked in the feeling of sun on scales. After a while, though, he kept being distracted by different people.

Oh my, her pearl is gorgeous. I wonder what kind of pastry is her favorite.

Those two are so sweet together -- look how excited they are when they meet.

Oh, there's Johona! ... I think. He peered at her. Well, if it's Yanaha, I can ask her myself. Ming stood up and loped to catch up with the delivery bear.

"Hey, Johona!"

"Oh, hello, Baker Ming! How are you today?"

"Very well, thanks. I wanted to check with you about what we discussed before."

Johona hung her head. "Aww, I'm sorry, I asked Yanaha about the surprise, but she wouldn't tell me, like I thought. All she said was that you'd know soon enough and you'd be happy about it in the end."

Ming sighed in frustration. "All right, it was worth a try. Thanks for asking. Er, I know it might sound strange, but it's nice to get to know you better."

Johona raised her head and gave Ming a pleased nudge with her muzzle. "Thanks, Baker Ming! I knew you were smart and a good baker, but it's nice to really meet you, too. I should go, though, they want this before the next sunmark."

"Oh, of course! I'm sorry to interrupt your work. I'll see you again soon!"

Johona waved and continued on her way.
__ 2P7Jaxx.png

Ming walked toward his apartment, puzzling over the mystery. He wasn't really angry or anxious about it any more, but he badly wanted to know. He did his best to calm down and go to sleep, but his mind was running in all directions like Desta's little relatives, and he kept waking up. Eventually, the sun was completely gone, and Ming was completely awake.

Ugh, this is so annoying. I need to sleep!

Wait.
He sat up. It's night, and I'm awake. What if I could catch this person in the act?

He wished he had special sneaking clothes, like in the adventure stories, but he had to settle for his usual checked scarf. Ming hurried over to the bakery, but all he found was the doors locked tight and a sweet, caramelized smell. The mystery person had been and gone.

Ming sighed and headed home again.

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Today's recipe:
Trilobite Cookies

(the paleontology diet)

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Ming was preoccupied and grouchy as he walked to the bakery the next morning. His failed outing as a secret agent was still frustrating, and not having slept much was definitely not helping. Baking cheered him up as usual, though. Today, he needed to use up the last of the fruit from market day, so he started by roasting the figs with rosemary honey from a beekeeper near the Beacon. Next was puff pastry, and beating the butter flat with a rolling pin was perfect for his mood. Satisfied, he moved on to the rest of the day's baking with a better attitude.

He kept his eyes open for clues as he worked, but the mystery baker had improved at putting things away, and there was really nothing out of place. He did find a bit of shed fur, but it looked basically like his, and it was in a corner where Desta's sweeping could easily have missed it yesterday. There was nothing to go on, and no one he'd asked would tell him. Was there anyone else he could ask?

788OsA4.png __ He thought about it as he assembled the fig pastries. I've asked everyone who would reasonably know, and I can't stay up every night trying to catch them. I don't know! Maybe it's time to ask people who wouldn't reasonably know.

When Ming finished the day's baking, he asked Nuru for a coffee for Prakash and a tea for himself, and he headed over to the Archives. As the cafe door closed behind him, he heard Desta starting to talk excitedly about something.

Prakash's office door was mostly closed this time. Ming tapped on it, awkwardly, with the hand holding his tea.

"Come in!" Prakash called.

Ming pushed the door open, feeling uncertain. "Er, hello, Prakash. I brought coffee."

"Ming! I'm glad to see you. You don't have to bring me anything, but it smells delicious. Nuru is excellent at her work."

"Well, I wanted to ask you a question, so it seemed fair. And like it would be a good reason to take a break."

"Of course! Let's go outdoors and warm up."

Prakash brought his bag, but they didn't go out the main doors. He led the way to a courtyard in the Archives that was full of herbs. "I thought you might enjoy this spot." Fat, fuzzy yellow bees buzzed all around, visiting the lavender, oregano, and rosemary blossoms.

"It's lovely! I was using rosemary honey just this morning." They sat together on a plain stone bench in the sunshine and sipped their drinks companionably for a few minutes.

Ming took a deep breath, and Prakash gave him a sideways glance and a little smile. It was distracting, but Ming persisted. "I wanted to ask you... well, something really strange. There's no reason you should know about it, but no one else will tell me, so maybe you can help me figure it out?"

"Of course."

"Something odd has been going on at the bakery..." Ming told Prakash the whole story, including all his adventures and frustrations. "And in a way, it's been great, finding out more about everyone, but it's my bakery, and I want to know what's happening there. Do you have any ideas?"
__ Hk93Zll.png

Prakash looked away, but yet another smile was tugging at his face. "I have more than an idea, Ming. I'm sorry for the trouble, though. You weren't meant to notice."

"You know? Will you tell me? Unlike the rest of the world?" Ming laughed incredulously.

"I will, yes. Though it's not how I'd planned it." Prakash opened his bag and pulled out a small wrapped package, which he handed to Ming. "I think this will make things clear."

Flummoxed, Ming accepted the package. He carefully opened the end and slid the box out, then opened the box. It held... chocolate chip cookies? Ming stared at them, smelling the sweet, caramelized aroma from the bakery last night.

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Prakash stammered a little. "I, er. I am sorry, Ming. I wanted to surprise you so you would... want to know me. Baking seemed like the only thing you cared about. Then the box of cooking items showed up, and I got to know you without all this. But it turned out that baking was fun, and I wanted to get these right and give them to you even so."

Ming was quiet for a long moment, staring at the cookies, his tail twitching with indecision. Then he picked up a cookie and bit into it. He chewed it slowly, then smiled and looked at Prakash. "It's good. A good choice for a beginner, and you read enough to know the dough should be rested overnight."

"Thank you."

SqKNFrH.png __ "The other thing... Prakash, of course I want to know you. You're amazing. I..." Ming didn't know what to say. He reached for Prakash's hand.

Prakash held Ming's hand gently. "Thank you again."

Ming looked back at the cookies, started laughing, and looked back up at Prakash.
"But if you ever use my kitchen again without permission...!"

"I definitely will not, Ming. I promise."


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Today's recipe:
Chocolate Chip Cookies

(absolute beginners)

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Epilogue
whDAYd4.png __ Prakash bent down to peer at the small circles of batter on the parchment. He touched one gently with a claw. "They seem dry," he reported.

Ming left the basil buttercream and padded over. "Yes, they look ready. Go ahead and put them into the oven carefully."

Prakash grinned. "I think my arms may have turned to dough after beating all those eggs, but I will certainly do my best."

The macarons made it into the oven safely, and Prakash came to peer over Ming's shoulder. "It smells wonderful. Baking is like magic sometimes."

"That reminds me, did I tell you about the latest scroll I found at the market? All about new fruit flavors being developed in the Everbloom."

"Your favorite thing! I look forward to hearing the details."

"I might have more than one favorite thing now." Ming smiled affectionately.

By the time the macaron halves had baked and cooled, the basil buttercream was ready, along with the lemon and vanilla, and even Ming's arms were a little tired. Ming and Prakash filled the strawberry cookies with all three, carefully keeping them separate since the buttercreams looked fairly similar. When they were finished, they each took a plate, and Prakash opened the door to the cafe.

Nuru turned around and clapped her hands, and Desta leaped out from behind the doorway, tossing something into the air. Glittery confetti drifted down over the startled Ming and Prakash.

"It's edible glitter, of course! Happy Brightshine Jubilee, Ming! Prakash too! And happy macaron day! What kinds, what kinds?"

Ming laughed. "Thank you, Desta. Happy Brightshine to you."

The sun shone brightly in the cafe windows, the macarons had perfect feet, and life was sweeter than ever at the Brightshine Bakery.

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Today's recipe:
Macarons

(complementary partnership)

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This story is completed. Thank you so much for joining Light Flight and the Brightshine Bakery for our festival! We hope you've enjoyed playing with us.
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[center][color=#d4ab86]• [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742#post_2461742]Intro[/url] • [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742#post_33725166]Events[/url] • [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742#post_33725176]Story[/url] • [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742#post_33725182]Badges[/url] [img]https://i.imgur.com/8GPklB3.png[/img] [color=#afb87d]Signatures[/color] • [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742#post_33725203]Thanks[/url] •[/color] [img]https://i.imgur.com/KmZphQv.png[/img] [/center] [center][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/art/2461328][img]https://i.imgur.com/xR7ErnV.png[/img][/url][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742][img]https://i.imgur.com/W6y8rmh.png[/img][/url][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/raf/2459812][img]https://i.imgur.com/Nr0CWta.png[/img][/url][/center] [code][center][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/art/2461328][img]https://i.imgur.com/xR7ErnV.png[/img][/url][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742][img]https://i.imgur.com/W6y8rmh.png[/img][/url][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/raf/2459812][img]https://i.imgur.com/Nr0CWta.png[/img][/url][/center][/code] [center][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/art/2461328][img]https://i.imgur.com/Skj7sXw.png[/img][/url][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742][img]https://i.imgur.com/qM5h0OS.png[/img][/url][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/raf/2459812][img]https://i.imgur.com/9iqIFni.png[/img][/url][/center] [code][center][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/art/2461328][img]https://i.imgur.com/Skj7sXw.png[/img][/url][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742][img]https://i.imgur.com/qM5h0OS.png[/img][/url][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/raf/2459812][img]https://i.imgur.com/9iqIFni.png[/img][/url][/center][/code] [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/art/2461328][img]https://i.imgur.com/OYFykYq.png[/img][/url] [code][center][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/art/2461328][img]https://i.imgur.com/OYFykYq.png[/img][/url][/code] [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742][img]https://i.imgur.com/O0zaGxY.png[/img][/url] [code][center][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742][img]https://i.imgur.com/O0zaGxY.png[/img][/url][/code] [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/raf/2459812][img]https://i.imgur.com/FUhbBtu.png[/img][/url] [code][center][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/raf/2459812][img]https://i.imgur.com/FUhbBtu.png[/img][/url][/code]
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[center][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/art/2461328][img]https://i.imgur.com/Skj7sXw.png[/img][/url][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742][img]https://i.imgur.com/qM5h0OS.png[/img][/url][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/raf/2459812][img]https://i.imgur.com/9iqIFni.png[/img][/url][/center]


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[center][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742][img]https://i.imgur.com/O0zaGxY.png[/img][/url]


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Code:
[center][url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/raf/2459812][img]https://i.imgur.com/FUhbBtu.png[/img][/url]
[center][color=#d4ab86]• [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742#post_2461742]Intro[/url] • [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742#post_33725166]Events[/url] • [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742#post_33725176]Story[/url] • [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742#post_33725182]Badges[/url] • [url=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/frd/2461742#post_33725200]Signatures[/url] [img]https://i.imgur.com/8GPklB3.png[/img] [color=#afb87d]Thanks[/color] •[/color] [img]https://i.imgur.com/sTGaZvG.png[/img][/center] [color=#775849]So many people to thank this time![/color] [indent][columns][img]https://i.imgur.com/dn4FtKv.png[/img][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][size=4][color=#d4ab86] Lichtdrache for all the wonderful art this push and for adapting it to the forum backgrounds and helping everyone format threads[/color][/columns] [columns][img]https://i.imgur.com/ohFcyXI.png[/img][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][size=4][color=#afb87d] heartcrusher1 for resurrecting this theme idea from last year's poll[/color][/columns] [columns][img]https://i.imgur.com/zOkkUfB.png[/img][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][size=4][color=#d58586] Rynne for cat herding, Isti for raffle wrangling, and xianvar for organizing event donations[/color][/columns] [columns][img]https://i.imgur.com/dn4FtKv.png[/img][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][size=4][color=#d4ab86] Shikoire for pinch hitting and Deluxe for busting her pretty feathered tail on Sunburn, among other things[/color][/columns] [columns][img]https://i.imgur.com/ohFcyXI.png[/img][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][size=4][color=#afb87d] Tunesmith for handling the Illuminarti and the rest of the dom team for valuable feedback [/color][/columns] [columns][img]https://i.imgur.com/zOkkUfB.png[/img][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][size=4][color=#d58586] all the event runners for taking on big jobs with little support! so impressed with you folks[/color][/columns] [columns][img]https://i.imgur.com/dn4FtKv.png[/img][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][size=4][color=#d4ab86] all the forum posters and the Slackolights, especially in #the-beacon, for providing great ideas and discussion[/color][/columns] [columns][img]https://i.imgur.com/ohFcyXI.png[/img][nextcol][color=transparent]__[/color][nextcol][size=4][color=#afb87d] everyone in Light Flight and beyond who loves sunshine, glitter, and the Brightshine Jubilee[/color][/columns][/indent]
IntroEventsStoryBadgesSignatures 8GPklB3.png Thanks

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So many people to thank this time!

dn4FtKv.png __ Lichtdrache for all the wonderful art this push and for adapting it to the forum backgrounds and helping everyone format threads

ohFcyXI.png __ heartcrusher1 for resurrecting this theme idea from last year's poll

zOkkUfB.png __ Rynne for cat herding, Isti for raffle wrangling, and xianvar for organizing event donations

dn4FtKv.png __ Shikoire for pinch hitting and Deluxe for busting her pretty feathered tail on Sunburn, among other things

ohFcyXI.png __ Tunesmith for handling the Illuminarti and the rest of the dom team for valuable feedback

zOkkUfB.png __ all the event runners for taking on big jobs with little support! so impressed with you folks

dn4FtKv.png __ all the forum posters and the Slackolights, especially in #the-beacon, for providing great ideas and discussion

ohFcyXI.png __ everyone in Light Flight and beyond who loves sunshine, glitter, and the Brightshine Jubilee
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