Creative Writing

Runescape Storytime: Cook’s Assistant (Part 1: The Beginning)

Foreword: Yes, I play Runescape. Although, I haven’t really played much for over a year now. And I’ve always been on and off. But for some reason I’ve really gotten into the story of the game. So I keep making new accounts to experience the quests over and over again. When I have free time, that is. And I’ve definitely had some of that… *embarassed laughing sound* (see this would be so much better if I could TALK into a microphone and like, had video making skills. But on the other hand, I read faster than I talk and I get really annoyed at the trend where people make videos to tell you information they could have just written down so… I’m fighting that trend)

Anyway, the point of this was, I decided to properly write a short story for each quest. Partially to poke fun at the game, partially to properly do an account that is only focused on questing, but also create a proper fantasy feel for this narrative that I love so much. Based on RS3, as that’s inevitable to do more of the quests, but trying to throw bones to the older players here and there – I officially am on both sides. Also, finally, if you are someone who for some strange reason finds this and wants more, I can’t say for certain when I will continue with this. When I can is the main answer.

But anyway, without further ado, my adaptation of Cook’s Assistant. All characters and settings property of Jagex Ltd, so check out their game, it’s gotten good in the years you’ve been away.

Chapter 1: Cook’s Assistant

Cassie took a look around at the grey stone structure in front of her. Sat on a slight hill, it towered over the surrounding village, its comparatively tiny outer walls, indicative of the area’s peaceful nature, only just able to look over the thatched houses just outside. She was standing at the portcullis, below two old grey stone statues of an ancient king and queen of Misthalin that faced each other to flank the entrance to the castle.

Cassie had never been to Lumbridge before, and in truth, all that she had heard of it did not paint a particularly interesting picture. Ruled by a benevolent duke in the service of King Roald, it was a small trading centre of Misthalin’s extensive farming network for those without the means to travel all the way north to Varrock. It was far enough away from the scorched Wilderness and the festering land of Morytania for dragons and vampyres to be mere stories, not in a hundred years had either been sighted this far south. It was not blisteringly hot like the Kharidian Desert or many of the heavily jungled isles in the Unquiet Ocean, it was not freezing like the lands of the Fremennik, and it was not even particularly sunny as it was more likely to be in similar climes in Asgarnia and Kandarin. In short, it was probably one of the most average places in Gielinor. And that was why she was there.

She had just recently passed her 18th birthday, set as it was towards the end of the calendar year – for today was the day of the New Year – and with that she had hopped on board a ship from another painfully average place, Ashdale, a quiet temperate island far to the south and made the long journey to the mainland of Gielinor. Growing up, she had wanted for a long time to see the world and adventure, and in many ways felt it was in her blood. But her friends had given her advice before she left to start adventuring in a town that felt like home and would give her good opportunity to train her skills for use on the mainland before running into more dangerous adventures elsewhere, and Lumbridge was the town that seemed to fit this description the most. So she had directed the ship, bound for the northern desert city of Al Kharid with a shipment of scimitars, to briefly stop on the coast of Misthalin before heading across the wide mouth of the River Lum to ply its trade in the bustle of the Kharidian markets.

There had been no port to dock at when she leaped off the ship as it passed as near to the coast as it dared, the ship needed to carry on, and Lumbridge, although it sat at the head of the Lum’s estuary, had no docking, for Misthalin was not a naval power, as it had a short coastline marked almost entirely by swamps too marshy to build on. It was in one of these swamps that Cassie had landed, but fortunately she was able to wade out onto a path to Lumbridge with ease, as even though the Lumbridge swamp was a safe haven compared to the marshes of Morytania, being there for long after dark was not an experience one would want to have. There were some helpful lamps along the path indicating a fishing spot for shrimp and small fish, so Cassie had dug into her toolbelt, the one piece of equipment she had taken from Ashdale, and retrieved a folded small fishing net to bring up a couple, a shrimp and crayfish, with which she cooked over a fire, there were trees to hack bits off and for being in a swamp the wood wasn’t all that damp. She was hungry from the trip and needed the refreshment before setting off for Lumbridge, an hour’s walk away or so, but barely knowing how to cook, she burned her catch, making her stomach grumble even more.

Dawn had just risen as she entered Lumbridge from the south and now as she was standing by the castle, the village outside began to stir. A man brushed past her rather rudely, heading out of the castle.

“Hey,” she shouted after him, but he ignored her. Sighing, she turned around again and walked into the courtyard.

It was a simple courtyard, the main pathway flanked by two fountains gushing water out of their mechanisms to fall with comforting splashing sounds. On the south side of the courtyard a wooden ramp ran below the single-width castle walls for archers to stand overlooking the swamps to the south, to Cassie’s left and right were gatehouses with ladders inside them leading up to the eastern battlements at the front of the castle. The castle itself was three stories high, with a blue and white shield sitting atop the front door to show off the crest of Lumbridge.

A young man was standing outside. Noticing Cassie, he approached her.

“Who are you,” he asked. “And why do you seek an audience with the great and powerful Duke Horatio, who probably has little time for the likes of you, peasant?”

“I..er..” stammered Cassie. She was not used to being questioned, in Ashdale one could wander where they wished and she assumed Lumbridge would be the same. “I don’t know, I was just new in town and I…”

The man broke out into a big smile.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he said. “I can tell you are new and we rarely get to have any fun around here. The castle is open to all whenever they require it. As long as you do not unduly disturb the Duke in his study, feel free to look around the public parts. The castle keeps an in-house bank on the roof, many aspiring crafters, as well as the local sheep farmers, use the spinning wheels in the lounge and if you stay around these parts and are lucky, you may get invited to one of the Duke’s feasts. I’m Hans, by the way.

He offered his hand and Cassie shook it.

“A bank?” she asked. “What are those?”

Hans looked confused.

“Wow, you’re really not from around here, aren’t you?” he said. “Where are you from?”
“Ashdale,” Cassie replied. “You probably haven’t heard of it.”

Hans’ expression changed to a pained look. “I have not,” he confessed. “It must be far away. A bank is a place to keep items and money that you can’t hold onto or put in your home. The bank company uses a special magic to link all their branches so that if you’re away travelling, you can get it from any of the branches. It even keeps food fresh in limbo pretty much indefinitely. Lumbridge is lucky enough to have two, one in the castle, and one in the centre of the village, on the green.”

Cassie looked blank.

“The latter is a chest,” Hans said. “A very secretive magic chest. I don’t know how they work but you can call up anything you have in your account and it will appear in it – similarly you can put stuff in and it disappears. The former has you just giving items to the bank worker. Nice chap, but he’s always complaining about the workload, I share a bunk with him and some of the other castle servants.”

Cassie nodded. “I think I get it,” she said. “Sounds useful. We had nothing like that in Ashdale, it was so small and we had so few belongings we just kept them in our houses. Now, is there any where I could get some food in your castle? I looked around the village but there doesn’t seem to be a shop that sells food, although that’s probably because it’s all closed up and I’m starving, all I’ve had since I got to Misthalin has been some shrimp I cooked myself. And I have no money. Which is kind of more of a problem.”

“Where did you come from?” Hans asked.

“From the south, I hopped off a ship headed for Al Kharid and came up from the southern road.”

“Ah,” he replied. “We do have a few shops, but none in the southern end of the village, that’s all residential. There is a fish shop, weirdly located very far away from the river at the western side of town, I keep telling Hank this but he says property values are a bitch, especially for a town with only an small fishing industry, and there’s also the general store but they only occasionally have food in, and that’s only when the farmers have supplied them directly. I could say to go see the cook, he might let you have something from his kitchen but he’s often stressed out, have a look.”

“That might be best,” Cassie laughed. “I can’t actually cook very well, normally I just burn everything, that’s something I’m obviously going to have to learn over here. But for now I’ll go see your cook.”

She went past Hans into the castle entrance hall. It was a long hall stretching at right angles to the entrance door. Immediately ahead to her right were two double doors, the only doors she could see in the opposite wall.

“That’s probably not the kitchen,” Cassie thought to herself. “I don’t want to accidentally interrupt a meeting if that turns out to be an important room.

“To the left,” Hans called from behind her, obviously seeing her hesitate.

“Thank you,” she called back, turning to the left and walking down it. For about five minutes she walked down this long hallway, turning around a corner and passing a few more doors in the inner wall of the passageway. She didn’t try these though, as at the end of hall, at the back of the castle, she could see an open doorway. Crashing of pans came from this direction, so it was clearly the kitchen.

Entering the room, Cassie quickly became aware that something was wrong.

“Oh no, oh no, whatever shall I do?” sobbed a young man wearing a chef’s hat. He was dressed in blue and white cooking robes and sported an impressive horseshoe moustache. He was sitting on the floor by an ingredient cupboard, thrown open with bowls, pans and empty pots lying beside him.

“What’s wrong?” Cassie asked. The cook looked up to see her standing there.

“Who are you?” he asked. “Not very often I see someone I don’t know round these parts. Ah, but it doesn’t matter, you wouldn’t be able to help anyway. I’ve got myself into this mess and I can’t get out of it.”

Cassie moved closer.

“So what’s wrong?” she asked. “You don’t look very happy. Also, sorry to barge in on your troubles, but I’m an adventurer who’s run into a bit of food trouble and I was wondering if I could get something from your kitchen. I haven’t got any money to pay but I could help you with your problem, if you tell me what it is.”

The cook stopped sobbing and stood up.

“Well,” he began, “I’m in a terrible mess because it is Duke Horatio’s birthday today, and I was going to make him the most amazing cake using the best ingredients in the land for his party tonight. I’ve forgotten to get the ingredients and I have to be around the castle for when the Duke wakes up so I can’t just run out and get them. And all the servants seem to have this inclination it’s their day off or something. Or they have other things to do. I mean, try talking to that useless oaf Hans, he won’t do anything for love or money except wander around the castle sunning himself.”

He stopped and looked into Cassie’s eyes.

“Would you help me? Please? I’ll get you plenty of food.”

“Okay, okay,” Cassie said. “I’ll do it, I came to this land to have adventures and this er…”

She looked around, a little embarrassed. “…seems like a worthy cause. I shall help you.”

“Oh thank you, thank you,” the Cook said. “I must tell you though, this is no ordinary cake so I can’t have you coming back with the most basic flour or anything like that. I need extra fine flour from Millie’s Mill, it’s on the north-west side of town, I need a super large egg, I hear Fred’s farm up that way has got some good layers, and I need some top-quality milk from the Groats’ farm, and that’s over the river. Here, take this pot and bucket, you’ll need it to bring me the flour and milk.”

“No problem,” Cassie said, smiling. “I’ll get those straight away.”

She turned and walked out of the kitchen, her stomach growling. “A shopping list,” she said to herself. “First task I get from anyone and it’s a damn shopping list.”

“Well ain’t that just typical,” Millie grumbled when Cassie made her request to the miller. Millicent Miller was already worn out even at this early hour, a big order had come in from Asgarnia for large amounts of standard flour and the grain mill was already going at full pelt. “I’m up to my neck in making ordinary-grade flour for Asgarnian commonfolk and that ponce knows he should have come on my off-day.” Cassie stood aback from the wild-eyed girl as she paced back and forth, thinking.

“I know,” Millie said. “You’ll have to go out and pull up the wheat yourself, I have a very strict quota with the wheat I already have in here, and then I’ll quickly switch the mill’s levers to make you a pot of fine flour. It won’t lose me much time if you’re collecting the wheat. About a bushel should do for what the cook wants.”

Nodding slowly, Cassie backed out and walked into the nearby wheat field. It looked quite worn from the harvesting that was clearly going on but it was empty right now. She identified a large cluster of fine-looking wheat and started to pull it up.

It was not easy work for a young adventurer unused to the vagaries of farm work and by the time Cassie was sure she had enough she was panting heavily. Wandering back into the mill haphazardly, she presented the wheat to Millie.

“Nah, that’s not it,” Millie smiled. “You’re going to set this one going. It’s the only way I can keep up. I wish I could be messing the cook around but you’ll have to do. Up that ladder with ya.”

I suppose if I’m going to be a proper adventurer I am going to have to get more into shape, thought Cassie. Being on the verge of passing out after a short bit of manual labour is no good. So she climbed, and climbed to the top. There was a hopper and some levers on the second floor.

“I’m ready,” she called to Millie.

“Okay,” Millie replied. “I’ve cleared up the bin and set the levers. Just chuck your wheat in the hopper and pull the levers. It shouldn’t take too long.”

Cassie followed her instructions and sighed. One part was done, but the next two items still needed collecting. Arriving back at the bottom of the windmill, she got out the pot she’d bought from the general store and filled it with the fine flour, thanking Millie as she did so.
“Not a problem,” Millie replied cheerfully. “You seem like a fine lass, tell you what. If you ever need your own flour and want to make it yourself instead of buying it, just come by and if I’m not busy I’ll let you do what you just did free of charge.”

“You can let me do that?” Cassie gasped.

“Manufacture-based economy,” Millie replied. “Wheat’s nearly worthless as it grows so fast in these fields. It’s the people who don’t have the time that are the paying customers, and I expect that that’ll be you before long. It is for nearly everyone else. You’ll find a lot of business owners are accommodating that way if you’re willing to work to make their product.”

“Well, we’ll see,” Cassie said. “Money’s tight at the moment so anything that means I don’t have to spend it will help. Thank you!”

It was a short walk back to town as Cassie exited the mill. The day was just starting to warm up and the farmlands on the north side of Lumbridge let a pleasant breeze sweep down the road. Even with knowing very little about the mainland, from the sheer expanse of farms she could see, in every direction to the horizon, Cassie could tell that this was the bread basket of Misthalin. Fields of cabbages, wheat and potatoes would form the backbone of the food sources for the town of Lumbridge as well as the towns further north towards Varrock, the capital city. Millie’s windmill stood out on the skyline of the flat arable fields as a beacon in the centre of agricultural beauty.

Walking past a farmhouse, Cassie could see chickens grazing in a large pen and beyond that, several fields with sheep and cattle grazing away.

“Hmm, the Cook said that the places I needed the milk and eggs from were over the river,” she pondered. “So I guess I’d better not try to get them from other places, he probably already has that in his kitchen. But it is tempting, to save myself a walk. If only he didn’t need this special stuff, I could have gotten it a lot faster.”

The first sign Cassie was back in Lumbridge proper was that she passed the village green. The chest that Hans had described was there. Over on the sides stood the general store, and what was the fishing store based on the description. On the green were a number of guardsmen hitting dummies and firing arrows at targets.

Cassie watched on with a slight pang of jealousy, she did not know how to fight and had never swung a weapon in her life. It was a skill she knew she had to learn to become a true adventurer but the prospect did frighten her and this fact made her wonder whether it might not be better to settle down in Lumbridge and earn a living here in a nonviolent fashion. Certainly there seemed to be plenty of opportunity for an enterprising young skiller. But Cassie did not know any particular skills herself, she had barely learned how to swing a hatchet before leaving Ashdale and the shrimp she had caught and cooked that morning was probably the most adventurous thing she had ever done. After this cooking episode was done, she resolved, she would spend some time practicing to enable her to survive.

The stone bridge leading out of town was just beyond the castle. It crossed over the River Lum at a point before it became a wide estuary leading out to the sea, the western shore of which she had landed upon.  A few miles up and the river was still fairly fast-flowing, trout and salmon leaping upstream through its waters. Ducks swam on the water and she could see a man working on a canoe on her side. But it was over the other side that caught her attention. The buildings of Lumbridge on the far side had smoke wafting out of them and several looked half destroyed. The ground was upturned and brown and the trees were dead. Cassie stopped, frightened.

A guard stood at the east end of the bridge, resplendent in the Lumbridge blue.

“Excuse me,” Cassie said timidly, “What’s going on over here? I need to get to the Groat farm. Is it safe?”
The guard frowned.

“That depends,” he said. “How much fighting experience do you have? For civilians this side of the river does have the potential to be dangerous. But if you know how to fight the goblins shouldn’t pose much of a threat.”

“The goblins?” Cassie gulped.

“A large tribe of them moved in here a few days ago. They’re well entrenched now and it’s more work than it’s worth to kick them out but they did kick out the villagers and a few lives were lost.”

“I… can’t particularly fight well,” Cassie blushed.

“Well, they don’t seem to be aggressive any more, but tell you what, I’ll lead you through,” said the guard. “They’re too disorganised to take advantage of me leaving my post.”

“Thank you,” Cassie said, reassured.

She took a look at the goblins as she walked through the desolate ruins of East Lumbridge, making sure to keep pace with the guard. They were green, knobbly and ugly beings but surprisingly for her, she pitied them more than she felt fear. Even though she barely knew how to fight, they looked weak and their weapons were, if present, merely wood and dull bronze spears.

By the time she could wonder whether she could have survived a fight with one of them, they were on the other side of Lumbridge, where more farms stretched across the skyline, untouched by goblins. To the far east Cassie could see the beginnings of desert, the first signs of the end of Misthalin and the start of Al Kharid’s territory. Directly in front of her though, was a large field of cattle, with a milkmaid examining her dairy flock.

“How’s it going Gillie?” called the guard. “Goblins giving your fine ass any problems?”

“Dante, you old charmer,” scolded the milkmaid, “It’d help if you could keep them from the fences, they’re starting to pull them down at night. But no, otherwise, same old, I can beat them off if they come after me but they seem content to sit in those wrecked buildings back in town.”

Cassie spoke up. “Excuse me Gillie,” she said. “I’ve come out here specially for some of your best milk. It’s for the Duke’s cook.”

Gillie turned around. “Oh, is it now,” she said, hand on hip. She seemed to be in a good mood. “That oaf is always asking for the best milk. Tires poor Daisy out it does. Got to be the best for the Duke he says, in that poncey voice of his. Only this time he’s sent someone rather than come himself. He must be busy.”

Cassie quickly explained herself and her mission. Gillie looked approving.

“So can I have some?” Cassie asked.

“If you milk it yourself,” Gillie said. “Daisy’s over there. And she’s looking good for today, I bet I’ll get several buckets of milk out of her.”

The milking only took a short while but again Cassie got tired. The physical effort she had already gone to today had been starting to build up, but she knew this would help for future endeavours.
Taking care to balance the bucket right in her pack, she set off down the road. Dante stayed to talk with Gillie but before Cassie left they gave her directions.

“My dad’s house is just up the road,” Gillie said. “We have tons of chickens and they’re at peak laying times right now. There’s sure to be a big egg of the size you’re looking for. Feel free to have it for the Cook. And if you need any eggs for yourself, just like with milk, take what you need, adventurers are always welcome to what they need around here.”

“Be careful for more goblins,” warned Dante. “Though they’re probably all back in East Lumbridge. If you want to get back, there’s a wood bridge back over the Lum just before you hit East Lumbridge, you should avoid walking through their camp by going that way.”

Cassie thanked them and walked up the road. It did not take long indeed to find Seth Groats’ farm, a modest affair set against the backdrop of the River Lum. There was a chicken shed in the farmyard with many chickens clucking about, but no sign of Seth. In the back of the shed were eggs all over the place. Some of them were huge, the biggest Cassie had ever seen. Taking care to step over the other eggs, she reached for one of the large ones and stashed it in her pack. Turning, she walked quickly outside and breathed a sigh of relief.

—-

“Yes, yes, that all looks perfect!” the Cook exclaimed in joy as Cassie pulled each ingredient from her backpack. “The best milk I could have wanted, that egg will do nicely and…” He picked up some of the flour from the pot, letting it run through his fingers. “So very fine. You’ve done an excellent job, miss. What is your name, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“Cassie,” Cassie said.

“Well, you know what, Cassie,” the Cook said. “You see that beautiful range over there? It’s one of the best in the land, one of the best for cooking on. I’m the only one who can normally use it, but as you’ve helped me so much, you can use it from now on. I hope that’s useful. Oh and please accept this.”
He waved a packet of coins and a note in her face. “This note is for some sardines that I have stored in the bank. The money will help you get started here, spend it on whatever adventuring supplies you wish and you can have a proper dinner tonight.”

“I…I…” Cassie stammered. “This is too much.”
“Oh, but you have saved my job,” the Cook replied. “It’s the least I can do. And who knows, maybe one day your adventuring will take you to great places and you’ll remember me. Now I should also show you the basics of cooking before you leave. I always love getting an apprentice. I’m sure you know how to sear basic meat and I will show you how to stop that burning some of the time but there is this very easy method of making chocolate milk that I can show you while I make this cake…”

QUEST COMPLETE

Skill levels: Cooking: 4 – All others: 1

Items gained: 500 coins, 20 sardines.

Next quest: The Restless Ghost

 

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