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a guest Mar 20th, 2017 61 Never
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  1. Her dress was folded up in her satchel. Serving staff wheeling a tasty desert didn’t have to be on a guest list.
  2.     The back entrance led into the kitchen, crowded with cooks checking on bubbling pots, carrying plates and silverware, and shouting orders above the clamor.
  3.     It seemed like no one would notice her, until the chef wearing the tallest hat spotted her.
  4.     “Baker, bring that cake over here! And what’s in that barrel?”
  5.     “Extra syrup,” said Vella.
  6.     “Good. Empty it out into the gravy boats, then get the cake on the platter.”
  7.     There was a spigot on the bottom of the keg that Vella emptied into the dozen or so gravy boats. On the last tin boat, the spigot dripped dry before it filled all the way. Vella pried the lid off and saw the whole barrel was empty, albeit with sticky sides and with a strong and sweet maple aroma.
  8.     “This might be useful,” Vella muttered to herself. “Let’s just stow this in the pantry for now.”
  9.     After Vella had carefully transferred the cake from the dolly onto the fancy copper-leaf platter, Vella took a good look around. The kitchen had three doors: the back door that led outside, the big pantry doors, and a door leading out the hall. The hallway door was bustling with people carrying things, none of them paying her any attention, but she decided to carry a tray of syrup boats with her just in case. Following the end of the hallway, she emerged into a spacious dining hall occupied by a massive banquet table stretching from one end of the hall to the other. The placed her syrup boats down anywhere, and turned to a waiter arranging silverware.
  10. “Where’s the place they work the sun and moon? This just looks like a fancy mansion.”
  11. “All that technical stuff’s upstairs. This place is where the people who used to make that stuff lived, whenever that was. It’s been a banquet hall we use a few times a year as long as I remember.”
  12. “Where’s the bathroom?”
  13. “Down the hallway, first door by the kitchen. Be sure not to turn too soon, or you’ll be in the ballroom where the fancy folk are mingling before dinner.”
  14. “Got it,” said Vella.
  15. Following his instructions, Vella headed straight for the bathroom, went in, and came out wearing her red dress with its rows of shiny copper discs. Then, disregarding his instructions, she strode straight toward the turn in the hallway leading into the ballroom.
  16. The partygoers were dressed in fancy grey tuxedoes and elaborate brown gowns. They each seemed to be holding a glass of alcohol, so Vella picked one up herself from a gold-clad waiter to blend in.
  17. She wandered around, surveying the area, when a group of girls called out to her.
  18. “You there, I don’t recognize you.”
  19. Vella froze, but put on a smile and held it in place while she came over.
  20. “Quite a stunning dress,” said a girl with an elaborate hairdo held up in place by a lead tiara. “So much copper, yet no accessories? Hm…I can appreciate the look.”
  21. “Hmph,” pouted another girl wearing only a tin chain necklace and some lead earings. “It looks gaudy.”
  22. “Don’t mind Blanche. Her father’s the guildmaster of the Miner’s Guild, and wanted her to wear gold and diamonds to show hometown pride.”
  23. Blanche frowned and blushed while the other girls tittered with laughter.
  24. “Nothing wrong with hometown pride,” said Vella. She took a sip of her drink and had to resist making a face. Alcohol still tasted bad.
  25.     “Who’re you the daughter of,” asked one of the girls.
  26.     “Bakers from Sugar Bunting” would have gotten her kicked out.
  27.     “Daughter of the Goldsmith’s guildmaster” would have gotten a response of “you’re not her, liar!”
  28.     There was a third option…
  29.     “I’m the daughter of…the guildmaster of…” How was she going to pull this off? Baking Guild? Traveller’s Guild? No, no! But how about… “the Hunter’s Guild.”
  30.     “Huh?” Blanche’s jaw hung slack.
  31.     “I’ve heard of them,” piped a tall girl, preening. “Just, uh, remind the others what they do—”
  32.     “Velloria,” said Vella. She held her head high and offered a stately smile. “Quite simply, my parents and the guild hunte monsters down here in Baublegilt. Golden hides, gem fangs, poisonous cave sloths, we fight them all.”
  33.     “I’ve never heard of any of those, or of the Hunter’s Guild,” whine a girl with a squeaky voice.
  34.     Every girl turned to look at Vella. The expression on her face didn’t betray a single weakness.
  35.     “That’s how good we are,” said Vella. “You’re welcome.”
  36.     Every girl gasped.
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