Chapter 1 – The Rainy Day Feast
While the people of Lumbidoor were as diverse as any small community, nothing said Lumban better than Feast-day. The reason for this being that it brought together their three favorite things in all the world: friends and family, food, and a story that ignited their imaginations and took them away to far-distant shores, where they swam the Mikeo Straight with two-headed Uddars or scaled chasms on the giant backs of rollikains or kissed moons. Compared to the union of these three things, even the fabled beauty of Lumbidoor could only pout in jealousy.
Lumbidoor (to explain in case the Reader has never had the pleasure of visiting) sat in the shadow of the great, snow-capped Kiminigor Mountain, where fields and forest met with a neighborly "hay," and the Shortened Silver Silkies called to each other from the branches of the Whistling Willows they called home. Giant Tupars grazed in the fields, and when the sun was too bright, they'd flare their large dorsal fans for shade. Nestled up between these fields and forests, sitting squat in the middle of the valley, was the town proper. If the Reader were to walk up the main street, they would see the bald men strolling back and forth, pushing carts laden with the giant Citrunar cobs and baskets of the bright green Zip-pootle berries. The women, wrapped up cozy in their skirts and aprons, nodded at the men folk, their shoulders carrying buckets of Tupar milk or water from the River Teck. The elderly lounged in comfortable rockers as their pipes sent citrus-scented bubbles popping into the air. And at the top of the main street, the Great Lumban Hall sat in wait for Feast-day to arrive.
At the start of this Feast-day, the women were busy as usual: cooking in the giant kitchen in the Great Lumban Hall. Round Rhunda scurried back and forth, sampling the food to make sure they were ready to be served. No, good Reader, Rhunda did not get her nickname from her shape but instead from her capacity to make her way "a-round" any job she had. She was a born manager with an exceptional attention for detail. In order to do her job right, she had long ago figured out how to seeming be everywhere at once. If anyone needed something they only needed to shout out Rhunda's name and she would be there with advice, a suggestion, or a flat-out order.
At present, Rhunda had a ladleful of spiced pumpkin-ginger soup just within reach of her lips. When the taste touched, she withdrew and smacked loudly so as to get the very best flavor from the dish. "Ah, perfect, Eacey! Was that two dashes of Tupar cream? What a difference!"
"Old Farmer Chupe and the Chuple twins have just crested the rise to the Hall, Rhunda!" exclaimed Iris, who had been watching the window.
"Oh dear, oh dear," muttered Rhunda as she deposited the ladle back into the soup-pot. "We're just about out of time. Veris, Tupper, Vignet, Sandi: take out those platters of cold meats, cheeses and breads. Don't forget Celia's Golden Gobble Cobbler! She's been wanting to impress a certain lad with it."
Rhunda then shouted over the clanging of pots, splashing of liquids and rustling of utensils as the girls set the last of the dishes onto their serving platters: "Wyma, make sure you set out at least twenty more places than you think will show!"
"Muma," Rhunda said, wrapping her pudgy fingers about the arm of a twinkle-eyed scurrying woman.