WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE, IS YOUR CUP HALF FULL OR EMPTY: in which new acquaintances take on an impromptu teambuilding exercise

Day 4 aboard the Moonlit Glade. Less than a day out from Helmuth’s Sound. I write by moonlight. All is well, all is well. Unusually, the Moonlit Glade finds itself bearing different passengers than it left port with. This is who it carries now, as far as I can smell:

Captain – A bold man who knows the sea. Quite the alpha dog type.

Rain – Captain’s adult son. A busy fellow, and a good boy.

Cookie – The cook. Also known as Bear, and for good reason. (He is sometimes a bear)

Sure-ting – One of those slimy fellows whose constant efforts to gain favor and respect always seem to get him the opposite. He sure is a hard worker, though.

Lariat – He’s a zealous Firbolg, about my height, with a peculiar accent.

Igniel – He’s an oddly tan but typically brawny dwarf with a fiery temper.

Lorril – He’s a half-elf with a bow and a very nice cape. I may have offended him. [scrawled into the margin: “Learn gender features of half-elves (not physical?). shameful mistake”]

Druzh-Rajool – This is still me. All is well, all is well. A 7’6″ tall Loxodon.

Peebas – This one is a goblin we fished out of the sea yesterday. He has many things in his possession, none of which seem the least bit useful, but that he consistently finds applications for.

Ocelot – He’s a half-sized halfling who barely comes up to my knee. I’ve spent my fair share of time away from civilization, but I’m not sure he’s ever set foot in so much as a village.

2,000 lbs of Kuo-Toa remains – Formerly a buccaneering party ill-prepared for their hunt, who found their final purpose as a collaborative icebreaker for all aboard.

Meals thus far have been simple, decent fare prepared by Cookie. Sensing an artist at his craft in his domain, I did not contribute aid or advice, though his seasoning tended to be uncoordinated and incomplete. Supplied were limited, I suppose, and so rationing was careful. Most days we had stews, with each day’s flavor haunted by the dregs of the past. As are we all, I suppose. With both the merits and shortcomings of these preparations in mind, I’ve come up with a stew of my own that should be pleasing to a variety of palates. I hope he won’t be offended if I prepare just this one meal for us, as thanks for relatively safe passage to Helmuth’s Sound.

The featured ingredient, of course, is fresh Kuo-Toa meat. Cuts from those slaughtered quickly are preferable, as the flesh of the ones that died frightened tends to be tough and bitter. Of course, Lariat doesn’t eat meat, so I don’t begrudge him for striking the fear of his god into most of the better samples. [margin: “Scoop fish from vegetarian’s bowl before service”]. Potatoes make a fine addition to the stew, especially the smaller ones. Peebas was thoughtful enough to bring some along with him, though it might be hard to convince him to share them without steep payment in return. [margin: “Wash P’s potatoes thoroughly before peeling!!”] If available, a splash of garum at the end of cooking can bring the stew to extraplanar levels of flavor. My trunk suggests Ocelot may have happened upon an unprocessed barrel of the stuff, as he certainly bears the pungent odor of rotting salt fish.

A good host should cook a bit more than he needs, because you never know when someone might bring along a few friends. Igniel brought along a few, though they’re of the less-than-corporeal variety, and shouldn’t eat much. Even so, a hot bowl of extra broth provides a nice smell for any phantasmal guests to experience.

What follows is a recipe for a hearty, well-seasoned fish and potato stew, with details on substitutions if wide-eyed marauding fishfolk are not available in your local market.

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