As I took a leisurely turn about Aerie, I found myself amidst the bracing aromatics of the local farmers. It was there that I was taken by surprise by a woman named Minerva. With cat like stealth she leapt from the darkness and asked if I would be interested in stone soup.

With nerves alert for all manner of dangers, I readied myself for hand to hand combat and commanded she reveal her nefarious intentions toward me.

She stepped from behind the line of strung up unmentionables and pointed to the cauldron of water she had at the boil.

"Stone soup," she declared. "Would you be interested in trying some? It’s coming along just fine, but if you happen to have some onion or potato, that would really spice things up a bit."

"Well, my good woman," I began, "since you have no intentions of causing me bodily injury, I believe I can be of assistance. As it so happens, I never leave home without onion or potato." And so produced both from the recesses of my leggings and held them out for her to examine.

"What a bounty!" she exclaimed. "And in your pocket the whole time? Serendipity indeed," and put them on her small cutting board. She proved to be a mistress with the stiletto, and in mere moments, the tubers were peeled and reduced to cubes.

"I believe I could use your skills on the battlefield," I commented as the ingredients disappeared into her soup.

"Happen to have any mutton tucked away in there?" she asked, gesturing at my leggings with the business end of her blade.

"Steady on with that pointy end," I declared. "If it were a regular day my good lady, I would indeed have tasty meats tucked away in my pantaloons. But fear not, I believe that chiseled figure of a man in the market is sporting some mutton and would be keen to allow us to partake of it. You wait here and I shall bedazzle him with my powers of negotiation."

She clapped her hands in anticipation and excitement and eagerly awaited my return.

In a flash I was back with a hearty shank of mutton at my side. I handed it over and watched as Minerva dressed it with skill and dexterity.

Minerva scoured her shanty of a home and added a myriad of spices and peelings to the mix. The soup soon gave off an exotic aroma and I was anxious to try this creation of hers. I may not be a keen purveyor of Stone Soup, but I am at one with the cooking cauldron.

She invited me to sit and asked for news of my travels and regaled me with some of her own tales. It was a delightful little feast and though her domicile was meager, it was welcoming.

At the end of our time together, she scrawled the recipe for Stone Soup on a parchment and handed it to me. I thanked her for her generosity and smiled at the recipe and the amusing tale of it’s origin.

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Identify yourself nefarious purveyor of ill tidings! Oh, hello my good woman. With your powers of stealth I mistook you for someone else. Stone soup you say? How very generous. And what pray tell is the pivotal ingredient of this soup of yours?

More brilliant musings about my adventures in New Britannia

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