Black Pepper

Finding pepper was not going to be easy. If you thought scrambling a simple pair of eggs was difficult—which with all the preparation and the smuggling, it was no easy task—then you could rightly imagine how a pricey, hard-to-find commodity like pepper was the sort of difficult task that only crazy food enthusiasts with a penchant for wild adventures that always end with their heads in a basket after a lost battle with the emperor's guillotine would do. We were not that sort of food enthusiasts, but the ambassador's sister was

"She'll want the pepper." 

"But since the fall of commerce and the economy..." I said. 

"We don't need a damned history lesson, Kelvin," Macie said. "We need an idea." 

"What you need," said Chevron, the Ambassador's sister's personal taste tester — he always had a way of sneaking up on Macie and me that made us uncomfortable. He had just popped up in the middle of our conversation and had no idea why we needed pepper in the first place. 

"Yes, what do we need?" Macie asked, rolling her eyes. 

"A way into the Black Pepper Market of Ulster." 

"The black market?" Macie asked. 

"The black market for pepper," Chevron said. 

"There is such a thing?" I asked.

Chevron shook his head disappointedly. "There's a black market for everything. But know this," he said, wagging a finger. "It's dangerous. An ill wind is blowing from the east." 

"We don't need any weather advice from you, thanks," Macie said. 

Chevron shrugged and stuck a fork into the eggs to test them. He took a bite. 

"Hmm," he said. "Needs pepper."