Shahana and Ari spent midsummer
in a little village called Arnica,
which had once been known for
growing medicinal herbs and now
just struggled to survive.
Shahana knew an herbalist there,
and old Mirlian prevailed upon her
to prepare a proper blessing,
"You remember, dear, like
we had in the good old days."
"I remember," the paladin said.
"I will need sugar and almonds,
coloring to paint the peaches,
some mint leaves to candy,
and cloves for the stems."
"We will see what can be done,"
said Mirlian, and went about the village
asking for this and that until she had
found everything that they would need.
"How are we going to make peaches
out of nut dough?" Ari wondered, watching
as Shahana kneaded it into a smooth mass.
The paladin showed her novice how
to mold the dough into balls and
then sculpt the grooves and points
to make them look like peaches.
They painted the skins pink and yellow,
then finally topped them with the clove stems
and candied mint leaves that Mirlian had made.
Shahana's peaches turned out perfect
from years of practice, even though
she hadn't made any in a long time.
Ari's were good attempts for a novice.
"Mine look like something we'd feed
to the hogs," Ari said sadly, "if we
had any hogs left to feed."
"They will taste just as good,"
Shahana assured her, letting her
sample the leftover dough. "Come here
and help me cast the blessing."
The two women held their hands
over the tray of sculpted fruit and
beseeched Gailah to bless
the Golden Peaches of Peace.
They made punch from honey,
mashed peaches, and ginger beer.
It was Shahana who served
the peaches to the villagers, saying,
"Taste the sweetness of peace."
It was Ari who poured out
the glasses of punch, saying,
"Drink of the summer sun."
Everyone applauded, and Mirlian said
with shining eyes, "It's just as I remembered."
Finally the two paladins had a moment
to enjoy their own helpings.
"It tastes different!" Ari exclaimed.
"Why does it taste different now?"
Shahana smiled and explained,
"Peace makes everything sweeter."