Bruce Chen
2nd place, Junior Category (11-14 years)

The last traces of daylight extinguished

The tree branches bent crooked, swaying to the howling wind

In the distance, a magnificent palace

Bright light lies beyond the marble pillars, and the thick oak doors

A room filled with joy and merriment

Jokes shared between mouthfuls of bread

A shiny table, piled to the ceiling with food

A seafood soup, in a gold plated bowl

Served with lobster and garnished with lentils

A roasted peacock, precariously balanced

The peacocks eggs, yolks and all, along the table for each of the guests

An olive dish, hot and steamy, considered a delicacy by many

The stuffed song thrushes, speckled with gold and doomed never to sing again

Amphoras of wine, half-empty, the work of the rosy-faced men in the purple togas

Silver plates of dormice, rolled in honey and sprinkled with poppy seeds

The quails, served on a delicate porcelain tray, lie untouched and cold

A wild boar, sliced down the middle, served with fish sauce to taste

Between the hare and ostrich brains, a small plate of fried grasshoppers, nice and crunchy
Fat snails fried in oil and wine sauce entice the nobles for a bite
Succulent, salted strips of fish, hard and bony, and dipped in vinegar
A colourful salad, mixed in with dandelion leaves, nettles, and seaweed

Plates of juicy apples and grapes, draped in gold leaves

The cheese wheel lies forgotten, knife still embedded in the middle

The feast finished off with dates cooked in honey, sweet and tangy
And a basket of sweetened figs coated in sugar
Goblets clinked together in a toast
The stained plates and bowls, illuminated by the flickering candles
The crackling fireplace engulfs the room in warmth
The harps soothing music rivals that of the mournful melody of the cruel winter wind

Outside, hunger gnawing at his stomach like frostbite, a slave scrabbles on the
ground for morsels, the remnants of his last meal.