by Etienne Suarven Lorneau, in Dark Ages



    Long ago, shortly after Piet became a Protectorate of Loures, there lived a merchant with his wife and children. The daughter, Laitia, was seventeen years old. She was the sweetest girl in Piet, and probably the most beautiful. Being skilled in the arts of knitting and crochet, she would stay indoors most of the time, which made her naturally pale skin the color of milk. Her hair looked like long strings of gold and silver. The son, Caco, was five years younger than Laitia. Unlike his sister, his skin was tan, and his constant playing in the fields certainly worked to make it a bit darker. His dream was becoming a warrior, so he could fight the armies of Darkness; he always carried his wooden sabre wherever he went, and most of his games were war games.

    The differences of age and personality between Laitia and Caco did not prevent them from being very good friends. Even knowing Caco did not understand most of the problems and thoughts she had, Laitia always shared everything that went through her mind with him. Caco was always willing to listen, give his innocent advice, and also shared all his secrets with his sister.

    As the 18th birthday of Laitia drew near, the merchant started to insist that it was about time for her to get married, as he would not suffer the shame of having an unmarried adult daughter living in his house, and was eager to present her to the royal court. His wife did not approve this, but he would not listen. Laitia was not quite pleased with the idea of having to get married in a hurry just to maintain the social appearances, and told Caco about it. The boy was quite annoyed, and decided to talk his father out of this idea - he was young, militaristic and full of energy, but understood that his sister had the right to wait for the right man to marry. It was to no avail, though; the father kept his position, and only made Caco even more angry.

    Noticing Laitia was not interested at all in looking for a husband, the merchant decided to find his future son-in-law himself. He spoke to a blacksmith who was his friend and had a son in the age of 21. That night the merchant arrived home with the notice that the wedding would take place in his daughter's birthday, in two weeks. And that night the bitterness of Caco increased tenfold. If he could not convince his father, then he would convince the blacksmith or his son. He was about to leave when Laitia noticed him, and called him back. She asked him to not do anything, things would come out right, and she knew the blacksmith's son would be a good husband. Caco returned to bed, but the tears of his sister did not let him fall asleep soon. However, before the rooster finished his morning melody, while everyone else was still in bed, the boy was already heading to the blacksmith shop.

    The blacksmith's son was opening the store when his unexpected young visitor arrived. Caco questioned his reasons for accepting being the husband of a girl he hardly knew just because his father the merchant did not want to be seen with an unmarried adult daughter in his home. The man's answer just proved him unworthy of Laitia. He did not love her at all, and revealed his interest was in her beauty only, so he could brag in the taverns about having the most perfect figure waiting for him when he returned. The rest of his words were so filled with lust that it is better to leave them aside.

    Caco was furious, and readied his wooden sabre. The young man laughed at him, but noticed he indeed had an adversary when the sabre hit his leg painfully. He tried to stop the little warrior with his bare hands, but Caco was too small and fast and skillful to be caught. Seeing it was a fight, the blacksmith's son pulled a small sword from the counter and hit back. He was no good a sword fighter, but years of blacksmithing made him a strong man. The impact shattered the wooden sabre and hit the boy's neck, not cutting it, but breaking it. A moment later, the first arriving customer was quick to run away screaming the news to the whole town. That same day the blacksmith was banished from Piet, and his son was jailed in Loures. Caco was buried the following day, in the field where he so often went to play and practice the skills he would put to use once he became a warrior.

    The merchant saw his error and promised to allow his daughter to follow her own will. Laitia, by her turn, sat by her brother's grave day after day. On her birthday she noticed a small twig. Another birthday came, then others. Every day she would take a chair, a parasol and her needles to work by her young brother's side, always taking good care of the twig. She went on telling him all her secrets, her problems, her thoughts. In seven years the twig became a tree. Laitia only got more beautiful, but remained unmarried.

    The day Laitia turned 25 she noticed the first fruits hanging from the tree. Those were fruits unlike any other she had seen before. She took one and ate it, finding it sweet, melting, delicious. Laitia thanked her brother for providing her with such wonderful fruit, and in his homage named it "cacao". Some other fruits collected, the young woman returned home to show her parents the gift from heavens.

    The merchant tasted one of the fruits, but could not eat it - it was too bitter; his wife agreed. Yet Laitia continued to find them so sweet. Decided to find the hidden taste that only her daughter felt, the merchant's wife prepared the cacao fruit in all possible ways - cooked, boiled, fried, in juice. The only way it became good was when made into a beverage, even if it was still somewhat bitter. But no matter what way it was prepared, to Laitia it always tasted as a divine pudding.

    "How come it is only sweet to me?", Laitia often thought. Her mother had a constant sentence in her mind, "sweet to Laitia", "dolce a Laitia"... "Dolce con latte!" The mother's yelp surprised the family. The merchant was the first to ask, "with milk?". Laitia was quick to visit the milkman, and soon the sweetest of sweets was ready. "Cioccolato! Cacao with milk! Caco e Laitia!"

    Many years later, Laitia, still unmarried, was buried under the first cocoa tree. And up to this day chocolate is remembered as a homage to the courage of Caco and the beauty of Laitia.



Although the legend is much more poetical, true facts must be presented.

Chocolate is the name of two things: a beverage, which can be bitter or sweet; and a candy. Both are made from the same basic ingredient, cocoa. The legend above is the most known tale about their origins. "Cacao" is the ancient Pietan word for cocoa. The bitter beverage was indeed the first form of chocolate to appear, but it was called simply cocoa beverage at the time. However, with the creation of chocolate candy, and later the sweet beverage, the bitter beverage was nearly forgotten, and is now treated as a variation of the sweet beverage, being also called chocolate.

The cocoa tree is native to the region of Piet, due to the hot climate. However, even in this region, the production of cocoa is difficult: the tree itself does not adapt well to the weather variations, which are common along the year, and the soil, despite being very fertile, is not completely adequate for its growth. Being this so, intensive care is required for the proper production of cocoa, which greatly elevates the cost of the final product.

The first mention of chocolate in literature is in a Pietan ballad from the late first half of the 31st century of Danaan. The musical scores for the tune were lost, but the lyrics, written in Pietan, are kept in the Library of Loures. Here is the last strophe of "Sotto la luna piena", by an unknown composer, followed by a rough translation.

"E sotto la luna piena
Involta in sua avarizia
A bere suo cioccolato
Senza fare mi amore giustizia"

"And under the full moon
Surrounded by meanness
Drinking her chocolate
Not doing my love justice"

The keen eye of the reader must have already noticed that there is no apparent reason for the composer to mention his lost love was drinking chocolate, but the reasons easily come out once the facts are known.

The first reported production of cocoa dates from Danaan 2930, in the records of Loures. In this year the once military base of Piet became a Protectorate of Loures. The local population was counted and the economical production of the city was verified. Martial products - swords, armors, horses - were abundant, but the agricultural production was already on the rise, and a farmer was planting cocoa in small quantities in experimental phase. The next mention in the records of Loures is in the document which reports the first notions of the economical value of Undine, sent to Loures in Danaan 2987, one year after the conquest of the village. "The climate is mild; this is due to its proximity to the sea, otherwise it would be cold. Our first plans of planting what we have in Ardmagh were reviewed. Trees like the mahogany and the cocoa do not adapt well to this soil and weather."

If the intention of Loures was planting cocoa in Undine in Danaan 2987, it is obvious that the tree had acquired an important value since its first phase of experimentation in Danaan 2930. And indeed it was so. The records for this time period, although unorganized, are more precise and provide good information.

In Danaan 2932 the first cocoa beverage was sold in Loures. A cafe was established in the capital, and among its hot drinks was the bitter grandfather of chocolate. Due to the high production costs of cocoa, this bitter beverage was among the most expensive drinks of the house. This would explain the lyrics of "Sotto la luna piena". The woman, probably member of a society higher than the composer's, ignored his love and sat under the full moon drinking the symbol of her status, the chocolate, which the composer probably would never have.

The second emperor of Loures was known to love cocoa beverage. The royal court and most of the nobles, to be seen with good eyes by the emperor, followed his example. This was the first great cycle of cocoa. In Danaan 2958 the beverages reached Rucesion and Abel. However, the Pietan production could not meet the high demand of the time. Soon the craze was forcefully brought to its end, until Piet could produce in greater scale, or a new producer was found. That is why, despite happening after the crowning of the third emperor, there was so much interest in planting cocoa in conquered Undine - the demand was still higher than Piet could take, and it would boost any new producer economically.

It was in Abel that cocoa beverage became chocolate. In Danaan 2993 the local tavern created a new recipe, which used milk, and the candy was born. Cocoa sweet was not a suitable name, however, and in Piet it was named chocolate, probably in a way similar to the one described in the legend.

Loures became the main producer and consumer of chocolate. With cocoa from the Protectorate of Piet and milk from the region of Abel, all was set to feed the richest market in Temuair. In the capital city, during a time where status and appearance meant so much, having chocolate in the table for the snack was one of the greatest glories one could ask for. Rucesion, also a rich city, was the second in the rank of consumption. However, since all the chocolate was imported, and the nobility of wizards spoke for itself, not needing a chocolate for breakfast as proof, the amount of chocolate consumed in the city was slightly more than half the amount consumed in Loures.

It was in Rucesion, though, that chocolate once again gained the form of beverage, this time a sweet one. In Danaan 3016 a wizard had an accident while trying to control the power of water and caught a severe cold no known medicine could cure. His wife then made chocolate into a hot drink, as the wizard liked chocolate, and a hot drink is always good against a cold. History does not tell if the wizard was cured, but the new beverage became famous all around Temuair. And because it could be drank as a tea, and would not melt in one's fingers, it represented even more status than the solid form. In Danaan 3022 the price of chocolate drink in Loures was twice the price of solid chocolate, which by its turn was four times the price of cocoa beverage, completely neglected until someone forgotten by history had the idea of selling it as "bitter chocolate beverage". The price of the bitter beverage ranged between those of the solid chocolate and the sweet drink.

The 3058th year of Danaan was terrible for the chocolate industry, consumers, and certainly the rest of Temuair. The Shadows War began, and all the efforts were turned toward the victory against darkness. The production of chocolate was halted in Loures. Piet abandoned the cocoa to plant food of general consumption, like corn. The cafes were closed, both for lack of patrons and supplies. Chocolate was nearly forgotten during the 113 years of this war. Only in Danaan 3211, four decades after the end of the Shadows War, the levels of cocoa plantation and chocolate production and consumption reached what they were before the war. However, the once famous cafes that could be seen around the rich cities of Temuair were reduced to two in Loures and one in Rucesion. The one in Rucesion, which was right in the middle of the city, despite the terrific location, was closed in Danaan 3219, giving way to a tavern. Those in Loures went on in their fierce competition, until one went bankrupt in Danaan 3232.

In the time from Danaan 3278 to 3291 new agricultural technologies allowed Piet to increase its cocoa production, leading the price of chocolate to lower levels. Now accessible to a greater share of the population, chocolate was no longer a symbol of social status, and began to be sold in common stores along other less glamorous sweets. However, even today, the price is still higher than most can pay. Perhaps in the future, if a way is found to increase the production of cocoa even more, chocolate will be a candy or a beverage the whole Temuairan population can appreciate.