Social Pooling

"My poor girl would you like to stop hiding in the trees and come have dinner with me," the wizard called out to the girl hiding in the forest.

He was an odd wizard, but he was a good one. Not very much of a cook, but would share with anyone. Even if it did taste horrible. He had spent most of his time living in the world of sorcery, but could never summon a decent tasting meal, so he never had one. He was only out in the forest tonight hoping to catch a glimpse of the monarch butterflies. He didn't much care for butterflies, but he was working on a potion to turn them into small dragons. A side project, from his usual work of selling various potions and tonics. Unfortunately it had left him lost in the woods with nothing left to eat but week old beef. He thought a stew would mask the taste of the quickly rotting meat.

"This is a terrible stew. It's just water and meat," the girl added as she tasted a spoonful.

"Well what else goes into stew?"

"Vegetables, here I have some I found in the woods. Wild carrots, shallots and a potato," she offered.

She was not an odd girl. Unfortunately her story was all too common. She was a refugee. Her home country was in the midst of being destroyed by their neighbors and plundered for the riches it held. She didn't know poverty, being on the run was far from normal for her. She had not bathed in nearly three months or had a meal that wasn't stolen or foraged. It felt good to eat stew with the old wizard, even if it just barely passed as stew.

"Ah, there is somewhere here," a woman makes her way through the bushes.

"Yes, we were just having dinner. Care to join us," the wizard offered her.

"Please do, there is plenty, although it isn't very great," the girl encouraged her to sit.

"Hmm, your stew is very thin and not very flavorful, I could help," the woman offered.

"What did you have in mind? I have learned today I don't know much of stew," the wizard joked.

"A little flour to thicken it up, paprika for a little kick, and a pinch of salt to bring out contrasting flavor," the woman began digging in one of her many bags.

She had spent her the better part of five years traveling, purchasing and selling spices. She had become an excellent cook in that time. If only for the fact that she had developed and encyclopedia like mind of spices and other cooking ingredients that many had never heard of. Despite this, she grew more famous for her cooking than her merchant skills which is why she was headed back to her homeland.

Individually, none of them could have made the monstrosity that was this stew work. They simply didn't have enough ingredients. But, by pooling their resources they were able to create a pretty good stew. Working together had worked out for all of them. That night they ate, laughed and forgot their problems.

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