Claude de Sarlat is almost universally reviled by the inhabitants of the Dordogne, as is his practice of eating monsters, but no one can deny the culinary expertise of his head chef Tirel. In fact, it was Tirel who first pioneered and perfected the incredibly delicious and now very popular practice of cooking with fairy flakes.
Popkin fairies, at one time common throughout the Dordogne Valley, were discovered by Tirel to have exceptional flavor enhancing qualities when properly prepared. To those who have tasted the dried and shaved remains of these creatures, it’s hardly necessary to convey the extraordinary effect that they have on the palate. Describing the savory essence that popkins add to nearly any recipe is a task best left by this author to the many bards who have seen fit to take it up in poem and song. Suffice to say that once experienced, one will never be able to leave the valley without a strong sense of recurring nostalgia or outright craving for just one more exquisite taste of the little buggers.
Of course the controversy surrounding their use in cooking is well known. In the Dordogne valley itself, such moralizing and hand-wringing is scoffed at and ridiculed, but further away (and particularly amongst the elves), consumption or possession of fairy flakes is viewed with disgust and usually results in the shunning of the individuals involved. Complicating the situation is the fact that some area residents now keep orcs as slaves for use in tracking popkin fairies. The orkish ability to sniff out the presence of popkins is uncanny and has led to the popkins’ increasing rarity and sky rocketing price.
The Great Druid of Marquessac has decreed that anyone determined to be hunting popkin fairies in his gardens will be publicly hanged. Even with this decree, popkin poachers and other ne’er-do-wells have been seen in ever increasing numbers in the central Dordogne. Some say that should the popkin ever disappear entirely, the Druid would wreak vengeance upon the inhabitants of the valley without mercy. In the town of Sarlat, a syndicate known as the Committee for Popkin Preservation (or CPP) was formed with the aim of protecting the popkin, but through infiltration by outside interests and due to infighting, it’s been ineffective and become somewhat of a laughingstock.
Disturbing rumors have begun to circulate that “dead zones” where magic functions oddly or not at all have been detected. These zones are said to correspond to areas where the popkin have been completely wiped out, but where they were known to previously congregate in large numbers. Many claim these rumors are purely the propaganda of the CPP. In any event, the future of the popkin looks grim if history is any guide - one need only recall the sad decline of the hoar fox.
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