Chapter 1:

One day, a nervous merchant and an almond seller visited.

Witch Cafe Wisteria

It was the hour of the morning before the cafe opened for another day. The air was just a bit brisk inside, but Pecan had been working at the cafe long enough to know that the temperature would shift to something a little more comfortable soon enough.Bookmark here

At that moment, Pecan was leaning against the counter, quickly scribbling down numbers onto a sheet for calculating sales. As she calculated the totals in her head, she twirled her strawberry themed pen into her dyed-blonde, wavy yet short locks and away from her sharp-shaped eyes. Placing her pen to her lips --which could potentially be unsanitary and is not advised-- she began mumbling and whispering to herself in thought. Despite the pause, she was able to write out the totals in no time.Bookmark here

After finishing the sales sheet, she stretched upward and sighed in satisfaction. Grabbing the calculations with her, she made her way over to Derry, her mentor in witchcraft. Bookmark here

“Here are those calculations,” Pecan said, handing the sheet over to Derry. Instantly, Pecan shuffled over to reach for the broom behind the counter.Bookmark here

“Thank you so much,” Derry began, looking over the sheet. “Phew, this stuff… really is wack. Thanks again for doing it…!” At the use of slang, Pecan snorted a bit to herself and turned around to start sweeping so that Derry wouldn’t catch it.Bookmark here

Pecan wasn’t usually the type to hide such an action, but she did respect Derry at least on a certain level. She recognized that Derry was a powerful witch who knew what she was doing, and her slightly motherly personality felt reassuring for Pecan. However, Derry was supposed to train Pecan in witchcraft, and it had become apparent to Pecan that Derry was ridiculously bad at explaining things. Despite that, Pecan was finding a lot of excitement in helping Derry establish the new location while also being content with simply watching the tea making process over and over again.Bookmark here

Of course, she hadn’t learned absolutely nothing and had, indeed, gleaned quite a few things here and there. It’s more that Pecan was finding it was taking her a while to learn the cafe’s tasks and magic. Yet in the end, whether it was the magic, the brewing, the listening, the calculations, paperwork, or even the cleaning, Pecan did try her best.Bookmark here

Even with the morning routine that was taking place, Pecan was making sure to sweep every corner and under every table. Meanwhile, Derry was taking the time to water every plant in the cafe that needed it.Bookmark here

As Derry glanced at her watering schedule for the last time, a ping of realization hit her. She turned to Pecan as she watered her hanging pothos. “Ah, today… we’ll be visited by a merchant.”Bookmark here

Pecan wore an expression of faint surprise. “Wow, you can tell that from the plant?” she asked.Bookmark here

“Huh? Oh-- no, I spoke to him. No witchcraft here. He was a regular at Witch Cafe Camellia”.Bookmark here

There was slight disappointment in Pecan’s voice as she muttered a quick ‘oh’ and continued to clean.Bookmark here

“So he already said he’s coming over for the tea he usually gets. I’m going to teach you how to make that tea, alright?” Derry questioned for Pecan’s confirmation of understanding, but there was silence.Bookmark here

Pecan shifted her eyes away from Derry, grimaced, and made a small sobbing sound all before she finally confirmed that she understood. Derry locked on to Pecan with an icy stare, knowing full well that Pecan would pick some days to just not practice. She had mentioned many times before that she didn’t understand Derry’s style of teaching, so the witch sympathized with her reluctance to begin yet another practice that would yield an uncertain result. However, practicing daily was something that Derry considered to be crucial to learning the craft. You can’t get better if you don’t practice, right? On the other hand, bad practice can be detrimental to one’s learning endeavors as well. An additional problem was that Derry had no idea how Pecan was unable to understand how she was teaching her. The witch had a kind exterior, but she had a lot of pride which sometimes brought about some nasty attitudes.Bookmark here

In a smart move, Pecan never met Derry’s gaze even though she could feel those eyes drilling into her like daggers. Pecan was sassy, but not stupid.Bookmark here

Eventually, Derry gave up on her intimidation tactics, grabbed a few jars and a bowl from under the counter, and glanced up at the clock. “Oh—Pecan…? Can you open the door? It’s just about time”.Bookmark here

“Yep.”Bookmark here

With that, Pecan unlocked the latch, broom in hand, and opened the door wide. As the sunshine poured in, she scanned the crowd for a while, taking in the crowds of bustling folks, ready to depart to the neighboring port city of Seabirche.Bookmark here

She remembered that Ama was in that crowd some time ago and wondered how she was doing. Ama had never been on her own before, after all. After watching for a while, Pecan dipped back inside.Bookmark here

“How’s the crowd today?” Derry asked, motioning to a cup as she drank from her own.Bookmark here

Pecan happily went to retrieve her cup. “Eh. Seems like a lot of people are about to head out,” she said before taking a few chugs of her tea. “But uh... it looks like someone broke--”Bookmark here

Before Pecan could say too much, the door to the cafe opened with a small creak and a man poked his head in with a smile. He greeted the two with a shaky ‘hello’ and walked in.Bookmark here

“Welcome to Witch Cafe Wisteria,” Pecan said, stepping a bit more to the corner so that she wasn’t blocking the way to the counter. Can’t have a customer pay if you’re in the way.Bookmark here

Derry smiled her usual wide smile and spoke, “As she said, welcome. Good morning, Merald. Did you find the place okay?”Bookmark here

Pecan noticed that the man, Merald, was shaking at an almost rapid speed, as if he was fearful of something. His hands were clasped close to his chest, and he was hunched over a bit. One could hardly see his traditional yet high-quality clothes. Bookmark here

“O-Oh, I sure did..!” he responded, looking around the cafe. “M-M-My, look at this place. It’s so quaint. It looks so different from the other cafe”.Bookmark here

“Yep. Miits decorated Camellia pretty much… Ah, Merald, this is Pecan. She’s helping me run the cafe. Pecan, this is Merald. We met at the other cafe. He lives closer to here, so he’ll be hopping in here more often than there,” Derry explained.Bookmark here

At this, Merald jumped as Pecan nodded and greeted him. “R-R-Right! Nice-- nice to meet you. Derry’s quite extraordinary, yes? Or uh… yes, hello,” he stuttered out. Pecan noticed that Merald was sweating up a sprinkle. That was concerning.Bookmark here

“Do you need some water?” she offered. Merald accepted in a high-pitched, nervous confirmation. He seemed very grateful for the suggestion.Bookmark here

Derry poured him a cup of water since she was behind the counter already. “Well, I guess this is a good time to start for today?” Merald nodded with a relieved-but-silent smile and downed his cup of water quickly.Bookmark here

Derry took the lids off the jars she had previously placed on the counter and then looked up at her employee to say, “Pecan, come watch”.Bookmark here

Though a bit hesitant, Pecan walked behind the counter with her broom, setting the cleaning tool down against the wall.Bookmark here

“So… what is it that ails you today?” Derry asked Merald, sweetly.Bookmark here

Merald let out a loud, quaky sigh. "There are… are so many people out today… I keep thinking one of them will rob me. They're going right over to the port, after all. They could just-- just… rob me and… go…!"Bookmark here

"That's possible," Derry said.Bookmark here

"I know we have less crime than the port statistically, but I'm still worried…!"Bookmark here

Derry nodded, "I understand your fears. However, remember all of the things you can do to help prevent such things from happening".Bookmark here

Merald unintentionally mimicked Derry’s nod, ready for Derry to list such things.Bookmark here

Derry lifted a finger to count and said, "One…"Bookmark here

"My surround-- keep an eye on my surroundings…!" Pecan noticed that Merald started wobbling after he said that.Bookmark here

"Two…"Bookmark here

"Carry…" Merald looked down into his bag and pulled out a stick. He expanded it and wagged it around, "A little Wacker…!" He started wobbling more, back and forth.Bookmark here

Derry smiled wider, "Oh good! You brought it! And three?"Bookmark here

"Try not to walk alone…!"Bookmark here

He started rocking so much that it looked like he was going to burst at any minute.Bookmark here

"Yep! You've got it. You sure are shaking something fierce though," Derry points out.Bookmark here

Merald froze and started to sweat more than he had been before. "B-Because I'm thinking of being in all those scenarios. I don't know if I'd be able to use the Wacker… or maybe I'll wander into an alley alone on accident…" With that, he began shaking more.Bookmark here

With a caring upturn of her eyebrows and a softer smile, Derry said, "Well, you won't be in the right mindset if you're already going in nervous. Here-- Pecan, this is how it works."Bookmark here

"So you put these here…" Derry skillfully threw a good amount of each herb into a bowl, but she was so fast that it was difficult for Pecan to keep up. "Then you kinda… do this..." the practiced witch grabbed some type of stirrer, circling her hands expertly, with a very graceful momentum. Bookmark here

"You pour that into this…" She picked up the bowl and poured the contents into a cup. Once she put the bowl down, she swiped up a shaker with some type of crushed herb in it. "I like to line it with this and put just a little in".Bookmark here

She set the shaker down and snapped her fingers twice over the cup. She then flipped her hand with its palm down to hover it over the mix. "Then you really just… reach into a certain place…" There was a silent pause, but suddenly the air shifted slightly. The cup's contents shone a brilliant red, and then it went back to its normal state.Bookmark here

"And there you have it. A Braver-Tea. Did you want seed milk with that this time?"Bookmark here

Merald smiled. "Oh—oh yes, please. Seed milk should be splendid".Bookmark here

Pecan rushed over to the corner to open a wooden box. She pulled out a bottle from it that had a slightly thick, light yellow substance inside, quickly handing it to Derry.Bookmark here

"Thank you, Pecan." After uncorking it, Derry poured a small amount of the thick liquid into the and then placed the cup closer to Merald, saying, "And there you go. Enjoy!"Bookmark here

"Oh, thank-- thank you so much…!" Merald took an unsteady sip of the drink and grinned, "Absolutely wonderful as always, Derry. My compliments."Bookmark here

Derry chuckled, "My pleasure. Feel free to take a seat and relax if you'd like."Bookmark here

With his drink on hand, Merald sat near the window, watching the crowd shuffle around.Bookmark here

Derry started putting away the jars she had taken out and turned her head to Pecan, "So, did you… catch all of that?"Bookmark here

"Uh… sorry but, again, how could I have?" Pecan asked as she cleaned the mix bowl.Bookmark here

"Huh?"Bookmark here

Pecan looked up at Derry as she kneeled to put the bowl away. "You might as well have been sprinting through that demonstration. And you never said what each thing was…"Bookmark here

Derry looked down at her shoes, trying to remember the steps she had shown Pecan-- not that her shoes had the answers she sought. "Did I not?"Bookmark here

Pecan shot up from kneeling and leaned on the counter. "You were like uh… 'take this, do this'. I dunno what 'this' is."Bookmark here

"Huh? I thought it was self-explanatory …" Derry scratched her head and then crossed her arms with a huff.Bookmark here

"It’s not. It’s definitely not. And I still don't get the ‘reach into a certain place’ stuff. That's so vague."Bookmark here

Derry puffed her cheeks out, becoming more frustrated. "You've reached it before though…"Bookmark here

Pecan groaned and thought for a second before gathering her words. "Yeah, but like, not consistently because I don't know where I'm supposed to be uh reaching."Bookmark here

Derry sighed and circled her chest, "Just… around… here… ish…" she then stopped and circled her head instead, "Here…"Bookmark here

Pecan shrugged, "It's fine. I'll get it eventually."Bookmark here

Derry seemed a bit worried, but her attention focused on the door as someone else walked into the cafe.Bookmark here

"Welcome to Witch Cafe Wisteria!" Pecan and Derry sang out.Bookmark here

The visitor was a woman with a bag of almonds who looked over the cafe with awe. Or it was assumed that the bag had almonds inside because the word “Almonds” was written on the bag with ink. "Oh ho! Thank you for the welcome. I love the plants here!"Bookmark here

Derry smiled wider, "Thank you. I didn't want only herbs everywhere, so I went with mostly flower decor."Bookmark here

"It's lovely-- oh, is that the menu? Oh! Witchcraft?"Bookmark here

"Yes, but if you'd like… you can have regular beverages as well."Bookmark here

The woman giggled, "I definitely want to try something with a spell on it! Hmm, I wonder which one… a Good Luck Tea sounds harmless. May I have that?"Bookmark here

"Sure thing," Derry answered, who then turned to Pecan, "I'll have my student make your drink… if that's alright".Bookmark here

"What? Why?" Pecan asked under her breath.Bookmark here

The woman nodded, "Of course! We all have to learn, right?"Bookmark here

"Uhhhh… yeah, but… okay. I'll try," Pecan mumbled.Bookmark here

"No pressure. It's all fine," said the woman.Bookmark here

Pecan grabbed a few jars from the bottom and placed them on the counter.Bookmark here

Derry nodded, "Yep, those are all the right jars…!" She sounded a little too proud of herself that Pecan could get that part right at the very least.Bookmark here

Pecan exhaled nervously and brought out the bowl from the bottom of the counter again.Bookmark here

The woman started to become more excited and clasped her hands together, "Oh my, this is like a performance!"Bookmark here

"Yeah, but hopefully it's a good one". Pecan then added the ingredients slowly. However, she put a little too much of one herb.Bookmark here

"No worries," Derry said reassuringly, "You can even it out later".Bookmark here

Pecan continued and mixed everything with a stirrer. Her movements weren't as graceful as Derry's, but at least the drink was mixed. She then clapped her hands over the drink twice, allowing one hand to hover over it after.Bookmark here

The woman gasped… but nothing happened.Bookmark here

"...Welp." Pecan clapped and hovered her hand again. "Nope."Bookmark here

"Are you reaching in… around here…?" Derry pointed to the side of her head this time.Bookmark here

"The reaching point changed again, eh?"Bookmark here

The woman chuckled, "Oh, no worries. I'm sure it worked."Bookmark here

"Naaaah," both Derry and Pecan dragged out.Bookmark here

"Sorry about that. I'll just adjust it from here." Derry clapped twice over the cup and hovered her hand over the mix. A striking yellow beamed out of the cup for a few seconds only to dissipate and leave the cup’s contents in their normal state once more.Bookmark here

"And there you are. Would you like it with seed milk?"Bookmark here

Ignoring the question, the woman gaped at the drink, waiting to see if it would change color again. "That was amazing!"Bookmark here

She turned to Merald, "Did… did your drink do that too??"Bookmark here

Merald jumped a bit, "Ah, yes…! It's magic, that is!" He hummed a laugh to himself, being amused by the woman's excitement.Bookmark here

"Oh, I have to try this!" the woman exclaimed right before taking a gulp. "Huh, it's a little odd, but I think it tastes okay!" She then kept drinking.Bookmark here

Derry made a little sound of protest, remained silent for a second, and then laughed sheepishly, "Did you… want us to hook you up with a different one?"Bookmark here

"Oh no no, this is fine. Here you are, seven godas-- oh, would you like some almonds? I have a lot of them!"Bookmark here

"Yes, please," said Pecan as she swiftly rang up the lady’s order. Derry nervously declined.Bookmark here

"Here you go! Five almonds! Ooh let me finish this tea!" She gulped it down fast and then calmly placed the cup back onto the counter. "Thank you so much! I'll have to come back some day!"Bookmark here

Pecan waved as the woman left, "Thanks for the almonds. Sorry for the tea!" Derry waved silently to the lady as well.Bookmark here

After the woman left, Merald stood, walking over to bring the cup back to the counter. "I should be heading off as well. Thank you to the both of you." Bookmark here

At that point, Pecan noticed that Merald was no longer shaking. He had mellowed out from the state he had been in before. "It was a wonderful tea. Also, I'm sure you'll grasp it all soon enough, Pecan."Bookmark here

Pecan looked away. "Thanks."Bookmark here

"I'll see you next time, Merald. Be safe out there." Derry said.Bookmark here

Merald laughed, "Thank you. I'll be back again soon!" Bookmark here

And with that, he took his leave.Bookmark here

"Interesting folks," Pecan mused to herself as she grabbed a rag so that she could wipe off the table that Merald had been sitting at.Bookmark here

"Hey …" Derry began, "I messed up."Bookmark here

"Huh?"Bookmark here

"That woman's tea… I forgot to fix your amounts…" Derry muttered.Bookmark here

Pecan frowned, "What does that mean?"Bookmark here

"Well… that woman will either be really lucky… or really unlucky."Bookmark here

"OH." Pecan stared at the door. "Oh…"Bookmark here

Derry slowly looked over to Pecan, "Alright. More training."Bookmark here

Pecan started sweating nervously, "Ahh, look I want to learn too, but it's uh kinda hard to learn your way."Bookmark here

"But it's easy you just take this--"Bookmark here

"Again, what is 'this' and how much do I put in??"Bookmark here

The door opened to the cafe again. Derry and Pecan quickly turned to greet their guest, "Welcome to Witch Cafe Wisteria".Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.