Chapter 2:

One day, a tired fisherman visited.

Witch Cafe Wisteria

The city of Reingale puts a rather unique emphasis on history, so today, we’ll open with a short history lesson. Some twenty years ago or so, Seabirche and Reingale were once one big city where just a long road served as a bridge from one community to the other. There was never really a sense of unity. The only residents who seemed to travel from the cheaper housing prices of Reingale to their nautical jobs in Seabirche were those in the fishing industry. All other residents seemed to be at odds with each other. Eventually, the two sides separated and became their own cities. Bookmark here

Despite the split, both cities now work together on many issues and treat each other as great neighbors. The road separating the two locations is regulated by both cities, and everything seems to come together well. Yet, you’ll see a few small remnants of a time before the split, or perhaps a few problems that the split seemed to hide. History is all about cause and effect, after all. Bookmark here

With our history lesson out of the way, let’s continue our story. Our history lesson’s purpose will become apparent soon enough.Bookmark here

It was a regular day at Witch Cafe Wisteria, where Derry was teaching Pecan about growing herbs to be used for the teas. They were both planting seeds for herbs into a long planter. This particular instruction wasn’t difficult for Pecan to comprehend, but she had also never grown anything before. Her father tended to any plants in the house, so she had never had any chances to try. She was pretty excited to bring life into the world in a way that didn’t involve giving birth for the time being, or perhaps forever. Bookmark here

“And… that’s it. We just have to wait and see if they’ll grow,” Derry finished her explanation of herbs, tapping the dirt on her gloves back into the planter.Bookmark here

Pecan followed suit, asking, “So uh what happens if these don’t grow?”Bookmark here

“We… would have to start over is all,” Derry cheered with a healthy dose of optimism. Thankfully, no unhealthy doses of optimism as those could really cause some folks to become unmotivated. Hopefully, no owner or manager would bombard their employees with unhealthy optimism. Bookmark here

There was a long silence following Derry’s words. Finally, Pecan’s sigh brought noise back into their space. “It feels like there are less people coming in these days,” Pecan said in a tone that was laced with hidden concern beneath the guise of a bored facade. Bookmark here

“Well, the first weeks of a new place tend to be busy… just because people are curious. We’ll be fine though!” Derry said with even more cheer in her voice. Bookmark here

“And how do you know that?” Pecan asked. “What if people uh… you know, just don’t want to come in for some reason?”Bookmark here

Derry laughed to herself before answering Pecan with a question, “Why would they not want to come in?”Bookmark here

“Uh… well, I don’t know. I did read a little bit about witches though. Looks like a lot of people don’t like them too much,” Pecan explained. Bookmark here

For some odd reason, this seemed to surprise Derry. Perhaps she had been living under a rock until just now. “Huh? In Seabirche, we were received alright with Witch Cafe Camellia. I don’t think that’d be a problem”.Bookmark here

“So uh... I read a little bit on that too. Apparently, Seabirche is just more open since they get more people from all over”.Bookmark here

Derry stared at Pecan for a while, but Pecan was becoming dubious of Derry. How can you not know what you’re getting into when you set up shop in a city?! Obviously, at least look into the crowd! Don’t just open your doors expecting a repeat! Bookmark here

Pecan noticed that Derry’s smile was growing and was likely about to say something with that unhealthy optimism that this text warned of before. Bookmark here

“No,” Pecan began, “No no. If people don’t like witches, they’re not just going to find it in their hearts to something something yadda yadda”.Bookmark here

Derry pursed her lips together, pacing around the cafe as the lack of customers was suddenly starting to hit her. She rushed over to the phone and dialed a number quickly. Upon the person on the other end answering, Derry uttered, “Monika! Are… witches not accepted over here?” After the person on the other end answered, Derry wailed softly. “Oh no. Thank you. It’s nice to have met a fellow witch like you then. Bye...”Bookmark here

She turned to Pecan, stared, and then suddenly whimpered. Bookmark here

“REALLY? Please don’t tell me you’re only thinking about all of this now,” Pecan asked.Bookmark here

“Yeah,” Derry answered sadly. This triggered Pecan’s facepalm function, saved for only the most ridiculous of situations. A moment passed of hearing the crowds walk by outside, definitely not coming in. As Pecan thought about it, everyone who had come in had been, what many might call, eccentric or at least needed a little more assistance than the average person. Even Pecan and Ama weren’t exactly considered as women who fit into society’s norm. They were the type who, among other uncommon things, would check something out despite warnings anyway.Bookmark here

“Oh gee, I just… didn’t even know. What kinda meanies-- I don’t harm anyone-- not on purpose at least,” Derry whined.Bookmark here

Another little note to add to our little history lesson. Reingale was, indeed, a bit less open when it came to certain topics. Especially on sour topics they’ve had some type of history with. However, as mentioned before, Reingale had recently constructed a college seven years before. The college crowd did tend to be more open, and they were slowly growing. However, the majority of Reingale residents were, in fact, not students at the college. As for Seabirche, the amount of folks with differences was so vast that it usually wasn’t worth it and took too much energy to be wary of one another. This was one of the many reasons that the two communities ended up splitting up in the not-so-distant past. Unfortunately, Derry didn’t bother looking into that. Let’s not shame Derry too hard and continue with our story.Bookmark here

Pecan took a deep breath. “It’s okay. You can’t please everyone. But uh… now I think it’s gonna be best to plan around that obstacle”.Bookmark here

Derry nodded. They both looked around the cafe, thinking about what they could possibly do. Pecan eventually spoke up. “Hey, how about we open the door. You know, like keep it open when we’re open. Even if it's just uh… halfway”.Bookmark here

“Oh… why?”Bookmark here

“Because it makes it seem more welcoming,” Pecan stated. “When you have a closed door, it’s uh kinda like ‘hm, I dunno if I want to know what’s behind that door’. I think”. Pecan really was just brainstorming stuff at that point, not knowing if she was correct at all, but it sounded good, so Derry nodded violently in agreement. Bookmark here

So, the door was fully opened. What a pleasant breeze.Bookmark here

“Is there anything else we can do?” Derry inquired. “Let’s… keep thinking”. Pecan agreed with that idea. They volleyed thoughts around as they aimlessly walked around the store. This process was something Pecan enjoyed a lot. When her parents ran their rental services, she would always help them brainstorm ideas about what they could rent next. Unfortunately, it was easy for folks to dip town and never return on a trip across the ocean since Seabirche’s ports were just a road away. They eventually closed their shop and began working for other companies. Pecan thought that was going to be their family business for life, but that’s how life goes. Them’s the breaks, as they say. Despite loving the witchcraft part of it the most, Pecan was secretly thrilled to be able to put the skills she had gathered with her parents to use. Bookmark here

As the two pondered their options, a burly man dragged himself down the road in front of the cafe. With a tackle box in one hand and a bag of fish in the other, he slowly tried to get over feeling like his legs were made of seaweed. He had a long walk until he could reach home. That is, the homes were all more toward the other side of the city. He stopped and stared at the sign of the café lethargically for a while, not noticing Pecan and Derry staring him down like vultures. The women were thirsty for customers at that point. They moved out of sight before he could spot them as he lugged his legs, equipment, and fish into the cafe.Bookmark here

“Welcome to Witch Cafe Wisteria,” both of the cafe employees called out as he walked in.Bookmark here

“...Thanks…” he responded to the greeting tiredly. He grunted as he placed his belongings on a nearby table and sighed. He didn’t move for a while and simply stared into space.Bookmark here

Pecan and Derry glanced at each other, both thinking, “Is this guy going to be okay?” All of a sudden, the man’s body fell forward slowly, his head softly landing on the table. It was as if his body was making the shape of an odd bridge. Bookmark here

“Uh… is that… allowed here?” Pecan asked. Establishing a clear ‘no zombies’ policy was beginning to seem like the first order of business on Witch Cafe Wisteria’s To-do list.Bookmark here

Derry hummed to herself, thinking. “Well, let’s see”. She walked over to the man’s table and stood over him for a short moment. She wondered how she was going to approach the situation. However, she figured it out and shook the man awake gently. He tiredly opened his eyes, staring Derry down. Perhaps he looked a little ticked off, but it was hard for Derry to tell.Bookmark here

“Hello…! You’ll get a crick in your neck if you sleep like that,” Derry chirped out.Bookmark here

The man raised his body upward to stand up straight, revealing himself to be only a little taller than Derry. Neither of them said anything as the man inspected Derry’s hat with his eyes. “So… this is that witch cafe”.Bookmark here

“It is,” Derry confirmed.Bookmark here

The man sat in the chair belonging to the table his items were placed on. He sighed deeply and rubbed his temples before speaking again. “So… I work down at the ports… it’s a lotta walkin’. Always tired”.Bookmark here

“Oh?”Bookmark here

“Yeah. Sometimes… can’t make it home. Got robbed last week… ‘cause I was sleepin’ in the road”.Bookmark here

At this, Pecan made a noise of worried surprise. She had already seen the man become a human bridge, so it wasn’t too far off for her to imagine the guy face down in the dirt somewhere, getting his pockets picked. This guy was an extreme case of dead tired.Bookmark here

“That’s… rather dangerous,” Derry said, concerned. Bookmark here

“Yuh,” the man mumbled. “Witch? Somethin’... to get me home at least?”Bookmark here

Derry thought for a moment and then walked behind the counter, “Yes. I have something for you.” Bookmark here

She started preparing a drink for the man, working at her usual fast pace. “I know you got robbed, so you still have to pay, but… I’ll let you have it for less today. That cool?”Bookmark here

The man made a simple noise of confirmation.Bookmark here

Derry mixed everything together into a bowl and fanned the flames under it. After letting it boil for a while, she started to ground more of the ingredients together. As she extinguished the flames, she grabbed a cup. She let the mix cool slightly and poured everything in. She then waved her hand above the cup in a serpentine motion and then hovered her hand over with her palm down. The drink glittered a thrilling orange and then changed back to its normal color.Bookmark here

Pecan hadn’t seen this beverage made before, so she had watched the entire process intensely. Bookmark here

Instead of having the man retrieve the drink, she grabbed the cup and walked it over to him, placing it on the table once she arrived.Bookmark here

“Here you go,” Derry sang. The man sluggishly reached for the cup and put it up to his lips sloppily. He took a few gulps of it and then took a break, resting his head on the table. When you’re tired, sometimes you really do just need rest.Bookmark here

Or so, that’s what would be the expected thoughts, but suddenly his head jolted upward as he looked at the cup. “What is this?” he asked.Bookmark here

“Tenaci-Tea,” Derry answered. Pecan briefly thought to herself that the names of the teas were sometimes just so laughable. Derry was sure they sounded good. Bookmark here

Derry continued, “That’ll be… four godas”. Bookmark here

The man fished out his wallet, drinking the beverage with his other arm. Pecan rushed over to take the man’s payment.Bookmark here

“Take five,” the man said, downing the rest of his drink. “Tenaci-Tea, it wakes you up?”Bookmark here

Derry tilted her head, “Hm, well it definitely has caffeine… but it’s actually a tea that increases your willpower for a short time. You just have a strong will to make it home okay right now, so that’s what’s happening”.Bookmark here

“Interestin’-- short time?”Bookmark here

“Yes. It’ll wear off in about… thirty minutes to an hour, so while I’d be happy if you chilled here for as long as you’d like, it’s probably best to go quickly if you want to make it home safely,” Derry explained.Bookmark here

Understanding that it was a good time to get a move on, the man hopped up and grabbed his belongings. “Thank you. I guess I’ll head out quick then.”Bookmark here

“No problem. Have a safe journey home. Witch Cafe Wisteria always welcomes you.”Bookmark here

At this, the man smiled and said, “Right. ‘M Barely. If this works out, trust me, I’ll be comin’ here a lot”.Bookmark here

Derry smiled right back, “We look forward to it. If you ever need us, I’m Derry, the owner, and…” she turned to Pecan.Bookmark here

“And I’m Pecan. Uh. I’m just an employee,” she said. Though she did a lot more than what the typical employee of an establishment might do.Bookmark here

“Got it. Bye, Derry. Bye, Pecan”, the man called out as he set off back down the road.Bookmark here

Pecan had already grabbed a rag to clean off the table Barley had sat at. Bookmark here

The two cheered. “That went well!” Derry said.Bookmark here

“I wasn’t sure what the heck was happening at first, but it’s fine!” Pecan exclaimed. “Also, uh, shouldn’t he maybe just buy that from Witch Cafe Camellia?”Bookmark here

Derry shook her head, “Miits can’t make that”.Bookmark here

Pecan thought about that for a second and then snapped her fingers. “We could market the heck out of that. ‘Each cafe has different drinks’ or something”.Bookmark here

“Oh… trust me, what we can offer is definitely different.” Derry nervously chuckled. “Miits… can’t use magic too well, so she usually just doesn’t. A lot of the regulars I had from there have told me they’ll stop by here sooner or later”.Bookmark here

Pecan wore a dubious expression. “So you’re saying the other witch cafe… you know, with witch in its name, doesn’t even have magic beverages?”Bookmark here

“They have some. Miits just focuses on… the taste of… things… more than the magic,” Derry explained. Bookmark here

Pecan was a little confused, but she didn’t press it any further. That was a good idea she wanted to try for herself though. Her magic wasn’t all that great, but if she made the best darn drinks one could ever have then she was sure she’d be okay until she finally got all the magic recipes down.Bookmark here

“...I wonder if we can drag more fishermen in here then,” Pecan wondered out loud.Bookmark here

Derry enthusiastically nodded, “That sounds like it might be a good idea!”Bookmark here

And so, Pecan and Derry continued their brainstorming of ideas for the cafe.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.