Chapter 5:

One day, a budding scholar visited.

Witch Cafe Wisteria

On the very same day that little Jenni paid a visit to Witch Cafe Wisteria, a curious man with a book bag on his shoulder made his way into the cafe. Much to the delight of Pecan and Derry, he was one of the very college students they had the full intention of attracting to the cafe! Bookmark here

“Welcome to Witch Cafe Wisteria,” came the usual cafe greeting.Bookmark here

He nodded in appreciation and silently thanked the women as he made his way up to the counter. Realizing that he didn’t know what he wanted, he stepped back to look over the menu.Bookmark here

Finally, the man spoke up, “Hello. I was wondering if you could tell me what is in the Wisdom Tea." Aha! Usually, Derry referred to all her ingredients as “this” or “that”, so Pecan sometimes wondered if she actually knew the names of what went into the drinks they served. This was the moment of truth that Pecan was waiting for! No one had ever asked before then! Pecan tried to hide her silly grin by pretending to be super absorbed in the cash register.Bookmark here

Derry began pulling out each jar from beneath the counter. After she had the ingredients out, she smiled and said quite unhelpfully, “These!”Bookmark here

Pecan then snickered into her sleeve as much as she could without seeming rude. A rude employee is usually not a very good look for a cafe, that is.Bookmark here

The man looked over the jars and hummed in thought. “Okay.” Bookmark here

For a short moment, Pecan was disappointed that he didn’t ask for their names. However, he eventually said, “My apologies, but I am afraid I am not exactly knowledgeable about herbs”.Bookmark here

Pecan turned around to silently laugh in victory. Today, after all those days of not actually ever explaining what everything was to Pecan, Derry would have to start naming something for once! Or perhaps she’d reveal she only knew the ingredients by sight. Why else would she not tell her what the ingredients were if she knew? Pecan would know once and for all!Bookmark here

...Is what Pecan naively thought. Derry gently placed a hand on Pecan’s shoulder and said, “This is my apprentice, Pecan… I think it would be good practice for her to explain everything to you”. Bookmark here

Now it should be noted that most of the knowledge Pecan had gained came from self-study or from Derry’s sister through notes. Pecan, indeed, knew the ingredients, but this was not the victory she was hoping for. Unfortunately for Pecan, this was a crushing defeat. Bookmark here

“I uh might get it wrong though,” Pecan pointed out.Bookmark here

Derry shrugged. “That’s fine. I’ll correct you.” Pecan wondered if she even could but decided to play such a game.Bookmark here

“So this one is sage,” Pecan said proudly as she pointed to the jar full of what was, indeed, sage. She then pointed to the next jar. “This is milk thistle seed.”Bookmark here

Derry nodded. “Good, good.”Bookmark here

Pecan had a glint in her eye. She figured Derry would probably just say they were all correct as long as Pecan named them something. She purposely gave the wrong answers! “And then these are... uh… Hawthorn and I think this is Gyokuro green tea, right Derry?”Bookmark here

Derry clapped and paused. “I should say… those last two are Elder Flower and Chinese Sencha. You were… very close though. You’ve been hitting those books hard. But yeah… that’s what’s in them,” she said, smiling innocently at the man.Bookmark here

This, of course, did not go without a tiny bit of unseen rage from Pecan, but they all proceeded as normal. It would be unwise to involve this man in their own personal witch training conflicts. Despite that, nothing was stopping Pecan from wondering “Why is she like this”.Bookmark here

Being oblivious to any of the layers that his visit to the cafe was piling onto the situation, the man accepted the answer. “I see. I would like that then please.”Bookmark here

“I’ll make it,” Pecan said, near menacingly. “But I’ll probably need help.”Bookmark here

Derry seemed a bit surprised, considering that Pecan often tried to avoid making teas for customers. “That’s fine”.Bookmark here

“So, what’s your name?” Pecan asked as she prepared the ingredients by sight. With a mortar and pestle, she crushed the milk thistle as much as she could… which was quite aggressive, might it be added.Bookmark here

“...Seigan,” he answered, not sure what the relevance of his name was.Bookmark here

“I introduced my apprentice, but I forgot to mention, I’m Derry,” said the cafe owner in realization.Bookmark here

Pecan said in a very low but clear voice, “There are a lot of things you forget to mention”, grinding the milk thistle harder. Derry more than recognized Pecan’s frustration, but she chose not to comment, especially not with a guest there!Bookmark here

The apprentice continued with her questions, “So, Seigan. You look like a student. Are you a student?"Bookmark here

"I am an eternal student, yes. Though, recently, I suppose I am a teacher as well," Seigan answered.Bookmark here

Pecan sang a short noise of slight amusement. "I getcha. So judging by the drink you picked, you're uh... you’re looking for wisdom? So you’d agree if someone has some wisdom to give, it’d be cool to share that wisdom, right?”Bookmark here

Derry was starting to catch on to what it was Pecan was trying to get at and sighed to herself. That really wasn’t the time for such a thing!Bookmark here

As Pecan tossed all her ingredients in the large bowl, Seigan nodded, “I believe that would be the ideal”.Bookmark here

“Mmmhmmn, I’m glad you agree, Seigan. Don’t worry, I’ll grant you the wisdom you’re looking for-- I mean, the wisdom you… uh… seek”. That sounded more witch-like, so she felt that would be a much better way to say that. As for Seigan, he did all he could not to show his fascination with the whole process, but the immersive experience was drawing him in! And then there was Derry, who was just about ready to hit her head against a wall. However, that notable Derry smile did not falter.Bookmark here

With the drink mixed as it was supposed to be and in a cup, Pecan finally turned to Derry, “So this is the part I need help with,” she said with an unusually high amount of confidence. “Seeing as you know your ingredients so well, maybe you can clearly help me understand the magic part too”.Bookmark here

Seigan was all ears, not wanting to miss a second while Derry stared at Pecan nervously. After a bit of her looking over Pecan’s unfinished handiwork, she looked over meekly to Pecan and pointed to her hand.Bookmark here

“You grab it… somewhere around here.”Bookmark here

This wasn’t the answer Pecan wanted. “YOU-- how do I take that and put it in?”Bookmark here

Derry stared at Pecan, feeling a bit helpless. She really could not explain it much better, and she really was trying. “Can I… just show you again?”Bookmark here

“It really would be super helpful with some better explanations. I know you can,” Pecan huffed.Bookmark here

"I admit... I wanted you to learn the ingredients on your own, but for this... I swear I'm trying," Derry revealed in a cold sweat.Bookmark here

But Pecan wasn't convinced. "Try and explain it anyway."Bookmark here

“Something like this… you feel it where you feel it and then you put it in”. Derry tried to gauge if Pecan was picking up what she was saying, but her apprentice didn’t look very impressed. As always, the instructions seemed vague.Bookmark here

Derry tried to explain repeatedly, but she stopped after she started to become frustrated. She definitely didn't want their new customer to see such an attitude.Bookmark here

However, Seigan hummed in understanding. “So that is how it works. How astounding.”Bookmark here

Derry spun to look Seigan in the eyes, her frustration fading into relief, “You get it!” Pecan, on the other hand, made the wildest face wondering how anyone could understand such vague direction. Bookmark here

“Yes. Though it sounds like it would take quite a bit of skill,” Seigan muttered, looking over his tea.Bookmark here

Pecan sighed, wondering if it was just her, and continued the process. For this particular tea, she bent her fingers back with her other hand enough for there to be a lasting feeling. She then held her palm over the cup. Unfortunately, this did not yield the results any of the involved were hoping for. That is… nothing happened.Bookmark here

At this, Pecan blankly gazed at the tea and stepped back, motioning for Derry to take over.Bookmark here

“That’s alright… we can always practice that.” Derry tried to be as reassuring as possible, but Pecan couldn’t even respond. Surely, she was beyond frustrated at this point. Very understandable.Bookmark here

With slow motions, Derry bent her fingers back and hovered her hand over the cup. With this, the cup shone a relaxing green. Seigan’s eyes widened, but he managed to keep in his gasp of shock. Derry gestured toward the Wisdom Tea and smiled wider. “And... there you are! That’ll be seven godas, please.”Bookmark here

After Seigan handed his seven godas to Pecan, he grabbed his cup and took a sip of his Wisdom Tea. After a moment of dissecting the taste in his head, he said, “Thank you, both of you. This is good. This will bring me wisdom?”Bookmark here

Derry took a moment to think and then explained. “So some of our teas are more immediate… this one is more like a bucket. The more you put in the bucket, the more wisdom you have”.Bookmark here

“I have to keep drinking to keep gaining wisdom?” Seigan asked to confirm his thoughts.Bookmark here

“Yep. That’s... how it works,” Derry confirmed.Bookmark here

At this, Seigan turned to Pecan and rather hesitantly said, “Well, Pecan, was it? I will have to keep drinking these while you keep practicing. By the time I am a wiseman, you will most likely be a full-fledged witch”. It seemed to Pecan that he said such words even if it wasn’t exactly within his comfort zone.Bookmark here

Seeing the man attempt to say something kind for no one’s benefit other than Pecan’s, for some reason, took the apprentice by surprise. “Yeah…” she said a little too high-pitched for her liking. Such an unusual tone even had Derry on alert, the cafe owner looking over Pecan in concern. It was a very telling sign for Pecan, and she knew it was best for her to go on a quick break, of course, only after telling Seigan to enjoy his tea.Bookmark here

There was no way Pecan could let anyone see her cry.Bookmark here

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But worry not! As much as it might be better to leave you, dear reader, thinking about Pecan, we won't be leaving Pecan watery-eyed and runny-nosed today. Bookmark here

Seigan spent a few hours reading and studying at the cafe and then gracefully took his leave. As soon as our witch and apprentice were alone, the air became quite heavy. Bookmark here

Derry briskly walked over to the cafe’s door, closed it, and turned toward her pupil. The cafe wasn’t supposed to be closed, and while the door wasn’t locked, it wasn’t likely that anyone would be coming at that hour.Bookmark here

"Pecan," she began. Pecan tensed up, knowing something about the earlier situation was going to have to be discussed. It definitely wasn't something to sweep under the rug. Bookmark here

"I'm so sorry. I'm... really not good at this teaching witchcraft stuff," Derry very near mumbled, looking down at her hands. Bookmark here

Pecan wasn't exactly sure what to say. On one hand, it was true: Derry really wasn't all that great at teaching witchcraft. On the other hand… there wasn't really an other hand, but Pecan had always reasoned that even if she never fully understood witchcraft then at least she'd be able to watch the witchcraft being done. However, she was taking the lack of progress a lot harder than even she expected of herself. Bookmark here

It's sometimes a human habit to say "It's okay" when someone apologizes. In this particular situation, Pecan decided not to buckle to the expected response. Instead, though she couldn’t quite look Derry in the eye, she slowly addressed her thoughts. Bookmark here

“You know, I feel like you haven’t been honest with me like maybe at all.” Bookmark here

“I know, I know. I’m sorry,” Derry said apologetically, wringing her hands together.Bookmark here

Pecan motioned toward the counter as she took a seat at one of the cafe’s tables. “I thought you were just really bad with the ingredients-- you know, the names and stuff, but you do know them. I don’t even get it anymore”.Bookmark here

Derry joined Pecan at the table, thinking through her words. She grimaced at what she was about to say but carefully allowed them to spill out. “Right… I know them. I’m… the second highest level you can be as a witch. I’d better.”Bookmark here

“So why not just tell me?” Pecan asked, becoming angrier with each word she spoke.Bookmark here

“I know this sounds real stupid, but I thought it'd be hella fun for you to learn the ingredients on your own since that's how I learned…” Derry began. “And I know I'm not good at explaining things, but with the way you were avoiding practice at first, I thought you were fine with picking the magic part up eventually as you went…”Bookmark here

Pecan was about to refute that, but Derry was quick to elaborate. “But that was... a stupid assumption on my part. You've been working so hard... of course you want to make progress.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, I want to make progress but um… Derry… maybe it’s hard for you to explain things, but I’m really not getting the way you teach.”Bookmark here

Derry paused and thought, “It’s not perfect... but you did pick up the Good Luck Tea’s magic. We can figure out what went good with the way I explained that one!”Bookmark here

“Actually, Millan helped me with that one. A lot,” Pecan revealed. Bookmark here

Derry stared at Pecan for a long while, really thinking about everything that had happened up until then. At first, it was a huge “no” moment for Derry. Pecan had made a few things work before! There was no way that Derry was that bad of a teacher. Then suddenly, as she remembered Pecan’s progress on the exact day of Millan’s visit a while ago, it became quite the “oh” moment. Bookmark here

All of this combined to form an “oh no” moment. Oh nooo. Bookmark here

“I’m the problem!” Derry shrieked in realization, slightly panicked.Bookmark here

“Yeah, but I mean you’ve uh… you’ve been supportive though. It’s just… yeah,” Pecan tried to say as delicately as possible, some of her usual bite betraying her at that point.Bookmark here

After a long moment of silence, Derry nodded and smiled at Pecan. “Okay. Let’s try something else.” With that, she stood and gestured for Pecan to follow her behind the counter.Bookmark here

Upon reaching their destination, Derry pulled out two jars from the bottom and placed them on the top. “This is yellow dock and this one’s citronella.”Bookmark here

“I know,” Pecan answered cautiously.Bookmark here

Derry chuckled, “I know you know. Both are used for... attracting customers. This is not allowed but… it’ll be temporary”. She placed a finger to her lips to indicate that it was a secret.Bookmark here

“Okay. Legality aside, what do I do with them?” Pecan asked. Bookmark here

“Anything you want to! I want you to pick one, both, or none,” Derry began. “All of these spells have been my spells. They’ve all been... my way. Sure, the drinks we whip up have recipes that you should follow, but usually, you find what works for you.”Bookmark here

Pecan stared at the jars and asked, “I just… uh… pick?”Bookmark here

“You just go with what vibes.”Bookmark here

Pecan inspected the jars for a while, and eventually picked yellow dock. “So what do I do next?”Bookmark here

“From there, it’s a lot of trial and error... but think about how you’d make a spell that attracts customers, and you can cast something up from there,” Derry explained, placing the citronella back where it had been.Bookmark here

So, Pecan took the time to experiment with the yellow dock, mixing it into all types of other ingredients. And then finally, she settled on mixing it with seed milk all into a smaller jar. Bookmark here

“Um… can I just make it an aroma bottle?” the apprentice asked.Bookmark here

Derry nodded. “You sure can!”Bookmark here

“Okay, then I think I’m done?” Bookmark here

Hearing Pecan’s uncertainty, Derry laughed to herself. “Hit that with some more confidence… but alright! What do you want this aroma bottle to do? Say it for real!” Bookmark here

“I want this to attract customers,” Pecan stated firmly.Bookmark here

“That’s killer,” Derry said as she dipped a finger into the jar. Just like with the drinks, the air shifted, and Pecan’s mixture shone a very weak white. “There we go, I hit it with only a little. Now go put this on the windowsill”.Bookmark here

As instructed, Pecan walked the small jar over to the windowsill, not sure how it was supposed to work, and turned to walk back to the counter. That is, until the door opened!Bookmark here

It was an elderly woman, walking in with a cane.Bookmark here

“Welcome to Witch Cafe Wisteria!” Pecan and Derry chimed.Bookmark here

The woman asked ever so politely, “Are you closed?”Bookmark here

“Not for you,” Derry sang. Bookmark here

From there, the usual transaction occurred. The woman enjoyed a cup of Direction Tea, and then went on her way.Bookmark here

Pecan quickly turned to Derry and exclaimed, “So that worked!”Bookmark here

“It did! Congratulations!” Derry said. “Now you can mess around with the mixtures themselves and for now I’ll lay down the magic until you can do it yourself. We were working a little fast before.”Bookmark here

“Also, didn’t you lock the door? How’d she even get in?” Pecan asked, looking over the door.Bookmark here

At this, Derry began to sweat nervously. “Right, so… I gave my key to Jenni. So if you don’t mind, can you be the key master for a while?”Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.