Chapter 10:

One day, a woman who once sought knowledge visited. Part 1

Witch Cafe Wisteria

A woman with large, circular glasses and green hair walked row by row through the streets of Reingale. With a backpack fastened behind her and a pair of hiking boots on her feet, she looked like an adventurer from a storybook. Perhaps she was, or perhaps she wasn’t, but her unimpressed expression sure didn’t come off as one of a curious explorer at all. Who was this woman? Well, maybe such a thing would be revealed soon enough. She was making her way into Witch Cafe Wisteria just as a well-rested Barley was leaving after yet another sleeping visit.

“Hello! Afternoon!” he said to the woman as he passed her by.

“Don’t converse with me,” said the green-haired woman. Perhaps such a response was uncalled for, but that was it. That was her response. Barley simply shrugged and went on about his fully-rested day. Rude folks wouldn’t dampen his mood!

“Welcome to Witch Cafe Wisteria,” the usual witch and apprentice called out to the woman as she walked in.

The woman very dryly replied back with a “hi” and dropped her backpack onto a chair before heading up to the front.

Derry seemed to recognize the woman and beamed as she came closer. “Jade! I’m hyped you finally made it! Looks hella different from Camellia, huh?” the witch asked.

“Yes. The multitude of plants is astonishing,” the woman named Jade answered as she looked back at the wisterias in the doorway.

“Why the big words?” Pecan muttered to herself.

There was an uncomfortable silence and Pecan noticed Derry’s reluctance to speak. Finally, Derry asked, “How’ve you been?”

Jade looked Derry sharply in the eyes, waiting for such a moment. Pecan recoiled a bit at the woman’s look. Phew, if looks could kill.

“Well, after acquiring a bountiful amount of knowledge from the tea, I journeyed on a quest to find scholars on a similar level. This proved to be a poor idea. Many around me felt threatened by my intellect,” Jade explained.

Pecan and Derry glanced at each other, having a feeling that Jade was going to have a long story. And indeed, it was a long story!

“I attempted to assist the scientific community by proving and disproving theories, conducting research, and various other significant activities. They, too, felt threatened by my presence. Their inability to acknowledge that a human with so much knowledge without any substantial academic degree could exist led them to discredit all that I offered. I found myself assisting communities in dire need of knowledgeable individuals. In particular, I attempted to assist human rights, environmental, and political organizations alike. All my attempts ended in utter disaster. All felt threatened by my existence. I have attempted to simply live. I’ve been employed at various workplaces. However, it seems I know much yet can do so little.”

Pecan, who had been listening with her brows raised, finally uttered, “Well that bites”.

“I’m so sorry that happened to you...,” Derry said softly. She felt a bit guilty since this happened because of her recipe after all. In the end, the spell worked, but having a lot of knowledge comes with its own problems after all. “Miits had told me that you came in miffed about the Knowledge Tea, but I wasn’t sure of all the details”.

Jade folded her arms and nodded. “Well, it’s fine. I’ve made my appearance here in order to receive a reversal spell”.

At the mention of a reversal spell, Derry bit her lip, a little afraid to say what she was about to say. “That’s not possible.”

“Come again?”

“Sorry. A reversal spell for Knowledge Tea… it’s not reversible. That’s just how it goes,” Derry explained.

Jade processed this for a while. At first, she rolled her eyes with an “uggh”, but then she breathed in audibly and nodded. “Understood.”

Pecan wasn’t sure what was happening. For a while, Jade stood looking down at her boots in thought. Eventually, she looked up and said, “I would like to request water, please”.

Ah, after all of that, she was just getting a water cup. That was fine with Pecan and Derry though as it seemed like maybe she’d be fed up with magic or any drinks at that point.

So, Jade took a seat where her bag was, drinking her water slowly. It seemed that she didn’t have anywhere to go in particular. However, she didn’t spend her time alone.

“Pecan, do you mind… manning the cafe for a while? I think I’d like to catch up with Jade for a bit,” Derry requested. It wasn’t a busy day, so it seemed fine. While Derry and Jade spoke for a large part of the day, Pecan got a nice amount of practice in with the few guests who visited the cafe. She was thrilled to be able to do it, but between the magic, cleaning, stocking, and such, she ended up becoming quite tired. Derry came back to help, forcing Pecan to go home for the café’s remaining hours.

Sure, Pecan was supposed to go home and rest, but she was so used to doing something during those hours that she ended up studying different ingredients. They were still trying to figure out a cold beverage to serve, after all! To Pecan, the cafe couldn’t wait.

The next day, Jade returned to Witch Cafe Wisteria. Pecan was a bit surprised to see Jade come back mostly because she really thought the green-haired woman would have been done with anything that had put her in her current situation. However, people defy expectations every day, as many of us know. So, Pecan decided to quickly push those ideas aside.

Yet to even more of Pecan’s surprise, when Jade came up to the counter she asked, “May I order a Direction Tea?”

“Sure thing, Jade,” Derry said, about to get the ingredients ready.

Pecan started pulling the jars out and placing them on the counter. “I can make this one.”

Derry was hesitant to accept Pecan’s offer as even Jade seemed a bit wary, but the witch eventually got out of her apprentice’s way.

Sometimes Pecan would make remarks to herself, but today she was a bit more bold. In some cases, being bold can be a good thing, and hopefully that would be one of those cases. She asked about exactly what she was wondering. “Are you getting this with magic? You’re okay with that?”

“Pecan,” Derry muttered in a warning tone.

“My current situation is by my own fault,” Jade started. “It’s crucial that one understands the risks and is willing to live with any possible outcomes… yet I am not beyond attempting to acquire suitable solutions as I resume life.”

Pecan thought about that as she prepared Jade’s tea. Well, it was certainly interesting to her that the woman was more willing to blame herself. In actuality, continuously visiting a cafe to gain knowledge from a tea that she would have had to pay for would, indeed, be her own fault. Perhaps all that knowledge allowed her to figure that out long ago.

The witch apprentice was ready to try the magic for the Direction Tea! She held her palm upwards, clenching her hand as if it were grasping something and then flipped it over. Unfortunately for Pecan, nothing happened. She tried again, but nothing happened once more. After a few more tries, Derry inched closer to Pecan.

“Pecan, if you need to… try it with a clap,” Derry suggested.

She did, and this time it worked. The cup glittered a bold hue of blue. Jade held out her godas to the apprentice, but Pecan had already taken a seat in the chair behind the counter as she huffed and puffed.

“Oh dear…” Derry muttered, taking Jade’s payment with one hand and fixing Pecan a cup of water with the other. “You okay?”

“Oh yeah. Mint condition,” Pecan huffed out as she slumped her head back briefly.

Jade pointed at Pecan and said, “She’s exhibiting signs of fatigue. Also, two godas, Derry.” It seemed she was already familiar with Derry’s money counting.

“Yeah, I see,” Derry began. She quickly gave Jade back her change, “Sorry, Jade. Go ahead and enjoy.”

So, Jade took her seat and watched on from the distance as Pecan sipped her water.

Pecan groaned and tried to hide her panting. “I’m fine. Just gimme a minute.”

“Nah, you’re straight up dying over here,” Derry said, folding her arms. Pecan wasn’t exactly dying more than any other individual in the cafe was dying, but she was, indeed, in bad shape. No one wants to see their employee in bad shape! ”Did you get enough sleep?”

The answer was no. Pecan did not get enough sleep. She had stayed up thinking of cold beverages. However, she couldn’t have Derry knowing that. “Yeah.”

“It doesn’t look like it,” Derry huffed knowingly. “Look, you need sleep. Here, like Barley does, or at home… your pick.”

Derry was being oddly firm about the situation. Pecan really just wanted to work though. She felt that all she needed was a little time sitting. “I’m fine. Really.”

“Pecan, your body… isn’t used to messing with energy. To use energy right, you need sleep.”

“Okay okay. I’ll uh… I’ll sleep here,” Pecan mumbled.

And so, Pecan went to sleep in the window seating. She noticed that the seating smelled faintly of fish. She made a mental to do list for washing the window seating’s pillows every now and then since the smell of fish wasn’t particularly pleasant to everyone.

In almost no time, she ended up falling asleep. She woke to chatter every now and then, but it turned out that she was mostly too drained to want to wake up again. The window seating was surprisingly comfortable, and the relatively smaller Pecan seemed to fit there a lot better than the much more bulky and tall Barley.

When Pecan awoke from her sleep, it was nearly time for the cafe to close. “Oh shoot…” she muttered as she hopped up to start cleaning.

However, Derry had already cleaned everything. The cafe owner was capable of cleaning on her own, after all. It was usually just that Pecan got to everything before her.

So, the workday ended with Pecan rearranging little things here and there, more or less finding things to do.

Each day, it seemed that Jade would come in and Pecan was wondering if the woman was going to be a daily regular.

One day, Jade even remained in the café longer than usual. Other than that, it had been a rather normal day. As for the next day... well! The next day definitely took Pecan by surprise.

That day, Jade came up to the counter once more and asked for another Direction Tea. By the time Jade came in each day, Pecan would already be tired. So, Derry had been preparing Jade’s tea each time, wanting Pecan to rest a bit more. “Trying… to nab some answers with this one?” Derry asked.

Jade nodded and pulled her wallet out from her pocket. “Yes. I’m uncertain about where to go from here. Aimlessly wandering is inadvisable.”

“Oh. No plans?” Derry asked, concerned.

The bespectacled woman shook her head and handed Derry her payment. “Not at the present moment-- three godas, Derry-- there are a staggering amount of establishments which refuse to hire me due to my lack of degree and experience…”

“Wow, even with all of that uh... knowledge?” Pecan asked, giving Jade her change in Derry’s stead.

“Unfortunately, knowledge alone is not a ‘hirable skill’ as they say,” Jade said, accepting her change and taking her drink. As with her other visits, she sat at what was now her usual table and silently sipped her tea.

Only a little time passed before Pecan brought up a new idea with Derry. “So, for the cold drinks, I was thinking what if we had like uh… I dunno a special iced tea?”

“Could work… but how special are we talking?” Derry asked.

“Uh… that I don’t know,” Pecan admitted, scratching her head. “We’ll think of something.”

The rest of the day went by slowly, and the two slung around as many ideas as they could. As the sky began to begin its routine darkening, Jade made her way up to the counter to return her cup.

“So… did you vibe with any direction?” Derry asked the green-haired woman.

Jade shook her head and said, “Unfortunately, I was unable to come to a clear vision this time around.”

With that, Derry pondered for a moment, looking to the ceiling as if it had an answer. Many tend to search for answers there. “How about… you work here… for now?”

The bespectacled Jade opened her mouth to speak, her eyebrows furrowed slightly in offense. Suddenly, as if she came to a realization, her expression softened as she mulled over this proposition. Meanwhile, Pecan looked between the two quickly. What a development!

“I find that to be a satisfactory option and graciously accept your offer,” Jade quietly said as if she was still thinking it over.

Derry smiled wider. “Cool. Let me give Kera a shout... so she can make you a uniform…!”

“Thank you,” Jade began. “I appreciate this.”

However, Pecan was becoming a bit nervous. The apprentice nearly cut Derry off before she could get to the phone. “Hey hey uh… um… sorry but I just wanted to make sure like uh… I’m still working here though, right?”

Derry looked down at Pecan wildly, confused about what Pecan was getting at. “Yeah. For sure-- oh, M-My bad, did you… want to hit up some other place to be at?”

“NO! I mean… uh… no.”

“Oh. Okay. Then yeah... you’re still working here,” Derry stated, still a bit confused. She began walking toward the phone again, but suddenly as if she finally understood, she turned back to Pecan. “Wait…! Pecan I’m not replacing you or anything!”

Pecan nodded, feeling embarrassed now that it was out there. “Oh okay. I was just uh not sure cause like uh my energy and stuff.”

“No...! That’s a practice thing! You-- I swear...”

“Okay okay, I just was kinda unsure.”

Derry sighed, looking over Pecan. She eventually smiled and said, “Don’t sweat it. You’re good. She’ll be like your own little student… show her the ropes.”

Pecan smiled goofily, yet also just a bit mischievously. “An underling.”

“...Sure, Pecan.” Derry cautiously answered as she made her way to the phone again. She sure had an interesting apprentice. However, interesting apprentices made for interesting times. Or so one might hope!

Pecan cackled sinisterly, but of course all in good fun. She rushed back over to Jade and exclaimed, “I guess I’ll be uh teaching you from here on!”

“You? Hrmh… I suppose that’s acceptable,” Jade said.

“Don’t worry. I’m a great up-and-coming witch I uh think at least, so I’ll do my best to teach you,” Pecan boasted. It was true that she was up-and-coming, but maybe she wasn’t in the position to teach anyone anything just yet. Still, she was excited to train a new employee.

So that day, Pecan had someone under her at work. Perhaps she was a little too happy about it, but maybe it was something to celebrate for someone like Pecan.