Chapter 15:

One day, Derry went away.

Witch Cafe Wisteria

It was a rather ordinary day in Reingale with mildly fine weather. Inside Witch Cafe Wisteria, a witch, seamstress, and merchant were holding a meeting. Pecan and Doe tried not to seem like they were watching as one practiced their energy control while the other made sure everything behind the counter was as clean as possible.

The employees felt like small children listening in on their parent’s conversations. Of course, that wasn’t the case, though there was an actual small child in the cafe. Jenni was, indeed, tagging along with her mother, but she was much more interested in the energy control that Pecan was practicing than eavesdropping on the meeting. Especially since Pecan’s practicing involved making a lot of cups glow in many different colors.

On the counter, were eight cups lined up in one neat little row. In each were a different drink.

“And here we go, my personal fave, rainbow cups!” Pecan said as she placed a hand over the furthest cup, wiggling her fingers dramatically. The air shifted slightly, and the first cup’s contents glowed red. She quickly placed her hand over the next cup and soon enough the contents glowed orange. She continued down the line as Jenni clapped in excitement: yellow, green, blue, purple, pink and finally white!

"That was cool!" Doe shouted. He had seen Pecan practice it before, but not while trying to entertain at the same time!

“Oh my gosh!!” Jenni screeched, but she clapped her hands over her mouth and looked back at her mom. “Sorry!”

Kera gently smiled at her child. “It’s okay. We’ll remember next time, right?”

Everyone who had watched clapped either genuinely or at least just to be polite. It’s best to be polite when someone shows their capabilities of infusing magic into multiple spells one after another, after all… and without being at the brink of fainting no less!

Merald tried to speak quietly to Derry, eyeing Pecan from the side as he didn't want her to hear what he was about to say. Unfortunately for Merald, he was quite a bit shorter than both Derry and Kera. After realizing that speaking low wasn't going to work for their situation, the women leaned in and Merald stood on his toes slightly so he could finally say...

"Pecan has really started to get the hang of it, hasn't she?"

A goofy smile grew on Derry's face, and she stifled a chuckle. "You couldn't spill that tea at normal volume?"

"I was waiting for the dirt," Kera laughed out.

"Ah, I guess I didn't want to jinx anything," Merald revealed, becoming infected with a mild case of Derry's chuckles.

Pecan herself glanced over to the three folks in their meeting briefly but went right back to talking with Jenni.

The three nervously wondered if she had heard them, but after it didn't seem like she had, they felt a breeze of collective relief. The idea of jinxing Pecan's progress was really starting to worry the three. They moved a little further from the counter so they could speak louder.

"Anyway, yeah she's made a bunch of improvements," Derry said, a dose of pride resonating in her voice. "She's going to be at Miits' level soon enough."

Kera gasped and grinned, "Oh, how is Miits doing?"

"Oh, you know her... she's cooking up all kinds of things."

Merald nodded, "I tried her newest dish the other day. Absolutely delicious! Even if it's not as close, I do like to stop by. It's quite lively over there now!"

"Oh, speaking of lively... the event," Kera reminded them.

The witch and merchant nodded. Staying on track during a meeting was important after all.

"So, let's get our to-do list straight. We'll have Reingale History Day here… I'll be hitting Seabirche to talk to the members there... and working with Miits on the food..." Derry listed her tasks as she wrote them down-- with Pecan's pen of course. It seemed that it was always the most easily accessible pen in the cafe.

Kera confirmed Derry's tasks. "Right, and I'm in charge of the decorations."

"And I'll get to work on filling out those papers," Merald began, "The other members are getting the rest together. I'll update you two on how everything is faring."

Derry clasped her hands together excitedly, "Alright…! Sounds like we'll have a nice event!"

Kera nodded, "On my way back, I'll let Monika know what we discussed. I think she's already started designing signs and flyers."

"Oh, perfect!" Derry cheered.

"Great! Well, I think all is well so far, hm?" Merald started as he readied himself for departure. "I call this meeting of the Reingale Historical Society: Trail Sector adjourned."

With that, the group dispersed. Merald took his leave while Kera rounded up Jenni.

"Bye, Derry! Bye, Pecan! Bye, Doe!" Kera called out. Jenni followed suit and waved to everyone wildly.

That left just Pecan, Derry, and Doe in the cafe. Derry anxiously looked around, imagining the event that was going to take place there soon enough. She was ecstatic, but she knew it was going to be a lot of work.

"Alright, you two," she began as she turned to Pecan and Doe. "I mentioned some of this a little before, but Witch Cafe Wisteria will be hosting Reingale History Day this year."

"I still can't believe you've been a part of the historical society this whole time when you didn't even know about the whole witches thing," Pecan pointed out.

Derry huffed, "Hey, the mayor was cool with me for some reason, so I thought everyone was. I joined Reingale's Historical Society at the mayor's request once she found out I bought this building. She knew what the cafe was and everything."

"Mayor's a witch. Confirmed," Pecan joked as she slowly cleaned up all of her cups.

"Hmm! I don't think so! My parents work with the mayor all the time on legislation and stuff! They never told me about her being a witch!" Doe nearly shouted.

Pecan smirked at Doe, "Maybe your parents are witches too and they're all hiding it."

While Doe pondered that, Derry steered the topic back on course, "Well, this should be a good way to show the city that we're chill. We're with it."

"Right! We have cold drinks and everything!" Doe exclaimed.

Pecan asked, "Are you uh... going to tell people about the class you want to do too?"

"Well, maybe I'm not ready yet… but I do want to bring it up for sure," Derry answered, staring at Pecan.

The staring continued, which made Pecan just a bit uncomfortable. "Uh… what?"

Derry shook her head, "Mmm mnn, nothing. I was just thinking. Both of you, I'm going to be at Camellia for a few days. I was going to say no magic, but… it shouldn't be too busy."

Pecan's eyes widened. What was Derry trying to say?

"Pecan, it looks like you can handle it. While I'm away, I trust that you can brew each drink with magic," Derry stated.

The apprentice smiled widely. This was the confirmation she was hoping for. Months of practice, months of failures! Weeks and weeks of working up her energy's stamina! Finally, her mentor was trusting her to infuse magic without her watching over.

"Uh! Okay!" Pecan breathed out in nervous excitement.

“But if things get wild then go ahead and take it easy," Derry warned.

It was then that someone who was very familiar to both Pecan and Derry walked into the cafe. Doe gave the woman a hearty welcome while Pecan and Derry were a bit more chummy.

“Welcome, Jade... here to yoink some cafe ideas?” Derry asked half joking and half serious.

Pecan flashed a goofy smile and folded her arms quite cockily. “Oh ho yeah, you came back to us, eh?”

Jade shook her head. “Newfound rivalry aside, I have always found Derry’s beverages to be absolutely exquisite. I fail to find a reason to not return every now and then.”

Derry smiled at her, attempting to hide her giddiness. “Aww, thank you, Jade... Here, let me get over there.”

The cafe owner walked around the counter. Pecan moved out of the way and looked over to Doe. He seemed pretty confused as to what was happening, but he kept a polite smile on, nonetheless. Such wonderful customer service!

“That’s Jade. She used to work here,” Pecan whispered to Doe as Jade ordered.

Finding that out seemed to delight Doe. “Oh! Okay!” he said loudly enough for Jade to look his way.

“It appears you have an additional employee,” Jade stated. “Is it busy?”

Derry shook her head. “Yes and no. We... just wanted to have more time to grow in other things. So... I thought it’d be good to get more help. Doe, this is Jade. Jade, this is Doe.”

“Hello! Nice to meet you!” Doe shouted.

Jade nodded at the newest employee and kept her attention on Derry from there. The former employee spoke as if only Derry could hear her. “His voice is rather deafening, isn’t it?”

Doe made a tiny gasp which caused Pecan to snicker. “Yeah, you have to uh… work on that volume.”

“He’ll get there. Oh, by the way… do you know a lot about Reingale? The cafe’s hosting Reingale History Day and I’m rounding up speakers…”

The two watched Derry prepare Jade’s drink, speaking casually to the former employee as if it was no problem to speak and mix at the same time. Though Pecan’s skills were growing, Derry’s mastery really put her apprentice’s work to shame. She was still incredibly quick, and there was a sense of confidence about her while Pecan still took her time setting up spells. Derry could speed through spells like they were nothing, if everyone gave exact change, that is. Even with her counting ability not being exactly great, she was getting better at it as she went.

As Derry infused Jade’s drink with magic, Pecan watched as her teacher seemed to effortlessly make the contents glow a bold hue of blue. Yet, there was something even more brilliant about it than usual. She had modified it.

Well, fair enough. Jade had made quite a few modifications to the drinks while she had been working there. Considering Witch Cafe Wisteria was, indeed, Derry’s child, she really didn’t have to get much permission to change her own recipes.

“Here you are. I kicked it in another direction this time. That’ll be… five godas,” Derry said as she gave the counter a brief wipe.

Jade raised her brows and handed Derry her five godas. “I appreciate this.”

“I have to keep up with the competition, right?” Derry laughed slightly. Jade chuckled lightly and took her usual seat.

Pecan thought about it. Derry was right. Surely other cafes would be adding and changing their recipes to be better all the time. They had added the Milk Seed Teas, but it wasn’t long until they saw another cafe add the same to their menu. Some even already had drinks like it on their menu!

“I should probably try to do more,” Pecan thought to herself. Not that Pecan wasn’t doing anything, but as much as Witch Cafe Wisteria was Derry’s child, Pecan saw it as something like a godchild to her.

So, the next day, when Derry was away at Witch Cafe Camellia, Pecan took the time to discuss the future of the cafe with Doe. Pecan packed a bag full of food like she usually did whenever Derry was at Witch Cafe Camellia. She ate a sandwich as she spoke-- which it’s still really dangerous to speak and eat at the same time!

“Doe, I uh… know you’re probably not planning on staying forever, but… mn… since you’re here, let’s think of some ideas,” Pecan said between bites.

The man with two names smiled. “I’m glad you want to talk to me about ideas!”

“Uh… it’s not for you. It’s for the cafe.”

“That’s okay too! What kinda ideas?!” Doe asked, becoming excited. “Is it for the History Day?”

Pecan hummed as she finished off her sandwich. “It uh… well it could be. That’s a start.”

“Oh oh! I can maybe give a speech about immigrant history! We have a whole bunch of different groups here!” Doe said as he pointed to himself. True, including Pecan and Doe, a lot of the residents of Reingale came from all over, especially because of Seabirche’s ports.

Pecan stared at Doe in thought, but quickly shook her head with a sigh. “Uh… sorry but I wouldn’t want to hear about immigrant history from someone who pretty much doesn’t talk to immigrants outside of his own group.”

“Oh! Now I talk to everyone here!”

“You shout to everyone here. It’s different,” Pecan pointed out. Doe didn’t understand the joke, apparently not very aware of just how loud he usually spoke. However, Pecan waved it off. “Anyway, I think it would be better if we ...uh… just stayed behind the counter and served drinks.”

Doe pointed at Pecan with a sharp inhale as if to say she was right. “Right right! There are only three of us!”

“There are only three of us and uh… we have no idea if Derry’s going to have to do other stuff. It might just be the two of us,” Pecan said as she grabbed a caramel pudding and a spoon out of her bag.

Doe inspected the pudding from afar. It was a cute little cup with a rubber band holding a cloth in place on top. As Pecan removed the cloth and revealed the pudding, Doe couldn’t help but lick his lips. “Oh wow! That looks really good!”

Pecan nearly hissed at Doe but held herself back. “This is a one-person pudding. You can’t have any.”

“Oh! No! I don’t want any! But where did you get it?!” Doe asked.

“I got it at Hulw.”

“What?!” Doe asked, not sure exactly what Pecan said.

“Hulw. Down Frist Road...?”

Doe furrowed his brow, trying to remember where the place was on the street. “I don’t think I’ve been there!”

“Oh. Well they sell a lot of uh… sweets-- there’s another place around the corner from there that has really good pudding too. They’re... uh... Layali Lubnan.” Pecan stared at Doe suspiciously as he grimaced a little.

“Hmmmm, I don’t think I‘ve been there either!” Doe revealed just a bit reluctantly. As Pecan squinted at him, he laughed uncomfortably. “Okay okay I admit! I’m not too adventurous with food! But that looks good! I’d try it!”

Pecan nodded as she thought. Ah, yes. Doe was one of those types of people. They type who only really tried what they were used to. “Uh… honestly, you should be more adventurous with food. Lucky for you, I’m a self-proclaimed foodie.”

With that, Pecan finished her pudding, whipped out a sheet of paper, and grabbed her pen. She began jotting down a bunch of names, separated by a dash, and followed by a bunch of foods.

“So I’m giving you this list of places you really should go to. These are ...uh… I dunno, just my favorites from each,” she said as she tapped the right side of the paper. “Can’t go wrong with these.”

Doe silently watched Pecan fill up the paper with restaurants, cafes, and markets. There were many places it seemed that Doe was expected to explore! Well, being adventurous does pay off for many. While he wasn’t too sure if he’d like any of the places, he was touched that his coworker would take the time to write such an extensive list for him.

“You really know a lot about food, huh?!” Doe asked with a laugh.

Pecan shrugged and bounced her pen on her finger as she thought of more places. “I guess. I actually wanted to open… uh… just a small restaurant with uh… well, you remember the girl I was with all the time? Her. Her name was Ama.”

“Yeah! She was... in a lot of my classes...!” Doe exclaimed just a bit uncomfortably. “Oh! So are you saving up for the restaurant?!”

The witch apprentice who was not quite a restaurant owner pushed out a ragged sighed. “Uh… no. Remember they made that stupid law where you have to have a culinary degree to open a restaurant or like uh... serve food? Well, we totally couldn’t afford college, so… yeah. That was the end of that.”

Doe made a voiceless “oh” with his mouth. That might have been the most silent communication he’d made since working at the cafe. However, such silence didn’t last long. “Did you ever think of moving?!”

“Uhhhh… Really don’t want to. I like it here or… here at the cafe too. I wish we could serve food and not just drinks, but what can you do?”

Doe nodded enthusiastically. “I really wish we could have food too! I get so hungry!”

“I know, right? Just pastries or something would be good,” Pecan said while grabbing a pastry from her bag just in time!

“I think there are workarounds! Oh! Like granola bars! You’re not cooking it, so it works!” Doe pointed out.

Pecan nodded in thought. There were indeed workarounds. She hadn’t really thought of them though. She didn’t want to step on Derry’s toes too much after all. “That’s a good idea. Uh… yeah. Let’s think of some things and bring it up to Derry when she comes back.”

And so, the cafe didn’t have many guests come in, but it was a productive brainstorming day for both Pecan and Doe. They hoped their ideas would bring food into the workplace!