Chapter 22:

One day, the cafe hosted Reingale History Day.

Witch Cafe Wisteria

It was the day of the heavily planned for and long awaited Reingale History Day, and Witch Cafe Wisteria's employees were preparing for the event. Joining them on such a swell day were the employees of Witch Cafe Camellia.

Upon seeing each other, Pecan and Ama quickly gave each other hugs and then joked around.

"You're on my turf?!" Pecan loudly said in the gruffest voice she could manage.

"Hoho! This is myyyy turf now!" Ama shouted back as she assumed the stance of a gunslinger about to do a quick draw.

However, Miits was having none of it. "Y'all cut it out. Ama, put the sandwiches in the fridge already!"

Ama scurried away to retrieve the sandwiches as Pecan ran back behind the counter. Ama yelled, "Ahh! Aye aye, captain!"

"Cold box," Derry corrected her sister with a whisper.

"You want help or not? 'Cause I'm not playing the back in time game with this city," Miits began, effectively making Derry back off. "Aight so Minesh, Yolanda, let's unload the other boxes."

Seeing that Miits meant business as she managed the "Catering Team", Derry felt the need to get her team in order as well. She was the leader of "Ye Olde Drink Makers" and had definitely come up with the name right then and there.

Derry addressed Pecan and Doe. "Alright, Ye Olde Drink Makers… what we're going to do... is brew up a bunch of seed milk teas. Miits brought her… cold box too, so we should be able to stock up. We'll have to make hot drinks as they order. We good?"

"Yep!" Pecan and Doe answered.

As the Catering Team set up food and Ye Olde Drink Makers brewed as much tea as possible, Kera and Merald decorated, moved tables and chairs, and set up a stage. Meanwhile, Jenni was taking a nap in the back room. Can't leave your five-year-old alone at home, after all.

Soon enough, many of the Reingale Historical Society's members began to make their way into the cafe, wearing more formal historical garb. They helped out or quickly took their seats.

At some point, Jade came into the cafe. She waved at Derry and Pecan, not wanting to bother them as they made drinks. She caught the attention of a society member who was helping Merald with the stage and they discussed speeches for quite a while before someone who was decked head to toe in black came in. They quickly included the black-clad person into their conversation.

About an hour before it was time to open the cafe’s doors to the public, the mayor arrived. She was promptly bombarded with conversation after conversation. She didn’t even get to sit before Doe rushed to prop open the doors of the cafe to show the world on the outside that all were welcome.

It was time! The guests were already rushing in. Pecan guessed that most of the attendees were at least in their late thirties and older.

“Uhhh, I’m not ready,” Pecan excitedly whispered. Despite her words, Pecan was up for the challenge.

After about thirty minutes rolled by, the mayor quickly made her way to the stage.

“Welcome, everyone,” she began, “I hope everyone has gotten situated. I know the food looks good but let me say my piece first… and then let me GET a piece first!”

As the mayor laughed at her own joke, everyone uncomfortably joined her.

“So, welcome to our annual Reingale History Day celebration! This year, Witch Cafe Wisteria is hosting and… phew what a PLACE to host it in, am I right?” the mayor asked.

Again, the crowd uncomfortably laughed.

“We have a lot of great things in store for you today,” the mayor began. “But before we get started, go get yourselves some food and drinks!”

Pecan jumped a bit as she felt all the eyes in the room lock onto her. Those folks were ready to feast! With almost no hesitation, people were already rushing toward the counter.

The employees didn’t have time to think but could only try their best to serve everyone quickly!

Soon, mostly everyone had gotten their food and drinks. However, there would be another time for folks to fill their stomachs, so they quickly worked to replenish their stock.

That’s when Hao and Seigan ran in, out of breath. As usual, Hao had his lute on his back while Seigan kept his bag on his side. “We… we made it!” Hao breathed out with a ragged groan.

“Yeah,” Seigan mumbled as he placed his hands on his knees.

After waving to Hao excitedly, the mayor hopped on stage.

“Hello again everyone! Miss me?” She asked, receiving another bout of uncomfortable laughs. “We’re going to have one of our society members discus traditional textiles while one of our resident textile shop owners show off our lovely city cloth! Here they are!”

Kera and one of the members of the crowd took their place on stage. Kera placed a trunk in the middle.

“As we all know, the textile industry here in Reingale has always been unique,” the member began. “Our clothes tend to have a very traditional look to them, but what many like about our clothes are how they FEEL.”

With that, Kera opened the trunk and pulled out a soft-looking fabric with incredibly intricate patterns. As she unfurled the fabric, the crowd let out a soft “oo”.

While everyone else was occupied with the presentation, Hao and Seigan made their way to the counter.

“Hi!” Hao whispered as he waved to the employees of Witch Cafe Wisteria.

Seigan also waved, excited to see everyone again. He also whispered. “It has been a while.”

“It sure has… welcome back…!” Derry whispered as Doe waved to them as well.

“Hey! How’d the traveling bard thing go?” Pecan asked Seigan.

The budding wise man nodded with a huge smile and bashfully scratched the back of his neck. “Ah, it has been enjoyable.”

Hao chuckled and excitedly revealed in a shout whisper, “This guy’s been so into it! He’s been writing his own songs, doing his own little town-to-town research and everything!”

Pecan wordlessly flashed an incredulous open-mouthed smile at Seigan who couldn’t respond more than to hide his face and ask for a Wisdom Tea.

“Oh, right. I’ll just get some water for now if that’s okay,” Hao whispered with a pause to follow. He leaned in close to Pecan so only she could hear. “Wait till you see Seigan in action!!”

Hearing Hao’s overly excited whisper managed to get a laugh out of Pecan. She tried to play it off to the people who looked over because of the abrupt noise by getting to work on those drinks.

The two performers only had just enough time to finish their drinks before Kera and the other society member ended their presentation. Kera quickly went to the back room to wake up Jenni as the mayor called Hao and Seigan onto the stage.

“Weren’t those some lovely fabrics?” The mayor asked. Upon receiving a round of applause, the mayor continued. “Next is someone who I’ve been working with for a while. He has continued the tradition of traveling bards that used to be common when Reingale and Seabirche were one city.”

Hao waved enthusiastically with a winning smile. “Hello!”

“His work has been absolutely phenomenal. He’s been going all over the country spreading the word about Reingale while also sharing stories from all the places he’s visited,” the mayor explained.

The crowd clapped with some hoots and hollers mixed in as well.

Pecan turned to Derry and whispered, “Wait, really?” Doe was also curious, but Derry could only shrug.

“Thank you!” Hao began. “The members of the Reingale Historical Society have been nothing but supportive about this project. Mayor Abalos told me that tourism has increased after I started traveling. I was thinking ‘neat’, but I’m also just really glad I get the chance to put a smile on everyone’s face!”

Another round of applause followed, and Hao continued once they stopped. “I’m even more glad because I’ve been able to travel with another history enthusiast, Mr. Seigan over here! He’s been writing songs and performing right along with me! He’s also been helping me document our adventures. He’s been so helpful. I can’t thank him enough! Say ‘hi’, Seigan!”

Seigan waved shyly, not expecting all the praise. “Hello. Thank you.”

After a few more words to the crowd, Hao grabbed his lute from behind his back as Seigan grabbed a tambourine from his bag. With that, the performance began.

Hao and Seigan first sang a song about the beauty of living in Reingale. The lyrics sometimes took dark turns about some of the slightly silly laws the city upheld, but they would quickly change the subject and sing about the roads and tumbleweeds. Most of the songs were humorous, so the crowd laughed and clapped along all in good fun. Even Jenni was hopping around with the music after she shook off the grogginess from her nap.

Every now and then, the men sang more serious tunes, but the crowd appreciated those songs as well. It was all such a delight to see… and hear!

Once the performance ended, the crowd cheered with much enthusiasm. Hao and Seigan bowed and left the stage as Mayor Abalos returned.

“I’m back! What a great performance, right?!” she asked the crowd. She was met with more loud cheering. “Right! So our next presentation will be from a woman who can recite Reingale history from the top of her head. Please welcome Jade!”

As Jade made it on stage, the crowd clapped politely... and then there was Hao who was clapping a little too enthusiastically.

“Please disregard Hao’s boundless energy. I found it difficult to select a proper topic to present, so we spoke at length about various topics until he suggested a suitable subject which also serves as a significant source of inspiration for him,” Jade began. “That subject would be musicians originating from the Reingale and Seabirche area.”

Hao pumped a fist happily which earned a laugh from the crowd since they then understood his actions. It was definitely more reassuring if the city’s bard was passionate about all things music, after all.

The speech was a great follow up to the musical performances and the crowd was more than happy to hear Jade speak on the topic. She really was ridiculously knowledgeable about it!

Soon enough, Jade’s speech was over, and Mayor Abalos encouraged the crowd to eat and drink more.

“Here they come!” Doe mumbled from the side of his mouth.

“Looks like the music and speech were too lit. They’re looking hella thirsty,” Derry whispered to her crew as the crowd approached.

The crowd was even bigger than before, so they really had to pick up the pace. Thankfully, they already had their system down! After the crowd went back to their seats, Pecan locked eyes with Ama.

“Wuuuuh,” Ama uttered, flashing an exaggeratedly weary expression.

“Don’t die!” Pecan said in a mocking low voice.

“I’m dying,” Ama returned in her own low voice.

Miits pat Ama and Yolanda’s shoulders. “Why don’t y’all take a break? Minesh and I got this.”

Minesh gave them both a thumbs up and Ama looked over to Pecan with a false look of shock. Perhaps Pecan would be jealous of Ama’s break! However, Pecan was more than content with her role. It wasn’t like people came up during the presentations often.

As the speaker who wore all black made it to the stage, Pecan took a seat in the chair. Even Doe found a seat on the ground. The Reingale Society members were helpful and were cleaning up as much as they could, so Ye Olde Drink Makers were able to focus on… well, making drinks.

Derry looked down to her employees, whispering over the mayor’s introduction. “Let me nab some food for us.”

“…and now they’re the last member. So please welcome them as they give us firsthand history!” the mayor cheered uncomfortably.

“Yes, please!” Pecan and Doe both whispered in reply to Derry with enthusiastic nods. So, Derry fetched six plates of food, much to Miits’ irritation. The cafe owner’s defense was, “Darn it, Miits, we’re... hella hungry!”

No argument there. That allowed the employees of Witch Cafe Wisteria to eat as they listened.

“As you all might remember, this building used to be home to the Cult of the Sea Clan,” the speaker began. Pecan spit out her water as this was news to her. “In order to appease the Sea Gods, it was necessary to sacrifice many humans to the vast waters.”

Pecan looked over to Derry who looked equally confused.

“Many say this building is haunted,” the speaker continued. “However, that is preposterous as they sacrificed members out at sea. Ah, well, perhaps there was one person who met their demise here, but hmmm... eh, that doesn’t count.”

“Uh, we’ll be the judge of that?” Pecan mumbled to herself.

The crowd began looking around uncomfortably as the speaker went on. “Aside from sacrifices, we attempted to bolster the morale of our members with a very special formula. You’re all welcome to try it.”

With that, everyone looked over to Derry suspiciously, but she quickly waved her hands around to show she didn’t have anything like that and shrugged wildly to indicate that she had no idea what the speaker was talking about.

Doe, who looked the most confused, stood up to see who was even speaking. Actually, all three of the employees recognized the speaker as someone who came to the cafe every now and then whenever the college crowd would come in.

“Of course, with the unfortunate deaths and arrests of my fellow members, I am the only one left who has this formula-- though surely some have reincarnated by now, but until they answer the ‘call’ or realize they have returned in another body, I can only assume it is only I,” the speaker explained.

There wasn’t a face in the crowd that didn’t look either confused or concerned, but the speaker continued anyway.

“That being said, if anyone would like to join my… ‘BOOK CLUB’,” the speaker made quotations with their fingers as they obviously did not host a book club. “I would appreciate it if you would let me know if you’re interested.”

After a long moment of silence, the speaker finally said “thank you” with a smile and left the stage. Mayor Abalos hesitantly made her way back on stage. With an uncomfortable chuckle she said, “Thank you. And remember, everyone, cults are banned in Reingale, especially after… those incidents mentioned.”

The crowd, once again, uncomfortably laughed back. Very understandable in that situation.

“Well, we’re going to end Reingale History Day with a word from the owner of this cafe, who I’m sure knew the history of this building, but she bravely set up here anyway,” Mayor Abalos said.

Instantly, the employees from both Wisteria and Camellia looked over to Derry who could only smile nervously. All of them were willing to bet that she, in fact, did not know the history of the building. And they were right.

Mayor Abalos continued, “Many were telling me not to allow witches to buy the place, but when she explained what her cafe would be about, it sounded okay to me. Plus, who else would want this place, right?”

The crowd laughed, again, uncomfortably and Derry just sweat nervously as she walked onto the stage.

“Without further ado, here’s Derry,” Mayor Abalos said as she gave Derry the spotlight.

The crowd clapped slowly, hoping Derry’s speech wouldn’t be a weird continuation of the last speaker’s speech.

“Hello… I’m Derry. I… own Witch Cafe Wisteria here and… Witch Cafe Camellia over in Seabirche,” Derry began as she nervously laughed. “Well, I guess I get why folks... would be wary of witches after all that mess... even if we’re not a cult or anything…”

The crowd nodded subconsciously, but Derry kept going. “But we don’t do anything... too bad here… all of our drinks are meant to help and not harm.”

She pointed to the chalkboard menu sign. “Check it… we have Good Luck Tea, Braver-Tea-- for confidence, Wisdom Tea… Creativi-Tea-- you know, all good things. And a lot of those are just things my ancestors really needed back in the day since… well, things were a little hard for us then.”

As many in the crowd knew that history quite well, they hummed in understanding.

“And so… we always kept that in our community, but I wanted to just… help by making the things that helped us available to everyone I could come by-- if they wanted them… So I started these cafes…!” Derry explained.

Hao, Seigan, and Jade, who had found themselves huddling at a table together, lightly kicked each other and began to clap. Merald and Kera picked up on it and clapped as well. Quickly, the other members of the crowd clapped so they wouldn’t seem rude.

Derry smiled in appreciation. Thank goodness for everyone’s kindness.

“Soon, I’ll be starting classes for anyone who would like to learn a spell or two. Just things like good luck-- I promise we won’t be sacrificing anyone…!” Derry said as she flailed a bit. Thankfully, this earned a laugh from the crowd. “So if you’re interested then keep a look out for any flyers. It should be fun!”

Some of the people in the crowd nudged each other and nodded. It looked like they were interested in the hopefully non-human sacrifice lessons!

After thanking her employees, Miits with her crew, the members of the Reingale Historical Society, and anyone who came, Derry ended her speech. And that was the end of the Reingale History Day ceremony.