An Espresso Tale
Accipiter G. Goshawk
This story is a little different than the others. It doesn’t contain “real” elements of fantasy per se, and the story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world. However, magic and wonder come into play in part two, when the other great passion in my life -D&D- takes to the stage.
Tia stared at the sun-scorched earth and waited.
She’d been standing there for ten minutes before Jim found her.
“What are you doing?” he asked his younger sister, peering at the spot she’d been concentrating on.
“I was waiting for something to grow,” she said.
Jim sighed and took her hand in his.
“I’m afraid that that’s not how it works, sis,” he said quietly. “Mom and Dad told us that it takes time.”
“How much time?” she asked as they began to move down the slope towards the hill-home.
“Forever,” Jim thought to himself, but instead answered “A while. Come on; let’s get inside before the UVs get too strong. Today I’m teaching you to knit plastic fibres.”
She smiled, and for a while forgot about things growing. However, her thoughtful stare had started up the sad cogs of Jim’s mind and all he could think of was the green.
Of course, he’d never seen a real plant, only pictures. Mom and Dad had managed to scrounge a few dusty tomes from the ruins of the old library; one of them had been an encyclopaedia of trees and other forest vegetation. It was one of the children’s favourite books, and though Jim was beginning to notice the deep sadness that filled his parent’s eyes whenever they paged through it, he couldn’t even begin to hide his fascination with this alien world he’d never known. The faded emerald sketches shone through his eyes with promises of wonder and magic, and he felt a little sad that the place beyond the pages was now as unreal as dragons.
They reached the bottom of the hill and took a sharp right, entering the dark tunnel that led home. They passed the first few rows of holes, where the older folk lived. Mr. Fischer was already out, sweeping the dirt from his doorway, looking as annoyed as ever. They quickly stopped by the Spinner’s home, where Jim exchanged a small vial of water for a bag of shiny colourful plastic fibres that she had had masterfully spun into a two-ply yarn.
“I added a little bit of cat-hair to that dear,” she said proudly. “It should make the clothes softer.” In the corner, a tawny Maine Coon yawned and stared at the two children.
“Thank you Spinner. I’ll be sure to show you what we make. I’m teaching Tia today.”
“Oh that’s lovely! It’s a good skill to know, too. Very practical…if you take a shine to it, you may even want to try spinning. I’d be happy to teach you,” she said, turning to the young girl. Tia nodded shyly.
They left the damp hole and moved further into the hill. Mushrooms glowed above them, lighting their way home.
Their house was next door to the village cave; it was for this reason, that they were the first to meet the Dungeon Mistress.
She was leaning against the opening to the wide space in the centre of the hill, staring at the dying embers of the fire pit. They knew what she was, because she was wearing a Bandoleer of Chance. Dice of countless different sizes and shapes swung and rattled as she moved, giving the impression that she was carrying a stripe of fish-scales.
She’d thrown back her hood, letting her long brown hair fall back on to her shoulders. Jim eyed her heavy pack in admiration: he’d always wondered how the nomadic roleplaying sages could survive out in the wastes.
The Mistress turned, and seeing the children smiled warmly.
“Hello, I’ve come to DM. Would you kids be kind enough to show me the way to the mayor’s office?”
Tia noticed the long scar running from the woman’s forehead to her right cheek, but said nothing.
“Of course, please come with us,” said Jim, trying to contain his awe and excitement. “The mayor is our mother.”
The woman nodded and picking up her pack, following behind the two siblings.
As they walked the last few meters to the hole, Tia did her best not to skip for joy.
They were going to have a Game!-
The story continues in Part II…