“What would really help him de-stress is if our cats would stop being so territorial about him and let him pet them both at once,” a young man says to Taseino, gesturing at his weary partner. “Nothing’s as relaxing as petting a cat. But barring that, I thought you might have a soothing tea?”
“Miyara, do we have any rodensbane?” Taseino asks me.
“We’re out up here. Why don’t you re-fill the tin in the back?”
“Rodensbane?” the exhausted man asks. “Isn’t that a Cataclysm shrub that wards off small animals like rats?”
“That’s the one,” I say, taking over for Taseino. “It emanates a gas that produces that effect. Curiously, though, the condensed form we’ve infused in tea increases the likelihood that any nearby cats will want to cuddle with the drinker. Some cats ignore the effect, of course, being cats, but one customer reported her neighbor’s cats snuck in to sit with her. She had five cats holding her down for the better part of an evening.”
“That’s like the opposite of being the bane of rodents,” he says. “It calls all the cats off duty.”
His partner laughs. “That’s perfect. Maybe we’ll stock up.”
“Taseino can help you at the counter,” I say, taking my leave.
“Miyara, could you come here please?” Taseino asks, uneasy.
I frown at his tone, crossing the room quickly to the two men with rodensbane tea. Each has a cat in his lap and another winding through their legs.
I arrive in time to hear, “What if we came all this way and one cup wasn’t enough, and then he really believed the cats would never sit with him and that made everything worse? I just wanted to be safe.”
Safe? Oh dear.
“Lorwyn,” I call in an even voice.
She looks up suspiciously from where she’d been trying to sneakily re-stock a tea drawer. “Yes?”
“It seems someone has had multiple cups of the tea with rodensbane in the last hour.”
Her eyebrows shoot up. “How many, exactly?”
I look at the customer, who shrugs and points at the enormous teapot on their table. “A lot?”
Lorwyn swears viciously. “Entero, shut the doors, right now.”
“What?” the man asks.
Around us, other customers are starting to look around for the cause of commotion, and we’ve discovered it not a moment too soon.
There are more than a dozen cats at the door, and in the distance I see more closing in.
A few cats paw at the door, and another jumps up to hang off the door handle.
Entero slams it shut again, wedging a chair under the handle to lock it in place, and I shove a table behind him to hold it there.
I hear the patter of too many paws from above us. “Lorwyn, are there vents or pipes to the roof?” I ask.
Lorwyn goes white. “Oh no.”
“I’ll show her where,” Entero says, grabbing Lorwyn by the elbow and dragging her to the back, where she won’t be seen working witchcraft to free cats from the walls. “We’ll get them blocked.”
“Remind me to create a process for regulating rodensbane sales more carefully,” I say to Taseino, who nods vigorously, eyeing the fifty-some cats now mewing outside the shop, trying to break in.
The exhausted man has a smile on his face, though, as all the cats that made it inside try to fit themselves into his lap.
“My sincerest apologies for the inconvenience,” I say to our other wide-eyed customers as the door rattles. “It seems we’ll have to keep the shop closed for a short time. Can I get anyone another cup of tea on the house?”
Support me on Patreon!
Back to Tea Shop Interludes