Glimmerdust Essence

Meristo dashes past me fast enough I fear for the stability of the tea tray he carries. Fortunately, his muscle memory is up to the task, and he sets it down quickly before pivoting around to help the next customer. Before I can blink he’s visited a third.

He’s a fountain of productivity today, but the atmosphere of the tea shop has grown tense with his hasty pace.

I narrow my eyes and begin brewing a pot of tea no one has ordered.

When he passes by the counter again I say, “Meristo, a moment please.”

“Later, Miyara, I have to—”

“Unless a customer is about to literally explode, it can wait,” I say.

He blinks, startled into pausing. “Well, there’s an image. What do you need?”

“For you to breathe,” I say. “Why are you running around like a dragon’s breathing fire behind you?”

Meristo laughs, but even that sounds stressed. “Older sisters have a lot in common with dragons, you don’t even know.”

“I might,” I say dryly.

“You have an older sister?” he asks, shocked, like the notion I didn’t erupt fully formed with no personal connections has ever occurred to him.

“Several,” I say. “I’ve also met Lorwyn, who perhaps exemplifies the breed you’re referring to.” His ensuing laugh is a little more sincere. “What did your older sister do?”

Meristo runs a hand through his hair. “This is going to sound stupid. She recommended the shop to one of her acquaintances, but she made sure to tell me about it, and my sister, she’s…”

“A schemer?” I suggest.

“To say the least,” he says. “I don’t know the details, but I know I’m responsible for making sure whoever she sent doesn’t have a terrible experience, or whatever her plot is will be ruined and I will be hearing about it for the rest of my life.”

“Then you really need to slow down, because the atmosphere you’re currently cultivating will ruin the experience for sure,” I say.

Meristo glances around the room rapidly, his expression panicked as he attempts to take in what I’ve noted.

“Breathe,” I repeat. “Think. You’ve been working here for years now. You have great instincts, and you know your sister. Look around the room and tell me if a person who’s likely to feature in her schemes is here.”

Meristo is quiet for less than a minute. Then: “There.”

He’s pinpointed an understated young woman seated on the opposite side of the room—and even from here, she looks vaguely disappointed.

“Spirits,” Meristo says quietly. “I really messed this up, didn’t I.”

“Perhaps the situation can be salvaged,” I say, proffering a tray with the prepared pot and cups. “This is glimmerdust essence white, on the house.”

Lorwyn created multiple blends with this ingredient, but this one caused the drinker’s view of the world to be a little more magical. Not hallucinations—but richer colors, extra sparkle, like looking at the ordinary world through a lens of wonder.

I place the tea tray in Meristo’s hands. “You can take it from here, I think.”

Meristo doesn’t ask why I had this tea ready. He takes a deep, exhales.

Accepts the tea.

And I watch the calculation twinkle back into his eyes along with the charming edge to his smile.

“Oh yes,” he says. “I can make this work. Thanks, Miyara.”

He swaggers off.

I do my own circuit of the front, with a touch here and there to restore the shop’s regular calm.

By the time I return to the counter and chance a glance across the room, the radiant glow of his sister’s guest is dim only in comparison to the brilliance of Meristo’s smile.


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