Chet Flash wuz here Circulation: 197,025,990 Issue: 921 | 20th day of Storing, Y22
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The Coffee Tavern: Beginnings


by cyberfall

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”There it is!” The kacheek pointed her dainty, fragile arm toward Ash’s petpet yooyu that had been lounging on the floor.

      “Dear Fyora,” the male gelert muttered, his eyes as wide as they could expand. “I have never in my long, tiresome life seen such a petpet. It’s a blessing to my eyes!”

      “I’ve only heard stories of yooyus and their participation in the Altador Cup games. He is a precious little gem!” The kacheek kneeled down to engage in eye contact with the yooyu. “What is your name, young one?

      “That’s croissant!” Ash exclaimed with a smile plastered across his soft, round face. Vrosealie warmly greeted the two guests. They seemed intrigued by the vivid colours and outlandish customs Ash wore.

      “Where do you reside, young sir?” The grey Kacheek asked sweetly while batting her luscious, dark eyelashes.

      “Meridell!”

      “How exotic! We are blessed to run into you.” Her attention wandered to the blinding yellow mug that confidently stood out against the dull, cobblestone wall. “What is that lovely drink?”

      “Cocoa Juppie Mocha!” A Meridell relic.”

      “Thrilling! Extravagant...all the way from the moors of Meridell. I have never!”

      Her gelert friend handed a few hundred neopoints to Vrosealie, “we’ll be pleased to have two.”

      Vrosealie nudged Ashdken. “Make one mocha and kindly teach me to replicate it.” She handed him half of the neopoints she had collected. He nodded enthusiastically.

      Wow, working in a Neovian café! How adventurous. Ashdken felt as though his heart would go through the roof. “You guys can hang out with Croissant while we finish up those mochas!” Vrosealie cautiously mirrored Ash as he showed her the steps to creating the Cocoa Juppie Mocha.

      “Voila!” Ash and Vrosealie proudly presented the mochas to the guests. The kacheek and gelert promptly tried the mochas. The two neopets looked astonished.

      “This is the grandest cup of coffee in Neovia I have tasted!” The kacheek exclaimed.

      “It tastes as if it's a sweet breakfast combined with a bitter cup of coffee. Ingenious!” The gelert tipped the two a thousand neopoints. “Thank you, ma’am. We will be sharing this news with the town. Good day!”

      “Many thanks, good day to you sir,” Vrosealie curtsied.

      “Thanks for stopping by, guys!” Ash waved frantically. The guests bid their farewells to the yooyu, Croissant, and walked out the door. Vrosealie swiftly turned to Ash.

      “That paid off the shop’s rent. Would you like to work with me? I am intrigued to learn new recipes.”

      “Well,” he said in a slightly critical tone. “We’re gonna have to start by brightening up the place. How about some flowers?”

      “What’s the name of this place? Ashdken scratched the surface of his soft, pillow-like chin.

      “Coffee Shop,” Vrosealie blandly replied. He stared at her waiting for the punchline of what he hoped was a joke.

      “Oh, you’re serious?”

      “It’s a coffee shop.”

      “We need something a little more modern...something with atmosphere.”

      “The Coffee Café.”

      “Meri Acres Café!”

      “We’re in Neovia.”

      “How about,” Ash looked around the dusty, dark shop contemplating his next suggestion. “The Coffee Tavern?”

      Vrosealie pondered for a moment with her arms tightly crossed before loosening them. “Fine, that’ll do.”

      Ash flung his arms up in the air with a genuine, wide grin at the sign of her approval. “Cool! I’ll etch a new logo onto the sign and you can grab some flowers for the décor.”

      The two neopets proceeded to rearrange the shop’s aesthetic into something more inviting. Ashdken hung up a freshly carved wooden sign in front of the storefront that read, “The Coffee Tavern” in bold, enhanced letters. The title circled around an image of a potion vial with a single coffee bean inside of it. Ash and Vrosealie worked together to come up with a new menu.

      “We’re going to need mochas and lattes. Lots of them!”

      Vrosealie grumbled in defence of sticking to her traditions, but she knew chances at success required experimentation and stepping outside the comfort zone. “Go ahead.”

      “We’ll make sure to include blends from all over Neopia, and we can have fresh ingredients delivered from Meri Acres.”

      Ash plastered the new menu onto the front window. He proceeded to help Vrosealie install new lighting from medieval-style chandeliers to candlesticks emitting a warm glow on the walls. Flowers from all over the glove were placed strategically throughout the store: at the front entrance, weaving through the cobblestone walls, hanging planters from the ceiling, and even a few glass terrariums featuring exotic plants and artefacts from other worlds. Shenkuu lilies, Meridellan daffodils, Faerieland blossoms, and even a few glowing plants from Virtupets to add a pop of a dream-like fantasy vibe. They added a few booths on the right side of the café to take up empty space along the walls and bookcases on each side. Stools were placed along the front of the counter to encourage chatting with baristas. Ash pleaded, and succeeded, in adding a reading nook. In the back corner of the store, an Altador-esque arch bearing dark turquoise velvet curtains bordered the opening to the small nook. Small faerie lights dangled from the arch and windows expelled a golden light into the corner. The interior floor was really just a giant circular mattress with large, comfy pillows placed sporadically on top of it.

      “Okay, we need music.” Ashdken set up a clunky, old-fashioned vinyl he found in the attic and began playing music. A medieval lure delicately played in the background accompanied by soft chirps of morning birds.

      “You’re going to need a uniform to fit in,” Vrosealie generously handed him a small handful of neopoints.

      “Got it!”

      Ash returned to the shop dressed in an off-white linen, ruffled blouse with crisscross ties climbing from the chest area to his neckline. He failed to ditch his ripped skinny jeans, but this time he wore them in a deep cedar colour. He still had his dirty combat boots loosely tied on his feet and wrists full of bracelets up to his elbows. “Let’s have Croissant up front with me advertising!”

      “GRAND REOPENING! Stop by The Coffee Tavern! Delicacies brought in from all of Neopia! Enjoy a dessert in your morning cup of coffee! Exotic lattes and mochas from your favourite vacation spot!” Ashdken stood confidently on top of a creaky, wooden crate waving his arms. Croissant sat next to him, clueless, watching a small crowd of Neovians gather around the cobblestone storefront.

      “We go to the bakery every morning,” one woman complained to her friend.

      “Alright,” they replied. “We’ll try this place for a change.”

      Neovians conversed back and forth. A majority of the residents gawked at the yooyu, Croissant. The Crumpetmonger bakery across the street came across as more barren than usual, considering it was the hottest spot in town at the break of dawn. The owner of the bakery, a short plump Meerca with plump white hair resembling a cloud, menacingly tapped her foot with her arms tightly crossed.

      The Coffee Tavern, for the first time, had a line trailing from the counter to the front door. A few Neovians had their noses stuck in books while drinking their sugar-filled coffees at small wooden tables, while others met up with friends and families. Laughter filled the air and excitement over the new drinks blossomed as the sound of medieval instruments travelled from ear to ear.

      Ashdken tiredly threaded inside the store after a long morning of shouting his heart out. His voice was hoarse and his eyes drooped exhaustedly. He stopped in his tracks, his eyes now wide as the horizon, when he saw the amount of people merrily enjoying their hot cups of coffee. The atmosphere forced Ash to reminisce about the playful feeling of dancing in the castle walls back home in Meridell. He made eye contact with Vrosealie, who smiled at him for the first time as she struggled to keep her excitement caged inside. He hurried himself behind the counter to help make drinks and introduce himself formally to the new customers.

      “Wow,” Ash wiped the sweat from his forehead that was already covered by his thick, voluminous dark-brown hair. “What a day!”

      Vrosealie turned around a sign in the front window to ‘CLOSED’ as Ash began to sweep the floors. “Ah, yeah,” she hesitated for a painstakingly long moment. “I couldn’t have done it without you.”

      He grinned from ear to ear as he wolfed down a vanilla biscotti. For once, he stayed peacefully silent.

      “Now go rush to bed,” Vrosealie shooed him as she wasn’t used to showing thankfulness, and it clearly made her uncomfortable. “We have a long day tomorrow.”

      The Coffee Tavern had been nothing short of an inspirational success in the small, outdated town of Neovia. People come in and out of the doors from the morning to sun fall. The shop bustled with activity and conversation. Word spread around about the new exotic dessert coffees, everyone was ecstatic, all Neovians except the Meerca who own The Crumpetmonger.

      “We’ve been losing business to The Coffee Tavern,” the Meerca’s assistant, an even smaller island mynci, broke out.

      “I know,” the Meerca retorted. “Coffee tainted with sugar and milk? Outrageous! A dessert should be separate from coffee.”

      “It’s like people have lost their sense of taste.”

      “It’s...honestly an ingenious idea.”

      The Coffee Tavern’s employees closed for the week while tiresomely packing all their belongings for the move to Meridell. The two made sure to bring antiques and furniture native to Neovia to give their shop an exotic flair later on. Ashdken spent his newly found free time adventuring around the town of Neovia, while Vrosealie bid her farewell to her family and few friends. The Neovians that once doubted her every choice were now rooting for her new endeavours. Although Vrosealie found this new attitude strange, she felt a strong sense of him glistening inside of her heart.

To be continued…

 
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