“Dropped a bridge on us they did. Then they threw people at us. And, on top of it all they finished with a giant wave. Washed away my store it did…”
It was one of many such rants by previous inhabitants of Flockboast. Dojima the Silver raised his tea to his lips and drank deeply. It was rooibos, his favourite, a tea that only grew on the mountains of Beard Island. Siphokazi the Sharp arrived with her own tea, peppermint, and sat with Dojima. She sipped silently.
“I normally wait for it to cool down first.” Dojima said.
“Some like it hot. In fact, I often find it a bit too cold.” Siphokazi replied. Dojima could see his reflection in her glasses.
“So, where were you when it happened?” Dojima asked after a pause.
“I was at the Omnom Restaurant. There was a rowdy group of individuals celebrating something noisily and jovially. I would have preferred to carry on my investigation but my timetable said it was time for sustenance. There were several possible meals I could have chosen from. I was tempted by the Reticent Duck Stew but ultimately chose the Squid Special. It is after all a local delicacy or rather it was. I was only 60% through my meal when the Fish-Kin contacted us.” She sipped her tea indicating the end of her story.
“Where were you, Dojima-san?” she asked.
“I was on top of the walls. The view from up there is spectacular. You can see the beaches until their end. I could just make out the lights of Nose Island in the distance. And I’ve never seen so much of Perpetuum’s Forest.”
“Perpetuum’s Forest. I’ve only seen that name in the old texts.”
“I’m not old!” Dojima snapped.
“As you say, Sir.” Siphokazi said.
Just then Jack the Tipper burst in through the teavern door and bellowed, “One Squid Ink Tea if you please, good steeper!”
You see, tea (of all sorts) is the most commonly drunk beverage in the Gnome Archipelago. As a result, Teaverns litter its many roads and pathways. Each tavern will stock the three basic teas: Green Tea, Black Tea and Rooibos as well as their own signature blend. For example…
“One Squid Ink Tea.” said the steeper as he handed it to Jack.
“Thanks.” Jack grinned broadly and took a large purse from his hip and gave it to the steeper. “Keep the change.”
He spotted Dojima and Siphokazi and headed straight for them.
“Hey! Jack didn’t know you were here. Jack’s been looking all over for the others.” He grabbed a chair from another table and joined them.
Jack gulped down his tea in one go.
“Ah!” he summarised. His teeth had gone ink black and contrasted starkly with his snow white hair. He grinned at them for a while and said nothing.
“What’s life like as a Warrior Librarian?” Jack asked Siphokazi.
“Structured.” she said simply.
“Doesn’t that hat give you hat hair?” he asked Dojima.
“So,” Dojima said, ignoring the question, “where were you when it happened?”
“Jack tutted disapprovingly. The 5000 warriors lay beaten on the floor.
‘Ha! Is that all you got?’ Jack said. They groaned painfully in submission. All of a sudden they began twitching violently. They started moving in a most unnatural way towards each other. The defeated warriors amalgamated into a single mass and took the form of a fierce goose.
‘Im… Impossible!’ Jack said and drew his trusty katana but it had turned into a balloon. The goose laughed evilly and ate him whole.”
“And that’s how Jack died.” Jack said. Siphokazi finished her tea.
“Kyaha! Just kidding.” Jack laughed.
Jack felt a paw on his shoulder.
“I… I believed you.” Felix said, his eyes ablaze with betrayal.
Jack lay in a heap on the floor as the others discussed various story advancing plot points.
“… in summary, nothing conclusive.” Siphokazi said. “However, I would have recommended the Squid Special if it still existed.”
“I regret I didn’t learn much either.” Dojima said.
“Jack learned not to mess with geese.” Jack said.
“I’m still mad.” Felix said.
“If, we have nothing further to add then I would like to offer a suggestion.” Siphokazi said.
“Please.” Felix said.
“The Queen has eyes and ears throughout the Gnome Archipelago. If we enlisted her aid those connections could prove quite advantageous in our search.”
“The Queen? Jack’s always wanted to meet her.” Jack said.
“Indeed. I suggest we go to Eye Land, to the domain of the Queen.”
“We would need to leave immediately.” Felix said. “Before the hopping port hops.”
“Then let’s bolt!” Jack said.
Several hours later Dali the Impressive walked into the Squid Ink Teavern with a squid in his hand and wondered where everyone had gone.