Flash Friday 02/01/2015: A Cup Of Tea
Henry the goat was a very polite old fellow. Nestled in his home in a tree stump to the north of Wyrmtrunk Forest, he delighted himself in three things; his kettle, his teacups, and finally, his tea. There was not much else to be done in the little house that Henry owned.
There was only one occasion where he could show off his passions, however, and that is when guests arrive.
A knock came from the front door.
“Come in, come in!” Henry said, turning from the stove with a steaming teapot in hand. “The tea has just brewed!”
The door creaked open. Crouching to fit through, the figure of a man in a smart white shirt and trousers entered. The man wore glasses, but they looked a lot more modern than the round things on Henry’s goatey nose.
“Hello there,” Henry said, adjusting his glasses to peer up at the tall newcomer. “And who might you be, hm?”
“Craig,” the man squeaked. He gave a small, friendly wave.
“Well, sit down then, Craig, and we’ll see about getting some good tea warming your insides. Haven’t seen a winter as snowy at this for years. S’all the Witch of the Winter’s fault, if you ask me. Where do you hail from, Craig?”
Craig took a tight-fitting seat at the small table. “Earth.”
“You can’t hail from earth, lad. It’s where plants and trees hail from.”
“I mean…that’s what they called my world. Earth. The World. Or Terra. Though nobody really uses that one.”
Henry nodded. “I see, I see. I take that to mean that you, sir, are the one who has been summoned to our world to help stop the wicked Witch of the Winter. Although…” Henry peered at Craig up and down. “They usually send children here. Kids going into wardrobes, falling into wells, walking through cracks in garden walls, that sort of lark. Never do we see a grown-up enter these parts. How old are you?”
“And how did you get here?”
Craig shrugged. “Took a wrong turn on the M3.”
“Ah. I’m sure the roads of the em-three are long and perilous, and easy to lose yourself on. Although, it’s odd that an…older man such as yourself was brought here. Usually I see all sorts of bright-eyed kids. They want to be warriors, or magicians, or dragon-riders of some sort. What profession are you, laddie?”
“I, uh.” Craig smiled, as if he enjoyed being asked the question. “I work at InstaTech Industries as a senior programmer. I program UIs.”
Henry sneered. “I don’t have half the brain to know what a ‘program’ is, neither is it any of my business what other men do with ewe eyes. I’m sure it’s good work, nonetheless.”
“Oh, yes, yes.” Craig gave a warm smile as he drank his tea. “Really challenging stuff.”
“I bet. Anyway!” Henry clapped his hands together, walking across the house with hoofed feet to a wardrobe, diving in. “I bet you’ll be wanting something for your journey, eh? All the kids want something. A sword, a shield, some spell of some sorts. I never carry such things, but I was a mean armorsmith back in my day. Ah, here.”
Henry pulled out a piece of chain mail, which shone a faint blue in the light. Henry helped Craig put it on. “This is enchanted mail. Should you come under attack from a stab at your person, it will send their hand flying off to the side, keeping you well and truly safe.”
“That’s nice,” Craig said, admiring the new tank top he had got. “And what if they strike any other part of my body?”
“Ah.” Henry frowned. “Yes, well. I suppose all of my wares are made for adventurers that are, well…one-third your age. It’s all we ever get as heroes around these parts. Still, if someone tries to go for your upper chest or forearm, they’ll get a nasty surprise.”
“Oh.” Craig gave a forced smile as he realised how stupid he looked. “I’m sure it’ll come in handy.”
“I also have this ring that you might like. At any time you come across a locked door, tap the lock with this and it will swing open. It will only work on locks locked with those of evil heart, and, uh…”
Craig had reached out his hand for the ring. Henry looked down at the ring, as if it were a mouse-hole about to receive a cat.
“You know what, you’re old enough to kick the doors down, anyway.” Henry pocketed the ring again.
Craig nodded. “It’s a bit of a trend I am noticing, I’m afraid. I must have got here twenty years too late.”
Just then, a screech that grated against Henry’s ears came from the skies outside. He rushed over to a round window, peering out to see shadows of flying creatures in the distance, circling.
“The Snowbats are here.” Henry came away from the window, grabbing Craig by an arm and pulling him out of his chair. “I hate to ruin a cup of tea more than anyone in this world, but haste is critical, lest the scouts of the Witch of Winter find you here and alert the armies! Go, go now!”
“But,” Craig said, being pushed to the door by Henry, “where do I go?”
“Find the gnomes over at Greenmist Marsh! They are friendly, and will undoubtedly lend you their aid.”
“Will their aid come in anything bigger than a size 13?”
“I highly doubt it. Now, off you go, and good luck, adventurer!”
Craig stumbled out into the snow looking as if he was still half dressed. “Right. Well. See you, then! And thanks again for the armour. I’m sure it’ll, uh…” Craig tugged at the bottom of the mail. “Stretch out eventually.”
“Not a problem,” Henry said, closing the door from the cold and the bats. He did enjoy guests a lot, but usually when they were more his size.