TITLE: Tea House Conversations
GENRE: speculative fiction
WORD COUNT: 20,895 (unfinished)
SUMMARY: A series of short stories revolving around tea.


The tea house seemed to appear out of nowhere at the edge of town. Under ordinary circumstances, I would have been suspicious, but at the moment, I was feeling rather desperate. Any shelter would be a shelter.

It felt as if I had been running forever. In reality, it had been only a few hours earlier, when I had just woken up and I had the sudden urge to flee from the Royal House. Because I knew that someone had set the demon hunters out. To seek out the demons in the Fae Court. I had mostly fae blood, but there was a trickle of demon blood in me. But even that trickle was rather strong and that was why I had certain dark abilities that other fae did not. At any rate, I had been sure that even my mostly Fae blood would not protect me from the mad king's decree that everything not purely Fae was to be purged. And that did not exempt his cousins either.

My lungs were burning and the sky had turned dark. I could hear the thunder rumbling in the distance and drops of rain were beginning to fall. I needed shelter somewhere, preferably over the Border.

I couldn't hear the demon hunters behind me, but that didn't mean that they weren't there. So far, I had managed to keep a step ahead of them the whole day, but I couldn't be complacent. I continued running, towards the light of the tea house. It was fortunate that my looks were mostly inherited from the Fae side rather than the demon side. I could pass for a human if I wished it and the owner of the tea house wouldn't be the wiser.

The Border was a magical line which denoted the border between the Kingdom and the Wilderness. The demon hunters might cross the border in pursuit of prey, but it was also likely that they wouldn't. At any rate, once I crossed the border, at least I would have some sort of chance. The Border itself was completely invisible to the naked eye. A human couldn't see it or sense it in any way. That was why there were so many folktales and warnings to humans to beware of crossing into the Kingdom, because once they were there, they were bound by the Kingdom's rules, not any human law. But to someone who was not human, the Border had a sort of presence once you crossed it. To me, when I crossed it as I ran passed a strangely twisting copse of trees, the Border felt as if I had passed an invisible elastic curtain which snapped against my skin, leaving a residue of power. Other than that, nothing felt relatively different. On the face of it, the Kingdom and the Wilderness seemed the same.

But they weren't. And once I was past the Border, I could breathe a little easier. My pace slowed down slightly, but I didn't dare stop. Because while the chances of the demon hunters following me past the Border was minimal, it wasn't completely zero. After what it seemed like forever, I reached the front steps of the tea house, dripping wet from the rain. I pounded my fist on the door, probably sounding desperate right there, but at the moment, I didn't care. Even if the owner of the tea house didn't really want to put me up, the least he or she could do would be to let me dry myself out in front of a fire and give me a cup of hot tea.

copyright © 2001-2012 S. Y. Affolee