Springtime was usually the busiest time of the year for Leaf & Petal, but this year felt dry. People had been moving out of the Isles in flocks over the last few months, meanwhile, the store had just made the quaint town its new home. Local intellectuals and kooks alike had all been raving about something that was allegedly going to happen next month called the Fall of Spirits. According to local legend, it happened once every five hundred years, but no tolme or text seemed to give a clear picture of what the Fall of Spirits entailed. Some said that the sky would fall down upon the Isles, while others predicted rockslides and disaster, and some claimed the whole thing to be a hoax. Mollymauk, for one, was going to find out. If nothing else, he would go down with this little flower shop. He’d already died once anyway.
Caleb jerked awake at the sound of the phone ringing. His joints ached in protest as he pushed himself up to sit, barely getting his bearings before answering the phone.
“Hello, this is--is--” Caleb couldn’t stifle the yawn that was so determined to interrupt his sentence. “Arcane Affairs, Caleb speaking.”
“Hi there Caleb!” a high pitched voice blares from the other side of the line. The second wave of sound makes Caleb’s brain feel like mush. “My name is Jester, I am calling to book an event for the Ruby of the Sea.”
Suddenly, Caleb was very, very awake. Frantically wiggling his mouse to wake his computer, also asleep, he opened a new tab and searched ‘Jester Ruby of the Sea.’ Pages upon pages of links, he quickly realized that this was the Ruby of the Sea’s daughter.
“Oh, of course, what can I do for you?”
“Well! My mama would like to throw a ball in the Twin Isles on the day of the--” Jester’s voice paused, and there was a faint shuffling on her end of the line “--the Fall of Spirits.”
“The Fall of Spirits isn’t real.” Caleb insisted.
“Of course it is real, and my mama wants to see it.”
Caleb recomposed himself. This was the Ruby of the Sea he was dealing with, so whatever she wanted, he had to comply. However, the Fall of Spirits was soon, he thought. Another quick search revealed that it was even sooner than he thought.
“It’s in two weeks, ma’am.”
Caleb waved goodbye his free time as he watched it slip through the cracks in the floorboards.
“Alright. What did you have in mind?”
Jester went on for an eternity , revealing, in ‘short,’ that they wanted everything . This would be the grandest event he had ever planned, if he didn’t die in the process. Five hundred people outdoors, a feast, performers, decor, and on top of it all, Caleb was going to have to stage the Fall of Spirits. And how he would do that, he had no idea. To create a rainbow, a flurry of snow, a rush of wind, those were all easy feats; but to fake an event of legend, now that was a near-impossible task.
Caleb: Guess who I just got a call from at work.
Caleb: Jester Lavorre.
Gremlin: Is that????
Gremlin: No fucking way
Gremlin: Caleb holy shit how much are they paying you
Caleb: A small fortune.
Gremlin: WE HAVE TO GO CELEBRATE!!!
Gremlin: Meet me at the bar in 15
Caleb: Nott, I can’t.
Gremlin: Sure you can, you make your own hours
Caleb: No, Nott. They want a ball in 2 weeks. I have to start now.
Gremlin: Shit, okay
Gremlin: I’ll bring something home, good luck!!!!!!!!!
Caleb’s regret was immediate. While it was impossible for a small business owner to turn down a request from Wildemount’s biggest celebrity, the task seemed impossible to him. Magic or not, he was just a man, with two hands and one brain. His list of contacts had been truncated over the last few months with all of these people fleeing the Isles for no good reason. His caterers, his bakers, his florists, all once well-established, multi-generational family businesses, were gone. He would have to take a ride around town to see who was still open, and who would be willing to help him in his quest to throw this ball. It would require a great deal of bargaining and smooth talk, neither of which were Caleb’s specialty. He considered bringing Nott, but these weren’t really her specialities either. If anything, unfortunately, he feared that she would actually make things worse.
Caleb’s ride around town was painfully awkward. He knew that people had been leaving, but it was different now, to see it up close. Door after door after door was boarded, chained, Thank you for 45 years of business, we have moved to The Menagerie Coast . Only two storefronts on the side of the road that Caleb walked down seemed to be open. The Oldstone Tavern, which Caleb believed rose from the ocean upon the formation of the Isles, had its doors wide open. All the way on the corner, a brightly painted shop still glowed with electricity.
“Leaf & Petal?” Frumpkin simply purred in response to Caleb’s curious whisper. The cat leaped from his bike basket, unwilling to miss out on the exploration of the violet building, or so it seemed. Caleb jogged behind, scooping him up just before they reached the entrance. As the pair walked in a small bell chimed above the door, drawing the attention of a purple tiefling behind the counter. His eyes shot up to meet Caleb’s, and the man jumped right to business without missing a beat.
Molly had been lost in his own personal project, adding a new design to the sleeve of his coat, a beautiful fish he had seen somewhere, maybe in a dream. The sound of the door chime took him off guard, causing him to scramble, drop his needle, and lock eyes with the customer. The customer . This had to be the first person to come in all day, he looked exasperated, exhausted, but handsome, and he had a cat with him! That could all wait, he supposed. Molly’s needle dangled by a blue thread as his ventured to go meet Leaf & Petal’s new patron.
“Hi, is there anything I can help you with?” The tiefling stood taller than Caleb, just slightly, and was quite possibly the most flamboyant individual he had ever laid eyes on. Glittering chains hung from his curling horns, still swaying from the man’s walk around the counter. For whatever reason, Caleb felt starstruck just at the sight of him.
“I, mm—“ Caleb lost track of his thought as Frumpkin eluded him, slipping through his arms and down to the floor, where he inspected Molly with acute curiosity. He slowly padded over, eyeing the tiefling down before giving a few quick sniffs and rubbing affectionately against his boot. Mollymauk crouched down, using his nails to scritch Frumpkin between the ears.
“And hello to you, too!” Molly cooed, his voice rising and falling playfully as he addressed the cat. “Do you need some flowers, huh?”
Caleb couldn’t help but smile as he watched Frumpkin enjoy some attention. The tiefling looked up at him after a few moments, still petting the cat, but raising an eyebrow as to address the wizard wordlessly.
“Yes, anyway, my name is Caleb, I run Arcane affairs on the Eastern Shore?” He wasn’t sure why he had phrased that like a question. He was almost positive that he was the owner of Arcane Affairs. “I have a last minute event and I was hoping to order some arrangements.”
The tiefling stood up slowly, hand leaving Frumpkin to shake Caleb’s instead. “I’ll take any business I can get in this ghost town. Mollymauk.”
Caleb shook the lavender hand before him. Mollymauk’s grip was delicate, but firm enough to denote respect. He purposely curled his sharp nail around the bottom of Caleb’s hand, skillfully avoiding unwanted puncture wounds.
“Nice to meet you.” Caleb said. “Essentially—“ Caleb reached into his bag, rustling around briefly before finding his folder and plucking it out. He removed the paper that he had prepared detailing flower arrangements and held it out for Mollymauk. The tiefling took it, glancing over it for only a fleeting moment before his eyes, scarlet red, Caleb had now noticed, widened tenfold.
“Two weeks?” an accent crept out of the tiefling now; pleasant, but not one that Caleb could quite put his finger on. “You have to be crazy to take a job like this in two weeks. Maybe if the Moonweaver descended from the heavens and asked me her damn self…” he was more so talking to himself than he was to Caleb. He examined the numbers, requests, and crude sketches that littered the page one by one, taking them all in as best he could. Even though Caleb was mad to take this job, Molly would be mad not to take it.
Mollymauk cleared his throat lightly. “It’s a good thing that I’ve known to be a little bit reckless. Let’s get you some order forms.” With that, he was back to his desk, poking through the cramped cabinets for a spare order form, and luckily found a stack. He felt very lucky today. Slapping the papers onto the counter, Molly popped back up, locking eyes with Caleb, who still stood just past the front door.
“Do you have a pen?”