Half a Cup of Rock and Rye
Updated: Jan 30, 2022
Part XIX | Out To Sea | Half a Cup of Rock & Rye 
Tala turned around the wrong corner again and almost hit her head on the door of the Alchemist's Studio. She peered in through the small, greasy, rectangular window at the top and saw a dark figure in a black, hooded cape stirring a steaming black cauldron that hung suspended over a large fire. Tala opened the door and caught Akia by surprise. The alchemist was standing in front of the studio's desk holding a turquoise orb.
“Greetings!” Akia exclaimed brightly at Tala. “What brings you to the Alchemist's Studio?”
“I saw the orange and yellow flames of your fire from outside the window. But it looks like you're very busy here. I'll be on my way.” Tala stepped away as if to leave, but at that moment the cauldron began to spit and hiss off in the corner, so much so that the attendant grabbed a giant wooden spoon and started to stir with vigor.
“What recipe are you using for that?” Tala looked at the steaming cauldron with distaste. The black-robed attendant looked up and grimaced,
“The only recipe we have is to stir the pot until the kettle turns black.”
Tala looked back at Akia, “I met up with the Ice Dragon briefly on my way here. He said that anyone who interferes with his alcohol shipment for the King, runs the risk of the Icy Sword.”
“Yes,” Akia looked at the Turquoise Orb and it began to glow brightly in her palm. “We have our instructions here as well.”
Tala glanced around the small studio again and saw what looked like a blue guitar with a sword for a handle lying on the floor. She pointed at the guitar and asked Akia, “Where did this come from?” Akia looked over at the guitar and shrugged her shoulders, “I'm not sure, why do you ask?”
Tala bent down and put her ear next to the guitar strings, “Is it just me, or is this guitar playing a song?” Tala put the orb on the desk and stooped over next to Tala, until both girls had their ears right next to the guitar's strings. They heard music playing faintly, coming from someplace inside the guitar. Then they heard a voice begin to sing,
 Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodleloo ~ words by Robert Hunter, music by Jerry Garcia
 Akia ~ Ugandan for “first born”
 Reuben and Cerise ~ words by Robert Hunter, music by Jerry Garcia