Clara came back with my blue cheese and placed it on the table. I smiled and said, “You can never have enough cheese. Let’s see if this works like I think it should.” I dumped the blue cheese dressing on my salad and then held the little bowl in my left hand, “Spice Rack Blue Cheese Crumbles.” Nothing happened.

Harry laughed at me, “It’s good that you are testing the boundaries. Many things aren’t what they seem. Instead, try ‘Spice Islands’ – but it’s going to suck a lot more out of you!”

“Spice Islands Blue Cheese Crumbles.” The little cup filled up with blue cheese crumbles, and I felt like I had just run a 5K race. “Oh…that’s exhausting.” Clara laughed and went back to work. Harry chuckled, “You would have got that in the explorer’s meeting later, so don’t worry, there’s no charge for the knowledge. But it would be best if you didn’t cast any more cantrips today. Nirvana drains your mana first, then it takes stamina, and finally, it takes your health. Like in a video game, stamina and mana will regenerate faster than health. Enjoy your food. The meeting starts at seven so you have plenty of time. Just wave at Clara or one of the other waitresses if you want something.

I took my time with dinner and even ate the Easter eggs – without salt. There was a little dressing in the bowl, but I prefer salt with hard-boiled eggs. I didn’t want to bother Clara for any, and I wasn’t about to try the cantrip again so soon, so I ate them plain.

I was also hoping I was going to learn a bunch of different hygiene cantrips at the meeting tonight. I was getting my fur in everything. I just wasn’t used to sticking out so much and would end up dipping it in my plate when reaching for my cup and other annoying interactions. For example, my mouth opened wider, so it was easier to get food in, but I didn’t have molars for chewing plants, so the salad was challenging, and because my lips didn’t work the way I was expecting, I sometimes dropped food out of my mouth. I’m not sure I would be able to use a straw, and drinking took a little more effort to be sure I didn’t spill down my front. While lapping with my tongue worked was not as satisfying. While I was messy, I was having a blast – and being able to stick my tongue six inches out of my mouth was hilarious and made it easy to lick my plate! I tried out many of the things that I used to laugh at my cats for – including purring. Purring was one of the strangest things because it wasn’t related to breathing; it happens while breathing in and out and wasn’t interrupted by the change in direction.

I spent most of the next few hours people-watching and trying different sodas; after all, I didn’t have to worry about diabetes anymore. Classic fantasy and science fiction races were represented as the night went on. There were some oddities too, but not so disturbing to be a problem or worthy of special comment. They were people with all the normal attributes and a few odd ones. Plain old humans dominated the mix, and being pretty was far more common than plain or even ugly, but all extremes were eventually represented. Nearly as diverse as the people were what they chose to arm themselves with; guns, swords, and staffs were the most common. But the variety of styles and materials in the make eventually made the uncommon common and no longer inspired awe.

As it got close to seven, Clara came by my table and told me that I would want to go downstairs and enter through the double doors to attend the meeting. I could take my drink – but don’t be tempted to throw the mug, “You’ll get tossed and won’t be able to use your room for at least a day.”

I made my way down to the meeting room and picked a seat on the left side of the front row. There were already about fifteen people in the room, and it looked like fifty would be the max. I turned and watched as others made their way in, including grandpa geezer – who made his way up to the front of the room and took the center spot of the ‘panel table’ on the short dais.

Grandpa looked around, focused on me, and laughed. “Hey, furball, welcome to the meeting!”

“Thanks, geezer. You could have told me about the special.”

“Naw, I don’t get paid to advertise for this place – plus, it’s not like you didn’t get it offered to you.”

“True, but I prefer my steak and eggs to both be medium!” And he started laughing again.

We went back to watching the room fill. Soon an elven woman and a halfling man joined him on the stage and sat in the last two panel chairs. By this time, the room was full enough that I couldn’t see the doors very well, so I turned around in my seat. Unsurprisingly nobody else sat in the front row on my side. There was a couple in the front row on the other side of the aisle.

The elven woman on stage called out, “Close the doors. It’s time to get started. Ushers collect the fee.”

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