Early in the morning, a faint light can be seen coming from the window of the Copper Pot coffee shop. If a normal person were to pass the front door they would be greeted with the smell of coffee and cakes warm from the oven. A person who paid more attention would notice the smell of smoked meats and a potato-vodka still.
Inside the coffee shop a small nondescript woman bustles around mixing, tasting and seasoning cakes. The young woman is pale and short, tending to plumpness, as though she enjoys the cakes she makes a little more than her doctor would recommend. As the young woman moves around the shop, singing quietly, the only things that would suggest she is anyone unusual is the way her cakes seem to decorate themselves, and her spice jars float around the kitchen following her.
While Kyri works in her kitchen, she smiles to herself and looks out into the coffee shop, a cosy space currently filled with small tables and mismatched chairs. As she looks over her coffee-scented domain, oil lamps start to light themselves while Kyri prepares to open the Copper Pot for breakfast.
The door of the coffee shop swings open, the tinkling of a bell brightening the early morning gloom. Of the three men who enter the shop, only two are armed, but the third looks no less threatening for his lack of weaponry. He wears a pair of dungarees and a loose, open, red-satin jacket with no shirt underneath. His scaled skin is glossy, glistening black across his face, shoulders, and arms, dead white from the bottom of his preternaturally wide mouth, down his chest and belly.
As Kyri approaches the trio, the two armed heavies lower their cricket bats, smiling with a kind of bemused stupidity. Their unarmed employer glares at Kyri through hooded, serpentine eyes. “The musssssic and sssssweetnessssss don’t work on me, godling,” he says syllabantly. He taps the side of his head. “No earsssss,” he chuckles.
“Who are you?” asks Kyri with a look of calculated naïveté.
“I am Eater of Frogsssss, but you will addresssss me as Ssssssir. I have come to discusssss your ‘insuranssssse polisssssy.’”
“I think you will find that my ‘insurance’ has been paid.” She has to make a conscious effort not to hiss in imitation.
“Not to the Dukaine family it hasssssn’t been. Your little copper can’t protect you anymore. You want your little pink life to ssssstay pretty? You’ll pay your premium,” he threatens, as he turns to leave.
“I will be discussing this with my acquaintances,” says Kyri to the snake god’s turned back.
Eater of Frogs turns back to her. “Did I feel you sssssay sssssomething, sssongrssstressssss? Sssssay it again, ssssso I can read those sssssweet lipsssss.”
One of the mortal thugs shakes his head and mutters, “Oh boy...”
Kyri looks at him scornfully. Mouthing her words with exaggerated care, she says, “I sssssaid, I’ll have a word with my acquaintances.”
“The Zzzzeffrettisssss? Sssssmalltimersssss...they’ll be working for usssss by the end of the week, or they’ll be dead. Talk to them...they’ll tell you. But sssssinssse you don’t lisssten ssso well, I’ll have my boysss teach you a lessson.” He gestures, and they raise their bats.