Come in, come in. Shut the door. Shut the door now, shut it now, I don’t care who’s still out there, shut the door–great. Thanks. Hi, you guys. How many of you are there? Six? Oh, there were six? So five, now. Right? Okay, great. Welcome to the Olive Garden. Have a seat. Do any of you need medical attention? Any bites? Anyone fallen asleep during one of the sandstorms? None of you have seen the Preachers, have you? Okay, great.
I’m sorry, we can’t open the door again. She’ll stop screaming in a few minutes.
We have a six-top in the corner if you’d like to follow me. Okay, a few things. Our specials tonight are Italian Wedding soup and Veal Scallopini. It’s four blue chips for an entree or you can barter with whatever goods you might have with you, if you’ve run out. Or you can volunteer to keep watch on the night shift.
Please note that our Endless Breadsticks and Salad™ have been replaced by Strictly Rationed Breadsticks and Salad™.
I have to ask one question before we get started. This is really important, and if any of you get caught lying, we absolutely will put you in the Night Mines. Okay? Awesome. Great. Here are your napkins and some silverware. Have any of you seen the map to Mag Mell? Or met anyone who has?
It’s not a myth. It’s very real, I can assure you.
No? You’re sure? The map might have been hidden or coded or disguised on the back of another piece of paper. It could look like a book, or a photograph, or a picture of something else–it’s taken many forms. Think carefully. This is important.
Have you seen a man with one eye carrying a heavy burden through the Trackless Wastes? Did you speak to him? Did he say anything to you? Try to remember. Did he carry anything in his right hand?
Good. Good. That’s–that’s wonderful news. Oh, that’s wonderful. We’ll have him soon enough. He’ll have no idea. We’ll get him, we’ll get him hard. Will you do me a favor? That’s the manager over there, stoking the bellfires. Will you go tell him exactly what you told me? This is a huge help. You have no idea.
We do have happy hour tonight from four til the Bonemaker’s Hour. There’s also, if you flip your menu over–sorry, that’s not blood, I know it looks like blood but it’s not blood, just flip that over–you can see that we’re offering a selection of mini-indulgences, or dolcini, for half-price. Once the sun goes down, we’ll be moving everybody into the walk-in freezer until the air is safe to breathe again.
A few reminders, okay, guys, before we can take your order. First of all, we are so glad you’re here. Especially because most of you seem like you’re in pretty good shape and we need a lot of help digging. Quick heads up: we can only split checks if you notify your server before ordering.
If you brought any weapons with you, please register them with the hostess up front. Nothing gets in or out without passing her inspection. Bear in mind that she is one of the Untongued, so please don’t try to engage her in conversation. If any of you still know how to make the mark, please let me know and I’ll get any messages to her you want.
There’s not much more, I don’t think. If you’re of childbearing age, we do ask that you keep your radiation belts on you, just in case. The commissary’s open from sun-up if you need anything in the way of spellcasting or sleep-caps. If you get caught stealing, you go to Cliff Deep. No exceptions.
This might sound a little overwhelming at first. Remember: In here, you’re family. We’ll take care of you. We’ll ask you to work, and work hard, but we’re fair and we look out for our own. The walls are thick and our supply of pre-mixed soup base will last for years if we’re careful. As long as you stay inside the doors–well, we can’t promise you an easy life, but we can promise that you will live.
But out there, past the razorlines? We will hunt you and we will harvest you for blood and nutrients so damn fast the Water Marshals will never know you’re missing. I promise you that.
Can I get you guys anything to drink?
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.