The False Shopkeeper

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: House of Ghosts

Chapter 3 (v.1) - Threat, Debt, Financial Regret

Submitted: March 31, 2017

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Submitted: March 31, 2017

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Chapter 3 - Threat, Debt, Financial Regret.

 

The dangerously close sparks of magical light erupting from the two staves confirmed that I was in quite the predicament. In one corner was the sultry sadist of my dreams and in the other was the cute girl next door who moved away when you were kids but moves back in high school, still as pure as you remembered her.

 

“Lilith, why do I always find you causing trouble?” The red haired mage broke the silence.

 

“Maybe because you're stupid enough to try and stop me?” said Lilith. “Honestly, Elise, just give it up already, will you? You’re too weak for me and you’re too cute to be burned to ashes.” Lilith sounded less angry but just as violent when talking to a member of the same sex.

 

“Whatever. What crime are you trying to commit this time?”

 

“No crime, just doing some shopping. The fool on the ground could be The Key. He came here through the gate.”

 

“Really?” Elise turned towards me.

 

“Eh, sort of but I’m not nearly as important as she’s making me seem.”

 

“Lilith, did you at least test him for magical potential before beating him up?”

 

“It was more like I was beat down,” I said.

 

“I’ll find out right now!” Lilith thrust the palm of her hand against my heart, holding it there for a few seconds.

 

 

“Oh,” she said.

 

“Oh?”

 

“He has no magical potential, like, at all. Not even a hint of it.”

 

“That’s what I was trying to say,” I explained, finally getting back to my feet. I knew my luck was too poor to become some super important figure all of a sudden.

 

“So, that means you encountered the gate coincidently? Unbelievable, looks like you are just an ordinary fool.” Lilith picked up her robe from the table and stormed outside as if she was angry at me. Obviously I, the victim of the assault had no right to complain, probably because I enjoyed it a bit too much.

 

“Get back here Lilith, I’m not done with you yet.” Elise ran to the door before quickly turning back to me. “Sorry for the trouble.” Then she hopped out onto the street and commenced a colourful duel of magic with Lilith as they ran through the streets. Eventually, I could only hear the occasional ‘pop’ of a spell and what seemed to be their respective war cries in the distance.

 

If I was anyone but myself then I’m sure that would have been the moment when my story took a drastic turn as I realised my true potential as the world’s saviour. However, I’m not anybody else, I’m just me and that means my fate is dictated by a far less spectacular hand. Also, as far who or what ‘They Key’ that Lilith mentioned was, I never bothered to find out, wasn’t my problem anyway so don’t dwell on that too much. As for why I can understand the spoken tongue of this world? Honestly, no idea, but why does it matter? It’s just a plot convenience.

 

I clambered over the occasional piece of debris and did my best to place the door back into the door frame. It wasn’t going well and as if he had gotten annoyed by my inability I felt a strong hand on my shoulder.

 

“Move. I fix.”

 

I did as Greybear requested and scooted over, but much to my surprise he came at the door with not a hammer but a small wooden wand. A quick, well-rehearsed flick of the wrist and the door was restored to normal.

 

“Fuck me, is there anyone who doesn’t have magical powers here?” Not that I was jealous, more worried about the potential impact on society magic could have. As if there wasn't enough inequality already, magic was the very example of an unfair advantage. I guess I was just a tad jealous though.

 

“Ha, you did good. Kept calm, proud. Get rest now.”

 

To say that a compliment from Greybear was the most memorable thing that had happened since I started my job in this world would not be entirely inaccurate. Sure, I’d seen some pretty fun girl on girl action, experienced the pleasurable pain of a witches heel and learned the value of a hard day’s work, but none of that could quite compare. This enigma of a wolf-man was a complete mystery so any form of meaningful interaction with him was always interesting.

 

“Oh, Furio. Boss visit, tomorrow. Smile.”

 

“What boss? Are you not the boss, I mean, your name is on the sign?”

 

“I own shop, he own me.”

 

Greybear’s parting words before bed had left my mind buzzing with curiosity, and not in a good way. The idea of someone owning that intimidating bookworm was kind of hard to comprehend. I had either just not understood the meaning of his words or I was about to meet a very formidable man, woman or really just anything given the fact I lived with a man with a wolf head in a fantasy world. Just when my mind had been cleared of such thoughts the other occurrences of the day floated up. There had been a lot of excitement, the kind that stops you from sleeping but how I dealt with that doesn’t really need to be mentioned so I’ll just say I went out like a light when my head hit the pillow.

 

**

 

It was to both my shock and horror that for the first time since my arrival, Greybear had woken up before me. Even more than that, he had exchanged his usual book for a duster and was giving the shop a quick clean. I was tempted to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming but I’d been unsure of that for a week now and had long since given up trying to find the answer.

 

“You doing alright?” I asked.

 

“Hmm? Nervous. Boss dislike dirt. Must clean.”

 

I know I hadn’t known him for that long but to see the usually unfathomable Greybear displaying his emotions so clearly was a little bit worrying and it was during that brief phase of anxiousness that a man walked through the door. He was about as tall as I was but lacked my dastardly good looks. His balding head had some resilient hair that refused to fall off, clinging to the top of his head with all their might. His slight belly bulged through his expensive burgundy suit and his little monocle, well, that made him look like a twat.

 

“Morning friends, wonderful day isn’t it?” He said.

 

I looked out the window, it was pissing down with rain but as a Scottish man who viewed the scorching sun as his natural enemy, I could appreciate where he was coming from.

 

“Morning, can I help you with anything today?”

 

“Furio. This boss,” said Greybear.

 

“Oh, apologies, sir.” All those years of being polite to avoid trouble were really paying off.

 

“No need for formalities boy, you must be Furio, yes? I heard the hairball over there took on an apprentice of sorts. You finally realise that you didn’t have the brains for business, eh, Greybear?”

 

I was instantly pissed off. Like, I’m not an angry person, just mildly passive aggressive but this guy really ground my gears.

 

“Not very professional, are you?” The words slipped from my mouth like a pesky bar of soap in a prison shower.

 

“What was that?” His head wrinkled to such an extent that I almost felt tempted to ask him if he’d let me play some guitar.

 

“I’m saying that where I come from, petty people like me would report you to HR in a heartbeat, asshole.” Again, it slipped out but this time it was less accidental, almost as if I had dropped the soap of my own volition.

 

“Well, looks like the wolf found a dog, how cute. It would appear that you misunderstand the arrangement between myself and the wolf-man over there. He owes me a debt, a large one, thus I own him until the day he pays me back.  The wolf-man should think himself lucky, I even let him keep this shop. Most wouldn’t be as considerate to his kind.”

 

I had my suspicions before baldy gave his speech, in regards to the way people treated Greybear, or rather, how they just ignored him. There much of the world that I didn't know about, the relationship between the various races being one of those things. Made me wonder why he bothered opening a shop in the first place but I knew he must have had his reasons.

 

“Regardless, no need to be a jackass.”

 

“Ha, well I can see you’re not one to back down, too reckless for your own good but have it your way. How about we make a deal?” His eyes lit up like a man who had witnessed the dropping of the soap.

 

“Boss, Furio not know, leave be.”

 

“No Greybear, your little apprentice will get what’s coming to him.”

 

“I prefer Assistant Manager, as my title I mean.”

 

“Let’s see, I’ll give you one month! One month to come up with the remainder of Greybear’s debt. Don’t worry if you fail, I’ll let you keep working but you’ll end up taking on half of his debt, fair?”

 

“Well, I don’t know if anything you say is using the word ‘fair’ the way it was intended  but yeah, I agree.”

 

Hasty financial decisions were the hallmark of any university student coming to terms with their expectedly bleak future. Luckily I think my student debt became void after switching my post code to another dimension so maybe that’s why I was less afraid of the word debt. Or maybe it was because my one true superpower might be that I come from a place where bottling a guy was an acceptable response to having your late-night kebab knocked from your very hands. So, risking potentially crippling debt to piss off an asshole seemed like a chance worth taking.

 

“Great, well, good luck and I’ll see you both soon!” The aggravating man left the shop with a thunderous laugh, I later discovered his name was Samuel Frankford, didn’t really have the opportunity to ask at the time due to the back and forth.

 

As soon as Samuel left I turned and faced Greybear who despite have had his usual unexpressive- expression, was clearly displeased with my actions. “Furio, move not smart. Trouble.”  

 

“It’s fine, we just need to pick up the pace on sales, maybe do some advertising, I know a couple of girls who would be great for bringing in customers,” I explained.


“Greybear debt high. One hundred Gold.”

 

Now, at first one hundred doesn’t sound like a huge debt but let me tell you about the currency used in Procrast. Imagine a simple currency system you might see in any old school RPG game. Ten bronze pieces made a silver, ten silvers made a gold. However, to put things in perspective, an adventurer could buy a handful of potions and a day of food for a couple of silver. One hundred gold was a fucking huge amount, more than the store could ever hope to pull in since it would need to be straight profit.

 

“Ah, well, shit.” I said.”Wait, why on earth did you need a hundred gold in the first place?”

 

“Didn’t, only needed ten for shop. Interest.”

 

Even in a world where men had wolf heads, interest rates applied. Bloody typical. I rattled my head for answers, I had no sure-fire way of earning that much in a short space of time, especially when I knew next to nothing about the world. But that’s when it hit me, knowledge can be just as powerful as money. Sure, that may sound like the words of a poor student trying to validate their entire existence but just hear me out for a second. This world and my own were vastly different but different doesn’t always mean for the better. So, what better way to make money than to capitalise on the disgruntled. Not following me? Doesn’t matter, it’ll make sense eventually.

 

So, like any great protagonist in a fantasy realm I did the courageous thing, the thing that puts the fear of god into men and women alike. The thing that makes skin crawl like it was being persistently licked by a thousand overzealous spiders. The thing that drains me completely, heart, soul, and libido.

 

I studied.

 


© Copyright 2019 Craig Yorozuya. All rights reserved.

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