The False Shopkeeper

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

Chapter 4 (v.1) - Building Bridges, Shelves and Criminal Backgrounds.

Submitted: April 21, 2017

Reads: 136

Comments: 2

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Submitted: April 21, 2017

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Chapter 4 - Building Bridges, Shelves, and Criminal Backgrounds.

 

With a newfound quest and great potential debt, my pursuit of knowledge was hampered somewhat by the lack of inter-world Wi-Fi. I always assumed that being without internet would be the death of me but there was something admittedly tranquil about being free from the cabled grips of technology. Although I guess it was only passable on account of the whole fantasy world thing, but hey, was just trying seem wise.

 

I hadn’t had much of a chance to explore the town of Idleburg much since my arrival. I’d went out a couple of times for fresh air and a walk but nothing serious. However, today I had purpose, I needed the library. I was following Greybear’s shittily drawn map which was about as useful as well, a shittily drawn map, when I encountered a pair of familiar faces.

 

“Oho, Furio, rare to see you walking the streets. So, what do you think, give me a discount?” Winry ran over to me, striking poses with every step in a shallow attempt at eroticism.”

 

“Morning Furio, what brings you here?” Cindy greeted me with a little less flare but just enough charm to make me question why I hadn’t asked for her hand in marriage.

 

“Morning you two, I’m looking for the library. Greybear said there’s a big one here.”

 

“Oh, it’s a big one alright.” Winry winked at me.

 

“I don’t want to brag so let’s just say average, yeah?” Not that I knew what the average was here, do they take monsters into account when calculating? Surely that throws things off?

 

“We can take you there if you want, we live near it,” said Cindy.


“Why do I feel like there’s a catch?” I asked.

 

“Because there is one!” Winry pointed her finger to the sky in a victory pose.

 

“Great.”

 

**

 

Against my better judgment I let the odd couple lead me to wherever they wanted and silently prayed that place would be the library, it totally wasn’t, but at least I prayed. Counts for something right?


“Welcome to our house!” Winry exclaimed.

 

In fairness, it was just a simple house and not some elaborate plot for a discount like I had expected. Nestled in the back of one of the two main residential areas, their house had a simple charm, colourful but not too vibrant to be considered an eyesore.

 

“If you look in the distance you can see the peak of the Library tower.” Cindy pointed towards it.

 

“Alright, thanks a lot, I’ll be-”

 

“Wait, would you like some tea first?” Asked Cindy.

 

Once again I was at one of life's many crossroads. I could either continue on or I could take a break, but not an ordinary break. Two attractive and obviously sexual women were inviting me into their home. There could only ever be one outcome and I would be a fool to pass up such an opportunity. Life in a fantasy world was taking an exciting turn.

 

**

 

“Wow, these shelves look great!” Said Cindy, she passed me another handful of screws, and not the ones I was hoping for.

 

Admittedly my expectations were more than a bit off, which was clear to see after helping the girls build furniture for a few hours straight.

 

“Do you two live here alone?” I asked, finally screwing the last piece in place.

 

“Indeed, we ran away from our respective homes and got ourselves a little love shack. Romantic, isn’t it?”

 

Winry curled her arms around Cindy.

 

“You ran away?”

 

“Our families were not very accepting of us being together,” said Cindy.


“Ah, I guess human prejudice exists regardless of the world.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“Ah, nothing, just mumbling to myself. Anyway, I should really be getting to the library, I’ll see you later.”

 

“Thanks for your help!” They waved me off in near perfect unison.

 

**

 

After being sidetracked by the unstoppable force that was Winry and Cindy, I finally made it to the awe-inspiring tower that housed the town’s library. As if pulled straight from a Castlevania game, a large gloomy tower stood before me. It’s dark aesthetics oozed with the feeling of cheesy horror movies that featured a dracula with those false fangs you can buy for a quid. It kind of felt out of place in the otherwise happy town of Idleburg. Nevertheless, I walked on with purpose and entered the haphazardly painted metal door at the entrance. The view that awaited me was far removed from my initial expectations. Instead of a potential vampire lair I saw a rather glorious chamber of knowledge. Shelves upon shelves of books the spiraled all the way up, countless decorative and expensive looking chandeliers made my country-born self feel out of place. There were a few others doddering around the many floors but I was looking for one person in particular; the librarian.

 

I walked towards a nearby desk that seemed to be the reception area. Nobody was there so I rang the annoying bell a few times more than necessary. I expected a bi-spectacled woman nearing retirement to appear and chastise my abuse of the bell but once again my prediction was off, by a long shot. A sudden cloud of ethereal smoke appeared before me and from said cloud appeared the librarian. To say that she was an angel wouldn’t be pure flattery on my part, she had fucking wings. WINGS. I don’t know why I was so surprised, I lived with a wolf-man. She stood about as tall as myself, clad from head to toe in a sultry white dress made from a soft, thin fabric. The kind you sort of want to shoot a water gun at. Her long hair reached all the way down her back, its colour was an unusual mix of blacks and whites. To top it all of, her mature (but totally hot) face was decorated with thin-framed glasses. Honestly, considering the rate in which I was encountering ridiculously attractive females made me consider that my life was a work of fiction where the writer couldn’t help but put satisfy is inner perversion.

 

“How can I help you today?” As expected her soft voice was absolutely heavenly, a calmness filled my very soul.

 

“Ah, eh, there was a reason I came here.” I struggled to compose myself.

 

“Just so you know, we don’t offer those kinds of books.” She said, with a slight glare.


“Do I really seem so nefarious?” I asked.

 

“Yes.”

 

“Fair enough, but no, I came here to get books on law, specifically economic laws.”

 

“Oh?” Her eyes lit up with interest. Her glare softened after realising I hadn’t come for anything other than educational interest. “I have quite a few. Could you narrow down your search a bitt?”

 

“Hmm, the economic law regarding local commerce. No need for worldwide information.”

 

“Sure thing. I’ll see what I can find.”

 

The librarian clasped her hands together in prayer, though the gods were not her intended recipients. An intriguing blue glow emanated from her body. Basic video game knowledge suggested she was channeling magical energy of some sort.

 

“I’ll be back in a second!”

 

The graceful white wings on her back proved themselves to be more than decorative after she soared upwards. I should have probably been alarmed at the unusual occurrence but I had given up trying to approach this new world with common rationality. Instead I had fully embraced my Scottish rationality and just said, “eh, fuck it,” before happily carrying on with my life.

 

I had to wait a few minutes but she eventually returned to the ground floor with a pile of books balanced in either hand.

 

“I’ve got some books on the nation’s laws, and that includes more than financial law but you might find it useful anyway. I also have some books concerning trade guild practices in the town of Idleburg and surrounding areas. Does this suit your needs?” She laid out the heavy pile of tomes on the table before adjusting her glasses with the classing finger push. It was easy to tell that she took pride in her work.

 

“Very much so, this all seems excellent. Do you, uh, take tips or something?”

 

“Tips?”

 

“Oh wait, nevermind.” I quickly remembered I was in a fantasy world. She was a librarian, and not a pizza delivery guy. Plus I’m Scottish. We don’t tip; we grumble.

 

“Feel free to sit anywhere you want.” The librarian sent me off with a pleasant smile before returning to her other duties.

 

I scanned the ground floor for available tables. Most of them were free but considering my mountain of books, I headed straight for a large circular table in the middle of the room. My attempt at gently placing the books down failed miserably. The handful of former trees tumbled from my arms like, well, they fell like books really. I can’t think of a decent comparison. The sudden ruckus turned a few heads but nothing more.

 

The chairs were surprisingly comfy, and there were no small red plastic abominations to be found. It was clear the library had top notch furnishings and was well maintained. A stark difference from what I was used to. I was just about to tuck into the top of the pile. A book titled ‘Procast Financial Law for the Woefully Ignorant.’ The author seemed a bit harsh but it was accurate in my case. However, before I had even read the opening sentence I was already distracted. I swear I had good reason to be so. My eyes spotted something unbelievable. It was an incredible turn of events. At the other end of the room stood the love of my life. Sure, I’d never met her and didn’t know her name but that didn’t matter. My body moved of its own volition as my mind had gotten lost in thought.

 

It was her hair that first stole my attention. Smooth and straight, and reaching just a little below her shoulders. It’s dazzling orange-red hue lit my world on figurative fire. I don’t mean the overly bright and unnatural Pokémon ball red. Nor do I mean the ‘don’t kid yourself, you’re just blonde’ red. She was an honest to god ginger. Sure, it’s not exactly an unusual colour but boy did it suit her. She had pale white skin, not unhealthy, she probably just enjoyed the indoors too much. Her bright blue eyes were incomparable any of the oceans. Mainly because they were eyes and comparing them to geographical locations seemed weird. Short heels, long legs, and short skirt, A simple white t-shirt with a few top buttons removed. She was like that one young teacher that made you interested in chemistry because covalent bonds sounded unexpectedly erotic.

 

I slowly approached her, my walk had accidently formed into an unintended swagger. I was no longer in the grand library of a fantasy world. No, I felt like I was back in Dundee. I could almost hear the obnoxiously shit music of my usual club. All I was missing was a drink in either hand and a wingman to google suitable chat-up lines. I had to make do without alcohol or google but I was determined to make a good first impression.

 

I shimmied next to her and made my presence known with a fake cough. “So, do you like books?”

 

I had failed at the first hurdle. Of course she liked books, we were in a fucking library. Jesus, I was distraught. My mental image of coolness was swiftly destroyed by my own hands.

 

“Do you?” She replied.

 

“Yeah…”

 

“Then you should go read them.”

 

Denied. 100 percent rejected. The icy winds of annoyance contradicted her warmly coloured hair as she looked away immediately. I was broken, frozen in spot due to shock. My success in love in this fantasy world appeared painfully like my old reality. I had only one last card to play. Charm was not my forte but I had just one thing in abundance; stupidity.

 

“Fiiiiine.” I turned away in an exaggerated manner, taking stupidly long steps back to my desk. “I’ll read all the books, cause yeah, I like ‘em. You got a problem with that?” I added a few pointless twirls to my routine before dramatically leaping into my chair and slamming my fist against the table. I opened a book and slapped the pages excitedly while shouting ‘knowledge’ in the worst opera attempt the world had ever seen. With that my performance was over. I had rightfully earned the anger of the fellow library goers but their animosity was more than worth it. From the other end of the room I could make out the sound of a faint giggle and the wonderful sight of a smile. Operation ‘notice me please’ had been a massive success. Allow me to let you in on a little secret. You meet a countless number of strangers everyday but it’s always the weird ones that pop into your mind before sleeps embrace. With enough luck (and a lack of dignity) the Jester can easily overshadow Prince Charming. Probably.

 

The next few hours passed me by in a flash. The sad thing was that I found it much easier to study now that I was no longer a student. Admittedly the presence of my new crush spurred my eyes to appear far more serious than usual. Maybe she liked studious guys? Are books sexy in this world? Such questions fueled my passion for knowledge. The whole impending and soul crushing debt also played a factor. I had skimmed my way through a couple of books on Procrast’s financial law and was now making my way through a detailed guide on local trade guilds and their influence. I can assure you that I did have a plan, sort of. At the back of my constantly distracted and often inappropriate mind was just a hint of effective decision making. I was trying to force that unused part of mind to the front in order to save myself and Greybear from our financial predicament. However, no matter how I looked at it, earning a hundred gold in a month seemed impossible.

 

The sound of a chair being pulled out across from me brought me back from the brink of defeatism. I looked up and saw proof that God does indeed exist. The girl of my dreams had sat down across from me.

 

“Don’t get the wrong idea, your earlier...whatever that was didn’t work. I’m just curious.” Her voice was like aged velvet. Soft but with enough subtle harshness to make my soul quiver.

 

“You know there's an old saying from my home. Curiosity killed the cat that stood between our eternal love.”

 

“That sounds incredibly false.”

 

“Only partially, nothing stands between our love.” I clicked my fingers and gave a cheesy wink.

 

“You’re ridiculous,” she said, while giggling I might add.

 

Another pro romance tip. If you find yourself lacking in charm then just do a parody of that one popular guy you always hated. A laugh is better than silence. I think.

 

“Seriously though, this is quite a selection of books,” she said. “Are you a merchant from a far away land or something like that?”

 

“Well, I’m from far way, like, really far away. Not really a merchant, just a shopkeeper and I’m not sure I qualify for that role either.” I answered.

 

“So, a false shopkeeper then?”

 

“Essentially.”

 

“Hmm, and what would a false man like you need such books for?”

 

“I’ll answer if you tell me your name.”

 

She sighed. “Hayley Griffon, and you?”

 

“Furio Leonhardt.” I had gotten pretty used to my manufactured name, I liked it. “As for why I have all these books? I need a way to get rich really fast but I know nothing.”

 

“Are you serious?” Hayley’s eyes rolled with disbelief.

 

“Deadly so. I live with a wolfman and we’re being threatened by a monocle-wearing loanshark. So, I need a hundred gold by the end of the month.”

 

“What?” Hayley’s eyes grew fierce, clearly she thought I was taking the piss.

 

“I assure you it’s true but I guess it’s not exactly an ordinary story. You could say it’s too weird to be a lie, no?”

 

“Regardless, just make sure you keep your activities within the bounds of the law.” She slid a rectangular card across the table.

 

“Oh, your phone number?”

 

“My what? It’s my business card.”

 

I flipped the card over and inspected it.

 

Hayley Griffon - Deputy Mayor of Idleburg.

 

“Woah, deputy mayor?” I had never been a huge fan of authority figures but I was smitten with this authority's figure.

 

“Indeed. You’re a new face around here so I’ll be keeping my eye on you.” Hayley got up from her chair.

 

“Is that a threat or a promise?”

 

“It’s a warning but as long as you stay out of trouble then our paths have no reason to cross.” Hayley nodded her head politely before heading to the entrance.

 

“That’s like asking me to rob a bank you know!” I shouted just as she left but my gut told me she heard me. My gut also imagined that she silently responded with a small smile and a disapproving shake of the head.

 

My encounter with Hayley had left me in a splendidly good mood but the matter of debt remained woefully unsolved.

 

“The law…?” I mumbled to myself. Hayley’s parting words circled my mind.

 

I guess I the had what you might call an epiphany. My hands flipped open the mostly unread book on trade guilds to a portion I had actually managed to absorb before meeting Hayley.

 

Idleburg Trade Guild Policies: Volume 1 - Second Edition.

 

Let it be known that the right to sell magus stones in Idleburg is exclusive to veteran members of the Idleburg Trade Guild. Visiting merchants from elsewhere in Procrast must have a reference from their local Trade Guild granting them temporary selling rights in order trade magus stones in Idleburg. Registered merchants found guilty of selling magus stones without guild permission can be sentence to a minimum of three years in prison.

 

I had an idea. It wasn’t necessary a good one, nor was it guaranteed to be a successful one but that small pocket of intelligence at the back of my brain was beginning to buzz. In retrospect, that feeling could have just been Hayley-induced hormones but I always got distracted in chemistry class so I’ll never know.

 

“Librarian! I need everything you have on magus stones. Oh, and if you could point me in the direction of a lawyer, that would be great.”

 

The basis of a plan was forming but its success seemed almost unimportant. Either way, it seemed likely that I’d meet Hayley again soon. However, in the meantime, I had to figure out a way to break the law, without actually breaking the law.

 

Easy.

 

(Past criminal history at that point was one count of traffic cone theft on a cold Saturday night.)


~Note from Craig~ Thanks for reading chapter four! It took a while so sorry for the delay. Things are slowly beginning to move along. Yup, there is an actual plot behind all my odd rambling. However, things not might go the way you expect. Readers of my older work should be prepared for a dramatic decrease in magical swords and buff anti-heroes lol. Anyway, hope you enjoyed it so far! I'll post chapter five as soon as I can. 










 


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