Featured Items: ::K:: Mod Jacket & Pants (TMD), CURELESS&DISORDERLY / Hammer of Witches (Salem), Zibska ~ Mallt Deux (We ❤ RP), -DRD- MS – Magick Shoppe, Rekt Skull Frame Gacha, JIAN :: Bat Collection (Memento Mori) & Red Fox Collection (FaMESHed)
Dagger pushed the door open, and a bell jangled, like most old-fashioned shops did when you entered their front door, announcing that a customer was in the store.
“Gods, do you have to make so much noise,” Boris complained, his voice an octave too high, as he grabbed hold of Dagger’s arm. “We should just leave – come on!”
Dagger huffed and yanked his arm away, “No way, man! We made it this far, and I’m not going to leave until I’ve talked to this guy.”
Dagger was a young, lanky boy, about 17 or 18, with a knitted cap of dark brown wool pulled low to his ears, leaving his long, shoulder length red hair sprouting down the back and sides, smushing his fridge to either temple. His eyes were a vibrant green, and he was tall, nearly 6’5”. He wore faded black jeans that were belted tight at narrow waist, and a well-worn gray hoodie over top of a faded black T-shirt. He had a daypack slung over one shoulder, and his army surplus boots looked like he’d worn them a while. A wallet chain dangled from his right hip to his rear pocket.
His friend, Boris, had a mop of blue-black hair, cut like someone had used a salad bowl. He was probably about the same age, but more stocky of build, wearing a loose brown sweater over a long green T-shirt and brown cords. He had white converse chucks laced up to his ankles, and carried a daypack on one shoulder, as well. His eyes were light blue, and seemed intelligent. He wasn’t a bad looking boy, though he had acne scars, and round-rimmed glasses made him look an owl.
“Why do I let you talk me into these things, “ Boris muttered, as he gripped the straps of his book bag and sighed.
“Probably because you know you’d never leave the house without me, “ Dagger said, with a smirk, and he bumped his shoulder into Dagger’s smaller frame with a grin. Boris was so distracted by the things in the shop, that he nearly screamed as he stumbled into a stuffed and mounted black bear, reared up on its hind legs. “AGHH!” he shouted and backed up into his friend, nearly sending him careening into a stand of yard chimes.
“Hey watch it, man!” Dagger huffed and then grinned, steadying his friend with a firm grip on his shoulder. Boris sighed and gulped and then scowled at his friend for a moment, even though he felt better with Dagger’s large hand on his shoulder.
“All right.. Let’s just get this over with,” Boris huffed..
Dagger took the lead again, as their eyes started adjusting to the lower light in the store. It was an older building, seemingly built in the early 1900’s, Now it was a curiosity shop, with a bizarre mixture of different items, new and old, each with a hand-written white tag on a string, displaying its price. Everything from a stand of umbrellas, to a rack of shirts that looked like they were from a carnival. There was glass case with swords on display, from thin rapiers and cutlasses, to broadswords, longswords, and great swords that would take someone of Dagger’s size and Boris’s stockiness to wield without falling over. There were jars of food, and jars with creatures preserved in them, not to mention jars of candy and marbles and all manner of things.
And there were shelves and shelves of books along the walls. Some shelves stretched up to the high ceiling. A ladder was on rollers in one corner to reach those upper bookshelves.
“How May I Help You?” A voice said suddenly, from behind Boris.
“GAAAHH!!” The boy squeaked, nearly leaping out of his skin, bumping a mannequin, nearly knocking it over, Dagger grabbed hold of it, and Boris, one with each hand, steadying both from falling over..
They both looked at the source of the voice and were faced with a man with red hands and black painted fingernails. He wore a chipped and worn porcelain mask that covered his face. He was lean and probably in his mid twenties by the look, wearing a black suit with a white shirt and red slim tie, a blood-red handkerchief was tucked in the suit pocket. He had a full head of soft looking brown hair that was pulled back and braided. He carried a book of sorts in his hands, which might have been a ledger, but the book seemed to be straining to fly open, and it was grunting. But the man’s hand was firmly keeping it closed.
“My apologies, “ The figure said, “I’m Mr. Ralphie, and welcome to my World of Curiosities. “
Dagger found his voice first, as Boris reached for his asthma inhaler, pale and shaking. The boy was very unnerved. “I’m Dagger, and this is Boris – we’re here to see .. I guess.. you, Mr Ralphie. I heard you might be able to help me find a book I need.“
Boris took a hit off his inhaler, and closed his eyes, as his panicked breathing started to calm. The strange man watched Boris do this, but he slowly turned his attention back to Dagger, and bowed his whole upper body in acknowledgement of what the young man had just said.
“I can surely try to help you, Dagger, was it? And perhaps we can find something to calm your friend’s nerves. He doesn’t get out much, does he?”
There was a hint of humor in Mr. Ralphie’s voice, and Dagger grinned, while Boris scowled. “Its just so .. close in here.. The air.. It feels old and dry.. And dusty! “
Mr Ralphie shrugged his shoulders at Boris, and said, “Well, some of our inventory is old, and indeed, it’s just me and Poodles over there, to tend the shop, “ he gestured over towards a little reddish brown fox that was sniffing at a corner, down an aisle they were looking. The little fox wiggled its tail and its ears perked at the mention of its name, its floofy tail swaying in the dusty low light.
Dagger grinned, “Awww he’s cute, isn’t he Boris! “ he elbowed his companion, who seemed almost dazed,and hissed, “I said, ‘isn’t he Boris’!”
The dark haired boy huffed and then nodded, “Yeah.. yeah, the fox is cute, “ he said, and then gulped as the expressionless mask looked at him once more.
“It is ok, boys, I’m am here to help. Now what was it you needed?” The man’s red hands seemed to grip the book in his arms even tighter, as it grunted, and the man stuffed the book under one of his arms. You could see the bindings of the book bowing, and bending a little, as if there were something inside it trying to get out.
“I’m looking for a copy of “Leiderman’s Treatise on Bindings and Ensorcellment”, first edition,” the lanky boy said, his sharp, handsome features looking hopeful as he waited on the mysterious proprietor.
Mr. Ralphie tilted his head, and a length of his long, elaborately coiled hair fell down his right side, which he reached up, and tossed back over his shoulder. “I’m sure that I have such a title here in the shop, thought I am not sure of the edition off-hand. But I will certainly check for you.“ He paused a moment, and glanced back at the boys, asking, “You both are apprentices? “
Boris seemed to find his voice at that moment, and scoffed, “We’re both apprentices, yes. But no offense, I usually get my books and equipment from Throckmorton’s.”
Mr Ralphie shrugged his shoulders and chuckled, “Well, Throckmorton’s is a good enough establishment, but they do overcharge, just for their name. Now, if you’ll excuse me,“ he said to Dagger, with a nod, then seemed to almost vanish in a blink of an eye – appearing on the far side of the room, atop the tall ladder.
“He’s just strange! That mask is creepy!“ Boris hissed to Dagger, as he huffed and looked around the room, stuffing his inhaler back into his bookbag. “You should have just gone with me to Throckmornton’s! “
Dagger shook his head, “Dude, you know my funds are limited, and I can’t afford books like you can. “
“I’d have helped you out! What are friends for?” Boris said, gripping his friend’s forearm in a companionable way. Dagger half-smiled and shook his head again, “You always say that, but I’m not going to take advantage of our friendship that way. “
“Quite noble of you, Dagger, “ Mr Ralphie said, suddenly 2 steps from the boys. He now had a tome under his arm, with a faded green binding and cover, with what looked like gold-ink decrying “Leiderman’s Treatise on Bindings and Ensorcellment”, and there was a string with a little white tag dangling from its end, a handwritten price on it. “This is what you are looking for, I believe, “ The proprietor said, as he proffered the book to Dagger.
The young man took the book in his long, dexterous fingers, and ran them over the binding. Boris was glancing and scowling at the book, and he was dubious of its condition. “That looks like the most ill-used book in the world, Dagger! I’d not pay for something that’s gonna fall apart on you!“
Dagger opened the cover, after looking at the price tag, and his brow furrowed, and as he paged through the middle of the book, back to the front, his eyes suddenly went wide, as he glanced from the first page and some hand-written notation of some sort. He turned the book towards Boris, to show him the notation. The younger boy didn’t look for a moment, just scowling at Mr Ralphie, saying, “Really Dagger, don’t let this guy try to sell you some old 5th hand book – :Look at it! It’s probably missing pages, got chewing gum and coffee stains all over!”
“BORIS!” Dagger hissed, and his friend furrowed a brow, as Dagger shoved the first page in his face. Boris’ eyes widened, and he gripped the book from his friend. The shorter boy stared then leafed through the careworn pages, seeing that there were handwritten notes in the margins, corrections to some passages here and there, and mystical formulae penned into places where there were only partial ones.
“No way! This can’t be HIS book, can it?” Boris said, and Dagger and he both looked at Mr Ralphie.
“It’s a first edition copy,” the masked shopkeeper said, in an amused voice, as he reached out and took the tome from Boris’ shaking hands. “Its former owner was Dehrylanthinus the Blue, better known as The Sapphire Arch Mage. Its authentic. It can be yours, Dagger, for the right price.”
Boris was still amazed at the discovery, as he reached for his wallet, “I’m gonna buy this for my friend, “ the young man said, and if the porcelain mask hadn’t been frozen into the same expression, the boys would have said that the store owner looked amused.
“My, oh my.. So quick to judge, my podgy little friend, and now you want to buy the book? But you didn’t come here to buy it. Dagger did. And it is only to him that I will sell it.” The store keeper turned towards the lanky young man, and held the book towards him. Boris scowled at the insult.
Dagger rubbed the back of his neck, but took the book in his other hand., He looked at the price tag. And blinked. It read in simple black ink lettering, “2 hours per day, 5 days per week”.
Dagger blinked and then looked at Mr. Ralphie, “I don’t understand. I mean, I don’t have a lot of money, but – what does this mean? Is this the wrong tag? How much is it?”
“It’s not the wrong tag,” Mr Ralphie said. “You can have the book if you give me 2 hours per day, 5 days per week – I’m offering you a job, young man. “
Boris huffed and stomped his foot, “Hey now! Wait a minute! You want him to work his ass off in this dustbowl, just so he can have some book that he can get anywhere else?“
Mr Ralphie sighed, and shook his head, “You are a rude little shit, aren’t you, Boris? No, I’m offering your friend a job, because I think he’s got heart, integrity, and talent.” The mysterious man paused, and then chuckled, “And I need a tall person here that can reach the upper stacks easier than me. Look at him! He’s like a giraffe! And – he needs a job. And he needs the book.”
Boris started to say something more vitriolic, but Dagger clapped his hand over his friend’s mouth and gripped his shoulder HARD. Boris grunted and gritted his teeth, and his muffled mouth subsided a moment later, as Dagger gave Boris a hard look. Boris sighed and looked sullen, but he stayed quiet. Dagger slowly removed his hand.
“I.. I don’t know what to say.. My friend is just overwhelmed that you would offer me a job.. I know I am! So, does the job pay well?”
“The money you earn is all yours after the book is paid off.If you work well, it’ll be 2 weeks for the book to be paid off, and if you want to keep working for me, I’ll pay you a weekly salary, and you get discounts and perks working here, too. I expect you to keep up your studies. So, its a job you can keep, if you do it well. That is, if you don’t screw up and burn down my store.“
Mr Ralphie pulled his mask off, and tilted his head, putting the mask under his arm. His face handsome, almost pretty, and he looked to be in his twenties, with smooth skin, unblemished, save for a puckered scar along the right cheek that went down to his chin. His eyes seemed much older. They were of differing colors – one green, and one blue. He held out a hand to Dagger. “What do you say? Do we have a deal?”
Dagger took the strange red hand and gripped it warmly, and Mr Ralphie returned the grip similarly. The hand was cool but made his palm tingle in the grip, before he released it.
“I’m glad I could help you, Dagger, “ Mr. Ralphie said with a smile, replacing the worn mask on his face. “Now, when can you start?”
Building & Furniture- -DRD- MS – Magick Shoppe (Memento Mori)
Skull Picture- Rekt Skull Frame Gacha (Memento Mori)
Bats- JIAN :: Bat Collection (Memento Mori)
Fox- JIAN :: Red Fox Collection (FaMESHed)