Rope! Freshly made hemp rope! Get your rope right here!
The door to the Serren’s Supplies opened slowly and quietly, allowing a group of four into the otherwise abandoned storefront. One stepped to the side and leaned against the desk, watching his companions disperse between the tables of assorted goods. Creaking from the wood above moved slowly to the stairs before the proprietor announced himself.
“Welcome, welcome. I am Serren. What are you young men after today?”
The old man was small and slow, his joints straining against decades of work. He descended the stairs with a wide grin that twisted his face in a mass of wrinkles, stopping at each step before lowering himself to the next. Squinted eyes scanned his customers, taking note of the blades at their sides.
“You seem well-equipped! I don’t recognize you, so… adventurers? Looking for some supplies while you pass through?” Serren hobbled from the landing to behind his desk, stretching his back upright and flashing another warm smile.
“Just thought we’d see what’s available in town…” The man at the door was the first to speak. His words curled in pride as he scanned the feeble, sickly store owner. The other three paced between rows of items, tracing fingers over tables, rope, and blades, but paying little attention to what they saw. The furthest of them reached the far wall. He turned his head and focused on hearing for movement in the rooms above and below. Finding nothing, he spun on his heels and addressed Serren.
“What a wonderful little store. Quaint, inviting. Family business, or is it just…”
“Oh, it’s just me. My family moved on long ago, but I prefer it here. I’ve had this store since that business all those years ago.” Another of the men, larger than the rest, turned to face Serren and sat against a table of adventuring packs.
“You fought in the rebellion?” Serren coughed out a hearty chuckle, smiling at the insinuation.
“I was never much of a fighter. We all did our part, but mine was never with a sword.”
“I’ve heard about what happened. People say it got bad towards the end. Riots, civilian evacuations, and then the legends of those mages that ended-…”
“As much as I appreciate a history lesson, I think we’ve learned what we need to,” the door guard interrupted his friend’s tangent, pushing off the wall and standing opposite Serren. He righted his posture, rising a good foot and a half over the elder. His gloved fingers tapped a longsword’s hilt. Three other sets of eyes rested on Serren, emphasizing the leader’s words.
“Apologies for the tone, but I’d like to be moving on. And we will be doing so with your store’s gold and anything you have of actual…” he paused to look around the store. “… Worth.”
Serren’s welcoming grin did not shift. The absence of a reaction might have been disconcerting, but the thieves were in control of the situation. Even if he was stupid enough to try, Serren’s aged arms were too weak to lift or fire a weapon. Knowing this, the owner instead responded calmly.
“That is a pity. You seemed such nice young men.” His expression lowered ever so slightly. He continued speaking, bending down to lift something that had been hidden below the desk’s surface.
“The only item of worth I carry would be this.” Serren produced a small rod, no more than six inches in length, of iron. The metal was plain and old, with a clear coating of dust and speckles of oxidation.
“What? What’s so valuable about a piece of metal?”
“Well, nothing really. Not to most people. But this has personal value to me. It’s been with me for a long time, after all, and I need it to be able to do this…” He lifted the rod to his mouth, whispering quiet words into it. His eyes darted from each man to the next as he spoke.
All four attempted to draw weapons. Serren was not sure if it was in acknowledgment of his actions, or simple confusion. None of their swords left their sheaths. Instead, the men froze in place, muscles tensed and petrified.
Serren’s smile did not fade. He placed the rod lightly back on his counter before rubbing his hands together below his chin. His right index finger extended as he muttered another incantation. Blackened veins snaked from under his sleeve and to the end of his outstretched digit. A thin, deathly mist drifted from the skin. His eyes again inspected the four, noting their appearance and deciding his first target.
“Such a pity. I only wish your equipment was worth more for resale.”
– by Troy McConnell
More content by Troy
Many towns have a market or a street full of miscellaneous stores, but often an intrepid individual will start up a store dedicated to nothing in particular, selling miscellaneous goods found cheap and sold at a margin. This is such a store.
And if you don’t like that idea, I drew the shop items unspecific enough that it could pass as just about any sort of shop!
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