Shopkeeper/Construct, Male, Ageless
Aliases: DJ Malak
Residence: The Rift
Employer: Quantum State Radio
Function: Shopkeeper, DJ
It’s a phenomenon that’s been recorded across most species in Existence. It’s something that’s featured heavily into many works of fiction; movies, books, video games, comic books, etc. It’s a thing that’s become used with such regularity that it’s become a trope with many variations across various forms of media. It’s something that’s looked on with absurdity but, with so many instances in so many different places and variations, did anyone actually consider that there was ever a grain of truth to the trope? That perhaps if they looked hard enough that they might find something of it in ancient history.
In every place there’s an urban legend of the mysterious store that everyone’s positive wasn’t there yesterday but somehow it’s in the collective consciousness that it’s always been there. This store seems to sell most everything from the apparently useless to the decidedly ridiculous. But somehow off to the side people can catch a glimpse of the one thing that they’ve always wanted. It may not be exactly what they need, or anything that they’re capable of handling, but they’ve always wanted it.
This place is known as The Rift. It has doors and locations spread all throughout the universe and into other dimensions. Through the innumerable mysterious looking buildings and aged doors of the building as it exists in the number of places it can be found, every door leads to the same impossibly large store. Things can be found here that defy the imagination. Various species and races, various periods in time in various lands. The odd and mysterious place opens it’s doors and holds nearly everything inside of it’s extra-dimensional space. Though there are doors to innumerable places and times that lead there, one can only exit through the door in which they entered. There is no time or dimension hopping for the average customer.
Much like every other store in the universe there has to be a curator. There is someone who has to maintain and occupy the space. A store like this, left to its own devices can become a very sinister place indeed. The lone permanent occupant of The Rift is a man. He wears the skin and appearance of a man at the least. He’s been there since the moment that the Rift was created and he’ll likely be there until the universe blinks out of creation. Most people assume that the proprietors of such shops are simply out after some diabolical goals. Evil plots that end in a supernatural treatise on why you shouldn’t trust strange shops who just so happen to sell the one item that you want for no apparent price. This would be incorrect.
Myrios LeJean is the being who has been in charge of the shop since it’s moment of creation. While there have been rumors and legends throughout the ages no one truly knows if he’s an angel, or a demon, both, or something else entirely. He doesn’t seem to have any discernible goal other than to sell and receive goods. Unlike in the tropes, the store does accept money and you’ll find Myrios incredibly aghast when the mention of trading souls is mentioned.
The outside of the shop resembles the epitome of an old-time antique shop. Dark wood borders the outside. The old-timey cubic window panes frame the well worn and loved door with the open and closed sign hanging in it. Walking inside of the shop the feeling puts people at ease with how much it resembles a shop. it's the most shop-iest shop someone's ever been in. The floorboards resemble a dark wood, well worn and spotless. Looking straight to the counter it's made of a similar dark wood and extends roughly half the length of the floorspace. There's an old timey, 40s or 50s vintage cash register on the counter, just like people would expect from a shop like this. There is also a sign placed on a stand made of aged and somewhat roughed up cardstock that reads “No Weapons, No Tomes of Elritch Horrors, and No Legal Documents. Prices are CLEARLY marked on all items”.
About half the counter space is clear until racks start to appear along with larger items placed on the counter itself. To the right of the entrance the shelves and tables start about five feet away. again filled with all sorts of things that would appear to be junk to most people. There are large, again the old wood framed cubic paned windows higher up the wall casting a pale white-blue light over the entire shop. Those windows, of course are whitish like most people would expect. You can see motes of dust floating in the god rays that shine down from the windows. There is a corner with a very comfortable looking leather chair with a side table and a table lamp on top. There's several modestly size shelves of books surrounding it. Behind the counter on a side wall is an old brown lacquered door that looks like it's been kicked or at least opened and closed with someone's foot repeatedly. it's scuffed and the finish has faded around elbow height and down around shin height. This door leads to the back room and the apartments. All of the items do, in fact have prices on the bottom of them written out in a very steady and reliable hand-writing on a small circular sticker. The prices will be more than the customer is willing to pay for them, so to further direct the customer to the item that they should be buying that day.
There are many things that the world knows, and that they assume, about Myrios LeJean, aka DJ Malak. While the OOC sections will contain the truths of his situation, this section is entirely for what the world believes to be true.
Myrios appears to be a young man, perhaps in his mid to late 20's. His red hair is in a perpetual state of "bed head". He often wears sunglasses, even inside and at night. His vision doesn't seem to be diminished despite the dark lenses. He's taken them off more recently, revealing bright cyan eyes that seem to glow under the right circumstances, particularly when he's been drinking Soma.
He's of average height, standing roughly six feet tall and possessing an athletic and well muscled body, close in proportion to a gymnast's frame and musculature. He appears, for all intents and purposes to be a normal human.
His clothes and personal style seem to be hit and miss, and somewhat chaotic. Most times he'll be found wearing a pale green, zip-up hoodie with a black t-shirt underneath. His pants are usually dark and contain many pockets. He usually has some sort of item, or food somewhere on his person. He has an affinity for Converse sneakers and heavy duty boots depending on his mood and what he might be up to. Many times he'll have a pair of red Chuck Taylor Converse on his feet, regardless of how battle ready or formal the rest of his attire is. There are examples of his normal outfits in the Image Gallery.
Myrios, to most people, will appear as a flighty mad man with an incredibly finite attention span that will flit from one topic to another without a moment's notice. Some may refer to him as 'delightfully mad' in that he'll go from talking about amazing devices from previous ages to random banana facts to trying to push an apple on someone because "nutrition is important". Myrios plays the fool incredibly well and it seems to be largely an act to put people at ease, or perhaps to keep them guessing, giving him an advantage should he ever need it.
Myrios, for the most part, is no fool. Those who get to know him, and that he trusts, will find that he is very serious, insightful, knowledgeable, and only very occasionally, a fool, though a very sentimental and caring one. He will fiercely defend those who he cares about, recently realizing that there are some people that he would give his life for were the option necessary.
That's not to say that Myrios is always 'playing' the fool. Sometimes he truly isn't playing. This comes from his lack of understanding of humanity at large. This is information that he will talk about, but won't give any clues to his actual origin or background unless he trusts the person or people that he is with explicitly. Malak has lived for ages, all four of them so far, but his interactions with humanity only come in snapshots and glimpses, often with no context surrounding them. This leaves him with large holes in his knowledge and so he doesn't get some social cues or references.
He has recently decided to give romance another try after several unsuccessful attempts. Love found him in the most unexpected of places; a shy Pooka girl named Velvet. They quickly became friends but there seemed to be a tension and interest between the two but she was shy and he was..him and oblivious. Even when he felt that still unfamiliar fluttering he tried his best to not get involved but he'd lost the fight before it had even began. They've been together, Velvet moving into the apartment at the back of the shop, ever since and are in the process of planning their wedding. Myrios has never been happier than the last year with Velvet.
Myrios has a soft spot for children and animals. He's taken in a young girl, Amanda Laike, who wandered into the shop one afternoon looking for some place warm and dry to sleep for a little bit. He took her in and she does odd jobs around the shop such as dusting and sweeping. The physical act does little good as the shop will look precisely how it wishes to, but it's the thought that counts. Someone who knew him from several years ago might marvel a the fact that Amanda still looks ten years old, even four years later.
Myrios was a DJ for Radio Free Gaia. After the station closed he formed a station and now DJs for Quantum State Radio. He was a fixture in the community before he disappeared for several years, only recently returning to the airwaves once more. No one except for several close friends know where he went or why. He'll tell people that he 'lost track of time' while he was coming to terms with this failed relationship. He won't tell people how he lost track of almost four years unless they are close to him. Myrios loves music and has an incredibly expansive collection thanks to the storeroom in The Rift.
Myrios doesn't belong to any of the Secret Societies or any of the independent factions. The secret war isn't his fight, per se, and only takes an interest in things when they start to impact him or his friends. He's taken a larger interest recently after the incident in Tokyo and he had to shut down one of his storefronts as the Filth was starting to be tracked in. He does this for those he cares for and the unfortunate, not for any agenda or secret society. He does this because a world without humans is a very bleak and boring world for him to exist in.
To the very perceptive, here is the truth, whole cloth, of what Myrios LeJean truly is. Feel free to take bits and pieces that your character would REALISTICALLY be able to detect and please don't use this section for metagaming. For all intents and purposes he looks and feels like a normal human that is perhaps a bit more quirky than most.
Myrios LeJean was created in The Rift to be the keeper of the shop. He, and the shop, were created in the First Age as soon as there was space enough, and enough need, for a shop to sell items. He is closer to being a construct rather than a supernatural being. He was created for the sole purpose of operating the shop.
The shop itself is one of those shops from the stories. The mysterious shop that appears one night but everyone believes has always been there. The shop seems to have what you need for a price. The Rift isn't the sinister shop from the Sam Krieg books, but thanks to its owner, carries what the customer needs rather than what he wants.
Myrios has extensive knowledge of the various supernatural races and creatures. He's worked hard throughout the Ages to create lasting, working relationships with as many races of supernatural as he could. He's a shopkeeper and would be a poor one if he couldn't create a working relationship with his customers.
He has spent the Ages inside of his shop, selling to his customers and providing conversation and knowledge to those who may seek it. It hasn't been until nearly a decade ago when he truly took his first forays into the outside world. He's had adventures and exploits in the past, but they were long ago and he seems to have learned a harsh lesson those many years ago. He's just now starting to get involved with humanity, deciding not to entirely sit in the background. Humanity is his best customers afterall.
The following is something of a lore sheet that I've created to keep the details consistent. All of this is OOC information that would not be shared to anyone but his most trusted friends.
The shops have existed since there was something large enough to open a storefront on and there was a need for things to buy and sell. The first things that were lost would wind up in the shops. The shops themselves are sentient beings, capable of a small range of emotions. Malak will often refer to the store in terms of "the store's having a bit of a tantrum today" or "the store's sulking". Shops can go bad. You get things like the shop from Needful Things. The store often directs the personality of the Shopkeeper and not the other way around. Things like Needful Things happen when the shopkeeper ignores the shop or leaves it to its own devices for too long. Over time the store becomes more sinister which is felt more in the general ambiance of the shop rather than appearance. The shopkeeper can certainly change the appearance of the shop to a degree which would only enhance the feeling of trepidation or in the case of Malak's shop, a sense of calm ease with things.
The shops accumulate all of the items in the universe that have been lost. This doesn't pertain to destroyed items. The back room could be considered the universe's largest hard drive. The core of the storeroom is a well-contained Singularity. There's no way the physical three dimensional universe could hold the collected items in the shop so things are compressed nearly infinitely and stored inside of the singularity. The items suffer no damage and are perfectly retrievable using technology pre-dating the first age. This same technology allows for interesting features of storage. Items are sorted in the Singularity by short descriptors and can be called into the physical space of the shop by query. Saying things like 'Music' will replace the items in the physical space to include all of recorded music, both written and recorded. No one is capable of walking into the Singularity as it's firmly and totally contained. The physical space extends roughly a quarter mile until things become darker, the lights dimmer and eventual total darkness save for the bright glow of the Singularity. It's an unnerving light as it doesn't flow out into the surrounding space but stops at the containment field. The "backroom" of the shop is an extra-dimensional space. 5th dimensional in order to contain the singularity.
People will often experience a rough couple of minutes or hours as the body's "morphic field" comes to grips with, and adjusts to the extra dimensions of the storeroom. It's much worse for normal humans as they're not as anima infused as the Bees are. Symptoms normally include nausea, dizziness and in some cases blacking out. It's not entirely impossible that some Bees won't experience this sickness. Normal Humans always will and it will normally be much worse.
The Rift, as with all of the other shops, has many storefronts through out time and many locations in space. It's a simple matter to open a new storefront as it seems to happen all the time in all the stories and movies. There's no real rules aside from there needs to be physical, empty space for it to occupy and have enough time without constant eyes on the space to "slide on in there" overnight as many of the storied shops seem to do. All of these storefronts lead to the same physical space. many doors leading to the same room. People from many different time periods may end up in the store at once but when they leave they return only to the point in history and physical space that they'd entered. There's no time traveling or teleporting in The Rift. Amanda is a perfect example. She is from roughly 1866, Victorian London. If she leaves the store she will return to Victorian London. Malak is the only exception to this. He can step out into whichever storefront in whichever time or place that he wishes. It's possible for him to bring others with him through physical contact and an extreme force of will. Short jaunts are recommended as Time will get very cross after a while and there will be periods of the "storeroom sickness" that will come after a while. The further away from their native "time zone" the worse this will become until they return home. This is why He doesn't simply take Amanda out of the shop into present day and live her life, aging and experiencing modern life. There is even a Storefront in Hell but he doesn't get many customers.
THE EXTRA SPACES(THE APARTMENTS)
The back room contains not just a storeroom but a formatively blank slate that can be guided by the whims of the Shopkeeper. As the shopkeeper doesn't have a physical need for sleep, food or many of the things that Humans would need space for, a lot of these spaces would remain blank. Malak's shop as he's taken to trying out the more Human aspects of life has decided to use this space for such endeavors. The 'apartments' as I call them contain a kitchen, a dining room, a sitting room, an extra room for Amanda, a few guest rooms, a full library and a pool. At one time it also housed an entire office space as Knightsbridge Consulting once had their offices in there when they first started. The rooms are decorated very plainly as Malak doesn't have a great sense of decor. It's not something that's really occured to him so they tend to be plain but well furnished. The spaces are very similar to the description of the Tardis, being able to grow new rooms or deleting them as the Shopkeeper demands.
PROPERTIES OF THE SHOP ITSELF
The storefronts are nigh invulnerable and will only temporarily accept graffiti. Though this will certainly depend on the mentality of the store. A store that's been ignored will most likely leave the graffiti there, the outer appearance beginning to mimic the madness that is slowly taking over the shop. The inside of the shop tends to mimic the same effect as the storefronts. A well-adjusted and content store will respond more to the ideas that the shopkeeper has. The Rift exemplifies what most people expect from a shop. The Rift and Malak have a wonderful relationship and so the store will respond more to his thoughts on interior decoration. So the shop resembles the most "shop" looking shop one can imagine, because that's the concept he has in his mind.
Time doesn't pass properly in the shop either. Time doesn't pass in the shop at all. So when you leave the shop it will be an appropriate amount of time later, but inside the shop mechanical, non-magical watches will stop. This is why the shopkeepers don't simply go mad over the millenia and Ages and Malak sometimes doesn't realize how long he's actually been away. Time doesn't pass for them. Time, the personified abstract concept, while a very fine lady and has had several wonderful tea times in the shop, isn't very fond of this fact. She's tried in very small ways to insinuate the passage of time into the shop. The latest attempt was gifting Malak a watch. He keeps it in his bedroom inside of a first age display case made of 'Harmonious Crystal'. While it doesn't affect the passage of time in the shop due to the containment, a fact which further irritates Time, it does have the effect of nullifying other time altering effects while its out of containment. He finds it hilarious.
The merchandise will differ depending on the store. The Rift offers up what the customers NEED versus what they WANT. While they may wander in wanting fame, fortune, love, resurrection of loved ones, or something similar, what they need is an entirely different thing entirely. The needs are often sometimes items like sentimental items like their grandmother's rosary that she prayed to daily and reminding someone of a happier time, an old teddy bear from their youth, and sometimes even something more esoteric like friendship or someone to talk to or things of the like. One of humanity's problems with life is thinking 'want' and 'need' are often the same thing. So while you may not walk out of the shop with the cool million that you want, you will leave better for the experience with an item cherished and needed for that moment in their lives.
Some stores, like in Needful Things will have what the customers want. This is a slippery slope that often leads to worse and worse behavior. People, if given what they want, will often care less and less. This of course has nothing to do with the prices that these sketchy shopkeepers charge. From things such as souls down to more esoteric prices like devils bargains of giving up something they love for something they want. Prized skills, first born, singing voices, and similar items are often the prices of these shopkeepers.
Shopkeepers and stories of those shopkeepers are why Malak has had to construct a sign for the Rift that says “No Weapons, No Tomes of Elritch Horrors, and No Legal Documents. Prices are CLEARLY marked on all items” And the prices are clearly marked. The prices will always be something that the person can afford.
The shop selects items to be stocked that day, knowing which customers will be coming in. Items appear in a crate near in the back, near the exit back out to the store itself. The shopkeep will stock items for the day and return others to the storeroom. There will always be something that someone needs when they enter. The beauty of extra-dimensional quasi-sentient stores with singularity driven storage rooms is that they know what's coming.
The shopkeepers were created in the beginning. Possibly predating even angels and the other supernatural denizens. They're not really anything that fits into classification. At various stages they were most likely likened to Genies and the like. in TSW, Djinn are well represented so that wouldn't be accurate, though possibly from around the same 'before times'. The shopkeepers are most accurately referred to as Daemons, using the original term meaning pretty much any supernatural creature, be it demonic or celestial or somewhere in-between. The Shopkeepers are directly linked to their stores. They're, in reality closer to constructs than supernatural beings. They were created to tend to the shop. The shopkeepers are nigh invulnerable and effectively immortal. Not in the same way that a Bee is immortal. There's no Anima form. They're formed from the raw stuff of creation. Their body doesn't reform after a short while, it just patches up and keeps on ticking. This makes it possible to detain the shopkeep given some suitably built and most likely ancient technology. They very closely resemble the customers that they'll be dealing with. Currently they resemble humans, with all of the equivalent bits and bobs. They don't need to eat or drink but can if they choose to. They don't need to excrete as everything is broken down entirely with no waste. They are fully able of defending themselves and most seem attuned to an element. Malak is attuned to the 'Honored Flame', the fires of creation. He has impressive control over it, making containing him or any of the other Shopkeeps a difficult task.
The Shopkeepers are directly linked to the shops. The more time that the shopkeep stays away from the shop, the worse its temperment gets. The worse its temperment gets the more the shopkeep starts to fall in line with that temperment. And eventually you'll end up with something like Leland Gauntt and Needful Things. Also given this deterioration the Shopkeep can eventually be killed. Several shopkeepers were destroyed in Ages past by their negligence of their shops and the celestial might of several bands of Angels. Given the circumstances at the moment it was a necessary deed to commit.
Each shopkeep has their own personalities as they're mostly shaped by their customers, as well as the temperment of the shop. They were created without knowing much about anything else in the universe so their personalities are shaped one customer at a time. They experience emotions based on interactions and are quite unfamiliar with some of the workings of humanity. Malak seems oblivous a lot of the time but it's mostly a lack of context on his part. He learns about human interaction and society in snapshots. Person comes in, they chat for a bit, purchase something and then they leave. Malak gets a bit of information but there's not much of the context information surrounding that information. He's not stupid just lacking a lot of the social context surrounding such things. He's one of the few that have ventured out into Humanity and learned a few things.
Much like in Doctor Who there are likely legends and myths passed through the ages that Malak was involved in. For example, in the Aladdin story it wasn't a cave that Aladdin found full of wonders, it wasn't an evil sorcerer but Malak. There were no motives or even actions so much involved with Malak's involvement. The plucky young thief stole into the back room while Malak was occupied, most likely something shiny on the ground. The young thief stole into the store room and stole a first age relic from the shelves and fled. The tale turned into the current form as the young thief couldn't simply tell people that he stole an ancient artifact from some guy's store. As a sidenote, the store let him steal the item. The boy was starving, and quite frankly was not the best thief. The boy needed the item. The item wasn't a genie in a ring but simply a second age artifact that supplied basic needs for the wearer. Food, clothing. Nothing fancy, but to a boy who was starving on the streets and stole to survive it might as well have been.
THE OTHER SHOPKEEPERS
There were a total of 12 shopkeepers when everything was created. Several of them are deceased. Only a few have been revealed either through conversations or stories. The ones we have so far are:
Myrios LeJean: We all know and love Malak. His store is 'The Rift', The storefront in-game is where the House of Chalk is. Myrios is elementally linked to Fire.
Sebastian Blacke: Proprietor of The Sunken City. His first shop was in Atlantis. He's more of the dark shopkeeper, closer to Leland Gauntt. He's been described as looking "more stork than funeral director." He has a grudge with Myrios, blaming him for doing nothing when Atlantis sunk amidst the war of hubris between the other shopkeepers. He named his shop 'The Sunken City' as a dagger to stick in Myrios' side every time he sees it, to remind him of his alleged cowardice. He is elementally linked to the Void, his store reflects this in the feeling of nothingness and the dead feeling that permaeates his store.
Azina Callas (Deceased): Azina is one of the shopkeepers that were killed by daemonic hordes that were sent by one of the other shopkeepers. She was kind, and loving, and taught Myrios a lot of things about the humans. She was killed for unknown reasons, but Myrios believes it was because she was too involved with the humans. She possibly was the basis for Athena in mythology. She was wise, kind, and above all else, fearless. She died when her storefront in Carthage was sacked along with the rest of the city. He gave her bracelet to Sulwen to help keep her safe. After 'Visiting Family' it was made clear to him that at the end of the Age, this all goes away. He decides not to hoard some of his things, her bracelet being the object in question so far, to someone he wants to have it, and benefit from it. She was elementally linked to Light
Phaethon LeGrande - Proprietor of 'The Storied Altar', a lot of his details were revealed and described in 'Visiting Family' Though he's more of a creepy shopkeeper than an evil one, his Elemental link is to Darkness.
Cruxia - She's been mentioned in 'Visiting Family' but I have no details about her yet other than she was one of the first aggressors in the battle between the shopkeepers in Atlantis. She was one of them that reveled in the worship and adoration from the humans. Her elemental link is to Lightning
Mnema Mousai- She was recently revealed in 'The Present'. She looks like a 17 year old girl with a sad expression and untameable red hair. She is ultimately kind, but she chose not to interact with the humans outside of shop transactions. She doesn't understand why Myrios is getting so involved with humanity. She accepts what she is, an unknowable entity that only exists for the shop. She secretly admires Myrios for his curiosity and compassion, but is more confused, and more than a little bit concerned. She's elementally connected to Life
Soma is a Hindu ritual drink made from honey, berries and several other ingredients that are currently unknown. Soma's effects are described as
"We have drunk soma and become immortal; we have attained the light, the Gods discovered.
Now what may foeman's malice do to harm us? What, O Immortal, mortal man's deception?"
The drink is, by this time, distilled belief. The drink is quite rare now, fetching quite the price on the markets. It is also the only thing currently that can give Malak a buzz. The drink is intended for Gods, or to transform humans into Gods. Malak is no god and so it overcharges his system, resulting in intoxication. The drink makes his eyes glow and he exhibits all the other symptoms of alcohol intoxication. Since he doesn't sleep he doesn't pass out, per se. He will crash for anywhere from 8 to 24 hours depending on how much he's drank. Malak, himself, only has a handful of bottles of the stuff that he saves for very special occasions.
In the lore that I've built there are personifications of esoteric concepts in the universe. People tend to put faces to broad concepts and in a world where everything's true why shouldn't this be true as well.
Time - is a perfectly fine lady, normally adorned in a cerulean blue gown that swirls of it's own accord around her body. She will come into the shop from time to time for tea and try to enforce the passage of time on the shop. This has yet to succeed but you can't fault a girl for trying.
Death - is another fine anthropomorphic personification of the ultimate end who holds no sway inside of the shop. She's been embodied through the Ages as a woman to care for the dead in their time of transcendence. She's often seen wearing a simple black gown adorned with silver clasps and buckles. She comes by to have coffee and has some choice words to say to him from time to time on the subject of Amanda. She's tried all sorts of honeyed words to get him to give her over and accept her send but Malak just has a knack for poking things that he really rather shouldn't.
Luck - is a sassy little redhead that is probably responsible for most of the stupid things Malak has done over the years. She loves a good wager and can turn in an instant from frighteningly sweet to cruel. The two of them have made several bets over the Ages. Oddly enough she seems to favor summery attire and hats.
there are others out there but i haven't written them into anything yet. added when i make up some bullshit story about them via Malak.
Myrios LeJean is the being who has been in charge of the shop since it’s moment of creation. While there have been rumors and legends throughout the ages no one truly knows if he’s an angel, or a demon, both, or something else entirely. Today Myrios LeJean is a nervous man desperately cleaning his impossible store. While there have been thousands, perhaps millions of visitors to his store over the passage of time, he’d never once actually invited someone to The Rift.
The man that most people know as DJ Malak has been a solitary and quite often lonely observer of the world for many many years. Of course in such an impossible store Time has little meaning. That’s not to say that Time isn’t an incredibly nice Lady, but that her passage doesn’t hold much weight. It has been a long time since he’s taken an interest in the affairs of humanity. In fact it has almost certainly been close to an Age since he cared to see what the humans have been up to in their world. Never, in fact, has he cared for a lone human, until very recently.
It’s been close to a week in fact and today he had decided that he would need to fill her in on the very weirdness of his existence. For much of everyone’s comfort he takes a very casual appearance. The rumors and the stories, god damn those stories, have left the proprietor of such stores in a very poor light. Of course that Gaunt Man that ran that one store up north somewhere didn’t do much to further the image. He wasn’t sure how someone would take the news of the impossible store or it’s impossible owner.
So he cleaned and rearranged the store in an attempt to make it look much more ordinary than it was. He would go through spurts of frantic activity before standing back and admiring his handiwork before shaking his head and going through another frantic burst of activitiy. The problem with cleaning a store like this is that the store has a mind and a personality all of its own. The store will appear precisely the way it wishes to, despite his best efforts. It’s part of the magic of the store. Myrios is simply there to give it someone to talk to. A lonely store has a habit of turning its mind to more sinister things in its boredom, and then you end up with a store much like the Gaunt man’s store, and then intrepid young horror writers blow the WHOLE thing out of proportion and suddenly there’s rumors that he trades in souls and blood contracts for items.
Myrios cleaned and adjusted the sign by the register that he’d made a few decades before to fight precisely that image. The sign said simply “No Weapons, No Tomes of Elritch Horrors, and No Legal Documents. Prices are CLEARLY marked on all items” He was rather proud of himself for the sign. It had perhaps been one of his strokes of minor genius. He looked around the place once again before checking the watch that he’d been given in order to keep track of time in his impossible store. Time really was a kind Lady, but he was certain he’d simply been given the watch so that she could have a bit of sway in the place. Like the girlfriend stealth moving the toothbrush in. One moment you find yourself with a toothbrush, only to come home and find frilly throw pillows and dust covers all over everything. This was Time’s “toothbrush” but it was an incredibly handy toothbrush when he needed it, much like for his shows or on this evening, a date with a beautiful young doctor who he hoped wouldn’t either run screaming in terror or fall over dead from shock.
The last was a real possibility. He wished himself luck and left the store, locking it for one of the few times in history. That was one of the fundamental rules of the strange store that happens to have everything; It’s always open at all hours for the desperate souls to trade something he needs for something he wants.
Malak scratched his head as he looked down at the empty crate. He frowned and circled the crate another time or two. He even nudged it with his foot to confirm that the crate was possibly an illusion. He left the store room at the back of his shop and returned momentarily with a broom and began to poke at the crate, poke by poke sliding the crate across the floor. Dropping the broom he squatted down next to it, peering down closer at the emptiness that the crate embodied. Giving a final scoff at the sheer laziness of the crate he stood and walked into the store room itself and looked around.
The process and the system was simple. It had stood a solid policy for Ages. Malak, always one to argue with a good policy, and perhaps even yell in the general direction of a bad one, had made his peace with this policy a long time ago. He walks down the crowded shelves, stretching up, dozens of feet into the air. Ages of various items, lost to history but not forgotten, stood on those shelves as he walked down the aisles between them. He found an old ball sticking out conspicuously from a shelf and immediately picked it up and started bouncing it in time with each footstep. “This doesn’t make up for THAT” he says, gesturing in the direction of the empty crate. Plog, Plog, Plog follows the sound of each footstep and the accompanying echo as the sound of the ball comes back to greet him.
He walks further. He know exactly where he’s going and he scans the shelves as he makes his way to the marvelous miracle at the center of the store room. He pauses at an intersection between sections of shelves and he hangs his head and shakes it. He throws the ball at the end of a shelf at a poster seemingly taped in place. The ball whips back on the rebound, catching him in the head and knocking him off his feet onto the floor, a small bit of dust kicked up in his landing. “You really think that’s funny?” He calls out to seemingly no one in particular. The Poster depicted a harried cartoon cat hanging onto a bookshelf, surrounded by the words ‘Hang in there! There’s always tomorrow!’ in a fanciful comic font. He stood up and dusted himself off. He casually scanned around for where the ball had disappeared to. He had words for his small rubber attacker and they weren’t kind. Giving up on his search he decided to turn a corner and try down another aisle.
The crate couldn’t be empty. It had never been empty before in all the time he’d been the shopkeeper. That was the rule. He goes to the stockroom and items would be there to stock for the day. He stocks those items and then people buy them. “That’s the way this works!”, he calls out again. He finds an old rapier and doing his best Edmond Dantes thrusts and ripostes, tossing out a hearty “HA!” every now and then. He grins and sets the sword back onto another shelf knowing that it’d be in it’s proper place most likely before he made his way back to the front. He resumes his stalking towards the end.
What could have been minutes or hours pass as he continues walking. Time doesn’t have much to say about this part of the store room and the path has slowly become darkened. The physical shelves start to fade from view, replaced by the darkness that creeps in. It’s partially for effect but mostly to keep people from wandering further who shouldn’t be here. Several more steps, or dozens more and it comes into view. The heart of the store room, the densely contained Singularity at the heart of the store. He smiles at the bright white light that radiates only a few inches from the containment field. Wonderful technology from the cradle of creation housing the universe’s largest collection of items in one place.
He circles the sphere, leaning in to inspect the surface. He flicks it with his finger and turns his head to hear the sound better. It makes absolutely no sound and he seems entirely satisfied with the results. He begins the walk back, finding the ball in his travels as his foot nudges it. He bends to pick it up and continue. Plog, plog, plog goes the ball as he walks back. Somewhere in the distance the sound of Concorde, Lancelot’s squire from Monty Python and the Holy Grail declare, “Message for you Sir!” moments before a paper airplane comes sailing into view. He snatches it out of the air, crushing it in his fist. “What cute bit of nonsense is this? I’m still mad at you! You know what you did!” He grudgingly un-crumples the airplane and finds a note written in incredibly flowery script inside.
I’ve taken the liberty of putting the stock out for today. I know you don’t sleep but I thought you could go out and do something. See some things for me. Bring me back some candy floss. I’ll watch the shop today. Have a day off,
His irritation deflated almost instantly and he grinned a little bit down at the note, feeling bad for having handled it so roughly. He turns back around in the direction of the Singularity and says begrudgingly, “You’re off the hook this time, but I’m keeping my eye on you!” The rest of the day was his.
(This one’s a bit weirdly written and a bit edited to try and write someone out from years ago.)
The last couple of days had been somewhat attrocious. The dealings with the Dark Beings had set off something that had left him with a bad taste in his mouth. All of this was new to him. The love, the danger, the conspiracies had all happened to other people until recently. He decided to start leaving his shop, to help deal with the Filth, to stumble into love, and it had been the downfall of the being he’d been prior to this.
The scenes from days before were fresh in his mind. They’d always be there, fresh and ready for the viewing like a wound that will never heal because you can’t help but play with it. Myrios LeJean stared up at the ceiling of his shop from the floor behind the counter and thought. This wasn’t entirely out of character for him; he’d had far too many years spent in much the same position in much the same intent.
The look on her face as she hung from the ceiling was etched into his memory. The begging words from her lips for him to kill her. It was an incredibly new experience for him and he wished he could let it slip from his mind but he was given an incredibly long memory and he couldn’t help but use it. All of these new emotions were infuriating at times. Why did people have so many of them. He’d written down seven new ones this week. Rage being the one he’d identified with the day before.
He was broken from his brooding by the bell above his door. His face changed from brooding to pleasant in a matter of moments. Fat George was a regular of Darkside and always brought pleasant conversation. The ‘man’ wasn’t a man at all. Perhaps like much of Darkside, he was a supernatural creature trying to blend in. He was, as the nickname suggested, quite fat.
“Where ye been brudah? De shop be closed na more dan it be open?” Myrios chuckles at him and grabs something from under the counter and slides it across to Fat George. “Don’t worry George, I’ve still got your dust. I’ve just been getting out and seeing the world a bit more lately. Fat George erupts into a full belly laugh, his body shaking in small waves as the sound bellows out of him. "You been seein’ a girl. Seein’ de rest'a de world hadn’t mattah’d one bit to you, did it Little Malak?”
Myrios had to laugh at the man. He had of course been seeing someone and had mostly tuned out the rest of the world. “You caught me George. No one down here could ever sneak anything by you” Fat George had turned to walk out of the store. “Dats why I always have de best informayshun. Stop on by de stall latah and I’ll fill ye in on what'chu been missin’ lately.” The sound of the bell heralded Fat George’s departure from his store but the sound was soon replaced by a little girl of no more than 10. She was dressed in quite the Victorian style. A waifish, scraggly little thing though. Obviously grown up on the street. He leaned across the counter to look down at her. “So, what can we find for you among all these wonders young lady?” The girl looks up at him with impossibly large green eyes that have seen their share of dirt and sadness and doesn’t say a word to him for long moments. “I’ve got just the thing for you, young lady. Just sit right there and I’ll be right back.”
Her name was Amanda and she was everything that she appeared to be. The girl had grown up on the streets of VIctorian London and may have been the subject of a Dickens novel or several. More importantly she was incredibly close to death. The supposition was that stores such as these gave you what you wanted in exchange for a price but with The Rift that simply wasn’t true. It gave you what you needed, which was often vastly different. While you may feel that you want wealth, adoration, and objects, you’ll find that more often than not what you need more than anything is something simple; sentimental. Amanda Laike needed a friend more than she wanted money, clothes, or fancy houses.
She found her way inside the store through the dusty door in the corner of the alley. She hadn’t noticed the storefront with the large copperplate lettering before but something in her mind told her that it had always been there. It had to have been. Stores don’t just spring up out of nowhere. So she had wandered in looking for a bit of warmth before the store owner inevitably kicked her back out to the cold London winter. She was amazed when she entered at the size of the place. The strangely dressed man leaned down over the counter with the dark glasses covering his eyes. He brought her cookies and a glass a milk and had set her up behind the counter. She kicked her feet while the man seemed to study her. He’d lean in close and tilt his head in a way that reminded her of a confused dog. He’d mumble something under his breath and look at her from a different angle, only to repeat the process again. “Would you like a job?”, he asked.
The agreement was unusual but so were the circumstances. She worked for Myrios, sweeping and doing the odd bit of dusting. He set her up a room in the back of the store. What went said between the two of them was that she was dying. In several months more on the streets of London she would have died of illness. So long as she remained in the store she was locked in a sort of timeless stasis, never aging or growing any more ill. He had brought in the odd citizen of Darkside to provide medicines to help the illness. If she left the shop she could only enter back onto that cold London street at the moment she’d left. So she read, and learned, and helped however she could. She was grateful to the one adult that hadn’t yelled at her and kicked her back out to the streets.
Malak had had a wonderful roller coaster ride of an evening. The smile was still on his face when the door closed and he quietly flipped the sign over to ‘Closed’.
The Shopkeeper turned and walked to the back rooms to clean up the dinner plates. He could leave them, and undoubtedly they’d turn up back in their proper place before terribly long. It was simply the routine of the thing that he enjoyed. The smile was still on his face, but his mind had been working, as there was some internal struggle going on. People always talk of the angel and the devil on their shoulders telling them to go in divergent directions. Malak only had two copies of himself in their place, and neither of them were any help.
His decision had already been made, of course. Far too often, though, his decision-making process involved making the decision, then discussing the merits and flaws of the exact plan while thing were already in motion. It wasn’t a perfect process, but it had worked out for him this long–why change it now?
With the last dish put away, he tidied up and turned off lights as he left. All of this was entirely unnecessary–there was no power bill and things would never wear out–but the process was calming, something he could do on autopilot to keep occupied while he thought. The smile still rested on his face, only slightly fading as he worked out still more details in his head.
Though he seldom used it, Malak had a bedroom. The room was more a private vault of what he considered personal and cherished. He thought and considered whether the other shopkeepers would have their own bedrooms.
As he tossed the hooded sweatshirt onto the largely unusused bed he considered what each of the other Shopkeepers might have in their rooms. As his t-shirt hit the bed, he chuckled a little as he considered his other favorite associate, Azi. Azina Callas, the great Shopkeep of Carthage. He smiled a bit as he sat briefly on the bed to remove his boots, thinking of the stories she’d tell over Soma and lamb. He folded his jeans as he remembered the discussions walking through those ancient streets. The other shopkeepers weren’t often as friendly, and there’d been so many of them in those days. There were also agreements and compacts and various binding pieces of paper and parchment which kept it that way. Azina was the friendliest of them.
As he put on perpetually perfectly-pressed suit pants, his smile faded just a hair, almost imperceptibly.
He remembered what the rest of history remembered. Carthage was sacked and burned to the ground.
His smile faded a bit more when he remembered the nine hundred survivors huddled in the Temple of Eshmun. He buttoned up the black shirt with the red tie draped around his neck, and he remembered the survivors throwing themselves onto the flames. His smile faded a bit more.
Then he remembered the part that the history books disguised. All traces of his smile had disappeared by the time he’d buttoned the final button on the black, pin-striped suit jacket.
He remembered that it was not a Temple of Eshmun that the survivors had hidden in, but a quaint shop. They had worshipped Azi as a seer and magician.
A bit of the smile returned until he had slipped his shoes on, and the images of the Daemonic horde descending upon the shop wearing the skins of Romans. Terrible weapons of a lost Age.
She had stood admirably. Both the store and Azi.
He frowned at himself as the final memory of that time played out in his mind. He had walked through the crowds of soldiers practially unseen, walking the miles quietly back to his own shop two cities over.
This was the price of getting too involved. That lesson had stuck with him since.
“You’re getting too involved,” came Amanda’s far-too-sweet and far-too-British accent as he studied himself in the mirror. She had thankfully started taking to modern dress lately. However, her propensity for reading his thoughts remained exactly as it was, if not worse.
Malak wasn’t going to let her know that, however. “Don’t you think that’s a bit melodramatic, even for a ten-year-old?”
He adjusted the suit here and there, and turned to look at the small blonde girl standing in his doorway, arms crossed in the pink shorts and 'My Little Pony’ t-shirt. She looked stern.
“You did this before. It wasn’t even that long ago. Even /your/ attention span is longer than that.”
He tilted his head at the girl, trying awkwardly to scoot around her in the doorway, losing any sense of power over the situation. She blocked his path like a rock.
“Who do you think you are? This is just a favor for a friend. This isn’t getting too involved.” He was starting to get irritated with this situation.
“I just thought that I’d remind you. You forget the important things for what’s shiny and right in front of you.”
Malak clears his throat, trying to think of a way to regain the high ground from the pink terror in his doorway. “This IS important. But it is also shiny, and right in front of me. And I can DO something about this.”
He shrugs a bit and manages to get by, but only because Amanda had said her peace to him.
“I keep forgetting that you’ve grown past that body of yours. Be good. I should only be gone a little bit. Definitely shouldn’t miss any customers. Put on some tea for when I get back.”
He walked with purpose down the hallway and out into the shop proper.
Stepping from the shop door into the bright sunlight of California, he squinted involuntarily at the sudden glare.
It was time to break some rules.
The problem with visiting other shopkeepers is that there is never more than one store in a given city.
In these modern ages, the problem is much less than in the days of carriages and horses, but still a minor inconvenience.
The sun was setting when he arrived in Los Angeles, and the city was bathed in a rusty red tone when he stepped from the taxi and looked up at the sign, painted in a flawless gothic font: 'The Sunken City.’
Myrios shook his head as he walked to the glass paneled door and opened it with a suitably ominous creak.
He peered around as he entered. The building felt dead and cold, almost as if there was a total lack of anything contained within the space.
This place was a void. Even the grey light that filtered through the windows felt empty, null. It didn’t so much illuminate as it simply spread across anything that it touched.
A complicated, oddly spider-like male shape unfolded from behind the door. There seemed to be too many motions to the way he moved, but you could never quite put your finger on it. He was only an inch or two taller than Malak, but his thin frame made him look supernatural. His white hair was cut neatly and completed the image of a man who was more stork than he was funeral director.
“How’s it going, Lance?” Malak asked with a grin on his face. He placed his hands on the counter and leaned imposingly toward the man until he was only a few inches from his face.
“I do wish you would stop calling me that. What have I done to warrant the… dubious pleasure of your company, Myrios? I’m assuming this isn’t you wanting to catch up on old times. You know my feelings on that.” The man seemed to intone more than he spoke.
“I have some questions for you, Lance. I’d like for you to be honest for once in our existence.”
The other man seemed entirely unamused by Myrios, looking down and brushing some dust from his sleeve. "You come into my store and insult me, and you think to get answers from me, Malak? HA! Fancying yourself an angel now? Come now. Call me by my name and I might consider if I have answers for you.“
The grin returned to Malak’s face, and he hopped back upright, his eyes fixed on the other man. "That’s exactly what I wanted to hear, Sebastian. It seems we’ve got ourselves an accord then. So, what I want to know is if you’re dealing in blood. You know that’s not how this works.”
The man seems almost empowered now that Malak has spoken his name. "I simply said that I would consider if I had answers.“ The man’s grin seemed to broaden, containing perhaps a few too many teeth if you perhaps looked from the corner of your eye.
"It’s a simple question, Sebastian. You can even do it without words. Up and down for yes, side to side for no.”
The man remained stony silent, neither a nod nor a shake. "You want this too bad for me not to make a bit of something from this, Myrios. You know how deals work in this shop. You give me something, and then I decide its worth. I will give you what I feel is appropriate. These are the rules. You do remember the rules, yes?“
Malak bristled a bit at the man’s tone, his voice lowering and perhaps taking on a hard edge. "Just tell me what you want, and I’ll decide if it’s worth the price.”
That wide grin returned to Sebastian’s face. "You will give it. You wouldn’t be here if it weren’t important to you. You wouldn’t be breaking the old agreements if this weren’t something you were worried about. Though I’m not sure whether to be touched or insulted that you came to me. What I want, is a week of your time. A week of your time, that’s all. Seven days. It won’t even pass outside. You could be gone moments to whoever you’re doing this for. We live for Ages. What’s a small collection of hours, hmm?“
Malak quirked an eyebrow at the statement. There was more to this, always more to this. "What’s the catch? I know you, there’s always a catch.” His face became serious.
The man tutted him and shook his head. "Oh, brother, you too know that’s not how this is played. You pay the seemingly innocuous price and only later find that it was so much more than you’d thought. If I told you up front, you’d never take the deal, and I’d never do any business at all. Give me your answer and we’ll begin.
“Come now, Malak. Play the angel. Be the hero. Though you always liked that role, didn’t you? You just couldn’t say no to a soul in distress. So, let’s quit pussyfooting about and get on with our days. Or, at least, /my/ day. /Yours/ will be a bit full.”
Sebastian stood behind the register, his fingers drumming on the counter top. Tap-tap taptap-tap. Over and over again in the long moments, as Malak thought over his options… and finally nodded, only somewhat grudgingly.
“Okay, Sebastian. You’ve got your week. Now tell me what I’m asking for. Which one of us is dealing in blood if it’s not you?” Malak was a bit more in his element, now that the decision-making process was over with. "Obviously it’s not you, or you would’ve been more coy and well… /you/ about the whole thing. I was really hoping it was you.“
Sebastian tapped the keys on the old register and grinned as he completed the transaction. "Sorry to disappoint you, but I prefer other methods of control.
"Now, follow me and we’ll begin. You know that I’ll honor the deal. First, tell me, Myrios… when’s the last time that you’ve dreamed of Atlantis?”
“The Sunken City. Isn’t that a bit on the nose? I liked the old name, myself.”
Myrios walked through the back of Sebastian’s store with him. The place felt just as cold and barren as the front. He tried to listen but could only feel something like ominous breathing, nothing like the life he felt in his own store. This store had plans and ambitions. This store had schemes, and these were reflected in its owner, Sebastian Blacke.
“I thought it was fitting. Considering the circumstances, it was the smallest dagger that I was allowed to wield,” the man intoned as they walked through long, barely lit hallways that twisted and turned until you had no bearings, no idea of where you could possibly be going.
They stopped at the entrance to an amazing baroque antechamber. The walls were covered in frescoes and paintings. Gold accented the pillars, and met at the top of a large dome covered in paintings, much like the Sistine Chapel. In the middle was something that resembled a gazebo. Four black pillars rose to support a smaller dome, ringed in gold and obsidian.
“You should remember all of these, Myrios. You were there. You caused this. Don’t tell me otherwise. I saw you. Walking away amid the chaos.” The man shows the first cracks in his facade. “You let this HAPPEN! And for WHAT?! Because your favorite little sister was killed? You let an entire continent sink while we destroyed ourselves because you were SAD?!”
Myrios winces at the man’s words, perhaps the first expressions of shame and regret crossing the man’s face in an Age. “You know full well it was Xander that started that. That’s why we have our accords. A continent sank and we lost five siblings. We got too involved. We puffed our chests and acted as Gods, and priests, and Prophets! We were stupid! We have the Accords now. That hasn’t happened in an Age. Let this go.”
“Accords you’ve now chosen to violate! I nearly lost my store, you insipid pacifist. Rome burned while you stood watching! You’re only lucky that I had another storefront opened or I’d be gone as well.” The man’s anger was welling up inside of him but he stopped himself, the fury departing him just as suddenly as it had come. “Of course, you managed to keep your hands clean in all of this. I saw you, watching. You did nothing. Five. That’s how many of our siblings you let die.”
“I tried to talk all of you out of it,” Myrios said grimly. “The warring was foolish. You all got caught up in your egos and the worship. Azi was the best of us. I learned from her unfortunate lesson and tried to make you all see as well.”
Myrios sighed and his strange eyes swept around, taking a closer look at some of the frescoes. The intricacy of detail was amazing compared to even modern capabilities; relics of an Age long past. The ones closer to the ground depicted seemingly mundane endeavors: crowds gathered around performances. Gods on the steps of temples. Many wonders were depicted, wonders now lost to the sands of Time.
As the eye was drawn upwards, the pictures became more dire; depicting conflict, battle, fire, and ultimately the mural at the top of the dome. In brilliant, blazing colors spread out a series of toppled buildings, smoking temples, and scores of bodies littering the scene. In the foreground, a man in black knelt, weeping over the bodies, long white hair and sullen face blood-streaked and mangled. In the background, atop the broken head of a fallen statue stands a familiar man, dressed in white robes with a brilliant blue scarf blowing in an imagined wind, like some sort of judging god or avenging angel. Arms crossed on his chest, he looks down at the scene, sunglasses obscuring his eyes.
“That’s quite the revisionist take on Atlantis, don’t you think, Sebastian? You were in no way the savior. You drew as much blood as Xander and Cruxi, maybe more. THAT is a farce.” He pointed at the mural with outrage on his face. “You did none of that for your family or the people of Atlantis. You did it for yourself and you know it! Now can we stop this pity party and get on with whatever you want? I have important things to do.”
The man bristled again but managed to maintain his composure. “You’re right. You may be a coward, but you are absolutely right.
"Please, have a seat in the chair.” He gestured. “I’m sure you remember these. I managed to save this holo-inducer before the whole continent broke apart and was swallowed up by the Void.”
Sebastian circled around what appears to be some sort of stone examination table. He patted the flat spot in the chair and motioned for Myrios to sit. “This won’t be pleasant, but that’s not a concern of mine. You know that I can’t harm you due to the accords, but I have other ways to get my point across. Now, before we begin, won’t you give me an idea of what I’ll be informing you about? I would know the specifics so that I can honor our deal fully. At least one of us will keep to the Accords,” he said in a scathing tone. “Is there anything you’d like to say before I leave you to… this… for the next week?”
Myrios took his jacket and shoes off and lay them on a nearby bench before hopping up on the table. “You know exactly who I’m talking about. If you know enough to propose a deal, then you know what I’m after. But so we can avoid a mistake that I made earlier, I will speak very clearly and very slowly so that you can’t twist these words. One of us. took blood. From Sulwen. Morgan-Dorne. You have that, every syllable? Because I want to know which one of us made the deal. I wish to visit them. The details beyond that are mine to know.”
“So you intend to further violate the Accords, then?” Sebastian shook his head, gesturing and causing a hard light panel to appear. Then he began typing on buttons. “We don’t interfere in other shops’ business. That’s what happened in Atlantis, and that’s why we’re here now.” He hits a few more buttons and light starts pulsing from pillars, one by one. “As a matter of fact, if I had been so inclined… I took issue with a few of the sales that you’ve made over the years. I didn’t darken your doorstep, did I?”
Myrios shook his head. “You did not. Though, before you turn the lights off and I have to experience whatever this is for the next week, just tell me one thing.” He tilted his head to get a better look at Sebastian. “Do you have a bedroom?”
“Of course not. I have no need for such nonsense. I don’t try to be more than what I am. I don’t hold any love for these mayflies we call patrons. They’re gone like THAT!” He snapped his fingers, and in the building aura of the holo-inducer the sound became amplified until nearly deafening. “Why would I try to endear myself to that which will barely persist beyond a heartbeat of ours?”
Myrios simply nodded stoically and took his sunglasses off, tossing them onto his suit jacket. He looked up at the malice-saturated face of Sebastian, who was applying a band around Myrios’s head, covering his eyes and blacking out the light. He smiled a bit, but he knew what was coming. “Because some of them are worth it, Sebastian. Some of them need the help.”
As the field built, Sebastian exited the gazebo structure and watched inside. “Where was this sentimental streak when we were killing ourselves? When thousands of people died and an entire continent was lost? Where was that love then?”
Sebastian watched as the field reaches a critical point and with a loud WHUM sound the gazebo was filled, playing scenes of fire and death and the screams of the dying… and those who only wished for death in vain.
The man had to turn his head from the scene. This wasn’t his punishment, after all. These were only his memories, and ones he wished would fade.
He made his way back to the entryway, a wicked smile on his face as the first painful noises came from the man in the chair. Sounds that would only grow in intensity…
Sounds that he’d relish for the next week.
Myrios walked stiffly from the shop. His head was upset with the activities of the last week. His eyes burned in the blinding sun, and everything had a red tinge to it. He shook his head and tried to get his bearings for a few moments.The images and flashes filled his mind. Screams and bodies. Fires filling the streets.
The sound of cars violently crashing together in a sudden accident rattled him to the core, sounding much like the cracking of the earth as Atlantis broke apart and tumbled into the Void.
Myrios slumped against the front of Sebastian’s shop, trying to shake the images from his head. Shakily, he brought his hand up to read the piece of paper in the light of day. It took several minutes before his sight cleared enough to make out the writing.
“Phaethon LeGrande, eh?” he muttered to himself. “I didn’t know you were even still around… you sneaky bastard.” His voice sounded hoarse and cracked in his ears, his mind returning to the images of shops burning under fire from terrible weapons and magic.
Myrios then looked around him and forced himself to focus for a few moments, a focus hard-won. He saw images of himself, standing silent witness to the destruction, every time he closed his eyes; as if that terrible cinema was magically seared into his lids.
At last, the disoriented Shopkeeper managed to disappear into a golden halo of light. When he rematerialized, he found himself on the endless beckoning paths of Agartha’s branches.
He felt more energized as he stood in the enfolding arms of the tree, and before long the smile returned to his face. He closed his eyes.
“Where are you today?” He murmured quietly to himself as he reached out his senses to find Phaethon’s shop.
Phaethon LeGrande had one of the more unique shops in the ‘verse. There were several rules that he didn’t follow, according to the nature of his shop. Unlike the other shopkeepers, Phaethon’s store appeared wherever probability dictated he could make the highest number of optimal deals for his current stock of merchandise. Only temporarily did he have multiple storefronts, so he could neatly skirt around having more than one shop in a city. This made it difficult to find him, as he could be anywhere at any point in time or space. The last time Myrios had seen him was in the 1860’s; the American Civil War.
He focused his attention and reached out with his power. Agartha was the perfect place for this, aside from his shop, but he wasn’t ready to return there yet. Too many chances for something to intervene. Too many opportunities for someone to stop him.
His body glowed in the mystical environment for several long minutes before he stumbled on a thread belonging to his target.
Myrios grinned with relief, disappearing in a flash to find himself on the streets of Philadelphia. The hustle and noise of the city disoriented him for a moment, and he found himself incredibly pleased that he didn’t materialize in the middle of 6th street.
He rallied quickly, and a wary smile came to his face. This was not the time to show weakness, but also, he did love the Old City. It had a certain… revolutionary charm to it. He chuckled to himself at his own pun and crossed 6th street to stand in front of the vintage sign, painted in the tacky 1970’s plain font that was ever so popular. “The Storied Altar? Really, Phaethon?” He shook his head. “ And here I thought I was a too fond of cliches.”
The redhead peered in through the large plate window before he entered. The counter reminded him of an old 1920’s shop, but, gods… that tacky yellow and pea green tile made him want to throw up. He was glad that he had sunglasses when he opened the front door and the tacky 'bing bong’ sound of the electronic bell sounded. The place was gauche and it felt… filthy. The shadows didn’t move right, and it felt as if it could’ve been infested with roaches or… something. This place seemed to exist just behind the veneer of the world, and somehow it gave him the distinct sense that like the storefronts, the inside of this place would shift, attracting whatever sort of customer its feelers had sensed might seek its stock. Either the shop’s current stock wasn’t seeking the cream of the crop when it came to Philadelphians, or the entire place was uniquely shaping itself to repel an unwanted invader… him.
Myrios poked at a magazine rack. All of the magazines were from earlier eras. He picked up a Time magazine from the '20s and flipped through it.
Eventually, he felt rather than heard the presence of another Shopkeeper. His eyes lifted up over the rim of his sunglasses and he casually put the magazine back on the rack, trying to seem aloof. Playing it cool was never a strong suit of his, but he felt it was time to give it a try.
“What brings you here, Myrios?” The man sounded suspicious, but confident, like a man who knew that he had the upper hand–a man on his home turf.
Myrios picked up a ritual dagger from the counter and tossed it into the air, eyeing Phaethon.
“Is that supposed to be intimidating, Myrios?” Phaethon inquired solicitously. “You know as well as I do that you can’t hurt me. Even if you could, it wouldn’t do you any good. I’m assuming that you’re here to discuss things, and you’ll get much farther if I’m able to discuss. Correct?” The man exuded a smooth confidence with a whiff of hubris. He puffed up his personality as an animal would in the wild to dissuade predators… then again, so did many dangerous serpents.
Phaethon LeGrande was a diminutive being. Much like Sebastian, he resembled someone’s grandfather, if that grandfather was a particularly slick used car salesman. His hair had thinned to balding, a calculated effect to set visitors at ease. His grin both warmed you and made you look around, in case there was someone coming up to surprise you with a knife to the kidneys.
The stab never came in the way you’d think it would. It didn’t come in the form of shadowy assassins or sneering rogues. The stab came in the form of little fellow with a pencil-thin moustache and a slate grey suit with a charming yellow flower on his lapel. He reminded you of the smells of candy and chemicals; he looked sweet and tasted foul. In fact, this whole place tasted foul to Myrios every time he breathed.
“I’m assuming that Sebastian has contacted you in the last week,” Myrios notes. “He’s had plenty of time to do so. I would think that he would simply to gloat, if nothing else.” He picked up a small vase from the counter and turned it over, pointedly looking at the bottom before shaking his head and replacing it on the tacky fake-wood veneer of the counter.
“He hasn’t said a word to me, dear brother. Why would he have occasion to contact me? We stay out of each other’s business. As you did, until recently.” Phaethon walked down the counter, running his hand along the beaten and worn cash register, the round, raised push buttons of the early twentieth century device making clicking noises as he went. His eyes were always fixed on Myrios; appraising him with the watchful gaze of a hawk, but knowing full well that he was the one with all the power here.
Myrios followed him along the counter, tapping his fingers along the glass front panel as he walked. Passing an old typewriter, he resisted the urge to hit the keys. He did so enjoy the sound of a properly used typewriter. He’d have to dig one up from the back sometime. “Then let’s talk blood, and all of the reasons that we don’t broker in it. We don’t broker in control. We don’t broker in death. And we certainly don’t broker in the summoning of ancient beings. I’m not sure how many of these you’ve broken over the years, but I’m most interested in one.”
“Tea?” The old man broke Myrios’ attempt at an intimidating tone without so much as a waver or an ounce of worry in his voice.
The man set a cup on the counter and slid it between two vintage cookbooks towards Myrios.
Myrios eyed the tea cup and looked harshly at Phaethon.
“Suit yourself, Myrios. I can’t force you to effect good manners. But you know there’s nothing between us to worry yourself over. I can’t poison you. I can’t infect you with anything. Take it or leave it–of all the things I’m going to bargain for today, tea with you isn’t going to be one of them.”
The man sipped his own tea, loaded with cream and sugar to where it would barely resemble tea in appearance or taste. Myrios grudgingly took the offered cup, sniffing the liquid inside before adding milk and a tiny bit of sugar, and began to drink it with a sigh.
“That is, surprisingly, just what I needed. Everything else aside, thank you. But we have business I need to conclude, and it seems that you’re the person to ask about it.”
“You’re only partially right, my brother,” Phaethon corrects, one finger briefly held in the air. “YOU don’t deal in blood and control. I do, though, though, in one highly specialized little area which DOES suit the terms of the accords: magical blood. The blood of beings who are in the know about the secret world, and of beings who can defend themselves should be it used against them in some way.
"Did you know that there’s a very distinct lack of truly magical families these days?” Phaethon began to pace slowly along the counter, musing to himself. “The world has changed. People are not as devout to the gods as they once were. Fewer and fewer mortals are… 'superstitious.’ That means blessings and bloodlines alike are becoming fewer and farther between. Some dynasties, particularly amongst the Templars, have fallen into true disrepair. So, I get it where I can… those few bright souls from wherever or whenever who wander into my shop with a need for something… special.”
The man sipped his tea, continually sizing Myrios up. “And as for control, we ALL deal in control. You may not like to admit it, and some of our more… wayward siblings may revel in the dark and the Filth and the horrors; in things like souls and the pieces thereof… but at the end of the day, we all deal in control. But please, continue to lecture me about my business practices–as long as you recall that you can only do so because I choose not to harbor such foul means to use against you.” He smiles faintly. “I do so love these talks.”
Abruptly, then, Phaethon placed his teacup on the counter, and stood to his full height. Despite the unimpressive nature of his stature, the awful fluorescent lighting of the ceiling did a wonderful job of shrouding him in shadow, making him look much more dark and intimidating than he should.
“I’m not here to play games, Phaethon.” Myrios frowned. “Any other time I’d love to settle in on a game of Checkers or Go, but I want blood. I want a very specific person’s blood that I’m sure you still have.” He sipped his tea, hesitating each time as if he was trying to figure out if there really could be something in it, despite what the other Shopkeep had said.
He set the tea down when it was dry and stood across from Phaethon, hands flat on the counter and looming over him. He wasn’t trying to be intimidating this time, which was strange because it was probably the only time that he had been. “I want what’s left of Sulwen’s blood.”
His face was serious, but Phaethon grinned, knowing he had a bargain in the making. “Oh come now, Myrios. You’re the fool. The whimsical, scatterbrained magpie. This is far too serious a business for you. Where’s that odd smile, and the inane banter about walruses and sealing wax and all that?” With a trace of sadism then, he queried further, “where’s the patting on the arm and whispering that things will be all right?”
Phaethon’s grin intensified as he let his words sink in for a moment.
“You’ve been using it to watch?! That was too specific to be a guess, even for you!” Myrios had gone pale for the moment. He found the intrusion nauseating, not for his own sake, but on the part of parties that he was fully glad weren’t here.
“I only wanted to check up on the girl,” Phaethon corrected, a little smugly but with a grandfatherly air that was disturbingly sincere. “She seemed a very nice girl in a very bad position.” His sculpted brow tilted upward, and he jerked his head slightly. “You know the type. You obviously know the very specific example, in fact.
"We made a deal. I got her blood, and she got a book full of vital information that served her purposes nicely–and informed her about her very own magical bloodline, a cause near and dear to both my heart and my shop. Business complete.” He spread his arms in a grand gesture, then calmly picked up his teacup once again and took a sip.
“I really did like the girl,” Phaethon mused then. “She was sweet. Kept inquiring after my health and offering to help heal my wheeze free of charge, but she was a wreck without any answers to her questions. Why, she thought she was a freak, a monster! Not a precious relic of a bygone era, blessed by a goddess and capable of achieving her favor.” Phaethon actually seems as if his sensibilities had been offended by the state of affairs; as if some travesty of justice had occurred and appalled him deeply, but he shrugs his shoulders and smiles in the end. “The poor child needed to know the truth of her lost bloodline and her nature as a witch, in order to have peace with herself and a chance at fulfilling her true potential. The perfect person to wander into this shop, and you know the shop. It goes where it is required. It went right to her.”
Myrios sighed, unable to argue with that part, however much he would like to. “In any case, I would like to make a deal for her blood. I can’t let you sell it to anyone else.” He bent his elbows to bring his face a few inches downward until he was at eye level with Phaethon, removing his sunglasses to stare into his eyes, a brief flash of cyan visible.
“You are absolutely correct on that front. I can NOT sell it to anyone else. The buyers I had lined up could not afford the price I set.” He tut-tuts, shaking his head. “They might return one day, but I find it quite upsetting when a deal falls through–they seemed so promising.” Oddly, Phaethon seems entirely insincere about what he’s saying, almost as if he secretly found this preferable. His nearly imperceptible trace of a smirk only adds to this effect.
“But now we have a new deal on the table, dear brother. Let’s see what terms we shall come to with one another.” Phaethon’s grin could nearly encompass the width of his head, and his eyes flashed a brief yellow in his delight. “Now, what do you have to offer me for this wonderful vial of vitae? It can be yours for just the right price. What do you have to give that I don’t already possess?”
Myrios stopped to consider for a few minutes. He shuddered just a bit thinking of the last deal that he’d made with Sebastian, regretting his choices on the matter. He’d need to be more careful this time. He should’ve been more careful with Sebastian, but he had been caught up in the moment. “Well… I’ve got a bottle of Soma, several tomes that I’ve confiscated from some blood cultists over the years, and several artifacts from the last Age. C'mon, who doesn’t love a good artifact? And the Soma! You know how hard that stuff is to get a hold of nowadays. It’s been a couple hundred years since they’ve been able to make the stuff. Tell me, what do you want? The whole lot’s yours for that blood.”
Phaethon considered, making a display of looking torn on whether to accept or not. He 'hmm'ed and 'aaah'ed for several long moments. Then he chuckled, dismissively waving a hand. “Mere trinkets and baubles. You know, with time and space at my disposal, it only takes the right kind of person at the right moment in history and I have all the Soma and eldritch tomes that I could fit in the back room.“ He grinned wickedly as his teacup reached his lips, and he looked over the rim, speaking before taking a sip. "And you know how large that is. The artifacts? That’s all rubbish. I’ve got just as many, and much more useful in the back.” He took a long sip of his tea. Reasonably he should have finished it long before that sip, but the cup was just as full when he pulled it from his mouth. “You can do better than that.”
Myrios went back into his head for a few minutes and thought hard, shaking his head as he fought off the returning images. His voice wavered as he got his mind under control. “Please?” he offered the man across the counter, not caring about paying the price of a little humiliation. The look on his face had softened, perhaps even becoming a bit pleading. “You said you liked her. You said she was sweet. She might be a bit of a train wreck in ways if what she’s told me is so, but you’re right, she is sweet, and she doesn’t deserve to have a deadly vial of blood floating around in the world–one that might as easily be used to kill her as to call whatever entity she’s connected to. I’m asking you as a professional courtesy. Please, just give me the blood.”
The sound started as a chuckle and built into a laugh of pure amusement before trailing off almost a minute later. Finally, Phaethon says smoothly, “I’ll take your sunglasses. I have a place for them already in mind–right there on that shelf, so everyone can see them when they enter. I want them to remind me of the time you came pleading for my help. You went begging for a creature who is barely more than human; a little ascended ‘mayfly’, as Blacke would say. So, you give me those, and I’ll give you the blood. Do we have an accord?”
Myrios looked down at the sunglasses. He’d lifted them to disguise his strange eye color when the people of the city he’d been in were staring at him. They’d served him well over the Ages to the point where they were like an old friend; a literal lens through which he’d seen the world, and made many memories colored in the hue of that faint tint.
He folded them up and slid them across the counter to where Phaethon stood, grinning and then practically skipping down to the cash register. The old rogue typed furiously for a few seconds at the register, and the sound of the mechanical keys striking led to the ding of the drawer being opened. It then immediately slammed shut, signifying that the deal was complete.
Phaethon climbed on the stool and placed them on the shelf behind the register. While stepping down, he spoke again.
“You know, I was hoping that you’d come for this, Myrios. I would say it was meant to be, but we both know that’s not how this all works. Nevertheless, for what it’s worth, I’m glad that nothing more came of it. She was a lovely girl in a bad position. She was the ideal customer at that moment. Nothing personal against her, but business is business, after all. You understand that as well as any of us.
“So, go back to your shop, and go be the hero. Go be the good guy, the fool, the bard, and the Sun. Go save damsels and slay dragons… for all the good it will do you at the end of the Age. All of this will pass away, and you’ll be alone with your thoughts again, just like the rest of us.” He grinned a bit, twisting the point home. “At the end of all things, one does expect the company of immortals. After all, family’s all you’ve got to count on.” He grinned a bit more.
Myrios nodded solemnly in response. “You’re not such a bad guy, Phaethon, when you don’t have your head entirely up your own ass. You’ve never fooled me. You try to be like Sebastian or Cruxia, but you just don’t measure up to that sort of evil. They give us a bad name. You… well, you just creep people out, which I think may just be your entire thing.” He smiles a bit to the other shopkeeper and inspects the vial, shaking it a bit; the blood was magically kept fresh by the small glass container. “And this is all of it, correct? We had a deal, Phaethon.”
“That is every last drop, brother. You have my word on that, for whatever it’s worth to you.”
Phaethon grinned up at the sunglasses on the shelf again and began chuckling to himself. “Now it’s time for you to get out of my shop. I have customers that have been waiting, and I’d like it to be another Age before I deal with you or any of the others again. I’d say to take care, but I know you won’t. You’re the doer, out of all of us. You’ve never sat still. Just don’t do anything dumber than you already have.” Smirking, he moved from behind the counter to open the door for the young woman waiting behind it. Her face looked frightened and gaunt, like a prey animal that had reached its limit.
Myrios stood aside to let her in and she looked between the two men nervously. “I’m sorry to keep you waiting, my dear,” Phaethon soothed her battered nerves with his distinguished, grandfatherly voice and bearing. “I’ve just finished up a surprise tete a tete with my little brother here, so sorry. I do hate to keep a customer waiting.” He grinned and motioned to Myrios with a flick of his eyes toward the door.
“Pay attention and be wary,” the redhead leaned down and whispered to the woman before he left, vial in hand.
Myrios walked the streets of Philadelphia for a while, letting time wash over him for the first time in a week. The reality of the city’s layout was replaced with the cobble and brick of Atlantis. He shook his head, but the images persisted. Everywhere he walked, he was flanked on all sides by the dead and dying. This was Sebastian’s revenge, the deal he’d waited an Age for. These were his memories now. He was now burdened with the total picture.
He kept going until the street lights came on along Chestnut Street as he traveled towards the river, turning and looking over the vial as he moved. His mind wandered again as he approached the water. The blood on his hands, the blood covering his robes as people clutched at and clung to his departing frame. The scene was replaced again with concrete and water, and he sighed a small bit of relief. Once there, he stood by the concrete barrier along the shore, and watched the river flow for a while longer. He needed the peace before he went home.
At long last, he forced himself to concentrate, and left the city for the warm coziness of Ealdwic, choosing to walk back to the shop in Darkside. He needed this time to realign himself. He needed to surround himself with the familiar, the small enjoyments. He enjoyed the sounds and the flow of the district. He waved to several of the denizens as he traversed the cobbled walks and the old stairs, finally arriving home.
He stepped through the store and into the back apartments, smiling at the well lit and cozy hallway before the dining room. He ran his hand along the backs of the intricately sculpted wooden chairs, and drummed his fingers on the table top. This caused him to need to fight images of charred wood and leather from his head, gritting his teeth as he shook it off with effort. Then he left and wandered into the next room, shrugging out of his suit jacket and laying it on the back of one of the large stuffed leather chairs in the sitting room.
He glanced at the couch where he’d spent an evening awash in a plethora of emotions, and enjoyed the company of an old friend. He left his tie draped over the back of the couch and stood by the fire for a few minutes, shirt half-unbuttoned. He enjoyed the feeling of warmth from the fire, and only reluctantly left it to adjourn to the room just off to the right.
His bedroom felt like a welcome sanctuary. It was his personal vault of fond memories and things that he cherished.
He flopped backwards onto his bed and held the vial up to the light, turning it to see it slightly coat the side of the container before rolling along with the motion. He sighed then, and set the vial on the nightstand. It had come at a high cost.
He closed his eyes for a while, tears falling as he saw himself standing atop the statue of a long forgotten god. He looked down at the scene of war and blood; of suffering unlike anything seen since.
He rose from the bed quietly and went to the closet. He stood before it for long minutes, hands shaking before finally summoning the bravery to open it. He pulled the long blue scarf from the recesses and stared at it.
Myrios cried fully then. Memories that he’d hidden away with humor and ridiculousness flooded back. Memories of the time that he’d failed an entire continent. He slumped back onto the bed, curled up holding that simple object of clothing that he had once been so proud of, but which only brought him shame now. He was content to be home, but he’d need time to recover.
The moment he tried to focus on was the moment he put the vial into Sully’s hand and saw her expression of relief and gratitude. That one moment would be worth the week of hell.
The girl fairly bounced through the shop, dragging a broom behind her. Amanda seemed to be in an amazing mood on this particular morning. She was worried earlier in the morning however as she spied Myrios passed out on the floor of his sitting room. He had almost made it to the couch but had decided to curl up, one boot in the doorway, one still on his foot, his hand so close. She’d shaken her head at him, covered him with a blanket and gone about the morning duties. The tiny blond girl had much to be thankful for since she’d wandered into this shop on that horrible winter’s night. This was the least that she could do to repay his kindness.
She set about sweeping the dust from the corners and from around the counter. How this place could stay perpetually dusty she didn’t know. She swept and dusted every morning but still every night it was as dusty as before. It gave her something to do when she wasn’t reading and learning all that she could. She’d been given an amazing opportunity, and sometimes to Myrios’ chagrine, she had absorbed everything that she’d come across. She watered the plant that Myrios had purchased a few weeks before, though the concept of time in this place left her often wondering if it had really been only that long, or had it been centuries. There was little to no way of telling. So she simply shrugged and carried about her day as always.
Myrios had taken in the tiny blond waif several years before and she’d fully appreciated every moment of her time here. She wasn’t as childish as Myrios seemed to assume and she picked up very quickly on several facts. After she’d arrived, she had a veritable train of people visit her from the surrounding area. The place was known as Darkside in her time as well, but it had been much different. "Well of course it was, that was several centuries ago.“ She’d thought to herself as she tidied up. Myrios hadn’t told her what all the fuss was about, but she’d figured it out before too long. She’d had the coughing, the blood, the fevers and seizures for a long time before she’d sought warmth in the store. The harsh winter would surely have been the end of her, in her condition.
Myrios had given her food and a warm place to sleep and only asked for a bit of help around the shop. She’d noticed that her symptoms had subsided, but she still felt the prick of sickness in her lungs, and the faintness of her head when she exerted herself too much. She couldn’t understand why they couldn’t just fix her problems. She’d heard so many marvelous things about the wonders of the time but there was no cure. Fat George had looked so pitiable as his eyes looked at her sadly for the first few weeks. She shook off the cobwebs of the past and leaned the broom against the counter to check on Myrios.
Myrios had managed to stretch and squirm his way out of the blanket, it now twisted into knots around his legs. His head was now under the couch and he made quiet groaning noises. He would not be up in time to greet his first customer of the morning. She sighed and pulled at the blanket, trying with all of her tiny might to untangle it from him. The effort was ultimately pointless and she kicked his leg playfully before skipping off to the store room to put the day’s inventory out. "I told you. You’re getting too involved again. This doesn’t end well.” She talked to herself quietly as she grabbed the crate and dragged it towards the front of the store.
There weren’t a lot of items in the crate this morning, as if the store knew who would be handling things. Amanda made a mental checklist and began placing items where she felt they could go. To the front counter went a pair of golden rings on a bright chain. She grabbed weatherbeaten book and placed it onto the small table next to the overstuffed reading chair in the corner. It really was surprising how often that chair was used by customers. She’d just placed the beaten and well-loved teddy bear onto a shelf when she heard the bell ring and the young woman entered the store.
Amanda eyed the door to the back rooms and decided against doing anything but climbing the stool behind the counter and smiled brightly. "Welcome to the Rift! Let me know if there’s anything you’re looking for!“ she said so incredibly cheerfully but she appraised the young women as she spoke.
She was a tall girl, probably no older than seventeen. Tall and thin, built almost like a stork with fiery red, wild hair flowing in every direction. The type of hair that people would call "impossible to tame”. The girl had a sadness to her that Amanda could tell that she tried to hide, but was incredibly horrible at it. Her bright blue eyes were tired looking; tired and sad.
“You’re not who I was expecting.” The girl stated, glancing around the shop. She eyed Amanda, sizing her up much as Amanda had. She inspected the small Victorian waif and leaned on the counter. "I really need to speak to Myrios. We had an appointment this morning.“
"I’m sorry, but he’s unavailable.” Amanda stated matter of factly to the strange woman. There was something about her that put Amanda on edge. She made herself taller on the stool, thinking that the extra inch could possibly make her statement any more definite. The woman grinned at the girl’s bravado before breaking into a chuckle.
“Well, tell Myrios that Mnema is here and that I’ve finished that thing for him, if he wants to collect it, he’ll have to meet with me.” The woman sounded matter of fact, the sad tone to her voice and mannerisms replaced with a directness as she looked at the young girl again more closely. "I’m his sister, you could say.“
"I’m not lying!” Amanda blurted out, fully embracing her age for just a moment. She stared the woman down, not liking her one bit. The woman for her part looked amused at the outburst, a familiar sort of grin crossing her face.
“I didn’t think you were, little one. It’s just that I know my brother. Is he in the back?” Mnema glanced at the worn, dark oak of the door leading to the back and arches a fiery eyebrow. She takes several steps towards the door and turns the handle. Surprisingly the door opens for her and she glances back to Amanda. "You coming, little one?“
"HEY! You can’t just go back there! It’s against the rules! Says so on the door!” Amanda leapt off of the stool and tore away after her, catching up to her as she looked down at Myrios, his body now half hidden beneath the couch. He’d managed to kick one of his boots into the fire in the time that Amanda had been gone. She shook her head in resignation and cleaned up as best she could.
“What’ve you gotten yourself into this time, little brother?” Mnema asked to herself before grabbing his feet and pulling him out from under the couch. She looked to Amanda and glanced down at Myrios inquiringly. "What’s he gotten into now?“
Amanda glanced about the room and found the empty bottle that had rolled under one of the chairs. "Some’ve this stuff. He’s been bringing some with him a lot lately. I think ‘e’s experimenting with humanity again.” Amanda walked the bottle over to Mnema, who sniffed the opening of the bottle before nodding and setting it on an end table.
“I think you’re right. He’s been into the Soma so he’s trying to get drunk. It’s a nasty thing for our kind. His brain’ll be mush for a while.” She looked down to Amanda who, for her part, was still standing defiantly before the woman. "You can stand down little one. I’m not here to hurt anyone. I’m here to deliver something he’d asked me to make.“ Mnema looked down at the quietly snoring Myrios and shook her head. "I don’t know why he does this to himself. Get the blanket, I’ll put him on the couch.” True to her word she lifts Myrios easily and places him on the couch. Amanda covered him back up and they both looked at him, each from radically different heights.
The woman looked down to Amanda and seemed to have an idea come to her, a sort of startling realization. "You know, there may be something you can do for me. Come with me.“ Mnema took a package from her pocket and motioned for Amanda to follow her. "He asked me to make this for him for someone. You see, Myrios is good, but I’m much better at a lot of things. I don’t distract myself with silly things like bubble wrap and..” The woman shudders before she utters the next words. “..corndogs. But I supposed he doesn’t have to, does he? He has me, and I’m going to guess that he has you. And I’ll guess you’re who this is for. Let’s get it set up.”
Amanda seemed confused. He had promised that he had something for her, but not where it was coming from, or what it was. She’d assumed it was some new, silly thing or perhaps one of the things she’d found on the internet that she had been fixated on. The woman walked down the halls of the shop like she’d known them for Ages, which she may well have. Amanda followed her through the library, her little shoes clicking on the marble tile of the massive room, needing to take almost fives steps to Mnema’s one long stride.
Mnema stopped and pivoted. She seemed to be looking for something. A sly smile crosses her face as she seemed to have found it. Amanda looked puzzled as she finds the object of Mnema’s interest. She’d never seen that door there. When did Myrios make that room? She hoped it hadn’t been last night. Who knows what that room would look like. Mnema crossed the massive room and opened the door, stepping in and glancing about. Amanda followed as quickly as she could and was both surprised and relieved that it was simply an empty, dimly lit room.
“Now, watch this, little one.” Mnema unwrapped the package and placed the item in the middle of the room. The item was the size of a decently sized book, cast in what looked like silver and some sort of golden metal that subtly glowed. There were green, glossy shafts of metal knotted and wound through the entire item. The woman turned and walked to the door, placing her hand on Amanda’s back to usher her out. She quietly closed the door and touched her hand to the new oak. Her hand started to glow, energy flowed into the door in soft golden waves. She smiled and knocked on the door, shaking the energy from her hand before she looked down to Amanda. "I think you should do the honors.“
Amanda was still unsure about the woman, but hadn’t heard Myrios mention her name, so she was either a stranger or one of the ones he didn’t mind so much. Myrios had talked from time to time about the other shopkeepers but her name hadn’t come up. Hesitantly she opens the door and squinted in the suddenly blinding light. She rubbed at her eyes and slowly they adjusted. She took the whole scene in and gasped, her face lighting up immensely and she looked up at Mnema as if she was asking permission. The tall woman simply nodded and Amanda burst into the room.
Only it was no longer a room, per se. Brilliantly warm and bright, the sunlight filtered through the thick glass of the greenhouse that the room had become. There was a garden in the middle, complete with small green sprouts and flowers. She could smell the scent of the flowers that had bloomed and felt the warmth of the sun on her skin for the first time in years. She nearly cried as she ran around, smelling everything and lifting her face up to soak in the sun as if she were a hungry flower herself.
Mnema simply smiled and left Amanda to her own devices. The girl would probably be in there for hours. The sad smile turned warmer as she walked back to the sitting room where she looked at Myrios, still slumbering on the couch. She crossed the room, looking around with a sort of amusement. Even through the rooms that separated the two she could hear the squeals of delight from Amanda and the distinct splashing sounds that must mean that she’d found the small pond that she’d included.
She stood, looking down at Myrios and smiled before bending down and placing a kiss on his forehead, golden light flowing from her lips for the briefest of moments. "I get it little brother. But, I don’t know why you do it. They only live so long. Why get attached?”, she mused quietly to herself before she stood again. She smiled for just a moment longer before she turned to leave. She looked around as she leaves as if she’s critiquing the store. "Take care of him" She seemed to the store. The sound of the bell indicated that she’d left, the store stood silent except for the sounds of Amanda in her new garden.
Myrios awoke moments after Mnema had left, putting his hand to his forehead and feeling around it gingerly. A weary smile crossed his face and he moved to stand stiffly from the couch. He frowned as he noticed the charred remains of his boot in the fireplace. He glances about, hearing the sounds of Amanda from far away. He wandered in the direction of childhood wonder with a weak smile on his face. He stopped only in the kitchen for a cup of tea to help sort his head out. He touched his forehead gingerly as he walked, tea cup in hand, into the library. He could see the sunlight streaming out from the open door and he smiles warmly to himself.
His steps were the uneasy shuffles of a person who is far too hungover to be awake at such a beastly hour, but he makes the trip and leaned on the door frame. He watched Amanda play in the sunlight and he smiled to himself, taking a sip of his tea. He’d promised her a garden. He could give her that much at least, even if he couldn’t give her an adulthood at least something could grow in this place.
3D Render of DJ Malak
DJ Malak Headshot
Black Jacket Outfit
Artwork of DJ Malak by Nina-Serena
Artwork of DJ Malak