A Day In The Life Of An NPC: Item Shop

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Yeah I’ll tell you a little something bout’ selling items, it ain’t what it used to be. Been standing behind this counter for 20 years and my bone’s bout ready to pick up a cutlass. A part of me wants to teach these new adventurers a thing or two.

When I first took over the shop from my father—Tobias II, son of Maximus, Lord of the Knights of Merchants and Drunkard Sailors—adventurers was all the same: clean-cut, chiseled jaws, speaking too eloquent for my seaside ears. They had a spark in their eyes, a voice calling to the mountains and the great plains beyond, noble souls hungry to be woven into a tale. I didn’t like em’ but I wanted their coin, and they’s willing to stay a while and listen.

Now I was raised in the trade so I ain’t no fable master, but I got an eye for smarts. Young blood barely murmurs a word, and when they do it makes my mastiff the second sharpest guy in town. These new adventurers is scarecrows dressed up in armor. Don’t even talk with words, as if language itself is sick. Looking me in the eye they scream letters and incantations—something ‘Caprica,’ ‘Kapoira,’ ‘Captain?’ It’s all jibber-jabber nonsense. I think something evil’s gotten into the River North.

And they stand around motionless, crowding as wolves in an open field, browsing my wares, never making a purchase. This isn’t an Elven library. If ya ain’t buying get the oblivion out of here! No, no, no, that’s just how business ought to be run, not how it is. All they want to do is unload their bags and wagons.

You should see the crap some of em show up with: rusted axes, gas of noonoon flower, petals of crushed canabo, drunk man’s tears, glowing penguil eggs, liger fur, burner phones, capsules brimming with strange powders, hastily chopped logs, and torn up scrolls, and that’s just what’s jingling on their hips! What am I supposed to do with all this junk?

Thanks to the mayor I got to offer coin, new mandate to keep travelers coming through. I’m stacking stuff up back here and I only got a guild license to sell weapons and armor. Even Xiu Xi across the seas of Azerba doesn’t want it, and he pawns off gewgaw to heroes every day. I tell ya, all this junk with nowhere to go is the reason why the weather’s been queer.

Now I don’t know what mold black spirits are cooking them up with but the noobie bleeds a different color. Brute of a giant was here a fortnight ago: hair orange as a dragon’s balls, with needlepoint eyes that’d suck the soul out of a priest, and a tattered royal cloak. Her arms was the size of Gryffin’ eggs, looked like they strangled an Orc or two. But she stood on two sword hilts and her nose barely managed to sniff up the dust on my counter. Strangest thing, something an alchemist whipped up after too many potions.

Now I’ve heard of hobbits vanquishing evil, but that barb was toyed with by demons in the womb, or she cursed the Twelve in another life. I almost felt bad for the nomad but she was as crazy an S.O.B. as anyone else I’ve met. I asked for her name, and she muttered something… something “Coal-guise,” and numbers that don’t make sense. Was she a sorceress in disguise laying another curse on me?

Townfolk’s changed too. People come and go, that’s the normal in our corner of the Kingdom. But the last batch that showed up is mighty peculiar. I look at their face and listen, but some magic has whisked away their voice and a lost spirit’s found a home. Was talking to the bread seller Miranda, and now she’s 85 years old but she talk bubbly like it’s the first day of apprenticeship. And then there’s the village guard, with a strange name mind you, Steven. And he talk real slow, unsure if he can say the next word. I can’t tell if death’s at my door or the land’s gone crazy. Maybe my hearing’s tired of listening.

And you know heroes don’t talk anymore, but they’ll shout. They all got horns in their pack, and they wail into them. Heroes shout curses to make The Knights Of Standards And Practices quiver in their boots, and they’re always answered from beyond the Black Woods, shaking every damn bird from their nest. You ever see seagulls cover a village square out of fright? I’ve learned to keep an umbrella on my belt.

No idea how the wildlife survives either. I don’t leave this stool much but I imagine they pop out of the ground. How else can the damn things manage? Adventurers sweep over the hills, locusts devouring every living thing from here till the horizon. Poor animals don’t stand a chance. A wizard once told me black magic must be the only thing keeping the whole ecosystem from spinning out of control.

There must be an awful lot of evil in this world for the adventurers to keep arriving. Yet I ain’t never seen a live goblin. I swear they either all drinking sooma or insanity drives them forward. How many dragons can be left with the numbers I see eyeing the Crystal Peaks? Pretty soon there ain’t going to be nothing left to do but sit here and live in memories of uncertain days.

I mean it has its periods. Some days are busier than others. Ships come into port with hundreds, maybe thousands of ragtag-looking shields, and then a few weeks later only a handful. Then it picks on up again. I reckon they’red bred with the tide, born under strange stars no one has the name for anymore. Just where their father’s land is I’ve never learned. Maybe they’re all exiles searching for a home.

Well you’ve wasted enough of my time. Get on with your adventuring now, or whatever it is you do. Good luck to ya.

From Mega Man II to Ape Escape, I've been playing games for as long as I can remember. I've spent months killing porings in Ragnarok Online and more recently lived a second life in Eve Online. I usually play as gUMBY, gUMBLEoni, or gUMBLes in-game.