Bogthir’s shop had seen good, it had seen bad. Many winters. Lots of them. Brutal cold. A crack had erupted in the floor during the last freeze – impossible to miss, really. Bogthir threw a rug on it. It wasn’t a particularly good rug, though. Not fancy. Not purple. Not really, well, what you’d call a wizard’s rug. More of just, like, something you’d grab from the store to cover a stain. That wasn’t accidental. No fancy rug, no need to examine rug, no need to see the malformed foundation that (may or may not) lead to the place collapsing.
Spring was rough, too. Constant rain. He looked over at the rug – a yellowish green stain etched its way through the second-class embroidery. Turns out water settles in cracks. Turns out that when cracks are in rocks, the water sits there for a long time.
Now summer was here. Now his shop smelled like shit.
Bogthir sighed, jabbing fingers into his matted, smoky beard. He dug them through the tangled mess, attempting to pull out a knot. Or a squirrel. Or a bit of barbecue sauce. Hard to tell the difference without a scryer, really.
A chime sounded, and the door to his shop creaked open.
His palms went to his robes – once regal blue, the honorary robes of a wizard in his prime – now crusted over with muddy splotches and, uh, some moss. He tried to make ‘em look good. Professional, even. A professional wizard. A real legend, you know. Once saved a princess. Killed a dragon. Good deeds, sloppy, porny magic sex. Used a spell to make his dick look like a giraffe that had swallowed an oak whole.
Mucous dripped down the back of his throat, cleared away by a series of powerful grunts.
“Yes! Yes! Welcome to Bogthir’s shop of magical enchantments! When you’re here,” he paused, outstretching his arms, “you’re family!”
A robed figure stepped into the shop, hood obscuring their features.
“Ah! Yes, welcome! What is it you need? Staves? Robes? Mystical balls? Spells? Grimoires?”
The figure was silent, approaching the counter Bogthir stood behind. They weren’t very tall – maybe coming up to his chest. Bogthir continued. “Charms? Scrolls? Pointy hats? Grails? Enchanted rings? Herbs? Spices? A magic bowl of never-ending sticks of yeast?”
The shrouded figure remained silent.
Bogthir forced a smile. He hated ones like this. Now, it wasn’t that he didn’t get it – he was a fucking wizard, you know – but come on. Why the act? Why the hood? Bogthir knew the type: hell, he was there once. Adventurer, just out on their first journey. They’ve stuck a decent amount of coin in their purse, and now they think they are such a badass – such a brutal, legendary fighter. Ah, Bogthir remembered. He remembered hard. Nostalgia. Memories. Giraffe dick.
“Okay, look, we have lots of things, just point and I’ll grab it for –“
The cloaked figure unfolded a piece of paper from their pocket, placing it on the counter. They smoothed it out with their hand, pushing it forward.
Bogthir picked it up. He squinted.
“What the fuck is this?”
The cloaked figure pulled their hood back. A woman. A woman with two crudely stitched cat ears strapped onto a band of fabric wrapped around her head. A woman with three thin black lines on her cheek, all of which pointed toward her nose.
“A cat girl! It’s a cat girl! I want to be a cat girl. I was told you had scrolls for everything here, so I want to be that. I want to be that thing. I want to be that.”
Bogthir sighed. “Look, I can maybe give you a grimoire to turn into a cat for a few minut—“
“No!” Her voice. Gods, her voice. It was loud. Piercing. You know that voice you use when you’re making fun of a ladyfriend of yours? That voice? That sounds nothing like an actual woman? It’s a caricature in every way and anyone who uses it should be ashamed of themselves?
“I want to be a cat girl. A cat, but a girl. A cute, fluffy tail. Fluffy ears. Hear everything for miles! A big dick.”
“Look, I don’t have anything,” he stopped, mouth agape. “Excuse me, did you say a big dick?”
“Yes.” She nodded. Twice. Sure as shit. A big dick.
“Um. Okay, so we have something for that, but look lady – in all my years of wizarding, I’ve never, ever, ever – are you gettin’ this? – have ever heard of something that can make you an, uh, cat girl. Cat, or girl. Either or. Not both. You can’t stop in the middle. That’s not how this works.”
Her face scrunched up, the black lines smudging on her cheeks.
“I want to be a cat girl!” Her finger hammered her sketch.
“You can’t. Not from me, at least. I don’t have what you need.”
She folded her arms, staring at him.
“I don’t. I can’t do it.”
She continued to stare.
“What the fuck is wrong with you?”
He’d run this shop for years. Ten, to be exact. That’s when he decided he was done with going out into the world, dealing with adventurers. Dragonborn who wanted to play gods-damned hopscotch before going into a dungeon, monks who ran around like idiots, trying to go at whatever damn thing they thought might get them a legend. He rubbed his temples. Talking cupcakes…
But he didn’t want that. He didn’t. He’d gotten away. For ten years. Shop was cracked, smelled like shit, did no business, but he didn’t have to deal with it anymore. No more. A fly landed on his shoulder. He swatted at it. No more. He was done.
And now everything was coming back. Crazy was in his shop. Crazy wanted to do business with him. Crazy wanted to be a cat girl. The door chime rang again. Two more adventurers came into his shop. They were jingling their coins in their hands – gods, he could see them. So much. He had to get this girl out of there so he could do some real business.
“Okay, level with me. What’s your name?”
“No it isn’t. No it fucking isn’t.”
“It is. K’atgirl Notacat.”
Are you shitting me? What did he do to deserve this? Neverwinter was saved. He did that. He had a legend… somewhere. A statue! These robes, they came from the corpse of a lich! A lich! He’d braved dungeons. Caves. All of that didn’t matter, all of that had gotten him was this shop, which now had K’atgirl in it. Which was not a real name.
The two adventurers were tapping their feet. One grimaced, pointing at the strange girl.
“Look, okay. Okay K’atgirl. I’m sorry. I can’t do it. I can’t help you. There’s nothing I can do for you. There… there really is nothing. I mean, can you even do magic? Do you even know what to do? Like, if I told you I could make you turn into a cat… girl, like, right now – could you do it? Do you know how to do a ritual?”
She shook her head left to right a few times. Of course. Of course not.
“Okay, see – you, you’ve got to figure that out first. You’ve got to do that. Figure that out. You know, baby steps? Er, kitten steps. Try that first. And you know…”
K’atgirl perked up. “What! What’s the next step!”
“I don’t, I don’t kno—“ Druids. Druids can be cats. They can’t be catgirls, but you know what? It sounds like it makes sense. “Druids. Be a druid. Find a druid. Druids turn into animals – it’s easy for them. Try that. Maybe that will do it.”
“My quest,” she said, grabbing her crude drawing. “My… my quest.””
“Your quest,” Bogthir said, waving the two patient customers over.
“Thank you, kind sir. I will never forget this. I will remember you!”