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The Crooked Phoenix Emporium [Open]

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Was there ever a place like Ul'dah? Maybe--but at the moment Tarot couldn't think of any. Many cities had their greed and corruption, it was true, and during his many travels here and there, he had often come across many towns and the like that harbored their nasty little secrets and back-alley doings. But Ul'dah? No, it with it's teeming masses provided infinite possibilities because it wore its greed on its sleeve--like a pair of gaudy, jewel-studded cufflinks.


At least, that was how he saw it. Any city that so openly knew of its own corruption but did little to stop it beyond a slap on the wrist--a few fines that got passed around into the ever continuing cycle of gil and secrets that was the Jewel of the Desert--was indeed nothing more than another place to find grand opportunities.


A long, thin pipe, a kiseru as they called in in the parts he had bought it from, perched in his lips, he leaned on the counter, breathing out a thin wreath of smoke. His two-toned eyes blinked through the fine cloud, the blue shining like a sky-topaz, the left burning like copper, he smirked. A slow day...well, for now. The eyes traced along the walls of the shop. Various objects of all sorts lay strewn about in carefully chaotic order. Customers liked that sort of thing when it came to a shop like his; a treasure hunt atmosphere let them feel like there was always something new any time they came in. In truth, it was usually the same things, he just moved smaller things around on the shelves from time to time to make it feel like something had changed.


Another deep inhale and another pause before the exhale.


Ul'dah for all it's corruption, did provide him with many opportunities. The rich came to spend money they didn't need (or in some cases have), while the poor and the refugees sought reprieve from the sun and their troubles. In either case, Tarot was happy to oblige; his shop, as the sign above the door stated, had whatever anyone would need--Tarot's means of getting them were very prompt.


For the right price, of course.


The shop itself lay just beyond the Quicksand, nestled into the many warehouses right along the edge of the Pearl Lane. The perfect crossroads of rich and poor. Noble and Commoner. Yeah, he saw all types.


The interior was cramped, almost uncomfortably so. Of course it was always a good excuse when someone knocked into something and broke it; break it you buy it and all. He chuckled as he exhaled the smoke in his lungs through his nose, recalling the last clumsy fool that came into the shop. A thousand gil for a ten gil urn... The chuckled in his chest became a full, quiet laugh at the look on the Lalafel's face.


But he was getting distracted again--this shop could do that. It lived and breathed stories; antiques and items traded and pawned and cast away did that. He looked to the back wall a moment, a door that opened into his office beyond (one could presume) and the newly painted panels and shelves stuffed full of weapons, books and other things a person could, would or may not ever need.


The refuse and refugees of a thousand years... he grinned, taking another pull on his pipe and exhaling into the air towards the ceiling as he leaned his head backwards.


"Crooked Tarot's Emporium," he murmured, "Is again open for business..."

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Laying across the counter of the shop, the bulky Midlander had draped himself, one unshod foot dangling over the front of the counter, the other propped up on the wooden surface. His left hand held a child's toy, one of those stupid little sliding puzzles that he could never quite get or figure out with any timeliness, while in his other he clinked a small pile of gil at his side over and over again. His thumb moved lazely across the sliding puzzle pieces--he knew it was a picture of a Phoenix chick--or rather, what the artist THOUGHT was a phoenix chick--and the one tile with the beak just didn't want to go into place.


The shop had been dead for nearly a week now. Money wasn't a problem--it never was. The problem was that he had no one to taunt or berate or amuse himself with at the moment. Moggie-Moglin was still gone enjoying the beginning festivities of the Moonfire Fair and Tarot was stuck manning the shop. Sure he could go and have some fun but--well, actually there was no reason beyond making sure everything stayed where it was supposed to stay. He didn't know why he hesitated to go enjoy himself. Maybe because he'd be enjoying them alone again...? Gods what he wouldn't give for a posse again. The good old days.


He tilted his head up and looked to the corner of the store. He'd come to Ul'dah quite on his own. He missed his old band--the Phoenix Talon. Vitti would always stand in the corner there, reading palms and nicking a few gil every now and then as her customers departed. Waisal would be at the front to greet people as they came in, looking them over for any kind of personal information the Phoenix could use later; oh, and then there was Azziu...dear, dear Azziu who would dig up dirt on everyone and then blackmail them later...


Wait. That wasn't right.


He blinked and sat up slightly. He never had a group like that--and he'd never known anyone by those names. The boredom was driving him mad!


"GODS! Send me SOMEONE!" he moaned dramatically, flopping back down onto the counter again.

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Coatleque stepped into the shop quietly. She wore the white dress that people were now accustomed to seeing her in. Red hair tucked behind her ears below a matching beret. She held her gil purse from the top with both hands before her. As her eyes adjusted to the dim light of in-doors, she found herself surrounded by all manner of mismatched sundries.


This place was not at all what she expected from a name that began with "Crooked". Looking around she took a deep breath and slowly began meandering around items and between rows, finding it hard to maneuver in the close space. Nothing seemed suspicious to her, however. Most of it appeared as overly gaudy junk designed to make the poor feel affluent. Perhaps there was something she could use...

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At the sound of the door, Tarot groaned, one hand over his eyes as he motioned with his free hand, "I'm not interested in hearing about your exploits, Moggie--jus' leave me be to wallow in my sorrow...!" When he didn't get interrupted by the foul-mouthed berating of the moogle almost immediately, he blinked, sat up and crossed his legs under him as he took in the sight. The oh so glorious sight.


"A customer!"


He was at her elbow in a moment, hands together, ringing them once before giving her his 'trademark' grin. "You gave me a turn! Thought you were a ghost there for a moment with all that white." Dissimilar eyes searched her a moment, assessing quickly. Bearing, dress and aloof mannerisms...she definitely was someone of some standing.




"Did you come in for something in particular, miss? Do forgive me if I seem a bit flushed--you'd think this was a plague house with the way people seem to be avoiding it!" Turning he made his way to the counter, padding along on his bare feet. "So then, what is it today? Maybe a nice new book? I've got plenty--ah but then I think now. You're more of martial type, I'd wager. Mayhaps a nice bracelet? Set with Jadedite, guaranteed to keep the Aether flowing properly. Good for the heart and blood you know..."


He kept his back to her as he rummaged around through the large trunk by the counter, grinning smugly to himself. He could have sworn he'd seen this woman in a uniform somewhere. Sultansworn, perhaps? Figures Moggie wasn't around when a woman walked in...

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She almost jumped back at the speed by which he was upon her. Had she not been trained as she was, she would have surely knocked something over. She did keep her footing, however, and regarded the man curiously. He was the first merchant around these parts that hadn't shied away from her in a good two months now.


"I assure you I am no spirit, Ser." she half chuckled at him. It may have just been that his forward nature was refreshing to her, but she found herself actually more interested in his shop now. "A bracelet? That does sound lovely, but perhaps you have something of a more natural look. Perhaps amber, or amethyst? And it need not be jewelry, mind you." All the while she had found her way to a shelf and was slowly reading through the titles.

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The books were varied and old--and largely obscure apart from the odd tome meant for an arcanist. 'Locke's Peerage', 'The Bride Book', 'The Fishmonger's Guidebook', 'The Unwanted Son', 'The King in Saffron'--largely a bunch of things that one would find in a rummage bin. Tarot's offerings were most certainly eclectic, and apart from looking nice on a shelf, they likely were forgettable.


Naturally, they were all marked with a 'Ask Owner Concerning Price' tag.


"Amber...amber...ah! Yes, I've just the thing!" He called triumphantly from his bin, turning and looking at her as he grinned. "I've a lovely broach of amber--shaped like a flower see?" he motioned, opening a small jewerly box to reveal an ordinary scarf pin. "But if you look very closely--" he continued, motioning for her to do so, "You can see there's several tiny insects there in the resin. Gives it a bit of character, I think, don't you?"


Putting this aside, he held up next an earring. It was a stud, shaped to resemble a sun. "This belonged to a lovely little woman who stopped in about a year ago. Said it belonged to HER sister who lost its mate in a shell game but swore to the heavens that it helped her aim."

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She shrugged to herself and took one of the smaller, yet newer looking books. It looked like some work of fiction, which would be ideal in her mind. Turning back to the man she moved over to where he had been rummaging and examined the broach.


"I'm afraid I wouldn't feel quite right with the earring knowing its second was missing somewhere. The broach is quite lovely however. I think that should make a nice gift for my friend. She has been out of sorts lately." She tapped her chin in thought for a moment with her other hand turned upwards, holding the book to her chest.


"Very well, what would I owe you for this and the book?"

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"Well, since this is your first time here, I could part with both for 500 gil. The book is only 100 gil, you see, while the broach is, naturally, a bit more." He gave her his smile and a nod. Honestly, he was being rather generous--comparatively speaking. Normally, it would have been more but with her being a first-time customer, it was always best to rope them in with a easy pitch at first and then nail them upon return trips. Hadn't failed him yet; though he WAS disappointed that she hadn't knocked into something. Damn training...


"Of course, if you think I'm being unreasonable, I am prepared to throw in a little something extra should you--"


"Oi, my head...ku--upo..." Tarot looked up as a moogle drifted in the door, groaning to himself. Its little paw was at its cheek (given that moogles had a hard time reaching their own pom-poms with those stubby little limbs) and its head lolled about.


"I'll throw in a free moogle today if you like..." Tarot replied, his eyebrow twitching slightly at the interruption.

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She eyed him warily as he continued his sales pitch. This was nothing unexpected by her, and she intended to try and use it to her advantage. Smiling back to him she shook her head.


"I need nothing further from this current stock, but... Perhaps there is more you have not shown me?"

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Damn. He knew this was too good to be true. She was Sultansworn and she was here to investigate him. He kept his smile as he continued to talk, but his mind flitted back to his 'backroom' door. The door did indeed lead to a backroom and counting room but it also led back to what this shop front was hiding. That being his REAL stock of not-entirely-above-board items.


Come on, don't panic, Tarot. It may not be so bad--besides, it's not like Sultansworn as some glorious paragons of virtue all the time either...


"Well to answer THAT question, I of course need you to be a bit more specific. Are we talking weapons? Magical accoutrements? I must confess, you've had me baffled by your vague shopping habits!" He added this on with a chuckle, practiced and even as he looked her over again.

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"Of course I do! Everyone has a motive when they enter a store--yours happens to be a need for good literature, a present to bring a friend out of the doldrums and possibly a small means to defend yourself." Tarot had played this game before and with far more dangerous people. "The fact is, if you don't tell me what you want, what you really want, I can't do my job. So naturally, I will always ask what the motives of someone entering into my shop are about--now, what they're motives are after they leave is an entirely different matter." Dissimilar eyes focused in a bemused but dangerous smile, and for a moment, there was the tension of two sizing up one another--at least from Tarot's perspective there was.


There was a mumbled 'Kupo...!' from the corner behind the counter, breaking the tension.


"Heh, well, if you're looking for small arms, I can provide you with that as well. I have several choice daggers and short swords if that's to your liking." Again returning to the counter, he reached beneath and drew out a long case. Glass lid was lifted and contents were exposed as the merchant snickered. "All for decorative or ceremonial purposes, of course." He winked slightly, his topaz-gold eye flashing with a touch of mischief and greed. "Please. Peruse at your leisure."


As he left her to it, he turned and pick up his pipe, packing the tiny bowl with a bit of leaf before lighting it and leaning against the back wall to watch his customer make her inspection of the offered armaments. The weapons did rang from ceremonial pieces all the way to enchanted blades--the collection was a small one, obviously, but fine enough for any given adventurer to find a use for at least one of the weapons present. Taking a puff and exhaling, he watched her through the smoke...

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Coatleque perused over the selection of daggers and short swords, examining each one without physically touching them. She had dealt with these types of blades long enough to know what she was looking for. Nothing here would cut in quite a way synonymous with the injuries she had seen those few days beforehand.


While it was true that some of the blades were ceremonial, many of them were quite fully functional. Some had traces of enhanced material makes. It was quite apparent the man hadn't properly appraised the items before mixing them all together in his display case.


She stood up straight again when finished and threw a glance towards the back wall. Had she been a Brass Blade she would have pressed the issue further, however confiscation of illegal good was not her primary job description. Turning back to the man she spoke up. "I presume you have the proper permits to carry aetherically enhanced weapons, Master..." She waited for him to reveal his name.

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"I'd be a poor merchant indeed if I didn't!" He playfully scoffed at this, putting up a great show of pretending to be offended. "Moggie! Moggie, wake up now!" He looked down below the counter, nudging something (presumably the moogle) with his foot. "Would you do me a favor and get those copies of our licenses from the safe for the nice lady here to see?"


Turning his face back again, he handed her a huge grin (one that was even vaguely sincere!) before continuing. "I wouldn't go to all the trouble of gathering and collecting these up from the various holes, hollows and hell-hollows of Eorzea if I didn't!"

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She waited another moment then rolled her eyes with a tilt of her head. "I assume you are Mater Tarot, based on your sign board. No need to fetch me anything, as I am not here on official business." All the time she began counting out what she owed the man.


She handed him the five hundred gil without further word. As a Paladin, she would not stoop to haggling, but took his listed price as his word. If he was trying to swindle her, it would be on his conscience, not hers.


"Her Grace thanks you for your cooperation, Ser, and I for the broach. If there is nothing further, I shall be on my way."

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Of course'd deliberately not stated his name. The sign WAS on the door after all. And no Moogle would have a name like Tarot so he always left it to the logic and deductive abilities of his customers to figure out his name. A Sultansworn SHOULD have that much deductive reasoning, shouldn't she? He exhaled a bit of smoke and nodded. "Well, unless you'd like to look at something else--though I do have to admit, I'm a bit hurt. You were smiling when you came in and now you're frowning as you leave. I would be remiss in my duties as a merchant and gentleman if I didn't point it out."


It was an odd transformation, to be sure. She'd not been spewing rainbow aether when she entered, but she had been less tense and far, far less formal. He didn't recall changing his own demeanor terribly...that meant she either suspected something or she was simply a very bad actress.


Taking his pipe out of his teeth, he held the delicate stem in his fingers a moment before looking back to his current customer. "You're more than welcome for the treasures you've purchased. My stock changes frequently so please do come in again later. I have special deals for return customers you see."


Maybe he should institute a means to track purchases for them...? Maybe little punch-cards. "But beyond that, no, I'm afraid I've nothing else. I do hope you have a good day and that your friend enjoys her gift and you your book."

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Collecting her purchases as he continued speaking she made for the door. She looked back to him. "I meant no slight against you, Ser. My time is short, however, and very important to some. May Nald'thal guide you to fortune, Master Tarot."


With a slight smile and polite curtsey, she let herself out of the shop.



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Thanalan rainstorms are a terror.


They are not the refreshingly cool downpours of Vylbrand, nor are they the enriching showers of the Shroud that leave behind the divine scent of morning dew. No, when rain comes to Thanalan, 'tis a morbidly humid, sticky affair, and 'twas during a such a one that there came a series of rapid knocks on the Emporium's door.


The briefest of moments passed before someone pushed the door slightly ajar and slipped inside, stepped across the threshold.  A robed figure wrapped in loam brown hemp, cowl drawn over the face. Short in stature, slight yet masculine in build, the figure stood with its head bowed, and a... mass... beneath one arm, under the robe.


The other arm rose up as the door fell shut, and one gloved hand pulled back the cowl to reveal a sopping wet mess of dark brown hair and a mischievous smile that brought a wicked gleam to the man's green eyes.


"Tarot," he called out as he began stepping his way through and around the cramped confines of the shop. A turn this way, a pivot that way, a foot here, there... his robe billowed slightly as he improvised his way across the floor, but the various trinkets and valuables of the emporium remained untouched and undisturbed.


"Blimmin' weather's downright disgusting, I'll have y'know...."

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The door to the backroom opened and Tarot emerged languidly, his pipe in his teeth as he moved slowly to lean on the counter. He'd heard the door open and close and naturally had come to investigate--but the voice told him all he needed to know off the bat anyway. It wasn't so much that he suspected any trouble; he didn't. Osric was a fine (heh), upstanding (heh-heh) Brass Blade--okay, yeah, hard to even think that without chuckling. Yes yes, there WERE some honorable and upright Brass Blades but it was far more fun to poke at the stereotypes, even if it was just to himself.


"I am aware..." he nodded, taking a small pull from his pipe before looking at Osric with a half-grin, tilting his head. "It's why I'm in here and not out there." Being the type of person he was, it didn't take Tarot long to see the bulky mass under the man's arm and his eyes brightened noticeably. "Ah, but you've brought me something today. Glad to see this isn't a business call."


It damn well better not be--Tarot had paid off the Blades for the full year and he had the receipt to prove it. "At least, not strictly business." Looking at the shorter man with a look of lean and avaricious hunger, he took another breath on his kiseru before motioning with his hand. "Let's see what kind of trouble you've brought to my humble doorstep today..." This was said with nothing but bemusement. Osric always brought him interesting things and while some were trouble, all of them proved profitable in the end.



I should give him one of those new punch-cards...

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Osric chuckled as he gradually made his way over to the counter, still pirouetting this way and that.


"Trade you grand adventures for this hole in the wall y'call a storefront," he muttered. It was an offer that he made every time; it had become something of a tradition, teasing Tarot over the meager space with which he had to work.


"No, no, not strictly business," he replied as he reached Tarot at last. He rocked back and forth on his feet, from balls to heels and back again, shite-eating grin on his face as he patted the mass under his arm.


The peddler had mistaken him for a Brass Blade back when Osric had first stumbled upon his shop - like as not due to the fly mask that was erroneously associated with that outfit - and the Immortal Flame had never bothered to correct him. Why should he, when the Blades' reputation brought him advantage here? To stand out amidst the scum as an honorable fellow... yes, that brought advantage.


At Tarot's request, he reached inside his robe and pulled out heavy tome. The red leather covers were worn and faded, the binding cracked with age. Osric carefully placed the old text on the counter, turned it around to face the shopkeeper, opened it up, and began flipping through the pages.


"Damned thing's ancient, to m'reckonin'. Full o' descriptions of bygone cultures, their society, their monuments, their armaments.... figured it might fetch a price, but that's not why I'm here. Came not t'sell, but t'acquire." 


This was an unusual change of pace, and the customer knew it. He had first stumbled onto the Crooked Phoenix Emporium when his regular supplier of fine steel had closed up. Rent on Sapphire wasn't cheap, after all... but that had mattered little when Osric's trusted source of all things knives and daggers had dried up. Tarot, he found, had good stock. He was competent, professional, discrete... and that suited the Flame just fine. Most of Osric's purchases were done through an intermediary, and as for rare finds, those he brought in personally.


One last flick of his wrist brought him to the illustration he was after; he smoothed out the pages, tapped the sketch to draw attention to it, then dug around in his robes....


"As y'can imagine, law enforcement's a bit of a bind, at times." Onto the counter he dropped a pair of brass knuckles. "Y'need non-lethal force, for the unruly citizens and residents..." Then a pair of steel patas; close inspection would reveal them to be standard-issue I.F. equipment. "...yet certain occasions call for a more... permanent touch."


He placed his palms on the edge of the counter and leaned forward, his face falling into a rather stern and serious frown.


"I'm getting sick o' carryin' around two sets. It's unwieldy and nearly cost me m'life the other sun."


Osric tapped the illustration again without ever taking his eyes off Tarot.


"This looks like it'd serve m'purposes... yet I've no idea where to acquire a pair. Original, replica, I don't care. The tome y'can have for lookin' into this for me; I'll pay coin for the acquisition. Y'know I'm good for it."

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Tarot would never mention it, but being from the Brass Blades afforded one no advantange beyond the occasional flattering word and offer for a discount or 'gift'. The fact was, Tarot loathed the Blades. Not because of what they did to HIS business--his own business was far too deeply rooted and successful to ever have the Blade put anything more than a small damper on his operation, even if they tried. No, he hated the Blades because of what he did to other peoples businesses. The people who could barely afford to stay open, let alone pay off a group of--


His eyes looked down at the book as he clicked his teeth gently on the mouthpiece of his pipe, looking at the image carefully. Replicas were easy enough to get ahold of, but Tarot had never been one for going for the cheaper (and safer) route. The book was likely worth its weight in gil and already made the exchange profitable enough, without adding in his usual finder's fees and outrageous interest rates. And yes, he did indeed gouge the hells out of his customers.


Especially Brass Blades.


Thankfully, Osric had somehow found his way into Tarot's good books, between banter and proving that he was not more crooked than Tarot was when it came to his oh-so-lofty position.


Of course, Tarot wasn't stupid. He found out soon enough that Osric was with the Immortal Flames. Still, the game was fun and it was a decent excuse to drain a little more gil out of the smart-ass man every now and then. "I can get it for you, of course," he nodded, exhaling with a drawn out nod. "It might not be fast but I can certainly get it. I know a person who knows a person--that sort of thing." He'd send word to the Fogfens. This sounded like something she would have laying around.


"Always happy to be of service, of course. You know, I am offering a special." He flicked his free hand, a card with a series of little squares printed on it appearing between his fingers. "Make ten purchases and get a special, complimentary surprise."

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A person who knew a person... Osric frowned. He knew how grapevines worked well enough from personal experience; you passed word that you were interested to an associate, and they passed that on for you, on their own time and at their own convenience, and so on and so forth until the message reached the right ear. That could take a sevenday, mayhap even a moon or more... but then, he could afford to wait for something of this quality.


He couldn't help but bark a laugh, though, as Tarot pitched yet another sale. The man was relentless, and for good reason: the sergeant had deep pockets, courtesy of his... organization... and he was free to draw on those funds, to a point, so long as the coin was spent in pursuit of their goals.


"Special, eh? Complimentary? Aight, I'll take the usual, then." The usual was an order for an assortment of well-forged blades of various shapes and sizes: throwing knife, stiletto, dirk, rondel, push-dagger, main-gauche, khukuri, and pesh-kabz. Not a one enchanted or enchanced, though: he could not afford to invest in such expensive steel when his purposes required the dispensable and disposable.


"That's eight. For the ninth, I'd like somethin' somewhat more... exotic."


He leaned forward against the counter again, and started describing the product. A perfume, a fragrance more suited to Lominsan fashion, regal and oppressive. He did his best to describe the smell that had haunted him for more than a decade: orchid petals in a high wind, fresh citrus, a touch of honey, and the ever-present rum that graced the pubs and taverns of that tiered city.


"If you've anythin' like that in stock, I'll gladly go in for a bottle. And as for the tenth... the backroom open for viewin' today, or no?"

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He almost stopped Osric to tell him that he didn't mean ten separate items but rather ten separate visits. He would need to clarify that later. Still, he wasn't going to pass up a chance for a full sale today, especially for a backroom inquiry which was always far more invigorating than any shop-front banter. Grinning as he gathered up the requested pieces, one after the other, the stopped at the request for the perfume. Something like that would be far more difficult to procure on hand, simply because scent was a tricky thing--one may find patchouli a bracing scent that reminded them of the woods and exotic markets, while another may believe that it simply reeked of death.


Putting that aside, Tarot would do his best to help with the ninth--it would give time Osric to look around in the back room.


"For you? Of course it is," he grinned, tilting his head and motioning the mysterious door that was kept closed, firmly, whenever someone was within the shop. Moving to the door, he stood in front of it, enough to block Osric's view as he turned the handle and pressed a small segment of the wood in on itself, then slid the whole door to the left, revealing not a cramped office but a very large and dimly lit warehouse stocked to the gills with all kinds of things. The whole of the building, in fact, the very store-front itself, was on, large false wall.


THIS was the true depth of the Phoenix's Claw, so to speak, and Tarot motioned his patron to enter quickly before someone else came along to spoil the fun. "I'll see after your perfume request up front here--mind your fingers, as always, Osric. Half of those things may be cursed in some way, and I don't know what the hell the rest do--that and if my associate back there finds out you've been trying to slip things away into that robe of yours, he'll take the cost out of your knee caps~!" he gave a pleasant smile that promised a great deal of pain if Osric did try anything funny--it was nothing personal though; he said this to Osric (and every other customer) every time they went back there.


Tarot's associate, the moogle, Moggie-Moglin, had a fondness for large clubs and bats, and was even more fond of flying around the warehouse and breaking the joints of people that tried to ferret away things into their pockets that didn't belong to them...

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Osric knew better than to touch anything after that one incident.


It had only taken him a few visits to the backroom to grow accustomed to the near omnipresent threat that Tarot's Moogle associate represented. The little blighter took to following customers about as the browsed the warehouse aisles, and the bugger was more often than not invisible while he did so. Smart, that one; he'd leave his... implements... lying about on tables, in drawers, on shelves, in dark corners, and so on and so forth. A floating club, a customer could see coming. A bat blending in amongst the merchandise? Far more difficult to spot.


The sergeant had been rather overwhelmed with excitement one sun, having come across a first-edition volume of a particularly raunchy novel, so much so that he'd lifted the text off a bookshelf and made for the door to the storefront to inquire after its price... only to be met with a two-by-four to the back of his head and to wake up bells later to Tarot dumping cold water over him. Suffice to say he'd learned his lesson.


So much for a lack of situational awareness.


Now, though, he paced rather languidly up and down the length of the warehouse, eyes open for implements... and for gifts. A tome for Kanaria, perhaps, or a new pipe for Kahn'a, or incendiary compounds for Askier. He kept his eyes open for articles of a more professional bent, as well. Files, documents, bits of clothing that could lend themselves to useful disguises, poisons, potions, enchanted artifacts, anything that looked out of sorts....


What I wouldn't given for a gods-damned trenchcoat.

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Leaving Osric to his own devices (so to speak) Tarot went about looking for the perfume in question. While he was surprised, in a way, that Osric would want something like this, he supposed it wasn't too terribly odd. He'd likely met some maiden and wanted to make a gift of it. While Tarot saw little purpose in it (perfumes were nice but typically wreaked havoc on his nose) he still kept them around for the customers that wanted them. Shutting the door almost completely to the back room, he began his search through his carefully organized mess.




Osric did well to keep his hands to himself. The associate, Moggie-Moglin, was indeed watching from above, his little whiskers twitched as he looked down on the man with his little black eyes. Osric's discretion was well-timed. Moggie was not in a good mood today. In fact, he was suffering one his hang-overs and was looking to beat the living tar out of anything to make himself feel better.


To be fair, despite his thuggish tendencies, Moggie wasn't necessarily a cruel sort of person, er--moogle. Rather, he found though that his size and general appearance (cute and cuddly) left him little choice if he wanted to command any respect. Tarot dealt with a great number of respectable people; merchants and bankers and soldiers and tinkers and tailors amongst many others. But then he also dealt with people that weren't reputable and it was usually these types that required a good swing of one of his many bats to keep in line. Normally it didn't do any permanent damage since one good swing was enough to deter anyone from ever trying anything again, but as Osric learned, innocent or not, the moogle was ever ready to meat out justice of the most 'cute and cuddly' kind.



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