Posted by Ellanutella
Stealing from Rickety was a big no-no. All of the local thieves knew that to steal from Rickety’s Pawn Shop in the docks district was to walk into the prison and lock yourself in, and those that didn’t know quickly learned. The man had a sixth sense for what went on in his shop. It was an innocent place to buy and sell and trade during the day, but at night, it became the place all thieves went to trade the fruits of their work for money and get it out of their hands and onto the black market. Physically, the store was no larger than two rooms, and only one was ever seen by the great majority of the customers, day or night. And it was quite the sight, a farrago of objects large and small. To the casual observer, there was no order; there was nothing but shelves and shelves and shelves, reaching up and up and up, of books and baskets and statues and candles and all manner of anything one could think of. But Rickety knew where everything was, and in the rare case he didn’t, the close listener could catch him muttering a rhyme or formula under his breath, and he would locate it.
No one quite knew when – or where – Rickety slept. The back room was storage, it was said, for the most dangerous of items, though very few had access to it, and they were mostly the highest elite of the night’s customers. He was always there, always watching his store, and always knew what went on. Some rumored that Rickety was actually a bunch of brothers that all looked alike. Others claimed magic.
The guard never got involved with his business, either, but no one argued. Rickety had the best deals and did a lot for the bunch of thieving low-lives that came to him.
Even if he was human, Gheris did not quite regard him as such. He appraised everyone’s stolen goods the same and knew how to grab a bargain without robbing his customers. And he had never once asked her where she was from or tried to be a little too friendly, as some humans were wont with elves. They were both aware that business was business, and both were happy to keep it that way.
The only time Gheris had seen him outside of his shop was when she’d been slipping around a back alley to check on rumors of the guard discarding old weapons – he had been checking the same. Although she had no proof, she was almost certain he was as much a thief and scavenger as he was a merchant and black market connection. She did not care, however. Even if she did, his respect for the pasts of others kept her questions unasked.
Gheris could see the shop now from her position on the roof of a shop two buildings down and across the street. The next house over tilted so far forward that it kissed the building on the other side. The elf slipped over the two structures and traversed the roofs to Rickety’s shop. There was no point in sneaking in, so she dropped to the street and immediately slipped in, watchful that no late walkers saw her.
As always, she paused to gaze up at the clutter. It never seemed to be the same content, save for one or two things that no one had ever wanted and that were now just such a part of the shop that it would be blasphemy to remove them. She slipped to the rear of the room where Rickety himself sat in a chair, tilted onto its hind legs, his feet up on his table. Three sacks of coins rested beside his feet. Her fingers twitched instinctively, but even her kleptomania was cowed by the man.
He was a rough sort, with coarse and pock-marked skin, looking as if it were always two days after he had shaved. His nose was bulbous and his hairline receding. The palms of his hands were lined with something dark, reminding her of the rings of a tree; he had worked in a mine, she guessed, for such marks to stay for so long. His eyes peered at her from over a book and he carefully marked his place before dropping the chair down on all fours and rising politely. He puffed some smoke through his pipe.
“Gheris,” he said by way of greeting, “What do you have?” His accent was very nearly Fereldan, but there was always something off that told her that he wasn’t.