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From the outside, the shop didn’t look like much. It was barely more than a shack. The windows were too dirty to see through, and its sign creaked as it swung in the breeze.

“You’re sure this is the place?”

The muscular young man looked cynically at his companion. She nodded.

“Definitely. My cousin Chanai said she got all her equipment here when she started adventuring. She said they’ll have everything we need in here.”

He still looked doubtful, but he turned and pushed the door open.

“Hello,” said the shopkeeper, squinting at them through the dim lamplight. “Young adventurers, are you? Looking for some equipment, I’ll wager!”

“Yes,” the girl said, stepping forward. “I’m looking for-”

“Light leather armour, ten copper,” the shopkeeper interrupted. “A starter bow, fifteen, and five more for the arrows. A dagger, just in case, I’ll do that for, hmm, three copper.”

She blinked as he piled up the goods on the counter.

“And for your rather more bulky friend, chainmail for twenty copper.”

The shopkeeper stopped and eyed the young man. “A decent, only slightly rusty sword for fifteen, with a shield for ten, or a very reasonable two handed sword for twenty five copper. Your choice.”

The young man scratched his head as he tried to decide which to buy.

“Excuse me,” the girl said, “How do you know exactly what we want?”

The shopkeeper laughed. “It’s what I do. There’s one more thing you’ll need, though.”

He stooped to rummage in a cupboard behind the counter and reappeared with a large book.

“Your Bestiary,” he said. “Faithful companion to all adventurers. A reference guide to all the wild beasts and monsters of this land.”

“All of them?” She reached out and picked up the book, flipping it open at random. “Wait. This is empty!”

The shopkeeper laughed again and tapped the side of his nose. “Of course it is, dearie. You’re only starting out.”

There was a squeak from one of the darker corners of the shop behind her and she turned to see her friend, his chainmail, sword and shield already equipped, standing grinning over the body of a large rat.

The shopkeeper reached forward and flipped the pages of the Bestiary back to the beginning. The girl looked down and smiled as the entry for Giant Rat appeared before her eyes.

“We’ll take it,” she said.

© Kari Fay

(Author’s Note: Because it’s fun to play with fantasy game tropes every once in a while!)