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Chapter 4: A Bazaar Encounter

Incredulous, I stared at the strange creature for minutes before venturing to speak, “What did you say?”

The creature smirked, “I said, welcome to my Bazaar. Allow me to make the first introduction. My name is Cornelius C. Trezzlepeg’s, and you must be in need of some serious help or you wouldn’t be here.”

I stood, rubbing my sore head, “I don’t understand,” I muttered, “I don’t need help. If there was anything I needed, it was a good night’s sleep, and now thanks to you, the chances seem rather slim.”

Trezzlepeg chuckled as he waddled over and patted me gently on the back, “Trust me, friend,” he continued, “you wouldn’t be here, if you hadn’t called me.”

For a second, my vision blurred and my voice rose to a shout, “Why on earth would I call you at three o’clock in the morning! I’ve had one of the most stressful days of my life, and you’re telling me that I brought this upon myself! I don’t believe that.”

The creature held up his hand, “It’s okay if you don’t understand. You may have not consciously called me, but you were in such distress that you sent a call for help, that I heard and answered. That is why you are here.”

I shook my head, “You are right about one thing--I don’t understand. Why bring me here if I need help? Shopping causes more headaches than it solves.. Honestly, I can’t stand it, especially the middle of the night variety.”

Trezzlepeg sighed. “I won’t hold your ignorance against you. Here, come this way and I’ll paint you a clearer picture.”

He beckoned me with his outstretched hand. Hesitantly, I followed him down the darkened corridor in silence. Finally, a pinprick of light appeared in the distance.

It’s the light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe this is heaven. Though my friend isn’t what I’d call a traditional angel.

We continued at a leisurely pace until the light enveloped us. We passed through it, and the dark road vanished to reveal an antiquated room covered with trinkets and clutter. Huge isles of aging objects ranging from priceless treasures to worthless junk extended in all directions. On every inch of free wall space hung a vivid tapestry, or ornate rug. A musty smell like the scent of an ancient library permeated the entire shop. Four large signs, fastened on the wall in each of the cardinal directions, announced the sections of the shop in bold golden lettering:

Relics, Creatures, Essences, and Library.

A small fifth sign hung over a grandiose wooden door fastened with a gargantuan padlock behind the main counter: Forbidden Antiquities.

A bright overhead light illuminated the small central room, in which I stood, but the other aisles lay shrouded in darkness. I could detect no other sound or motion anywhere, and felt almost like I stumbled onto the surface of an alien planet.

Trezzlepeg looked on with amusement for a few minutes, obviously enjoying my reaction to his shop. Finally, he waddled over to take his place behind the counter, his bulbous belly jiggling in a deep chuckle. “Ho, ho, do you like it? It’s simple to navigate once you get the hang of it.”

Trezzlepeg spread his arms as to display his shop. “We’re having a special today on relics, a two for one deal,” he said, “The trick is finding the one that’s right for your desires, so we better get started.”

Still skeptical, I sauntered over to one of the nearest shelves and removed an object from the many that lay there. The object appeared to be a small pair of glasses, completely ordinary looking, except for a small ruby fastened to the bridge. A parchment leaflet hung from a string, and as I looked around, I realized that most of the objects came with similar leaflets..

Insatiably curious, I carefully pried open the coarse paper. As I did, a small puff of smoke rose from within accompanied with a small sound like a gust of autumn wind. As I had seen before, the smoke swirled wildly and then formed itself into letters.

Rose colored glasses. When worn the wearer perceives only the pleasing attributes of any person, creature, or object viewed through them.

Astonished, I shut the leaflet and replaced the glasses to their place on the shelf. I then realized that the shelf contained many pairs of glasses, each with a different colored jewel adorning it.

I searched other leaflets for their contents and settled on one whose jewel shifted color every few seconds:

Pathos glasses. While worn, the viewer perceives the innermost thoughts and feelings of any creature viewed through them.

Is such a thing possible? If I could own such a thing, I’d rule the world! I’d be a superhero.

Suddenly, I wanted them more than anything in the world. I held them up longingly in front of my face, wanting desperately to see if this relic could deliver.

Trezzlepeg waddled up next to me and flashed a toothy grim. “I see you have found something you like!”

The little creature clasped his hands in glee, “Yes,” he continued with a nod, “Those specs are versatile! Some can hunt down pests and others gaze into the future. If you like them, try them on!”

Trembling, I finally raised the last pair over my eyes. Instantly the spectacles formed to my face and disappeared, a sensation that both intrigued and frightened me.

I gazed around to see if I could locate another specimen to try out my goggles on. I didn’t relish the thought of finding out Trezzlepeg’s inner feelings just yet, so I didn’t turn to him.

I didn’t expect to see anyone else browsing the aisles of the shop, and was surprised when I glimpsed another human figure approaching me from a few aisles down. I stepped towards him and when he was close enough I stole a glance in his direction. Instantly, information assaulted my brain--Intense feelings of hate, resentment, and greed.

Who is this guy? His mind is like a psycho ward.

To make things even more interesting, the man stepped out the shadows and his eyes locked with mine. He was an enormous man with darkened skin and long ebony hair tied back in a braid down the length of his back. A gold-plated breastplate and matching gauntlets adorned his body, all finely crafted and etched with inscriptions and ornaments. Fierce scars mingled with intricate paintings on the surface of his skin complimenting mammoth muscles that I could see rippling on the bare portions of his arms and legs.

Despite his impressive appearance, a particular battle mark stood forefront from the rest: An intricately crafted tattoo of a phoenix adored his arm from the wrist to past his elbow. The paint used to create the creature was much brighter and vibrant than any normal paint.. It flashed and flickered on his arm as if it would rise from the arm at the slightest provocation.

His black eyes shone like live coals as they met mine and for an instant, the man’s face drew back in horror as if he recognized me. I felt a pain shoot up my air and a I leapt back in fear.

With a final scowl, the golden man leapt from the aisle combining the grace of a gazelle with the might of a grizzly bear and disappeared into the shadows.

I gawked in the direction of the golden man’s escape. Trezzlepeg broke the awkward silence after only a few moments. “Don’t be worried about him. His name is Mercos and he’s a regular. His home world is ravaged by intense civil war, and he is probably looking for something to give him the upper hand? Must have thought you looked like something from his world that he wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley.”

Neither Trezzlepeg’s words nor his laughter brought me comfort. I had never seen that man before, and yet the pain and fear he felt when looked at me had been more exquisite and intense than anything I had ever felt. I tried to shake it off, but the images would haunt me for days.

I ripped the invisible lenses off my face and returned them to the shelf. “Did you say his home world? You mean another world besides Earth?”

Trezzlepeg nodded, “There are countless worlds in this universe, my friend,” he replied, “I believe that his one is called Gyemenos.”

He shrugged and motioned me on, “That doesn’t really matter. Step this way. There is still much to see, but don’t worry about time. It doesn’t pass here. That way, we could stay here until you lose your mind and you could still return to your bed for a good night’s sleep when you are done.”

This news was the best I had heard all day. With a new sense of resolve, I quickened my pace after the squat figure.

This was just a taste. What if this experience turns out to be a full seven-course meal? If this is a dream, I might as well never wake up.

As we walked, I glanced down at my arm. An ugly, red mark stood out against my skin, as if I had been branded with the mark of the phoenix.

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