Oct 21, 2021 10:47 PM
The Wandering Store is open for business on Amenta
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Today, everyone outside the windows has colorful hair. Purple seems to be the most common, so he'll go with that. He's managed alterations to the Beast Brews to do just hair color long ago, so he drinks one (it tastes like artificial grape flavoring), and plans for another for lunch.

And so a small box truck, the kind that would be a food truck on Earth, settles in place at the corner of a park in a grey neighborhood close to the edges of a city in the slightly-less-dense areas. There's a subtle effect about it that should keep 'authorities' from noticing, without something prompting them, at least. And it's definitely bigger on the inside.

Nobody is in the truck's cab, but a short ramp leading to a door in the side folds open near the back, and a light-up sign declares 'The Wandering Store - Premium Groceries & Craft/Hobby Supplies'.

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Grey, even silver, hair is of course also common in this neighborhood. In this case it is attached to a man who is also named Silver. The man is in turn attached to a rather large number of weapons even by local standards. Many of them via a chest rig emblazoned with a Tapia fighting fish logo and the name of a very successful martial arts gym.

Silver is headed home from training at said gym when he sees the truck. Having a bit of free time he decides to check it out and walks through the door.

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This truck...

Is bigger on the inside. He walks into a store with a high ceiling and at least four rows of shelves, clearly a fair bit deeper than the truck would allow. The immediately visible items include but are not limited to canned food, fancy pastries, a freezer full of plastic packages, a display of rolls of colorful cloth, little plastic paint bottles, and an "easy start!" wicker weaving kit. The purple-haired man at an antique-looking cash register is tinkering with something shiny in lots of pieces, humming quietly.

There's a sign clearly visible from the entrance: "Shop rules. 1. Absolutely no stealing. 2. Absolutely no violence. 3. We reserve the right to eject patrons from the store via magic for any reason."

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1 Sensible. 2. I mean sure fine it would probably damage the goods. 3. What...Oh hahaha the purple thinks he's a funnygreen. But it does add to the charm of the place.

The bigger on the inside thing would normally catch Silver's attention but he is very tired and a teeny bit loopy from training. So he just starts checking out the food to see if there is anything that looks good and if the nutritional labels fit his training diet.

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There are some pretty weird brands he's never heard of before here! Most of the products seem... Slightly alien. And some are fairly fantastical, like "cut of griffin leg - a taste lighter than air" or the can of "tyantan fruit" with an image of a bundle of weird blue pear things and some kind of cute fuzzy alien monkey chomping on one. The nutritional labels are in a weird format, and entirely absent on about half the items. There are strange cookbooks and toasters and waffle-makers too, all with a weird aesthetic and not a brand he's ever heard of before. One weird big metal thing on display claims to be a countertop meat printer with entirely customizable nutrition profiles.

At the very back is a gilded display freezer with backlights highlighting a gloriously elaborate cake about big enough to make slices for ten people, glistening and shiny, absolutely heaping with vividly colorful icing in intricate patterns that seem to evoke landscapes and cities from afar. The label says 'Immortal Cake - physical & mental refinement - Price: Inquire at front'.

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Right so does Google Citrus have anything to say about these brands? No, well ok then.

This stuff looks pretty cool but also a bit sus. Luckily Silver is at least kinda rich and fairly confident that someone with a highly distinctive van is not going to try running a scam in the part of the grey neighborhood that includes a lot of the police higher ups. So he'll see if there is any sort of hand cart or bag for him to use.


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There's a stack of those ubiquitous big plastic hand baskets lots of grocery stores have at the front of the aisles.

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Huh, weird he didn't see that earlier but he wasn't really looking yet. He'll grab a few of the healthier looking snacks into the basket then walk up to the counter.

His voice and body language are LOUD, friendly, and slightly derpy in a way that is hard to put a finger on. Locally the effect of this would be magnified by his above average size and eccentric clothing, but this might be lost on an alien from a planet where higher sexual dimorphism puts him closer to the male average.

"Hi, cool stuff you got here. I know I want to get this stuff." Silver sets the basket on the counter. "But I have some questions about the other things. How much is the cake and can you show me how the meat printer works?" 

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"Why, certainly, for the latter. It's a very nice piece of kit. Before we discuss the price, the Immortal Cake comes with warnings attached. Are you familiar with magic at all?"

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Is he serious? Whatever this is probably a larp he's wandered into or something but he'll play along.

"Not really. There are some family traditions but I never got them working beyond what the mundane aspects could explain."

Technically true, though if this wasn't some sort of larp he wouldn't admit he ever thought those parts of martial arts were more than metaphorical.

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Eyebrow-raise. "Mmhm. Some of my products are magical. I'm happy to give you a free sample if you'd like, to prove it. I've goooot... Soda that'll change your looks for an hour, or safety lighters of minor pyrokinesis. The Immortal Cake, meanwhile, is very magical and actually a bit dangerous if consumed recklessly."

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Ok is this a hidden camera show then? Well more fame is good for someone in Silver's business so might as well go for it.

"I'd like to see the lighter. That actually sound like something I might buy depending on the price."

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He digs out an entirely ordinary-looking red plastic lighter from the displays by the register and lightly tosses it.

"Just click it on and focus on the flame. If you're willing to test it, the lighter literally can't hurt someone - though things it sets on fire are still on normal fire, mind you. But the best demonstration is just... Will the flame to bend or change, and it'll try its best."

He sits in the chair and looks on, expression anticipating.

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The lighter lights. So ordinary so far. He'll try flaring it big and small, bending it from side to side, and finally going for a full spiral. If its passing those tests he will also gently test it against a pinky.

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It flares big and small easy as you please. It almost leaps more than bending, the vertical flame moving left and right a few inches. His attempt at a spiral is more of a messy wobbly circle that falls apart into random embers before reforming as the original basic lighter flame. And if he does test it on a pinky, it feels slightly warm but does not seem to be harming him.

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Ok that is super cool. Probably still magic as in a stage show rather than magic magic, but Silver isn't quite so sure anymore. Either way it's impressive. 


"How much for the lighter again." He says in the tones of someone who's clearly going to buy it but needs to be Responsible With His Money TM. "Also, whats the story with the cake?"

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He names a price for the lighter; It's about what a fast-food meal would be.

"The Immortal Cake is a pinnacle of spiritual power combined with very specific applications of technology to make it safe and useful to eat without special preparation. There's a school of practices which teaches meditation and martial arts to perfect yourself and obtain magical power- Unfortunately, I don't know much more about it than that, and don't have any reference materials. If I did, I'd be trying to sell them to you, trust me, you look like the type. But the Immortal Cake is made from ingredients that 'cultivators' pay through the nose for and specifically formulated to 'refine' ordinary people who've never done any such thing. It's an easy way to straight-up upgrade your body. I've had two in the last few decades."

He smiles. He looks maybe 15 at most.

"If you eat the Immortal Cake, you'll find yourself noticeably stronger, faster, tougher, less prone to sickness and lethargy, healing a bit cleaner, and aging more gracefully. However, it's also absurdly delicious, magically so, almost hazardously so. Not addictive, exactly, except in the sense one can get addicted to extreme sports. Still, it's a bad idea to eat it all yourself. Diminishing returns, for one, and ruining you for normal cake forever for another, and it works best in small doses followed by intense workouts for a third. Now, I know it's a tall claim, but I really can't give free samples of this one."

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Silver sticks the lighter in the basket while listening to the spiel.

His eyes light up. Then he seems to go through multiple thoughts in rapid succession as he pulls out his pocket everything again.

"I should probably check if this counts as doping but I'd want some for my family anyway." As he says this he starts skimming through a rulebook that would be quite dense if it were an actual book.

"There is the credibility question, but I have an idea for that. I'm also interested in the meat printer, and the disguise soda. I want to make sure we're on the same page about pricing before I commit to anything but I think if I can get a demo of those two I'll buy both and take it as proof for the cake if they work."

He'll also jot off a brief text to part of his support staff saying he's considering some exotic nutritional supplements and asking them to brush up on that section of the rules.

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He rattles off prices. The disguise soda runs about the same as the lighter, and he has a bunch of variations - cat ears & tail, dog/fox/horse/reptile versions of the same general idea, all the hair colors and then some, one to make someone a woman or a man, one that makes your skin blue and speckled with glowy dots. "I like making new variants of these," he explains with a grin, "Because it's all temporary, it's easier to work with. Got a lot more that aren't on display, too."

The meat printer, meanwhile, runs much closer to 'a year's rent for a little studio apartment in an ordinary neighborhood'. He can describe the features and how to use it in detail, and there's also a manual, and he'll also sell spare part kits in case something ever breaks, though he assures his customer that it's built tough.

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"I can afford that is the cake in the same ballpark?"

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"The cake is not in the same ballpark. My suppliers can get me another printer in a couple of weeks - the cake takes a year to come back."

The price is... Not quite in child credit range for an auction country, but getting up there.

"I'll sell to you by the slice too, though at a higher piece rate."

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He stops to do some mental math. He would kill for the cake but he would also kill for a child credit and assuming this is real at all attacking the magic shopkeeper seems like a bad idea.

"Ok, I'm putting the cake down as a maybe while I wait to hear back about the doping rules." While saying this he sends a followup text describing the actual situation as a hypothetical and asking for rules feedback urgently "for a thing". This greatly annoys the yellow on the other end of the pocket everything, who assumes it's for another stupid internet debate, but Silver enough of a rising star that he can get away with this sort of BS.

"I'll buy a cat ears soda right now and give it a try. If that works you can demo making this Nasah dish called (basically haggis) I'll believe this is real and take everything I already have in the cart, the meat printer with some spare part, and a bunch of soda. I'll still need to think on the cake because of the price but I'm leaning yes if this is real and am not going to bet that much on it being real without more proof than just the lighter thing."

After a very brief pause, not really enough for Nick to start talking he adds: "How long are you going to be in this neighborhood and do your suppliers let you put in orders for say cultivation books."

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"They do not. My choices are locked in. It's about the only thing I dislike about this gig, honestly. I've wanted to have medicine or books or houseware stuff instead a bunch of times. I usually stick around places for at least two days, rarely more than a week."

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"Disappointing, but ok. I'll start on the demo stuff now. If you'll be at least a few hours I will probably punt on the cake. This is already adding up to a lot of weight anyway."

He'll purchase and chug a cat ear soda.

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It tastes a bit like ginger ale, with a hint of some other heavy spice. Strange, but not necessarily bad. Nick offers a hand mirror- Yep, those are big fluffy cat ears! And a tail! He can control them fairly naturally, even.

"You'll have to tell me more about the dish, maybe look up details, but let's go take a look at this thing's features for you. One thing to note is that you do have to give it feedstock, water mostly, most protein powders would work but sometimes it might ask for something in particular. It burns the material it doesn't need. Now, it does have a library of pre-designed meats so let's see if we can find something similar to what you want..."

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Silver will get mildly distracted playing with his new body parts. He will also check that they can be felt by his hands and show up in selfie mode for his pocket everything in case the mirror is rigged. For example by actually being a screen with a hidden camera and a processor applying a filter to the image.

But yup, those are certainly real appendages.

"Sure, luckily I always carry spare protein powder on me. Is it going to be an issue if the water is actually a sports drink? Also, I might just pick a random dish if thats ok."

"The main thing I'm looking for is really convincing proof that this isn't staged somehow. Both for myself and something I can quickly prove to others. Because thinking about it the immortal cake is a bit much for myself but I totally know people who will go in on it with me as long as I can convince them this is real fast enough  that you're still here by the time I have the cash in hand."

If its within the rules his training partners will probably want in and even if it isn't he can probably squeeze some money out of relatives for something this important. Especially since he'll be sharing it.

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