Parsenon’s Magical Machines

The bell on the door rang when it opened. It was just a small tinkling sound, but in the quiet shop, it alerted everyone inside. The owner looked up from his desk at the front of the store, but his assistant was already approaching the potential customer.

“Good day, sir,” she said cheerfully. The owner gritted his teeth a bit at her bubbly attitude, yet remained silent. “Is there something we can do for you today?”

“Hello. I was just passing by and saw this place. The sign out front caught my eye. What do you sell here?”

“Well, we have all sorts of fantastic tools and other items. If there is something you need to do, we have something that can help. And more than a few things that will impress and amaze your friends.”

The owner sighed heavily. “She means curios. We have a number of items that make for interesting conversation pieces.” As soon as he finished speaking, he returned to looking through the papers in front of him.

“But the name, it’s very interesting. ‘Parsenon’s Magical Machines.’ Very tantalizing.”

The assistant shot the owner, who was still looking down, an angry look to make sure he wouldn’t start talking again. “Indeed,” she replied after making sure there wouldn’t be another interruption. “We have a knife that can cut through anything with no more effort than it takes to move through water. It uses a very intense light.”

“That sounds… dangerous.”

“And useful!”

“What else do you have?”

She looked around and picked up a box not much bigger than her hand. “This device creates a small doorway to another place, accessible only through it. You can store all manner of money or important documents inside it and be assured that it is completely safe.”

“That is incredible.”

“I know! And it…”

“No, I mean I don’t believe it.”

“Well, there is…”

“I think I’ve heard enough. This is all just tricks to fool gullible…”

“My assistant is imaginative,” the owner was suddenly next to them, “but she is not malicious, just enthusiastic about the items we have. Our stock is unique, but we have no interest in taking advantage of those who wander in.”

“Hmph.”

“Here, look at this.” The owner produced a statue of a raven made entirely out of gears and other metal. “This is an odd statue, made by the finest artisans. Perfect for any mantlepiece.”

The man looked at it closely, amazement slowly spreading across his features. “It looks nearly real!”

“Yes. And the clockwork inside it causes its wings to spread several times a day.”

“That is amazing. How much is it?”

The owner looked at the bird with a bit of pride and admiration. “Normally, I would sell such an item for a hundred. But I  want to apologize for my assistant’s eagerness. I can let it go for twenty-five pieces.”

“Still a high sum.”

“Yes, it is. Any cheaper, and I fear you will think me trying to put one over on you.”

“Very well. Is there anything I need to do in order to keep it in good condition?”

“No. But if it should fail in any way, you need only bring it back for me to work on it, no additional charge.”

The man seemed pleased. As soon as the purchase was finalized and the customer had left, the assistant approached the owner.

“The finest artisans?”

“Are you implying I’m not the finest?”

“And you didn’t tell him that it was a fully functioning bird, not a statue.”

“I imagine he will figure it out.”

“And why must you make me look crazy?”

“Because you are too earnest. Our regular customers know what we are. The drop-in business requires a lighter touch. You are a good apprentice, but you need to learn how to hide in plain sight, else you will scare people off.”

She scowled. “Very well. But you are talking to him when he comes back.”

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