After a few seconds, Parker finally had the courage to turn around.
The stranger now in front of him was wearing red robes. He had a thick book tucked under his arm and had a friendly hand, outstretched. Parker hesitantly shook it.
“Well, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a customer,” the stranger said.
“Huh?” Parker was utterly confused. This.. was a shop? The stone was on sale? The books, too?
“This... is a shop,” Parker repeated to himself.
“Yes. Sadly, I don’t see much mages around here.”
“But I’m not a mage,” Parker said.
“Oh? Well then how did you touch that phoenix egg?”
Parker was amazed. He was standing next to a mage, accusing him of being a mage, in a mage’s shop, holding a phoenix egg. He felt as if what he was experiencing was fiction and pinched himself to make sure it wasn’t; sure enough, all was real.
The stranger waited a little bit for a response yet got nothing. So he said, “This is amazing, it’s not everyday you see a human using magic.”
“...I’ll explain everything to you... My name is Rednuth,” he said.
“Rednuth? What a strange name,” Parker said. “I’m Parker.”
“Well, Parker,” Rednuth continued, “You live in a world where magic is real, phoenixes and dragons soar the skies, and leviathans rule the ocean. Whatever you thought was myth existed. And what’s frightening is that dark magic exists, and people plan to use it to rid the world of these wonderful creatures. They believe that phoenixes, dragons, leviathans, gryphons, and more are threatening the world and need to be rid of. You know magic; can you help defeat dark magic?”
“W-wow.. I’d love to, but.. I don’t even know magic.”
Rednuth smiled. “You seem to have quite some resistance to extreme heat; that is a form of magic. I don’t have that ability. You can easily step into a mage’s fire and defeat them. Perhaps the enemy has been using fire magic, you never know.”
Parker was struck with disbelief. “Where in the world would I learn magic from?”
“Ah,” Rednuth remarked, “Magic can be innate, you may have had a royal lineage, possibly one from an experienced mage who can pass on the gene of magic to a descendant, you.”
Parker still couldn’t believe any of this, but some sense made him think that maybe it was true. The explanation to everything odd lately would’ve been magic.
“So the odd temperatures have been a result of magic, too?” Parker asked.
“Well, not exactly. Every few decades, a peak rise in temperatures occurs where phoenixes gather for their breeding season. In fact, that is how I came upon that egg. This very wood is a place of gathering for phoenixes, and thus it is extremely hot here. The egg was found in a nest on a tree; enchanted by phoenix to resist burning. Phoenix prefer to gather in places that are undisturbed; they are peaceful creatures. The wood here must be some kind of preserve, it must be undisturbed for many decades to be a favorable place for phoenix.”
“You’re selling it? Why? You’ll only get another one in another few decades, and only if you’re lucky.”
“Well, I’m not actually selling it. In fact, I’ll give it to you for free if you agree to help me relinquish dark magic. I do not age, I see time much differently than you do. A few decades is not long.”
Parker smiled. “Sure, I’ll help you.”
Parker stood up and took the egg.
“Thank you,” Rednuth said.