“You could’ve saved me a trip,” Cole said. He accepted a palm-sized red velvet coin purse in exchange for a wine bottle. Viscous red and gold liquid shimmered inside. As it splashed against the bottle the red slid down first leaving a slower trail of gold slime clinging to the glass. The elderly mage nodded apologetically, then he pushed his spectacles up.
“The need didn’t arise until after you left. I hoped you might have the foresight to bring some of its flesh too.” Cole shook his head while he slipped the velvet bag under his dusty green cloak.
“Unicorn flesh smells like wounded unicorn. That’s not worth the risk without an order. And, there’s a special.. ‘handling fee’. For the same reason; I need to take proper, expensive, precautions to avoid attracting predators.”
“Money is no obstacle, and there is a bonus for speed.”
“I’m not carrying a unicorn corpse; a pound is all I can transport safely. If that’s not going to be useful to you, we need to consider a different arrangement and hire more people.”
“No no,” the old man nodded. “That’s more than enough to get started with. I’d rather send you out multiple times than learn how to deal with any new people,” he said. “And, you know what you’re doing. These goods are delicate but you always deliver gently-handled, high-quality ingredients.”
“Thank you,” Cole smiled. “I’ll be back with that pound of unicorn meat. Anything else you can think of?” he asked as he walked toward the exit of the mage’s library.
“No, but I’m sure you’ll have orders by the time you come back.” The mage waved at Cole as he walked out the door.
“Nice,” Cole grinned to himself once he was out on cobblestone street. He pulled his node out from under his cloak while he walked around the side of the mage’s tower. He casually glanced behind himself to make sure no one followed, then he tapped his node. A black portal opened in front of him and he dashed inside.
He exited into a modern, bright kitchen on the other side and the portal closed behind him. A large stainless steel fridge sat opposite a matching steel stove. Sunlight streamed in through a row of thin windows that lined the tops of dark wood cabinets.
“Easy, easy,” Cole said with a broad smile. He pulled the small red purse out and set it on his node in his hand. The bag dissolved into white powder that disappeared before it made a mess.[Sharp Bank $110.42 cents deposited after currency exchange.] appeared on the transparent screen under the bank’s red logo.
“Soooo easy,” Cole chuckled to himself. He leaned against the counter and tapped the Sharp Grocery icon on his node. He typed ‘unicorn’ in the search bar.[Previous order: Sharp Label – 750ml Unicorn Blood: $19.99] appeared under the search before the rest of the search results. Cole scrolled down until he found the best bargain. [Sharp Farms – 1lb Ground Unicorn: $4.89] He chose it, then the screen changed. [Delivery to: – ] Followed by a dropbox. He selected: [Home Fridge] [Error: Automated delivery network is currently offline for maintenance. Please try again in 36 hours.]
“Awww man!” Cole grumbled. “I can’t believe I have to go to the store!” he grumbled while he slid off his green cloak. He liked it because in the dim mage’s tower it mostly hid that he wasn’t wearing armor underneath. Just a simple black t-shirt and jeans. “Might as well get it over with now.” He huffed one last time and left his home.
He walked across the lawn to the street. Cole glanced both ways up and down the two-lane road. With no cars in sight, he crossed and continued on into the convenience store – Sharp Corner.
He walked to the cold case and was immediately bummed when the small section reserved for unicorn meat was empty.
“I have to go to a real store?” Cole whined quietly, then shrugged and hung his head.
“Hey, everything okay?” The clerk asked as Cole headed out the door. “You know we can order anything you don’t find here.”
“The network’s down,” Cole said from the door. The clerk flashed Cole a big toothy grin.
“Man, the home network’s down. You think Ms. Sharp’s gonna let her own businesses sit quiet for 36 hours?”
“Yeah, I guess not,” Cole suddenly felt hopeful that his short search was over. “Can I get a pound of unicorn meat?”
“You got it,” the clerk said. He pointed down the aisle at the cold case, then he tapped at the slate on his counter. Cole returned to the fridge and found the pucks of unicorn meat had been restocked. Cole grabbed one and breathed a sigh of relief.
“Quest complete,” he grinned.