The grimy ironmonger grimaced as he picked up the jar of noxious unguent he had purchased. "You’re sure?" he asked. "This stuff will make them buy?"
"Oh, yes," responded Dreckler, the Lust Mage. "Once your wares have been anointed with my Unguent of Desire, no man will be able to resist them. They will pay whatever you demand."
Cuspi wondered, as he scanned the cluttered back room of his smithy in the merchant quarter. Could even magic help him sell the tons of rusty iron spikes and bric-a-brac that he had inherited?
Cuspi Tiner, the "Iron Man"
Cuspi Tiner is a generally unremarkable man. He has an undistinguished jaw, shifty eyes, and thinning hair, which go well with his reedy voice, soot-stained clothes, and bad posture. Most people that meet him get the impression that he’s a jackass, a self-centered toad of a man that they’d rather not deal with.
When Cuspi inherited his uncle’s smithy, his few friends figured that he’d run it into the ground in a matter of months. It hadn’t done well in the best of times, and Cuspi was saddled with a ton of unappealing junk cluttering the place. The shop was filled with heaps of badly-crafted iron goods and literally thousands of iron spikes, the legacy of a royal contract that had fallen through with his uncle’s demise.
In such a situation, many would have just sold the place, but not Cuspi. He had met a mage that specialized in the magic of attraction: This secretive man’s spells (illegal as they might be) would be the answer to his problems.
"I was just looking, but I’ve decided! I’ll take 100 of your Iron Spikes!"
Soon, Cuspi was selling more iron spikes, pots, pans, and hinges than anyone else in the guild. Visitors that merely brushed against his wares found themselves with an unaccountable desire to possess them. Visions danced through their heads, dozens of ideas for how the sturdy iron items could be handy.
"I dunno, I always wanted to build a trebuchet. These spikes are just the ticket!"
The products of Cuspi’s smithy soon became strangely popular: Unsure why they purchased them, people developed all sorts of odd rationalizations to explain their impulsive purchases. Few suspected what had really happened, as the unguent smeared on the items was a rare and little-known recipe resistant to magical detection. Normally such enchantments were far too costly to put on humble iron wares: If Dreckler had suspected his experimental magical paste actually worked, he would have charged the ironmonger fifty times the price.
Despite his efforts to conceal the magical source of his prosperity, some of Cuspi’s competitors soon began investigating the suddenly-successful smithy. Their apprentices prowl about, trying to discover just how Cuspi manages to make his rusty wares so popular. Some are more wary than others, avoiding entering the shop itself since a few came back burdened with armloads of second-rate iron wares.
Cuspi is concerned now that his days as an ironmonger may soon come to a close. If his rival ironmongers manage to find proof that he has been magically influencing his customers, he’ll be up on charges quicker than you could say, "Burn the Warlock". He keeps his wealth hidden, packed up in a small chest, so that he could grab his valuables and be out of town with less than five minutes’ warning.
Cuspi only has a few ounces of his magical unguent left. If he is forced to leave town suddenly, he is likely to leave it behind, along with incriminating papers that outline how he got it. This won’t matter to him, as he plans to set himself up in another town, with some entirely unrelated business, and perhaps a new name. In Cuspi’s imagination, he will soon be selling something people actually want without magical tricks played upon them; it’s just a matter of keeping his eyes open and ignoring a few inconvenient laws.
For the moment, Cuspi’s customers are just going to have to find uses for the thousands of iron spikes they’ve inadvertently purchased.