106 A Suspicious Hooded Man*
It'd been a day since Jeremiah had heard the report from the Fire Magician. To put it simply, the Fire Magician had no idea what had happened for sure. What he was positive of was that magic hadn't started the fire, but the fire had been deliberately lit. The magic he did sense was suppressive towards the flames, but it was unlike anything he'd felt before. Despite Jeremiah's description of the shadows moving, the Fire Magician had insisted that it hadn't felt like a Shadow Magician. Still, Jeremiah couldn't shake the possibility.
In the end, the Fire Magician had said that despite their chaotic patterns, the magic that had been used was not used with malicious intent, therefore, it was unlikely the Shadow Magician, if there was one, had started the blaze.
As soon as the Fire Magician had recommended Jeremiah search for other suspects with ill-intent towards the Token businesses, many had come to mind. Token was a big company, to be able to get as powerful as they were they'd made plenty of enemies. But none had ever been so bold, usually they used business means rather than deliberate destruction of property, such a thing would sully their own names. But then Jeremiah thought about the timing of the fire...
He hadn't been in Eldovia for months, and the business here hadn't been affected in any way until now. Maybe, rather than the business, the target was him. It would make more sense to target the ship, but The Miranda was both anchored out in the bay and heavily guarded. Besides, the suspect that came to mind didn't want to destroy The Miranda, he wanted to own it.
With a suspect clearly now in mind, Jeremiah set out to gather evidence. It was a lot harder than he'd previously thought. He'd sent Aaron away to check for brown glass bottles of alcohol that had been sold recently, but Port Lovolon was a big city, and there were at least ten different alcoholic drinks that were stored in brown coloured glass. By the end of the second day, Aaron had scoured only a third of the city without any luck. Communicating his suspicions, Aaron suggested that somebody tail Ewan, just to see if they could find any evidence.
Ewan may have made some bad decisions, but he wasn't stupid, and he was certainly observant. He threw off nearly every tail that was placed on him over the next three days.
By the time a week had passed since the fire, Jeremiah was no closer to finding evidence, and neither was he any closer to leaving the Port.
The harvest order they'd been waiting for had arrived, but every other product he was supposed to take with him to Rouke had been set ablaze. Jeremiah, much to his utter disgruntlement, was anchored until they could receive more. Especially seeing as there was still a month until the Traders Festival he was required to attend, and it would only take four days to sail to Rouke.
So, like most Captains who longed for the sea but were stuck on land, Jeremiah returned to The Leaky Boat to find solace in a tankard.
"...A Shadow Magician?" asked Arthur with intrigue, "I wasn't aware that the Guild had one".
"The Guild doesn't," Jeremiah replied.
"Then a passerby?" asked Arthur, "The only organisation that houses Shadow Magicians in Port Lovolon is Corporeal, and they are very hard to locate seeing as they never show themselves. They're trained not to".
"So, what? You think one felt a little generous after seeing the fire that night?" asked Jeremiah.
Arthur smirked, "Corporeal is anything but generous, unless you're talking about the amount of enemies you have. They'd be more than generous to get rid of them all for a discount to their exorbitant prices".
"Then, must be just a passerby, quite possibly already been and gone," Jeremiah said.
Jeremiah looked over the lip of his tankard at Arthur. When the Tavern Master failed to continue his explanaion, Jeremiah put the tankard down, "Or what?"
Arthur gestured with his head to the booth in the corner which currently sat empty, but which quite often housed three quiet young men who kept to themselves.
Jeremiah frowned, "You don't think..."
"Would explain the hood," Arthur said, "I hear that Magicians always feel safer when immersed in their element".
It went against his instincts. A man who wanted to stay safe never approached someone who wanted to keep to themselves. And yet...that hooded man may be the only one who knew what happened that night if he did turn out to be the Shadow Magician in question. For a moment, Jeremiah seriously considered Arthur's line of thought.
"It's just a hood," Jeremiah said speculatively.
Arthur smirked, "This is Port Lovolon, Sailors where hats, not hoods, if they can even be bothered with that".
Arthur had a point.
Sighing, Jeremiah nodded, "Fine, I'll see what I can find".
Arthur smirked, "Let me know how that goes".
"You've got to pay me with info if you want info," Jeremiah grinned.
Arthur's smirk dropped, "Like you can talk".
That evening, just as the workers were finishing up for the day, Jeremiah finally found the hooded individual working at the Cotton Docks. He waited until they were paid, then approached the three of them when they were together. Hopefully they'd feel less inclined to run if they were in a group.
The hooded one stopped right away, turning to look at Jeremiah even as he stood fifty metres away. It was like he just knew. The other two paused as well, following the hooded one's line of sight and spotting Jeremiah, the bulkier of the pair turned back to the hooded one and spoke a short line before the hooded one handed over his coins for the day and gave a single nod.
The other two didn't looked pleased, they looked cautious more than anything, but they left the hooded one behind. The hooded one wandered over to a more secluded area of the docks, then looked over at Jeremiah, as if summoning him.
Jeremiah wasn't sure how he felt about that, but it was a good sign. Maybe Arthur's hunch was right.
Only one way to find out, Jeremiah followed the hooded young man into the shadows.