107 An Ally of Sorts*
Rassa had known that Jeremiah would eventually cross paths with him. The Token Captain was smart, and more observant than most. There was only so long before the arrow pointed at Rassa and his irregular habits and behaviour. Rassa wasn't sure yet which of those habits had drawn Jeremiah to him, but he'd find out soon. Honestly, Rassa had been surprised he'd had to wait a whole week.
Once in the alley and standing amongst the shadows, Rassa leaned against the wall and waited for the Captain to join him. It only took a moment. The Captain paused just a couple of metres away, saying nothing as he look Rassa over, then he spoke simply.
"What's your name, kid?"
Rassa frowned at the address, with all he'd been through, he was hardly a child anymore.
"I'm not a kid," Rassa replied.
"You're young, much younger than my old self," Jeremiah replied, "I'll call you a kid if I want to".
Rassa, despite his annoyance, couldn't exactly refute. He let out a sigh, "Phil".
"Well Phil, my name is Jeremiah Token, and while I realise you like to keep to yourself, I've got a problem on my hands that I was hoping you could solve," Jeremiah said.
Rassa turned slightly to face the old Captain, "What makes you think I can solve it?"
Jeremiah raised an eyebrow, "You're a Shadow Magician, are you not? You snuffed out the flames surrounded the Token Warehouse a week ago".
Rassa paused for a moment, "What makes you think that was me?"
"So you know there was a Shadow Magician involved?"
"You can buy a lot of information in this city, the Tavern Masters thrive in their networks," Rassa refuted.
Jeremiah frowned, unhappy that Rassa had thought of an excuse so quickly, "Your hood".
Rassa unconsciously reached up to touch the article of clothing in question, "Hats blow off too easily".
"Your friends don't have hats," Jeremiah said.
Rassa opened his mouth to reply then closed it again. He couldn't exactly tell Jeremiah that they were more fond of the sun than Rassa was. That'd be a dead give away. Still, Jeremiah looked adamant. He seemed positive that Rassa was somehow involved.
"Look, whether or not this Shadow Magician you're looking for is me, what exactly do you plan to have them do? Just explain to you who started the fire? Maybe help catch the culprit, they are after all, a magician, should be easy for them. Or maybe, when that's said and done, you'll give out another job, or maybe just directly employ them. Once they've signed a contract it'll be harder for them to get out, especially with no outside influence protecting them. In the end, you'll have a Shadow Magician doing your bidding, and who knows how powerful you could become with that in your hands," Rassa lectured, "But would you ever ask whether or not they were willing to do the things you asked of them? Whether or not this is what they saw themselves doing with their lives, being a slave to someone else's whims? Perhaps its just me, but I don't intend to live my life in service of somebody else".
Rassa turned to leave, but Jeremiah spoke again, "I've lived a very long life, tasted freedom from the moment I was born. I too dislike being tied down to anyone or anything. I would never take someone who was not willing into my service, and I'm sorry that you've been led to believe that the world is only full of those who would do otherwise. If you are the Shadow Magician, I would only ask for a clue, a name if you're feeling generous".
Jeremiah waited on the edge as he looked at the frozen back of the young man. For a moment, he was sure that the man was just going to walk away, but Jeremiah saw it as the man clenched his fists tightly, then unclenched them.
"I heard a rat came all the way from the Peony District that night to provide drinks for the bonfire," Rassa said, "They didn't drink much".
Then Rassa walked away without another word.
Jeremiah stood in the alley for a moment longer, a faint, sad smile appearing on his lips. That kid was haunted. It was rare Jeremiah came across people like him, and it was certain that he'd never seen one that strong before. The kid's mind was clearly sharp and his judgement sound, he simply warred with himself on whether or not what he was doing was worth his involvement. Jeremiah could only speculate on what the kid had been through, but it was clear that he was very adamant in never experiencing it again. He'd said only enough to give Jeremiah a lead, nothing more and nothing less. Whilst his words could be seen as him confirming his status as a Shadow Magician, if questioned, both he and Jeremiah could only repeat a phrase that sounded as if it was being passed down a grape vine. Some gossip in a circle. After another moment, Jeremiah left and headed back to the Token District.
"Captain!" Hargreeve called when he arrived, "I was just about to send for you, a messenger arrived and the new cargo should be here in two days. You'll be set to sail with the tide on the third".
Jeremiah grinned, "Good, make sure this lot doesn't burn".
"I believe he's back at the offices, Captain," Hargreeve informed him.
Jeremiah nodded, heading in that direction. The Administration building for the Token Docks was perhaps the grandest building along the water in their district. It stood out amongst the many warehouses, calling attention to itself with its grandeur. Aaron was indeed inside, sitting with a few of his shipmates as they ate their evening meal. The lot of them stood as Jeremiah approached them.
Jeremiah nodded in greeting, then indicated he wanted to speak with Aaron. Aaron joined him and waited for instruction.
"Take a few men and scour Peony for a rat who bought a lot of Alcohol on the night of the fire," Jeremiah said.
Aaron frowned, "A rat, sir?"
Jeremiah grinned, "A malnourished individual who most likely looked up to no good".
Aaron's eyes dawned with understanding and he nodded, "I'll get right on it, Sir".
Jeremiah pointed back to the table where he'd left his meal, "Get back to that first".
Aaron smiled, "You should eat too, Captain. Drinking with Arthur during the day won't do you good when we're back at sea".
Jeremiah rolled his eyes.