214 The Failing Mission*
Jane sighed as she pushed the rice around the bowl in front of her. Six years in the academy and she'd never so much as thought of giving up. Two months on an Island on her first mission and she was seriously considering it.
Despite having Leiv's tracking abilities present, with Laura to back him up, they'd only had a minimal amount of luck. They'd managed to find where the charms had been hidden, a newly restored building in Port Leis that stood among a bunch of long abandoned streets. Their victory had been short-lived however, as they had no way into the vault, and simply blasting their way in, despite how easy and entertaining it would be for Seti, was against the rules. Just when they'd discovered the presence of a Shadow Magician there as well, his presence having been previously masked by that of the large amount of Evanine and Charms, Falla's people had come and taken all the charms to the headquarters of Apple Star Trading. And, as the group had realised the following morning, the Shadow Magician as well.
To be so close yet always one step behind. It bothered Jane. It bothered her whole team.
Considering how Falla had denied her the first time she'd asked, Jane doubted her childhood friend would be anymore accommodating this time around. Jane considered going back to the building where the Charms had originally been stored, but even if that was Moonshadow Training, the fact that they were getting lessons on how to read and write from Falla's subordinates showed that they knew little about the Charms.
Jane's eyes flicked to the shifting colours in the grain of the wood that made the table her Magician Team were currently sat at. It looked like thousands of tiny ants were moving against and around each other before they stopped. Jane's eyes narrowed as she took in the table again. Disregarding the plates and bowls and utensils that covered most of the surface, it was clear to see that the grains had been shifted to form an image. More specifically, an image of Seti picking his nose.
Seti seemed to notice the same moment she did, and he slapped the table angrily as he turned to look at Leiv.
"Not funny elf-boy," he grumbled.
"It's a little funny," Laura smirked where she happily ate her soup.
"Then should we see what he thinks you look like in the same pose?" asked Seti threateningly.
Laura glared back.
Jane sighed, "Enough. Leiv, change it back".
Leiv's entertained grin turned into a pout as he rubbed his finger on the table in a bored gesture and the grains of wood reverted back to their original place.
"So, what are we doing today, oh fearless leader?" asked Seti, "Have you finally gained the insight I've been waiting for?"
"You mean burning down Apple Star Trading in order to get to the charms?" asked Jane, "Just how stupid do you think I am?"
"I don't see how she could be much of a friend if she won't even talk to you about it," Seti grumbled.
Jane huffed, opening her mouth to speak.
Jane turned to spot Falla in the doorway of the restaurant they were eating breakfast at.
Falla smiled warmly, "It's good to see you again, have you been well?"
Jane looked at her Magician Team, who looked between her and Falla with varying emotions. Laura seemed interested. Leiv seemed ready for some for of entertainment, anything to keep his boredom at bay. Seti seemed as if he was waiting for an order to attack and finally get the show on the road. Rizan was quiet and stone-faced as usual.
"Fine, I've been fine. Yourself?"
Falla's smile faded a little for a moment before she shrugged, her smile returning, "As well as I can".
There was an awkward silence between them before Jane realised she had yet to introduce her comrades.
"Ah, this is my Magician Team," Jane said, "Laura, Leiv, Seti and Rizan".
Falla nodded to each in turn, "Lovely to meet you all. I have heard much about you from Jane".
"And us about you," Laura grinned, "I hear you're quite the businesswoman. It's impressive what you've managed to build without...well I mean, on your own".
Falla smiled, "Thank you. I hear your achievements are quite something as well".
Laura grinned, "Well-"
"They'd be a lot better if we could complete this damn mission," Seti grumbled.
The table turned to silence as awkwardness dawned between them. Falla didn't lose her smile as she turned to look at Seti.
"No progress then?"
"No thanks to you," Seti replied.
Falla continued to smile as Jane reprimanded her friend, "Seti, enough".
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"It's okay," Falla said, "He has a right to his opinions. If it were any other business deal, I probably would have helped you. But this one...this is deal involves a product that could very well change the world. It has already begun doing that or you wouldn't be here. Are you going to tell me that if you were in my position, you'd tell everyone you knew and paint a target bigger than the one you've already got on your back".
Jane frowned, "Someone's after you?"
Falla turned back to look at Jane, "Of course. I would be stupid to think they weren't. You should know what the Charms' existence means. Like I said, you wouldn't be here if you didn't".
Jane fell silent as she looked at Falla. She couldn't believe she'd never actually considered the danger Falla would be in. Sure they'd noticed others watching the Ruin, but Jane had automatically assumed they were just after the products. They were, of course. But getting the products now meant going through Falla, and Jane didn't like that.
"Do you need extra protection?" asked Jane.
Falla sighed, "While I don't want to say no, I don't think its the wisest idea at the moment. But if that changes...I hope I can turn to you".
Jane's team looked at her, and Jane glanced at them before turning back to Falla, "We'll stick around then".
Falla smiled, "Thank you-"
A commotion drew their attention to outside the store. A woman who had just stopped before it seemed quite distressed, and Jane noticed her talking to Falla's subordinate Layn. Layn listened then, he stepped towards the store and looked at Falla seriously, the woman pushing past him.
"Iah?" asked Falla as she recognised the woman, "What's wrong?"
The Iah woman looked both distressed and sad as she spoke, "It's Sharli, she...she went to find Rassa".
Jane froze at the name. Falla turned to look at Jane, and the two of them met eyes before Falla ushered Iah towards the door.
"I'll talk to you later, Jane," Falla said.
Jane had seen the look in Falla's eyes. She'd seen all the confirmation she needed. Rassa wasn't exactly a common name, but Jane had been indecisive when she'd first heard the Iah woman speak it. It can't have been Rassa died. Yet Falla's gaze had told her different.
Was this what her friend had been hiding from her? The fact that Rassa was alive? Jane watched them until they were out of sight, then she slowly turned back to the table. She wasn't sure how to feel about the fact that Falla had hidden him from her. But her friend wouldn't do that without a reason. There had to be a reason. There just had to be.