252 The Threat Overturned*
The atmosphere was quiet and tense as Ishta directly bypassed the lower floor of the Blue Jade Restaurant and walked straight up to the private rooms of the third floor. The other patrons and the staff there avoided eye contact with him. If interaction was needed it was always respectful and polite. He may not have owned anything on Charm street, but his business was still the holder of the Golden Trade Token. He was still King on this Island and those here would respect him as such.
He had yet to hear from Illai since her last letter. It didn't concern him much though, she had likely already take care of business and was on her way back to report herself. Ishta smiled with confidence as the doors to the private room were opened and he breezed inside.
Falla Startree and Iah Moonshadow were already seated at the table, quiet as they individually sipped at the tea that they'd ordered. Their silence and lack of aura buffed Ishta's own pride as he took a seat opposite them.
"Good afternoon, ladies, I trust you have called me to negotiate business prospects," Ishta stated, a smile on his lips as he poured his own tea.
Falla and Iah both paused before looking at each other in silent communication, then back to Ishta.
"Is that what you believe we called this meeting for?" asked Falla.
"Is there another reason?" asked Ishta, "I am a businessman, one who does not particularly get along with you. I assume this is not a social call".
"You're right, it is not a social call," Iah confirmed as she placed her cup down, "Though I wouldn't exactly call it business either, after all, the only thing we'll be asking of you is for you to leave us alone".
Ishta scoffed, followed by a chuckle, "And why, by the gods, would I do such a thing when you have a monopoly on a business never before seen in this world. A business that I would wager can still survive wonderfully without your monopoly".
Falla put down her own cup then as she glanced at Iah, "I'm almost positive he doesn't know".
"I am too," Iah agreed, "Though he is an arrogant man the likes of which I have never seen before so I suppose we do need to ask to know for sure".
Ishta sighed, "And what is it you wish to ask?"
Falla spoke as Iah took a letter from her pocket and unfolded it, "We are aware that you sent your Inktress after our Craftsmen. That was quite low of you, you must have been getting desperate".
"Well, whoever holds the power wins the prize," Ishta replied.
"Are you sure?" asked Falla, "Because Iah here received a letter this morning that we thought you might want to read".
Ishta's eyes narrowed, "I have no idea why I would be interested in your affairs".
"You were interested enough to send your most powerful and trusted spy and assassin after the two people that could make or break our entire business," Falla replied, "Perhaps you should just read it Iah, I'm awfully tired of looking at his arrogant expression".
Iah sighed as she began to read the letter, "Iah, you'll be relieved to know that Olly and I made it to the Pavilion Safely. We had a short encountered with the Inktress but I was able to hold her off long enough for us to get inside. Once inside, Olly revealed the necessities for his plan to Captain Lync, but he refused to cooperate as it would put the Pavilion in danger. Olly insisted that this was the only way however.
"The two of us proceeded to break through the Pavilion's defense from the inside and allow the Inktress inside. After our encounter, during which Olly was injured, we were able to kill her. The Inktress will no longer be a threat to us, and Olly is recovering well. We will return to work in a couple of weeks.
"Olly has also said that Rassa Moonshadow is due to return soon, if he has not already by the time you have received this. Olly is eager to learn more from him. So much so that he has been even more obsessive than usual. I hope that now that the threat of the Inktress is well and truly gone, you and Miss Falla can operate on fair grounds with Ishta. Yours, Kit".
Iah finished and folded the letter away, Looking up at the silent Ishta. Who had slowly lost his smug and arrogant expression. Falla smiled as she sipped at her tea again.
"Well would you look at that," said Falla, "He does look so much better when he's not looking down on everyone and everything".
"Impossible," said Ishta, "It's a lie".
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"Whether or not it is will surely be discovered if the Inktress returns or not," Iah stated.
"Illai would never-"
"So that was her name," said Falla, "We all wondered. She wasn't very forthcoming about it. No doubt she relied heavily on her reputation as many of us do. Perhaps you can rely on that more that your prized assassin is no more".
Then Iah and Falla stood to leave the room, "We do hope to see you at the next Trader's Festival, Ishta. You always were quite the competitor even without a Hybrid Magician heeding your every command. No need to pay for us, I'm sure we'll be able to cover the expense of the room and the tea on our own".
Then the two women left the room without delay.
As much as Ishta wanted to deny it, what they'd said was right. He wouldn't know if it was the truth or not unless Illai showed up. But now that the thought was in his head, now that he had to consider it...
What would be his next move if Illai was dead? He could...no he couldn't, Illai usually took care of that, his other spies were incompetent...What about-no, he couldn't do that either.
The more the thought turned over in his head, the more he realised how much his underhanded tactics relied on the Inktress he'd trained. Now that she wasn't here...
Ishta didn't want to consider it, but he knew he had no choice, especially with Rassa Moonshadow returning, because of the fact about Illai being dead was true, then surely there was no other lie in the letter. He'd need to consider this in his plans now, it was likely the only way he'd survive.