223 The Enemy Resurfaces*
Falla signed off on one last order and put her pen away as Layn collected the signed stock orders.
"Anything else?" asked Falla.
"Nothing urgent, Miss Falla," Layn nodded, "I believe you have an evening meal schedule with Master Magician Jane?"
Falla's eyes flickered in recognition, "Ah, of course, thank you for reminding me". She opened one of her desk draws and retrieved a letter detailing what she'd discussed with Iah as she stood, "Bring the carriage around please Layn".
"It will be done, Miss," Layn nodded, leaving the office as Falla continued to ready herself.
Over the past two years, she'd worked quite closely with Jane and her team. At least as closely as a Magician Team employed by the Guild could get to a businesswoman. They'd used the excuse of Falla having connections to Moonshadow and the Charms they were investigating. It had worked for the most part. The Magician team had at one stage or another been given access to the charms. Thanks to their insights into the Mist, they could see clearly how the charms worked, but they could only speculate as to how someone carved the Charm itself.
They'd tried to use a fire poker, but that had only marked the crystal crudely, and melted it in other parts. The rune had had no affect, and they'd been forced to take the experiment as a failure. It was only a month after that Jane had told Falla. Falla had been surprised at first with how close they'd come to the answer and how much they understood, and when Jane asked for some form of guidance or a hint, Falla had had to outright admit that she had no clue how it was done.
After all, she couldn't see the Mist.
Iah had been against giving any sort of information to the Magicians, and Falla, for the sake of keeping to contract, had agreed that it was necessary. Besides, if the Magician Guilds suddenly became capable of making their own charms, her profits would take a severe blow.
And what enormous profits they were. Not just from the charms either. Anything that Moonshadow was connected with became a must-have product. It was why Charm Street had become so popular. The Vanguard that had been so highly thought of and sought after two and a half years ago had become popular as well, though not on nearly as big a scale. From what Rassa had once explained to her, it was likely they were running out of charged Evanine, and had no sure way of finding more. Falla had little to worry about on that front though, the Protective Charms had been a fine counter to them.
"We're here, Miss," Layn told her as the carriage pulled up outside the Fire Falls Restaurant. Jane had taken quite a liking to the place, and Falla had no mind to deny her.
She entered the private room she'd reserved on the second floor, and ordered some of her favourite dishes as well as some tea. Jane was often late to these meetings. Falla never held it against her, it seemed that her Magician Team was quite the handful as well as very important to her.
Layn sat to her side, sipping at the tea as they waited in silence with the calm pool beside them and the drumming of the falls a few rooms away.
Finally, the door to their room opened and Jane entered, looking a little flustered.
"Ah, Jane, it's good to see you. I hope you've been well," Falla said, pouring her friend a cup of tea as Jane paused beside the table.
"Ah, yes, good," Jane said.
Falla frowned up at her friend as she placed the tea back down again, "Don't just stand there, sit".
"Right," Jane said, she hurriedly sat, and Falla noticed that her friend looked a little more flustered than usual. Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes wide, her hair, though still elegant, was more windswept than usual.
"Is something wrong?"
"I..." Jane started then frowned, clearly unsure where to begin. Falla indicated to the tea, and Jane took a sip gratefully before she gathered herself and spoke, "Leiv was down by the ports earlier today...he sensed another Magician there, a powerful one".
"Oh? Has the Guild sent another..."
Falla trailed off as Jane shook her head, "The Hybrid with water and shadow. You called her the Inktress? She entered the water from the side of the port and Leiv lost track of her. Though he's pretty sure she headed North...towards Lovolon".
Falla paused in thought, "Is he sure?"
Jane nodded, "For the past two years he's only ever spotted her heading south. She's never gone North before. Never even stepped into Port Cresh unless it was to report to Ishta's headquarters, but she never spent much time there".
Falla sighed, "Any idea why she might have gone North?"
"I think we both know," Jane replied.
Falla sighed, "It's been two years. Why would he go after them now? And how did he find out the charms are coming from Lovolon?"
Jane huffed, "No offence Falla, but I'm pretty sure everyone is aware that the Charm Stock comes from the Star Pavilion. No doubt it's half the reason why your own business is doing so well despite the fact that you never sell the charms yourself".
Falla breathed out a sigh. If they'd traced it only as far as the Star Pavilion that was good. Everyone probably presumed the stock was coming from there, and not from the secret tunnels beneath the fortress that spread out in various directions. Falla retrieved the note she'd written about the quote that Iah had made.
"This is about that order you asked about," said Falla, "The quote is only a rough price seeing as Iah still needs to speak with the artisans, especially about the crests, but-"
"Falla are you not even a little concerned about Kit and Olly?" asked Jane, "I know you've gone to great lengths to hide them away and protect them already. The Inktress is, from what you've told me, a highly capable agent of your enemy. I think that-"
"They'll be fine," Falla said, "I will send them a message to let them know, but I'm positive they'll be alright".
Jane frowned, "Are you really that sure?"
Falla nodded. She had to be. She'd been unsure before and it had almost gotten them captured or worse. Besides, they'd been smart enough to think of their own solution before, Falla had to hope they'd think of one now.