“What’s the wizard’s angle here?” you ask. “Seems to me that there’s probably easier spells to cast for the sake of getting a secure conversation. Why get involved in dangerous magic you barely understand just for the sake of a power struggle between crooks?”
You’re nearly certain John Long already has an idea of why. That’s why he took a sudden interest.
“The most likely scenario I can think of is, someone in the Guild got ahold of a source of time ether somehow. They bargained with a wizard with an interest in the time magic legends. The wizard helps them out, and then gets full access to the source.” Badger shrugs. “But maybe I’ve just read a few too many folktales that go along those lines.”
You keep an eye on Long through Badger’s explanation. He’s a hard man to read, but you think he’s skeptical.
“Don’t know,” Spade muses. “The way I see it, we’ve got a bunch of crooks who don’t usually like working together acting in a surprisingly coordinated fashion. So what that sounds like to me is, somebody else has gotten them all signed on. And maybe that someone is our time wizard. Even if you can only use a little time magic, that’s a unique enough service that you can probably make some real good bribes.”
Long moves very slightly. Maybe he finds this more plausible.
But your gut instinct is that Badger and Spade are both off. That they’re both missing a big part of the story.
And maybe that big part of the story is the wizard you ran into who looks just as old as when you met him in your present. You have to wonder how Long would react if you brought him up.
But even if you come up with a good cover story, there’s no way you won’t be a bundle of nerves trying to explain him. Long and Spade will definitely be watching you and they’re bound to think you’re hiding something if you get that close to the subject of actual time travel.
Maybe it’s worth that risk to see Long’s reaction anyways. But you’re going to have to raise the subject very carefully if you opt to go there.