Swamped

Swamped Chapter 150 Page 7

As it happens, you know a bit about using birds as ether detectors. You never did it yourself, but your master did and you know some of their limitations.

The main one is that they don’t seem to understand ether. They can sense it, but they don’t seem to have any idea what it is. This is not normally a problem, since a wizard can mentally link to the bird and, with a strong enough link, see what it sees.

That’s the part you know more about. You generally only use mental links as lines of communication, but they have potential to be far more powerful than that. But, as with most magic, using more power opens you up to more risk if another wizard who knows what they’re doing catches you.

The safest way to use a bird is with a low-level mental link, enough to know if it’s seen something unusual. Then, you can use a stronger link to see it in more detail. However, if it warrants further investigation, using a bird is dangerous – another wizard can use the link to get to you. So, the wizard will generally investigate in person – at least if you’re talking about something as exotic as forbidden magic. That’s not the sort of thing you trust a subordinate with.

The major weakness of the setup, though, is that it depends on the bird’s senses. Acting directly against the bird is sure to draw the wizard’s attention, but there are plenty of ways to fool a bird without it being obvious someone’s behind it.

But Marian seemed so worried that you didn’t bother explaining all that and just rushed off, and now you’re on the roof of the hostel. You’ve caught sight of the bird; it’s not a species you’re familiar with, but this one’s clearly a bird of prey. You suspected as much from the squawk.

Now you just need to set up your trap.

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