“This happened near the smithy,” Badger continues. “And the smith was one of the people who didn’t know what I was talking about when I questioned her in the morning. Then, in the afternoon, the accident happens at the smithy. After I heard about that, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a connection.”
Hmm. If it is Shume, then he might have had something to do with those weird out-of-time pliers. On the other hand, Badger doesn’t think the wizard working with the Guild is good enough with time magic to do actual time travel. And come to think of it, didn’t going through time mess with Wiz’s magic somehow? So wouldn’t Shume be having trouble in that case?
But then it hits you. If Shume’s having trouble using his magic, maybe he sought out another wizard. Taught them a little about time magic to get them to help with whatever in the hells he’s doing. And that wizard has Guild connections. Could be working with them on Shume’s behalf, or could be doing it for their own purposes.
Which is all well and good as a theory, but you’re not sure how to raise it. As it turns out, though, there’s an interruption, so you’re not getting much of a chance anyways.
“Mr. Badger!” someone calls out. “The smith’s come over! She’s real upset and she’s demanding to talk to you!”
“I suppose we don’t have much choice but to deal with that,” Badger sighs. He starts walking away.
“I think I might have a few questions for her, actually,” Long says. “If you don’t mind my joining in.”
Spade frowns at him, but doesn’t intervene when he walks out.
“Um. This might be my fault, actually,” you say. “I might be able to clear things up a little.”
“Go on ahead,” Spade grumbles. He’s clearly not having a good day. You can relate.
You follow the others to the hostel’s entrance, and see the smith.
And you’re struck by how much she looks like the woman from the orphanage, and the woman the wizard was supposed to meet with. She’s got a much bigger build, but the same hair and face.
“Badger. I knew there was trouble when you started poking around my place. But would you mind telling me what this suspicious character was doing in Ma’s house? He one of yours?”
She tosses Setrus to the ground.
“Um,” you ask. “Was there a black-furred creature in there?”
“No, and why in the hells would you even ask something like that?”
“Because I’m the one who brought him there. With the help of his pet, who knocked your mother out. I’m very sorry – and just to be clear, I got your mother out of there as soon as I could.”
She glares at you fiercely. You were expecting that. But then she turns her eyes on Badger.
“So. Your boy in purple made a mess, Badger. What are you going to do about that?”
“Um, I don’t work for him. I’m just a civilian who got mixed up in this whole mess.”
She looks at you skeptically.
“A civilian in a uniform like that?”
“It’s a costume I ended up with. Long story.”
She’s about to say something else, but Long suddenly interrupts with a question.
Do you feel the earth vibrating?