Swamped Chapter 139 Page 9

“Right, I suppose it’s easy to forget the wizard isn’t actually related to them,” she says. “Don’t think she even has a last name, come to think of it.”

“A wizard?” you ask.

“She lives with the Flames. Mostly gets gossiped about, like people think she’s his bastard daughter or lover or whatnot. Certainly seems to be something going on beyond just being a hired spellcaster, but I don’t see how it’s my business what that is.”

“And you took her to the hospital with them?”

“Well, no, I didn’t go myself. There were enough people to carry them, and I thought it best to close up. Didn’t want anybody else poking around the scene and getting hurt, after all.”

Hmm. Everything about this feels strange. If there’s another wizard in the hospital, couldn’t they turn to her for help with the gas? You’d think that would at least have come up as something to try.

“Why were the Flames even there?” you ask.

“I’d gotten a delivery intended for Leonard somehow. Didn’t care to let him get his hands on it, because it was probably crooked in one way or another, so he stopped by personally to ask for it. Why he brought his kids, though… well, I don’t pretend to know that.”

“Was that the shield?” you ask.

“How’d you know that?”

“Jack Flame came poking around the smithy too, and seemed interested in it,” you explain. “Or rather, in something that was concealed inside it, that I happened to find.”

She frowns.

“Now that’s strange,” she muses. “Because I’m pretty sure Leonard only cared about the shield itself. Don’t know why he did, but that’s the sense I got.”

“You didn’t think anything was off about the weight?” you ask. “Because that’s what made me think there was something hidden in it.”

“Of course I thought it was too light. I figured someone wanted it reinforced, and the letter explaining the job had just run later than the actual delivery. Happens sometimes.”

Hmm. Just a little bit of hesitation around “someone”. You get the sense she was about to say a name and then decided against it.

Then again, you’re not sure if that’s worth pressing. Maybe a different line of questioning would be better for the moment.

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Assuming the explosion was an intentional act of sabotage to hurt at least one of the Flames, and your property was just collateral damage, any ideas how it could have been carried out without your knowledge? Could someone have had access to your smithy beforehand?