Spy Glass Page 78

“Looking for rats?” he asked, smiling.

“I still owe you for that.”

“Master Bloodgood already paid me.”

I stared at him.

“It was business, Opal. Nothing personal.”

“Yeah, right.” I let him fidget for a moment. “Any news?”

“Not on your boy, Finn. He hasn’t come through here and no one has heard of him.”

Not like it was a big surprise. Yet disappointment still welled. He waited and I realized he had more information. “Well?”

“I found out more on those pearls.”

“Good or bad?”

“Depends. If you’re looking to buy a pearl, the prices have dropped significantly. There are so many available, it’s a buyer’s market. However, if you make your living harvesting oysters for pearls, you’re out of luck. And income.”

“Have farms closed?”

“The smaller ones have, but a couple of the bigger ones are in trouble.”

Interesting discussion, but I wondered why Fisk cared, so I asked him. “And don’t tell me it smells fishy.”

I surprised a laugh from him, but he soon returned to being serious. “I think someone is messing with the market on purpose, driving those others out of business. Once the supply is controlled by one farm, then they can withhold pearls and drive the prices up as high as they want.”

“Again, why do you care?”

He jabbed a hand toward the market. “They’re messing with my customers. Already a few jewelry stores are putting pearls aside, waiting for the price increase.”

“How can I help?”

“Can you talk to Councilor Bloodgood? The oyster farms that are closing are along the Bloodgood coast. Maybe he can do something about it.”

Remembering Bain’s comments, I said, “I’m not sure the Councilor would agree to talk to me. Have you tried Master Bloodgood?”

“Yes. He has to remain impartial unless there is evidence of foul play.”

“I’ll try to see the Councilor. Do you have any idea which farm is harvesting all those pearls?” I asked.

“I just got a name today. They must be located close to the Jewelrose border. They call themselves—”

“The Bloodrose Clan.”

20

“HOW DID YOU KNOW?” FISK ASKED.

“When you said they lived close to the Jewelrose border, I guessed. I’ve been to their compound.” A stark, dreary place.

“Why?”

I told him about Quinn.

“You saved another magician from flameout?”

“No. He managed to gain control of his powers, but Quinn wanted to stay so we left him there. We didn’t have much choice. They weren’t doing anything illegal.”

Fisk considered. “Where is their compound?”

On the tip of the Lion’s Claw Peninsula, but I wouldn’t tell Fisk. He tried to hide his interest behind a casual question. “Do not send any of your guild members to spy on them. Don’t even pretend you weren’t thinking it.” I waggled a finger at him.

He conceded defeat. “Your observation skills have improved, as well. Who’s been teaching you?”

“A friend,” I hedged. I wasn’t ready to tell him about Valek’s training.

“What about these Bloodroses?”

What indeed? “I’ll look into it.” I expected a dubious look or for him to question me on how I planned to investigate.

Instead, he nodded. “Good. Let me know what you find out.”

I smiled at his bossy tone. “Do I get a necklace, then?”

“You like those?”

“They’re pretty.”

“Unfortunately, they were necessary. This other group is becoming a problem.”

“Do you need help with them?”

“No. This is my world, Opal. I need to deal with them.”

I almost reached out to him. He should be dealing with the problems of being a teenager—girls, raging hormones, schoolwork—not rival gangs and a monopoly grab. “Fisk, when you have a few free days, find me. I have another job for you.”

“Sounds intriguing. But it might be a couple months before I have the time.”

“That’s fine.”

We exited the alley. As we searched for Reema and Amberle, Fisk glanced sideways at me. “You’re not going to tell me anything about this new job, are you?”

“Nope.”

“It’s not payback for that ambush I organized, is it?”

“Nope. Don’t worry, you’ll enjoy it.” I suppressed a grin. I planned to send him on a vacation. Probably the first for him.

We found the girls sitting at one of the tables outside Barb’s Bakery. Crumbs littered the table and cinnamon sugar clung to Reema’s chin. Packages surrounded them. When the girls spotted us, Reema jumped to her feet and shot Fisk a terrified glare. Keeping his distance, Fisk waved goodbye.

After arranging for the packages to be delivered to the Keep and to my apartment, I paid Amberle for her help. Reema kept pace with me as we followed the procession of boys to my apartment building. Once there, I gave each boy a copper. They thanked me and hurried off. As they raced down the street, calls of “you’re it” and “am not” echoed. I smiled, but Reema frowned at them.

She helped me carry the bags up to the third floor. I unpacked and put my purchases away as Reema walked around the rooms. When I finished, I found her standing by the window in my bedroom. Her hair shone in the sunlight. I joined her. The Keep’s tall towers dominated the view.

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