Before reentering Daniel’s office, I took a deep breath. I had to show him a product worth his time. I reminded myself that I wanted this. It might not have happened the way I planned, but I’d found the connection I’d set out to find. Dealing with the city’s criminal element came with this risk. I overlooked it out of foolish optimism and enthusiasm. Now I needed to make sure that mistake didn’t cost me my life.
“So, what have you brought me?” Daniel asked.
I set the hard case on his desk, opened it, and spun it so he could see them. Six pocket watches shined up at him, ready to be tested. “Have you experimented with the one I left with you?”
“Not beyond the invisibility spell,” he said.
“I’ve designed each watch with a theme in mind. I call that one the thief’s gambit. Along with the invisibility spell, I enchanted it with an unlocking spell, smoke summoning, two vision-enhancing spells, a hearing-enhancing spell, a speed-enhancing spell, a sleep spell, an immobilizing spell, doppelgänger projection, disguise projection, and a confusion spell,” I explained.
“Interesting, and the rest of them?” he asked.
“I call them the dragon’s horde, the royal’s reassurance, the siren’s song, the gardener’s spade, the pirate’s sails, and the oracle’s eyes. I’ve listed each spell set here,” I said, pulling a sheet of paper from the flap inside the case’s lip. “You’ll see some overlap on some lists where I thought some spells suited more than one theme.”
“And you’ve tested all of these?”
“Every last spell,” I assured him.
“And how long did it take you to make them?” he asked, still not indicating what he thought.
“Two weeks each,” I lied. I’d told him the average between my longest and shortest build. With each watch, I got faster, especially the ones where I’d used a duplicate spell.
“I’ll give you 10,000 gold for each of them,” he said casually. My jaw would have dropped if I weren’t clenching my teeth. I’d expected the buyer to haggle me down from my asking price of 7,500. 70,000 gold could pay off my contract at Shaw’s and still leave me with enough to decorate the store I’d dreamt of opening.
“I accept,” I said, trying to keep my voice as calm as his.
Daniel nodded at Patrick, and the other man left the office. “You work at Shaw’s with Gregory, correct?”
“Yes, sir.” I didn’t think he’d bother making an offer if he planned to kill me, but it didn’t hurt to be polite.
“Would I be right in assuming you have bigger plans than staying on there once you’ve paid off your contract?” he asked.
“Yes, sir. I want to open my own custom WatchCaster boutique,” I said.
“Very ambitious.” Daniel sounded impressed for the first time. “Can you replicate any of these for me in the meantime?”
“I can handle the enchantments for sure, but I don’t have the materials to build the watches at the moment,” I said.
“Ahh, yes, you need licenses to buy magicked metal,” he said with a knowing smile. If he hadn’t already guessed how I came by the material for these watches, I just confirmed it. My face sank. “Not to worry, Dimitri, I’m sure you’ve noticed that we aren’t exactly law-abiding citizens here either. As it happens, I can provide you with watches to enchant. I think a discount is in order under the circumstances, don’t you?”
“Umm, yeah. I mean, yes, sir,” I said. I didn’t remember telling him my name. Jim hadn’t told him either before we left. He must have asked Greg about me while we were gone. That explained why they hadn’t tested any of the thief’s gambit’s other spells. Patrick returned carrying a hard case, only a shade darker than mine.
“Right then, I’d like two more of the thief’s gambit, one of the pirate’s sails, and one of the dragon’s horde,” he said. “Patrick, if you’ll take him to Greg’s workstation and add four disenchanted watches to his case, please.”
“Of course, sir,” Patrick agreed. He held the door open for me.
“Would you like me to deliver them here when they’re finished?” I asked Daniel. I didn’t mean to make Patrick wait, but I wanted to be clear before leaving. As civil as he’d been, I knew Daniel wouldn’t hesitate to send someone to escort me back if he thought I took too long.
“That would be fine,” he said. “Good evening, and good luck with your shop.”
I nodded respectfully and left the office. Patrick led me all the way to the lefthand wall and then walked along until we came to a small room. I could see through the window it only held one table. Greg sat at the table, moving through the disenchantment sigil. I noticed a basket on each side of the table. Patrick unlocked the door, and when we went in, I saw both baskets held piles of pocket watches. As I watched Greg’s technique, I held my tongue. I’d need to go over his work again for my peace of mind. He didn’t need to hear that, though. He had to be exhausted after a full day at work; whatever alcohol he drank before getting dragged here didn’t help him either.
“Dimitri, if you would,” Patrick said, gesturing at the case I held.
“Right.” I opened it, wishing Greg wasn’t witnessing this. His eyes went wide when he saw the rows of gold coins. He missed a line in his sigil, and its glow vanished.
Patrick smirked and plucked four watches from the disenchanted basket. He slid them into the top flap to protect them from scratching against the gold. “We’ll see you back here in eight weeks. Don’t be late. Mr. Clarkson prefers prompt deliveries.”
“Of course,” I said, nodding and glancing at Greg’s blood-soaked shirt. I wouldn’t need any other incentives to work quickly.
“I’ll show you out,” Patrick said.
When he locked Greg back in the room, I caught my soon-to-be ex-coworker staring at me. I prayed to the first realm that he was smart enough not to say anything. If he told anyone about seeing me here, he’d implicate himself, too. He’d seen my invisibility spell, or rather, seen it revealing me. I didn’t know if that and the case of gold gave him enough information to work out what I’d done. The sooner I ended my contract with Shaw’s and distanced myself from them, the better.
Patrick walked me out of the warehouse. Jim’s larger frame should have made him scarier, but Patrick was the one that made me uneasy. The way he took joy in Greg’s misery didn’t speak well of him. He got away with it because of his handsome face. His yellow eyes and slender body reminded me of a snake, though. I found snakes beautiful, but that didn’t make me any less apprehensive of their venom.