William heard the commotion before he saw it. He spotted Dylan weaving his way in and out of tables, trying to avoid the fight. He thought about calling out but it was already strange enough that he knew Dylan’s favorite coffee spot.
Knew because he followed and watched him like a bloody stalker.
No, better to just pretend to run into him inside.
William ducked around the opposite side of the ruckus so Dylan wouldn’t see him.
He thought about getting involved but if he got involved in every supernatural altercation, he’d never have any time for himself. Besides, he wasn’t carrying a sword and given what he knew about the relationship between the fae floating above the crowd and the pixie running away, this was 100% none of his damn business.
He waited a few minutes, giving Dylan time to get situated and then stepped into the cafe.
Where was Dylan? Had he waited too long? William glanced around, half expecting to find the baker hiding in a corner.
“Yoo-hoo! Over here!”
That voice—William locked eyes with the Sage of Untamed Magic.
Shite. Well, option two was to work on his investigation. Maybe this visit wouldn’t be a complete waste and he could track down Dylan later.
He kept an affable look on his face as he approached. “I didn’t think the Sages ever came down from the Realm of Magic.”
“I was in town for business,” Morgyn shrugged. “Sit,” they gestured, “I’ve ordered you a drink. Americano, your favorite.”
William accepted the cup but gave it a surreptitious sniff before drinking. He didn’t ask how the Sage knew what he drank because the answer was likely magic.
“I wasn’t sure how much money you had after paying for the witch to enact that curse,” Morgyn continued.
William choked on his drink but managed to keep a straight face. “Well, that’s a startling accusation. Is that blue silk? A suit like that seems tailor made for cufflinks.”
Morgyn smiled and William pushed that smile, alluring as it was, to the back of his mind. “I know Sages do not prefer to rush anything but Morgyn, may I call you Morgyn?”
The Sage nodded.
“Morgyn, there was a fire at Straud Manor. Someone made a careless mistake and dropped a pair of cufflinks with your insignia. Seems to me that same someone wanted to send a message…” William let the implication of the statement hang in the air.
“Is it the way of Vladislaus to engage in such niceties before declaring war?” Morgyn skimmed the cream off the top of their coffee and William tracked the movement with a shiver. “Is that what you advise him on? Diplomacy?”
He advised Vladislaus as erosion advised a rock into sand: slowly, sometimes violently.
“Do the Sages wish for war over something so small as a summons?” William said instead. “Or is there something you want with The Owl and you think a war with Vladislaus is a path to get it?”
Morgyn laughed. “Everyone wants things, William. Do you think Vladislaus wants to be an imitation of his darker self? Do you think he would applaud your interference or see it as a betrayal? Did you consider that it would drive a wedge between you?”
Guilt crept down William’s spine and he could not contain his growl. This was a mistake. Trying to charm the Sage of Untamed Magic made him feel clumsy and unpracticed. He wanted to laugh when he should be annoyed, snarl when he should be patient. He needed to get his head on right before diving back in.
“I’d rather you stayed,” the Sage contended. “You don’t have questions for me? About my alliances? My plans? I am willing to let you conduct an interrogation…of course, not in so public a place.”
Will you walk into my parlor, said the spider to the fly? 6 William’s mother had read that poem and now, as he felt himself drawn to Morgyn, the words popped into his head.
Learn to play dead.
“It does not appear that an interrogation would yield any useful results,” William replied evenly.
“I’ll be at Morty’s Rooftop Garden. 8pm.”
“For an ambush?” William huffed.
Morgyn looked thoughtful and for a second. “I was thinking more like a date.” The Sage snapped their fingers and disappeared. When William looked down, the cufflinks were in his hand. Morgyn Ember was making a point: they did not make careless mistakes.