May 9th, 2017

Me 2012

The Causes of Suspicion

"A lot of small, odd things," Smoke answered. "The wards look functional, and even with braided wards I'd expect to see signs of a problem in the braid if three different strands weren't working. I'd certainly expect to see signs of it in the existing gatherer. But I don't. And a woman from maintenance reported that there was a problem with the hatch by the existing gatherer. Which doesn't mean anything, but it's an odd coincidence. Moreover, tampering with a gatherer is easier than tampering with a ward. The old gatherer doesn't have a spell to detect abnormalities with it. But the one I put up yesterday did, and my analysis spell said it was already maladjusted this morning, in a way that would increase the chance of false positives. It reported a three-rat incursion and no rats repelled last night, at a spot where maintenance found one dead rat. One dead rat that had probably been dead for a while but the corpse only showed up last night. You have carpenter ants -- ants that eat wood -- showing up in the food areas. As opposed to ants that eat food."

They took a deep breath. "It's possible to explain all of this without sabotage, but 'sabotage' requires far fewer strange coincidences. Even the kinds of problems you're having are suggestive of sabotage: the fleas and rats are annoying but not dangerous in the short term, while carpenter ants can do serious structural damage in the long term. Like a two-pronged assault designed to make the complex uninhabitable without hurting anyone. Is there anyone who would have wanted the previous enchanting firm fired?"

"Aside from me?" Corydalis smiled wryly. "They're a large organization and they've been both difficult and expensive for years. They're well-connected, however. Perhaps they've inherited some enemies from their connections."

Smoke nodded. "Another possibility -- is there anyone who stands to gain if the seat of government left Courthall?" Replacing all of the wards would be a costly endeavor. Some of them were installed when a building was constructed, and were almost impossible to correct afterwards.

The draka's mouth thinned to a hard line. "That is an all too real possibility. Speaker Iris has wanted the government seat to relocate to Kindlewood for years, and the inability of Windbreak Enchantment to solve our latest problems has given her movement more supporters." Corydalis folded his hands before him on the desk, and leaned forward to study Smoke with intense gold eyes. "If it's not a problem with the wards, master enchanter, is there ought that you can do for us?"

Smoke considered. "There are ways I can help, although only one of them is what you hired me for. The existing wards are still sloppy and I can improve them in various ways. I can also install more gatherers and monitor the situation to help you find the saboteurs. Or I can take steps to mitigate the problems the vermin cause. I could even talk to Windbreak Enchantment myself, in case they're more helpful towards another professional."

"Ah. And in your professional estimation, which of these measures would you recommend come first?"

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