But Blackwood smiled at their request and bowed. "It would be my honor, mas -- Smoke." One corner of his mouth curled higher, wry.
Smoke grinned back. "Not a lot of people around Courthall who aren't attached to their titles, I'm guessing."
"Not so many," he conceded. After asking the receptionist at the House of Chambers to have Courthall's master of ceremonies notified, he returned his attention to Smoke. "Where would you like to begin?"
"Somewhere central, with a good view. I want to set up a gatherer. Unless I need special authorization for that?" A gatherer would collect information on the nature of Courthall's warding spells and their efficacy in repelling attacks.
"You were authorized to perform all necessary ward-related enchantments before the offer of work was extended. Master Corydalis wanted to ensure there would be no delays. I'll show you where our original contractor has theirs set up, if you like?"
Smoke's curiosity about this Corydalis person grew, but they had a job to do. "Please."
Blackwood led them back out of the grand, echoing entrance hall to the House of Chambers. "It'll be fastest to fly up there." He shifted to dragon form and bore Smoke up. A colossal sculpture stood at the center of the Courthall park, some eighty feet tall at its highest. A large pedestal supported statues representing each of the Four Peoples of their nation: kith, draka, human, and elf. Together, the four held aloft a beacon. At night, Courthall lit the beacon, but at mid-afternoon, it was a pearlescent globe twenty feet in diameter, ringed by an observation platform. As Blackwood rose above its peak, Smoke noticed a figure -- human or elf, hard to tell at a distance -- knelt at the top. While Blackwood swooped over to it, the figure disappeared into it.
Blackwood landed atop the beacon. It had a flattened top a couple of feet across, hinged on one side: the person who'd just been here must have gone down through it. A squat gatherer enchantment curled there, visible to Smoke's enchantsight as a squid-like creature of semi-solid light, tendrils outstretched until they attenuated to imperceptible threads to cover the compound.
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