Wolves at the Door (part 111)

Gil tried to ignore the insult and focus on the fact that she seemed willing to talk to him.

“Can I ask your name?”

“You can ask.”

“But you won’t tell me.”

“Maybe you’re not quite as stupid as you look. You’re vaguely interesting, the way it’s interesting to see how a lizard climbs up a wall. That’s not the same as being friends.”

Gil reconsidered his approach. There were other, less risky ways to earn a living. Those who chose a life out here beyond the fringe were consciously turning their backs on society, even as they served it. They were unlikely to be chatty or trusting. Better to stick to business talk. After all, that was what he had come out here to learn about.

“You mentioned traps for magic. How do you make a magic trap?”

She sighed.

“You’re not going to leave me alone until I answer your stupid questions, are you? Fine. The short answer is, you don’t. You certainly don’t. I don’t either. They do.”

As she spoke, she hiked a thumb back over her shoulder in the general direction of civilisation.

“And if you hustle real hard, save everything you earn, then in a few years, maybe you could afford to buy into a share of one.”

“A share?”

“Sure. You don’t think they’re going to give the likes of me a device that spins currency out of thin air do you? I mean, maybe they’d sell one if the price was high enough, but then who could afford it? No, this business is always a joint effort. They provide the equipment, I provide the effort. I get a share of what we produce, and they get a much, much larger share.”

“That doesn’t sound very fair.”

She snorted. This one was definitely a laugh, though there was little mirth in it.

“Fair, unfair, who knows? It’s the way it is. They enchant the traps. I couldn’t do that. I run around emptying the traps out. They can’t be bothered doing that. But people with time on their hands are not exactly a rarity. People who know how to build a magic trap are.”

She turned philosophical.

“Then again, who knows how many years it took them to learn how to do that? Better them than me.”


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