Fean stood well back from the window and watched Idlo walk away. "One, what did I do to deserve running into one of Urfa's own investigators? Except he’s Izzo’s now." Should I contact him? Ignore him? Damn it, I'm under orders to find the other side of the smuggler's gate, and I did. All I need to do is get back and report. If Idlo is investigating the smugglers, well, good for him. So long as he doesn't find me with them, because I'm not sure which side I ought to be on, in a fight. And the sisters did take care of these people, when my people ought to have. And they don't smuggle illegal drugs, other than enough potions for a few local villages. They don't bring in any more of the von Neumanns, probably because they don't need to. That wine probably proliferated faster than the goats and sheep.
Fean looked over her shoulder at Walnut, the middle sister. "Did you get a good look at him? That'll be the man looking for you smugglers."
"Hmm. They'll be staying at the Inn, and probably eat there. I have some hexes."
"Eh?" Fean looked at her uneasily.
"Oh, Aunt Susto, when she cleans bottles, just dumps the old potions into a big jug. The kids there stick them in these ugly little jugs, and hawk them around. If nothing else, the conflicting hair color spells make you itch like mad and then your hair falls out. You never quite know what will be in any given bottle. Fat, stupid, sex change, magic. Or the opposite. People take them on dares. Then run to Magic Central to get them cured. I think an itchy scalp would be a good idea for that gentleman and anyone he's with. Mess up their concentration."
Fean gulped. It would do Mr. Arrogant Idlo a world of good to lose his hair. And no doubt Q can fix anything really bad. Like that sex change spell. She bit her lip and failed to stiffle a giggle. "Idlo would be such a pretty woman."
"Good thing they didn’t send this ‘Ajha’ person you’re always talking about. I think you’re in love."
"Am not. I just . . . respect his brilliance."
Walnut whooped. "Oh yeah. Of course."
Fean snuck around with Macaw later and the witch pointed out the two whoop-de-do Oners, too high to sit with the two halfers and two natives who were delivering the agricultural supplies with them. Fean walked in and helped the waitresses for a moment, making sure all six got dosed. Idlo looked bilious as she delivered his doctored ale. Fean leaned across him to set the older Oner's drink down, showing a lot of cleavage. "Hangover, handsome? Just a little will clear your head." She took a long swallow, careful to show her elegant neck, and brush up against him. He was closed so tight there wasn't a chance he'd recognize her. He drank without taking his eyes off her chest. She walked away, making sure to wiggle an extra bit.
It was good for a laugh, later.
"You didn’t even need to morph your face, he never looked that high." Macaw’s grin slipped. "I can’t believe you drank some of it."
Fean slipped back into the Inn, in the morning. All six men were scratching their heads and grumbling about bed bugs. The men drove off after breakfast, and the smugglers loaded their saddlebags for their return trip. Fean clenched her fists and refused to scratch.
Q stood back and eyed the foggy circle of the gate. "Is that were you want it? Fish tend to be . . . smelly."
"They'll be frozen, and we have insecurities about gates being just out in the open for anyone to use."
Q grinned. "I understand. Umm, speaking of which, I felt another gate, an old one from Rustle's experimental days, that was attached way north of here. There wasn't anyone anywhere around it, so I closed it. If you want it back, well, both side will have to openly agree."
Izzo thought quickly. "That may have been how the occasional Comet Fall potion wound up in circulation. Good, leave it closed." He looked around the export yard and nodded in satisfaction. "Looks good. Just one more and we're done." One Damn it. Was she being disingenuous, because she knew we were closing in on it? Or did she honestly not know it was being used? Damn, I wanted those smugglers.
"It's gone." Crimson stared at the empty air.