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16 January 2019

It was a cool autumn that year, when we took the retainer. We met on the docks, Fisher & Co. Freight, a warehouse that had seen better days – but haven’t we all?
A dame greeted me, in a room equipped with camp beds and coffee. She was Miss Eva, and she smelled of Fey. Can be good, can be bad, but it’s never dull. It had been a while since I last had a good job that wasn’t dull; a few people knew enough to call on me when they had problems that I could help solve, but you can always use a few extra bucks.
Another dame came in next, Yvette, and this one was a knockout, with another whisper of Fey about her. Max and Mac were the transport boys, water and land, and Terry, the Idaho Kid, was the muscle. The coffee wasn’t bad.
The big man arrived, and was little – a pinstriped sprite, big as they go. Mr Federwell wanted a package brought to him rather than its recipient, from the Hotel Arden, in a Shallow between Whiterose and Diamondback: “the Helios”, probably in a box, heavy, and highly magical. The seller would be there with it, at least overnight.
He was cagey about names, which is always a good sign. The seller was known as Forger of the Soul of the Wind, though we didn’t know what name he’d register under. He was cautious, but had a reputation for being cheap.
Federwell gave us plans and schedules for the hotel, a five-floor building that was trying to hold on to its glory days. We didn’t yet know where Forger would be staying, or whether he’d keep the item with him or in the hotel’s safe.
Across the road was the California, where some of our number would be staying. But Miss Yvette and I took Mac’s car to the Arden, arriving separately and booking rooms (4 and 10, 13 not being my style). Both of us took a look around the place, getting a feel for its layout; it catered for the noisy, switching from respectable music to jazz around midnight, and for the not so noisy. Getting things in or out of the strong room needed the manager to be on duty. The place didn’t seem all that unusual, just a good old medium-sized hotel a little down on its luck. In the dead hours of the night, the place was quiet enough for all practical purposes.
The others made their plans back at Fisher & Co, learning among other things that “Federwell’s lady” was much scarier than Federwell himself, not to say his boss.
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