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Grateful, Tam put a hand over Sahil’s on the contract, squeezing it briefly. As usual, Sahil seemed like he was running a fever, body too hot, and Tam didn’t hold it for long.
“Thank you,” Tam said softly. “There are a few things I can use your help getting information on.”
Sahil gave him another of those quick, nervous smiles. “Okay, shoot,” he said.
“First up,” Tam said, “the contract. You said it was a legal one. Are you sure? She specified the night before his twenty-first birthday. Does that mean that it had to be before he was an adult and his own, well, property? She cut it pretty close, and the labor was pretty long since we were twins…”
Waving a hand, Sahil said, “It’s possible that we could find a good lawyer who could help us out in general, but in terms of that argument? Anyone can promise another person if that person is their dependent at the time the promise was made. Since your mother was pregnant, I’d assume that super counts. That said, there still might be legal matters that could be followed up on. If nothing else we could try to delay things by tying her up in paperwork. I’ll try to track somebody down.” He made a note on a pad of paper that had been sitting on the table.
It wasn’t the best news, but somehow it cheered Tam anyway.
“Okay, great,” Tam said. He ticked that point off on his finger. “Anything about the witch, like you said. If you can dig her name up even in old newspapers or microfiche or whatever, that’s more than we had.”
“No problem. I’ll make sure one of the librarians is digging through the archives.”
It was, he decided, such a relief to not be handling everything himself. Even with so much left to do, he could feel tension leaving his shoulders. “Magic and its capabilities,” he said. “You explained the basics to me, and I know that teaching me more might… require some time, but if you can find any easy review audiotape or whatever for me to listen on the go?”
Sahil pulled a bit of a face at that, but nodded again. “I think the problem is that it’s a pretty specialized field,” he said. “It’s like ‘Physics and its laws’, like, sure, but someone can study that for years and years. I can definitely dig you up some 101 stuff, though without knowing more about the witch, it may not be more useful than what I’ve already told you.”
“Anything helps,” Tam said. “General area stuff. A guidebook or brochure or a map? I always relied on Ash for knowing about the Valley since I didn’t come down here too much myself and I’ve mostly stuck to the main streets when I did. This guy I’ve been chatting with said to meet at Beanheadings, and I’ve been there, but what if it was a place I hadn’t heard of? Or what if I have to go somewhere else next when I hear news about Ash? I’d better be ready.”
“Anything I’ve got in the library isn’t likely to be in date,” Sahil warned, “because things change fast around here, both due to changing politics and magical alterations, but I can give you a website address? There are some urban explorers who chart out the changes, and it’s not perfect, but it’s fairly reliable.”
“You are my hero,” Tam said fervently, earning a blush from Sahil. “Now, allies. Anybody you guys know?”
Sahil seemed to pause at that, leaning back from the paper momentarily. “I would largely suggest that you want some of the more powerful people here on your side,” he said after a pause. “People with some sort of fame or reputation. Librarians are not usually among those. Essentially, it’ll help if you have any support from someone who can help put the weight on this Miss Istem, and make it harder for her to act in this Valley if they get in her way. There is a lot of politicking down here. A lot of allegiances.Who you know can matter an awful lot in what you can do and who you can influence.”
“So…” Tam looked pleadingly at Sahil.
“Famous monsters, powerful ones, dangerous ones, or ones who are more convenient to keep neutral than otherwise,” Sahil said. “I can dig up some names, certainly, but the problem is, what are you willing to offer them? And which ones are best?”
“My friend Jared said that he might be able to get me in contact with the vampire Rainier Dupré,” Tam said. “I also… have tickets to meet with Lithway, but that’s just… after their show, just as a fan. So I at least have an in there.”
“They’re both options,” Sahil agreed. “I don’t think those two have any beef with each other, either. I could maybe buy you a chance to meet the leader of an, er, organization I’m in? But she and Dupré don’t get along, so if you want to meet both you’d probably have to keep whatever you wanted from them separate so their paths didn’t cross.”
“Give me a minute to think over who I should follow up on first,” Tam said. “…in the meantime, I was thinking of going to scope out Beanheadings, if you’re okay with doing the research yourself, so I can get the lay of the land before I meet this guy tonight. Actually—do you want to come with me? Tonight, I mean,” he clarified before Sahil could protest. He knew that right after this talk, Sahil would be busy breaking the news to the other librarians and getting them started on the research he’d requested.
Sahil shook his head, staring down at his notepad. His cheeks had gone a little ruddy again. “I can’t go out tonight at all,” he said. “Sorry, it’s not something I can get out of. I should be free in the evenings again in… about three days and I’d happily help you then.”
[Please suggest an action in the Comments.
(Since there are a number of angles that Tam can follow up on, it might be
best to focus on what he should be doing first/shortly, rather than overall plans)]
[Completed Parts: Instructions | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8 | Day 9 | Day 10 | Day 11 | Day 12 | Day 13 | Day 14 | Day 15 | Day 16 | Day 17 | Day 18 | Day 19 | Day 20 | Day 21 | Day 22 | Day 23 | Day 24 | Day 25 | Day 26 | Day 27 | Day 28 | Day 29 | Day 30 | Epilogue | Author’s Notes]