The door to Sage’s lab burst open. Victor Puddington strode in, waving a piece of paper in his off hand and a book in his good hand. “They found a new herb!”
Sage ran both hands over the cantrip he was working on, casting a stasis spell that hopefully would hold it until he could get Victor out of his office. “Found? They? Herb? Puddles, you’re being dreadfully inspecific.”
“Don’t call me that.” It was habit by now; Sage wasn’t certain that Victor even knew he was saying it. “All right, all right. If you want to be specific, here we go. While exploring some of the narrow passes in dragon territory - the ones that are untouched for the most part because the dragons can’t really get in there - they - they in this case being the Tower’s Deep Exploration Team, you know, Smitty and his boys -”
“I know them, yes.” Sage tried not to sound too tense. He knew them indeed.
“So they discovered this plant.” He slammed the paper down on Sage’s desk, far too close to the pending cantrip. “See? They’re calling it Drake Cumin for the moment, but Richard Stillhard is gunning for naming rights, since he tripped on it. Rather literally. But. Since I am the most wonderful friend, and also because I owe you more favors than I could possibly count in a lifetime-”
“I’ve counted them for you,” Sage told him.
Victor laughed as if it was a joke - of course he did. “I’m sure, old friend. So this should take at least one favor off of the tally, hey?” He set the book down far more carefully and, with exaggerated care, opened it. “In here, we have seeds, roots, stems, leaves, and flowers. Two whole plants and cuttings.” He broke his own stasis spell with a wave of his hand. “Now, I know you’re working on a specific project, but it occurred to me - this has a flower very much like that of the Lace you’ve been using. And sometimes substitutions…”
Sage sniffed the flower very carefully. The scent was faint, but it was there. “Puddles, you’re a good friend after all!”
“Why, thank you - I think. So shall we call it?”
“Three off the ledger, and a partial credit if this works. Brilliant. Brilliant.”
Sage cleared off a portion of his desk and began preparing. There was, of course, the chance that this would go horribly wrong, but that was what made work in the Tower so exciting. There was always the chance it might blow up in your face or turn you into a toad. And there was always a chance someone might not get there with a restorative potion or spell soon enough.
He locked the door with a wave of his hand the moment Victor left and found a scrap of paper to write on. Using an ink they had devised together - and pressed under the new moon using drops of their own blood to set it - he scribbled off a note to Audrey. A quick folding spell and the note was flying off on its own.
Aud, my dear, I think I have a breakthrough in the spell we’ve been working on. If you could bring your beautiful self to the place agreed on, I may have to break a couple of our Rules.
All my best love