Absorbed by the look of him, the striking contrast between gold hair and black skin, the feel of his muscular arm beneath her hand, Smoke almost missed his question. Her words tripped over themselves to make up for the pause. "I had a great day! The supply store was out of treated oakleaf, which is my usual durability reagent for gatherer spells. But I'd heard titanium-gold wire was superior, and they had that. So I got it, and a book on techniques, and it was amazing! There are so many applications for the stuff, and it has a lot of properties that will make information spells much better. For instance, I have an analysis spell that I use on all my gatherers, and with this wire, I was able to make it a much more detailed spell. It's much better at pinpointing the source of anomalous reports, whether it's interference through the Wall, or a physical event, and even what kind of physical event: weather, water, fire, physical disruption by living or nonliving material. Also, it'll make the gatherer itself more resilient against that kind of interference."
Smoke beamed up at him as she babbled on, "and that's not even all! I haven't finished the book yet, because I needed to get all those gatherers set up. Which I did! Five of them. But I'm looking forward to rest of the monograph because my work is so dependent on good information, and this is a treasure mine. I do hope it's not overstating the matter." She ground to a halt, abruptly realizing she'd been burbling technicalities at a non-practitioner. Her ears tilted back. "My apologies, Master Corydalis, I didn't intend to ramble on. I hope your day went well?"
He smiled, setting Smoke at ease. "My day was fine, if not so engrossing as yours. When will your work of today bear fruit?"
"I'll check them tomorrow. They'll have records of any activity that happens between setup and then. There's some overlap with the new ones and the one I set up yesterday, so I'm curious to see if they give different results. The new ones will indicate ant activity inside the wards even if the ants don't cross the barriers -- that's a feature of the new wire! -- so I can find where your carpenter ant nests are, since they're likely to be inside the buildings."
Corydalis's eyes lit. "Now that is excellent news."
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What to talk about next?
Ask if he's got anyone investigating who might be sabotaging Courthall.
Ask about his personal life: "I hope I'm not keeping you from your family."
Talk about Smoke's plans for tomorrow
Ask about his job: what does a 'master of ceremonies' do?