Yet Friya was wrong about the Marquis.
They followed Belin all around his house thanks to Spirit dimensional magic, the binocular, and even Life Vision, but he never took his communication amulet.
When finally one of his servants walked out of the house, Quylla followed him only to see one of the butlers buy the daily groceries.
Inside her luxurious guest room, Jirni used the enchanted items she wore disguised as jewelry to search for surveillance devices, finding none.
Then, she checked the paintings for holes and lastly the fireplace, discovering that it was identical to those in house Ernas.
The chimney had been built so that it wouldn\'t carry only the smoke, but also the words of the occupants of the room thanks to its particular acoustic that amplified the echoes.
It was a trick meant to lull even paranoid mages into a false sense of security since there was no spell that could detect them.
\'I bet that the moment I start talking, one of the panels in the wall will slide and someone will watch my every move.\' Jirni started humming while pretending to examine the inside of a wardrobe to test her hypothesis.
By giving her back to the wall and with the doors hiding her sides, there was no way to tell from the outside what she was doing.
Less than a minute later, the same young woman that had served Jirni the tea earlier came knocking on her door.
Good evening, Lady Ernas.
My name is Phisa and I\'m going to be your personal maid for the rest of your stay. She gave Jirni a passable curtsy.
Is there anything I can help you with
Phisa looked to be in her early twenties and was just a bit taller than Jirni.
She had red hair, green eyes, and a friendly face full of freckles.
Many things, actually. Jirni nodded, giving her permission to enter the room.
I need you to send someone to retrieve my luggage from the Silver Swan.
I don\'t care much for my clothes but I left my communication amulet there as well.
Without it, I can\'t tell my daughters where I am and if they can\'t reach me, they will think I\'ve done something stupid.
Here is my hotel key and my ID to prove that I\'ve sent you.
It will be done, Lady Ernas.
Anything else The maid smiled, but it didn\'t extend to her eyes.
They weren\'t cold, just empty like those of a dead fish ready to be cooked.
Yes, I could use a hot bath.
I must be a mess right now. The gurgling of water would hide the sound of her movements while the steam would do the rest.
On top of that, Jirni exploited the opportunity to take a better look at Phisa.
There was something different about her from their earlier meeting and her movements felt off.
She wasn\'t clumsy, but her body language was awkward as if she had recently started working as a maid whereas Jirni hadn\'t noticed any hesitation back when Phisa had served her tea like the professional she was supposed to be.
\'No one sends rookies to take care of honored guests, nor do people forget about how to do their jobs in the space of a few hours.\' Jirni was tempted to stab the maid to check if she was a shapeshifter, but if she was wrong it would blow her cover and alert Belin.
As soon as the maid left her alone, Jirni undressed and took her spare communication amulet from a pocket hidden in her gown, bringing it into the water after covering it with a towel.
She had left her personal amulet in the hotel room on purpose, to make her opponents loosen their guard thinking that due to the dimensional sealing arrays surrounding the city, she had no way to carry another with her.
Jirni used a first magic trick to make the steam denser and hide the holographic panel of the amulet while she wrote to Phloria the script for their next move.
Unlike civilian amulets, those belonging to the army or the Association allowed their user to write.
It was mainly used to write reports or to search a database for a keyword.
In Jirni\'s case, she used it to send the magical equivalent of an email without making a sound.
Later in the evening, when the butlers delivered Jirni her belongings, she noticed that there was something awkward in their movements as well.
Their eyes weren\'t empty and compared to Phisa it was barely noticeable since she had never seen them before.
Yet Jirni trusted her gut instinct and played her role of heartbroken wife to perfection, bothering the butlers with the happy memories behind every one of her dresses as soon as they took them out of the trunks.
\'If I\'m right about these guys and they are all shapeshifters, then I\'m both Beilin\'s prisoner and hostage.
I have no weapons with me and I have no idea what they are capable of.
\'I can\'t even take another bath so soon.
I need to find a way to tell Phloria and Quylla what\'s happening here when they come to visit me without ruining the script.\'
Jirni spent the rest of the time before her daughters\' arrival on her bed with her eyes closed.
Allegedly she was resting, but she was actually racking her brain to decide whether to follow her original plan or not.
\'If I take my time, I should be able to discover if Lady Metra has shapeshifters as well or if she used those at the service of the Marquis.
Either way, we would have the opportunity to capture them all.
If we act now, instead, at least part of the shapeshifters will surely manage to escape.\' She thought.
\'On the other hand, delaying the plan also means that the enemies of the Kingdom would manage to get their hands on even more weapons and we don\'t know how close their plan is to completion.
\'I don\'t want to capture Beilin and all the shapeshifters just to learn that their plan is complete.
At that point, whoever pulls their strings will have already achieved their goal and escaped our net.
\'I must choose between taking only some of the culprits but keeping their plan from succeeding, or taking them all and risking it to be a hollow victory.\'
Jirni didn\'t like either option, yet she was a practical woman.
It took her but a minute to opt for damage control and another to find a way to alert her daughters of the presence of the shapeshifters in the Marquis\' house.
When Phisa announced Phloria\'s and Quylla\'s arrival, Jirni had changed from the day to a simple light yellow evening dress that emphasized her blonde hair.
Mom, it\'s so good to see you.
I\'m sorry for what Dad said to you yesterday morning. Phloria had changed as well and now wore a light green emerald dress instead of the uniform.
The movement of a member of the Knight\'s Guard would have caught many eyes and be reported to Orion whereas a noble dame visiting the City Lord was hardly a novelty.
It\'s good to see you too, love.. Jirni hugged Phloria tightly, digging her nails enough to alert her daughter that something was off and that the script needed to be changed.
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