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"Philosophically speaking, I'm a classicist." Logan tilted his glass of red wine to Brynna as if to toast. Brynna just drank water, but she had ordered a filet mignon. When a Pirate was paying, she figured, she could have the entire cow medium rare if she wanted.

Logan did not object, either. He continued, "I find the best ideas of mankind are to be sought after in times long gone--the times of Aristotle, Plato... Though I do enjoy some relatively more modern writers, such as Voltaire. Are you a reader, by any chance? Or is that something Rogues do not do?"

"You just namin' a bunch of dead white men. Why would I care about them?"

"Point taken," said Logan, trying to be civil. "I suppose most Pirates don't care about them, either. It's more of a personal hobby; I love to acquire knowledge."

"Only thing I gotta know is where the next meal be at." Brynna took another bite of the steak, and spoke while chewing: "That an' surviving. That's all that matters."

"I see..." Logan had not yet touched his own meal, a chicken cordon bleu. Now he picked up the utensils and made his first incision.

"So what you wanna know about Rogues for? We's simple people, really."

"You've been a lot of places, and you know a lot of cultures." Logan took his bite and waited to finish chewing before going on. "I want to expand my operation, and in a big way. And to do that, I'll need information only someone familiar with those areas would be able to get."

"What, like a spy?"

"More like, reconnaissance."

"Like Leonardo Da Vinci?"

"Not... quite. " Logan cringed, but only briefly.

"So what's this operation you gonna expand to?" Brynna asked.

"That depends," said Logan, "on what is and what is not possible to do--and I don't know everything yet. But the long and short of it is this..." He lowered his voice a bit so no other table could hear him. "I have recently come into possession of a very powerful spell, which I believe I could sell for millions of dollars, American. It is not easily stolen, and even if it goes public, I will still be able to profit by it."

"What is it?"

"It's difficult to explain. Unless, that is, you can do a bit of reading." Logan took from his pocket a small jewelry box, hardly large enough to hold a pair of earrings. He opened it carefully, and out popped a full-sized book--albeit one that did not have a cover. "This is the spell. It's a book's length long, and it's called, Happiness. I've tested it only a couple times, and it seems to work like a charm. But although it is a bit dangerous to use on oneself, it's absolutely risk-free to the Pirate selling it."

"What's it do? Make people happy?"

"If only it were that simple. It doesn't just change one's state of mind; if you wanted that, you'd have to go for drugs, and those are only temporary in their effect. This is a permanent spell that plays off people's beliefs and prejudices. And it heightens them and confirms them, and very strongly. Suspicion becomes certainty, confidence becomes cockiness, and the effect seems to be profound."

"Last time I checked, people already got prejudice," said Brynna. "And they don't need no confirmation, 'cause it's all true to them."

Logan said, "I used to think so, too. And because of the extent to which that's true, selling this spell to individuals makes no sense. I wanted to expand the operation to find a community that could pay for it and be collectively happier. I could also ask for more money that way. But I'm trained to deal with individuals, not communities. I would need help."

"So you lookin' for a Rogue so you can get info like that?"

"Exactly."

"You gonna pay me in filet mignon every night?"

Logan gazed at the book as it shrunk back into its jewelry box. "If you wish. I was just going to offer a fifty-fifty split."

"You got yo'self a deal, then."

"Excellent!"

"When do we start?"

"Tonight, why not. I'll show you the neighborhood I'm looking at, and you can see a bit of what I'm talking about."

Logan finished his meal, brought his napkin to his face, and said, "It was very good fortune meeting you tonight. I had initially planned to find a Rogue by finding a park with one sleeping there."

"Please," said Brynna. "You gotta know better than that. We ain't no ordinary homeless bums. We don't sleep in parks; we sleep in cars. Gotta be able to get away any time, y'know?"

"Fair enough; I'll keep that in mind next time."

---

No stars were ever visible in the city; the lights were much too bright. Instead, the white fluorescence glazed the atmosphere and made the night sky as gray as most of the buildings. Every night this was just about the same in any part of the city, the only variation coming in the form of the occasional rain shower--which one never knew when to expect, because the sky was gray regardless of the presence of clouds.

The usual criminals of the night roamed the streets and did their business in the alleyways, which were always easy to find. The few Authorities who walked their beat did not seem to mind or care so long as nobody made their job any harder by actually bothering them to investigate anything. Nonetheless, the citizens generally avoided the police, and would often cross the street just to get out of their way.

Logan was not so afraid, but Brynna watched each officer with suspicion. They only saw three on their trip six blocks away from the restaurant, but that was three too many, in her opinion.

Finally, Logan stopped at a street corner and said, "Now tell me: what kinds of people do you see here?"

"You mean besides the three badges you just walked on by and not around?"

"I mean right here. Look at the people at this intersection. What do you see?"

Brynna looked at the pedestrians around her. "They're all white, and they're all wearing black."

"Like me?" asked Logan.

"No, you just got black clothes on. These are some Goths or something."

"Precisely. It's a neighborhood full of people who came here together specifically to be among their own kind. And they're easy to spot, too, because of their dress. So I'll start my operation here."

"What exactly you gonna do?"

Logan waved a hand. "Nevermind that. It's just an ordinary spell sale, basically. But I need you, first, to do some research."

"It don't mean reading no dead white men books, does it?"

"No. I need you to find the leaders of this community. All communities have leaders, and most even have a single person at the head. They don't make themselves easily accessible, as a rule, but their decisions affect the whole community. In addition to finding this person or persons, I want you to find out--from someone else, preferably--a general idea of how wealthy the community is. You can never tell by looking at the people. Sometimes you can tell from how many there are, but not always."

"Got it," said Brynna. "So I find the leader, and I find out how much money these people got."

"Not an exact figure, but a general estimate."

"Anything else?"

"Yes," said Logan, "and this is crucial: when you get this information, I want you to speak to the leader and just mention, as casually as you can, that you have a friend--be open and say he's a Pirate--who deals in spells of security from Authorities."

"Security? I thought you was selling happiness."

Logan smiled. "It'll make sense when the deal is done. But can you do what I've said here?"

Brynna shook her head and said, "Whatever. And you said you expect to make millions, and I get half?"

"If the community's rich. If not, it'll be less. But you will get half--I promise you that."

"How long I got to do all this?"

"Long as it takes. I'll be back here, at this very corner, tomorrow night, and you can tell me if you've found out anything, okay? But it's best that I go elsewhere while you do your part of the operation."

Brynna said, "A'ight. See you later, then, Captain Hook."

Logan kept his sly smile on his lips, nodded to Brynna, turned, and walked away.

---

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