“What are they for?” Watchman Barns asked.
“The bigger meter with the dials on it measures energy residues,” Trixner explained.
“A magic meter?”
“Sort of. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but ‘magic meter’ is as good of an explanation as any, I guess,” Trixner conceded.
“And what is the white on for?” Barns pressed.
“It captures samples of the aether, so I can take them to an alchemist to check out where that vanilla smell is coming from.”
Trixner began to pack up his “magic meter.”
“Aren’t you going to take more measurements?” Barns asked.
“There’s no use in trying,” Trixner lamented. “That sweet smell is confusing the machine.”
“Does the machine ‘smell’?”
“No it ‘feels,’ the ‘magic.'” Trixner explained trying to use terms that the former farmhand would understand.
Toby Barns thought about this for a moment then said, “Back in Farmington, we would spread manure in the early autumn. It was rather smelly work but we could put some lavender oil on a handkerchief and tie it over our noses and mouths. It didn’t get all the smell but, it let us get the job done.”
“What does that have to do with the case?” the detection-man asked.
“Well, if the vanilla is making your meter ‘gag,’ then you could filter the air with a damp cloth,” Barns suggested.
“I guess its worth a try,” Trixner mused.
They set the meter up again and Barns dampened a handkerchief and draped it over the instrument. While it didn’t give a definitive reading it did stop the needle on the dial from jumping erratically.
“Toby, I think you’ve done it,” Trixner said. “There is definitely some leftover magic here. How much, I can’t be sure, but it’s here all the same.”
The pair then took some aether samples and headed for the university, where they went directly to the Dean of the Alchemy Department.
“Excuse me, Professor Sowser,” Trixner said sticking his head through the elderly academic’s door. “I don’t know if you remember me. I am Hans Trixner’s son, Hugh.”
“Hugh, my boy. What can I do for the son of the famous Hans?” The alchemist asked.
“Well Sir, I am here on Watch business.”
“Fascinating,” the dean said. “And what manner of business is that?”
“I can’t give you many details of the case, but I have an aether sample I need to make sense of. It smells of vanilla, and it wreaks havoc with EDM readings.”
“All the more fascinating,” the academic said, nodding to himself and stroking his beard. “We should crack on with it then.”
For the next two hours, Toby Barns sat on a chair outside the dean’s workshop composing a letter to Breeze Fairweather, while Sowser and Trixner analysed the aether.
Story Starter Challenge #26: “What are they for?”