Janet drained the last sip from her coffee before heading in to the store. This was the final inspection of the day. Which made it the final inspection of the week. The final inspection of this two week road trip. Thank god. One more store, one more night in a hotel and then flying home tomorrow to spend the rest of the weekend in her yoga pants and a sweater, curled up on the couch with a book. She closed her eyes and gave a contented sigh just thinking about it. But for now one more inspection.
Her territory covered Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Northern California and Idaho. Pretty far reaching which meant some serious travel at times. But it was fine. Except in the winter. Alaska inspections in the winter months could be truly dreary. But for the most part it was easy. Not like some of her co-workers. The woman who covered New Orleans, for instance, was constantly being called out for site visits. Not a lot of travel for her since she pretty much just covered the local parishes, but a lot more emergency calls.
Shaking out her hands she took a centering breath and entered the store. The overwhelming smell of incense hit her almost like a physical blow. Why did they all burn so much incense? So unnecessary. The woman behind the counter smiled at her, "Goddess blessings to you. May I help you find anything?"
Janet smiled back, "No thank you. I'm just looking around."
She walked past the rows of books, trailing her fingers along the spines. Basic things here. Nothing you couldn't find on Amazon. That's good. There were shelves of crystals. Pretty to look at, but not really special. Passing her hand over a carved box she got a small spark. Holding the box in her hand she felt the power of the previous owner. It was soothing. This had been much loved and would be safe to pass along to a new generation.
Even finding something with a little power like the box was rare in most of these shops. Most everything was mass produced junk. Tourist traps and stores for teenage girls trying to shock their parents. It was the older used items, like the box, that she was really looking for.
She looked over the collection of dried herbs and teas. No unusual ingredients, though she would make note to let them know storing their peppermint next to their wolfsbane was just going to make both go bad quicker. Ingredients were just ingredients though. No worries here.
She moved on to the next display shelf. More tiny fairy sculptures. Why people felt the need to buy such trinkets was beyond her. She reached out and picked one up off the shelf. Janet tilted her head. Something odd here. Just a slight buzz. She looked a little closer and deeper at the sculpture and then whispered, "Oh I am so sorry."
The woman from the counter came over, "Aren't these lovely? We just got them in from a local artisan. She casts the metal herself. Such great details. Sometimes when the light is just right from that window I swear they are moving. She is truly gifted."
"Yes, they are lovely. How long have you been carrying them?"
"Not long at all. This is our first shipment actually. It's amazing isn't it? She brought in a sample last month," a hand waved toward the window where Janet saw another sculpture on the ledge, "and we liked it so much that we ordered a dozen more."
Janet counted the figurines, an even dozen. "I will take them all. As well as that one on the shelf."
"Oh, I don't think that one is for sale. She's kind of our shop guardian angel now."
Janet smiled again and reached in her bag pulling out her badge, "I'm sorry, you are misunderstanding me. I will take them all. As well as the one on the shelf. I'm also going to need the name of the woman you bought them from."
The woman's face fell. "I didn't recognize you as an Inspector. I see. Let me box them up. I'm assuming you will want to continue looking around?"
"I think that's best. I will also want full access to your storerooms. And when you box them, please be careful. We don't want to damage them any more than they already have been."
"Oh yes, you've actually bought an iron bound fairy collection. Your truly gifted sculptress is a slaver. As soon as you get me the information we will free who ever else she has trapped in her circle and she will be delivered to the authorities."
"Oh! We didn't know! How horrible. We would have never...."
Janet cut her off, "That's why you are supposed to clear all new suppliers through us. We really aren't doing it to be petty, or to restrict your profits, or to keep you from 'the good stuff', there are rules for a reason. Now, the contact information please?"
Janet called in a rescue team for the slaver's workshop as well as a team of smithologists who would be able to free the iron bound ones with minimal damage to them. Depending on how long they had been held there would need to be a recovery period but Janet was confident everyone would heal.
It was times like this that all of the travel, the endless paperwork and even the oppressive smell of incense was worth it.
Well maybe not the incense. So unnecessary.