The gleam in the Chief Adviser's eye attained ever greater sparkle as the visitor elaborated on his goals. Vuda held his arm across the opening into the grand suite, preventing Doran from entering, "No, no, forgive my self-indulgence, you can see the room later. I meant something else entirely."
He opened the door a bit wider, until there was wide, easy access to the hinges upon which they noiselessly swung. He gave just a momentary grin to his guest before turning to the middle of the three sets of hinges. He gripped the entire unit and gave it a quarter turn clockwise. There was a click, and the sound of some weight sliding inside the wall. They was a soft hiss and a panel loosened along lines hidden within the sculpted etchings of the wide decorative inset housing the doorjamb for the fine, Cambria wood doors.
The opening itself was narrow, but opened quickly upon entering the secret hallway beyond. "After you."
Vuda repeated, with an even grater flourish than before. He led his guest down and around inside the walls of the Tower, as well as the towers abutting this one. He stopped at various intervals, showing spy-holes into the rooms of visiting dignitaries.
he sneered, "Lord Trask has hired one of 'The Curly Hare's girls to "entertain" one of our visiting diplomats from Viden. I wonder if either of them know that the young lady actually works for 'The Fence', or that we already know he's only here to pick up some redundant, outdated, pre-revision land charts for our outlying townships? Well, I'm sure I don't need to explain the workings of misinformation; nor, I'm afraid, am I really free to."
He pointed out a few actual mirror-tubed spy gadgets that allowed peepholes to be placed inside actual statuary or planter posts within the rooms, instead of in the walls, where the wary visitor would expect them. Ultimately, he sighed though, "All of us who have access to these passageways make use of these spy-holes. The only real protection against them is knowing where they are, how they work, and coding any messages you must do in your suite. Unless you are able to afford magic wards against such things."
He went on, "It can be tricky. If you chase someone you find spying away from a particular room. You've pretty much acknowledged you have an interest in them. Of course, there is always that misinformation angle again. There are only two rooms with no spy access, and three others with visual only. But even all the spying in the world comes to nothing legally if you can not corroborate any of it with evidence. it simply gives you a lead on what sort of evidence you are looking for."
They continued down and down, until Doran must have figured, by the change in temperature alone if nothing else, that they'd descended well below street level. Vuda explained how his previous lab was largely destroyed during the shadow beast rampages, when a trio of guardsmen accidentally ignited three barrels of alchemical fuel stored for the Cylus brazier-lighting ceremony.
He shrugged it off though, "It was pretty old stuff. My old alchemist told me that much of it could only be used for certain things because of lingering residue that could not be fully expunged anymore. He died in the explosion, and a good deal of my material was lost or looted in the confusion that followed. Thieving pigs!"
"But fate works in mysterious ways."
he said as they reached a heavy, metal-banded door. Vuda unlocked it and one could look kitty-corner to the right into a well-stocked library. "I was fortunate to have just been relocating all my books and scrolls against the dampness in the old lab, or they'd have all surely burned...such an irreplaceable loss that would have been!"
They stepped to the left now, and a door opened to the right revealing what was obviously the actual lab room. There was the gamut of alchemical glass and pipe ware, some of it set up, but plenty still left in crates. And two large vats in specially reinforced circular stone niches.
"Some have told me to get a master to replace the old one. I can see the sense in that, but I can also see the sense in getting someone who can come in on the ground floor of set-up and do things in the way in which they are comfortable, so that gear and master grow together."
They stepped inside to let Doran see the extent of what would be available to work with. Vuda pointed in the direction of the room they had not yet seen. "That is where materials are stored, both mundane and extraordinary, pre-and-post process items, as well as finished products that you may use for reverse experimenting. If there are other units you find yourself short of, by all means let me know. Any questions?"