Kyle sat in his brand new office, felt sorry for himself, and considered throwing in the towel. It was becoming clear to him that he wasn’t really cut out for running his own business. He had somehow imagined that if he built a better mousetrap the world would beat a path to his door. He hadn’t planned the step after invention, he’d just assumed it would all work out. His results showed what you got for using an adage as a business plan. The world had, in fact, looked at his mousetrap said, “that’s a very nice mousetrap,” and then gone back to using their old mousetrap.
After he’d finished his round of disastrous meetings he’d checked on the Internet and found that the contracts he’d found so strange were actually fairly normal. Thomas Illusions had the market locked up. Contracts of the sort he’d encountered were standard. Plenty of people called Thomas Illusions a monopoly and there’d been calls for government action going back decades. However, Thomas the Illusionist was an Archmage rumored to be between five and six hundred years old; he had influence. His firm was incorporated in Monaco, and he made extensive use of highly paid lobbyists to argue that he didn’t sell illusions he just licensed the spells to make them. He’d sold those licenses, at reasonable rates, to anyone willing to buy them and the true limit to how many illusions could be performed was the cost of the magical energy involved. Thomas claimed, and Kyle couldn’t help but agree with him, that action against the company wouldn’t benefit consumers unless a fundamental law of magical physics was overturned.
Besides, the company wasn’t really a monopoly. Perhaps 10% of magical illusion firms used non-Thomas spells. Some developed in-house, some licensed products from other magical IP holders. That gave Kyle hope and frustrated him at the same time. He could make it, he just wasn’t sure how. He had the feeling “money” was the answer. He probably needed investors, but “investors” wasn’t exactly a category in the phone book. “Where to find investors” was probably business school class, and just now he was sort of regretting avoiding all of those back in school. Maybe he should take up golf.
He got up from his desk and paced around his office. It was as richly appointed as he could imagine, literally. Illusion cloaked the office, and the entire building, from floor to ceiling. The heavy wooden furniture, fine leather, thick carpet, and artwork on the walls were all public domain 3D models realized by his illusion technology. That, at least, had been a nice find. There was a significant community of people developing models for spells they seldom had the power to run.
Power wasn’t a problem for Kyle, and he’d found he could refine the resulting illusions significantly by casting them manually and then using his magically expanded awareness to rapidly modify them until they looked “right”. It wasn’t real skill. Kyle had tried making some original artwork for the walls as most of the existing models were just prints of famous paintings; the result had been on par with his actual painting ability. Which was to say stick figures. But he could refine existing models until they were indistinguishable from the real thing with less effort than was required by the traditional computer graphics driven process. His furniture from home was sitting under the spells. It had been tricky to match real objects with illusions such that all of the illusions appeared solid, but now his coffee mug only sank a half millimeter into his desk when he set it down.
Kyle wandered forward through the office building fiddling with the illusions. Correcting the shine on a bit of chrome here or the pattern in the carpet there. It was very relaxing, and made him feel just a touch godlike. He kept at it longer then he should have, and as such he was in the lobby when a car pulled into the building’s lot.
It parked directly in front of his door which was odd enough for Kyle to notice. Probably whoever it was just wanted fertilizer, but it distracted him from reworking the grain on the receptionist’s desk. When the car stopped a woman, younger and prettier than he would have expected to be buying fertilizer, got out and walked up to his door. Kyle scowled in confusion, and the woman scowled with him though she’d couldn’t see him through the mirrored glass. She walked back to her car and leaned in saying something. She was apparently talking to the car’s system, because there was no one else in the vehicle.
Probably asking for directions to the fertilizer store.