I haven’t read one in some time but I love Annebelle Spaulding books. I’m embarrassing to admit that I thought she was a real person until not that long ago. Kudos to the writer I suppose for making the character come to life. I’m sure many people would look down on me for enjoying that type of story but the fact that I can read at all, and have access to books should be plenty impressive enough on its own. Her stories always begins when something terrible has happened. People are confused, afraid, and uncertain how to respond. Then Annebelle steps up to take responsibility for solving the crime. She doesn’t sit there and wail and cry like a bitch, she’s takes up the mantle and the challenge of finding the murderer.
She elects to make the journey. When the chips are down and there’s a dead body on the floor it’s easy to turn away, every part of you wants to do – you’re screaming at yourselves not to take the journey. But she does it anyway. I live in a world beset by wars, violence, dark magic, hideous monsters, and more disasters than you can shake a dead body at. A good murder mystery soothes you with sweet lies. They tell us a tale that begin with evil events, but call forth the efforts of people who can rise to heroic heights and reassure us that, with great effort, evil can be overcome. I like a good murder mystery because they entertain me with things that don’t exist – redemption, hope, and advancing from fear to reassurance.
I hope that I can do Annebelle proud.
“Okay, first things first, is there anyone else in the joint or is this it?”
Kichwa, holding Goum’s hand in fright said that there was no one else there, but she didn’t seem to know that the Kostelos broad was here so how reliable is she anyway?
“Okay then, Callon, Hilo you two stay here and watch over this lot – make sure no one leaves of course but keep them from chatting with each other too, we may be dealing with a conspiracy here. Sergeant let’s go have a look at that body.”
Callon started to bristle again at the idea of taking orders from a cat but Sergeant Karta told him to pipe down and just do it. The sergeant and I made our way upstairs to the room where Ferros was staying. Had been staying? Are you still staying somewhere if you’re dead? It was the largest and nicest in the place, which meant that it was about the same as the worst room at any inn I wouldn’t mind staying at. The man of the hour was lying face-down on the floor in an awkward sprawl, his head and neck an ugly bluish-grey.
Karta gestured vaguely “This is exactly how I found him.”
“Well I think you’re right, I think he was killed.”
“What makes you say that?”
“I can smell the poison. Extract of Blue Star flower.”
“How do you know so much about poisons?”
“I don’t know anything about poisons, but Blue Star flowers grow in pastures where they graze cattle and you have to get rid of them, or at least make sure that the cows don’t eat them. It usually won’t kill a cow, but it does get passed through the milk – that’s how my cousin Melmur died.”
She pointed to a nightstand “There’s a cup over there, is that where it came from?”
I jumped up on the bed to have a sniff “No, this is just ginger tea with honey. I don’t see any other food or drink up here, so let’s talk to the chef. First though, let’s talk motive. Why would the dwarf poison your boss?”
“It’s hard to imagine that someone would kill over this, but we were staying here for free. Ferros more or less intimidated her into giving us free room and board. He didn’t treat her very well either. He’s . . . . from an upper class family and he’s not always nice to . . . certain people.”
“I know the type. How long have you been here?”
“We stay here when we’re working on cases sometimes.”
“And why is that again? Why were four members of the watch staying at an inn rather than the barracks or their own homes?”
“I can’t say.”
“Oh right, I forgot.”
The Sergeant went down to grab Kichwa and I took that opportunity to snoop around some more on my own – for all I know she did it herself. There didn’t seem to be anything else of relevance that I could tell. Karta came back with the dwarf innkeeper and we went across the hallway to one of the empty rooms – it wouldn’t do to question someone in the same room as the dead guy. Everyone knows that’s bad luck.
“Did you make Lieutenant Ferros anything to eat last night?”
“Yes, last night I made pan seared boar with garlic roasted potatoes and beets for everyone. And I make fresh bread every day as well.”
“Did Ferros eat down in the common room or did you bring it up to him?”
“I brought him his food.”
“I didn’t see any dishes up there, did you take them away after he was done eating?”
“Yes, and he was fine when I saw him.”
“You seem nervous.”
“I’m very nervous, someone died in my inn – a member of the watch! People aren’t going to want to come here anymore, I could be ruined.”
“That makes sense, are you sure it isn’t because you poisoned him instead?
“No, I would never!”
I looked over at Karta “Well this is interesting, I’m pretty sure she was telling the truth about him being fine but she’s lying about that. She did poison him.”
Karta’s eyes narrowed “How do you know that?”
I swished my tail, which is the cat equivalent of a shrug “I have a sense for these matters, I know a thing or two about lies and liars.”
“That’s not a lot to go on.”
“You’re a watchman, er, watchwoman, start kicking the shit out of her, make her talk. You know, with violence, as is your way.”
Before Karta could say anything Kichwa, who turned white as a sheet upon hearing the remark about being beaten, spilled the beans.
“I admit, I admit, don’t hurt me, I did poison him!”
Karta blinked in surprise “Well that was easy.”
“Why you’d do it?”
Tears started streaming down her face “I didn’t mean to kill him, I just wanted to make him sick so he’d stop coming here. I barely make any money as it is and giving away free meals and rooms to him and his men is going to drive me out of business! The last time they were here I had a wealthy merchant in the big room and Ferros made me kick him out so he could stay in there, the merchant was so mad I had to refund all his money and he had already been here for three days!”
“Well there you have it, the dwarf did it, I saw it coming honestly. If you just wanted to make him sick why did you use Blue Star extract? And where did you get it?”
A look of confusion passed over her face “Blue Star? What do you mean? I put bitterroot leaves on his boar.”
All eyes were on us as we went back downstairs and went across to the kitchen – I don’t know how much they could hear but it was obvious that something was afoot. The kitchen had been very well organized before the watchkid and the Kostelos deliverywoman had a donnybrook in there but it didn’t matter because Kichwa didn’t go for any of the jars of herbs anyway – she had a sack in a drawer where there were a few bitterroot leaves.
“I should have known, the first lead is always a red herring, the false confession? That’s standard.”
Karta frowned at me “What are you talking about?”
“Just something I was thinking about earlier.”
“Well Kichwa you can rest easy, you can’t kill anyone with this. Although I suppose it’s possible that you also poisoned him again later, that would be a good twist. Let’s establish a timeline, after you came up and cleared away his dishes did you see him again?”
She seemed a little dazed “No. But I saw Scarlet go up to his room maybe an hour later.”
I saw Karta look away in embarrassment as Kichwa blanched slightly “She’s . . . a lady of the night.”
“Okay, now we’re getting somewhere.”
Hair regrowth progress : NA
Inventory: Animal Totem Tattoo (Lion), Enchanted Tattoo (Storm)
Revenge List: Duke Eaglevane,
Piltis Swine, Rince Electrum, watchman Gridley, White-Muzzle the worg, Percy Ringle the butler, Alice Kinsey , “ Patch”, Heroes of the Lost Sword, Claire Conrad, Erist priest of Strider, Riselda owner of the Sage Mirror, Eedraxis, Skin-Taker tribe, Kartak, Królewna & Bonifacja Trading Company, Hurmont Family, Androni Titus, Greasy dreadlocks woman, Lodestone Security, Kellgale Nickoslander, Beltian Kruin the Splithog Pauper, The King of Spiders, Auraluna Domiel, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee, Helgan van Tankerstrum, Lightdancer, Bonder Greysmith, Pegwhistle Proudfoot, Lumbfoot Sheepskin, Lumber Consortium of Three Rivers, Hellerhad the Wizard, Forsaken Kin, Law Offices of Office of Glilcus and Stolo, Jey Rora, Colonel Tarl Ciarán, Mayor Baras Haldmeer