I’ve known some courtesans over the years that get really offended when people call them prostitutes. Some people just like getting upset I suppose because the difference is a pretty thin one. Besides which, getting upset doesn’t solve anything, that’s why I try to keep a level head – if someone hurts you hurt them back. It’s the golden rule. Despire that however while Scarlet and I once shared a similar profession there is a difference between being the Duke’s consort and working taverns and dives. I had my tribulations of course, but I was sleeping on sheets that cost more than her year’s wages and all things considered I didn’t have to do a lot to get that life – she on the other hand is on the hustle every day just to get by. What I’m saying is we don’t have as much in common as you might think.
When Sergeant Karta brought her upstairs for questioning the fresh bruises on her shoulders and neck told me pretty much everything I needed to know. Her red dress was clearly quite fine a few years ago, which matched precisely the woman wearing it – a mystery writer would call that symbolism and make a big deal about it and think they’re very clever indeed. There was a part of me that felt sorry for her, that wanted to ask about the sad story that led her to this – husband died, family needed money, etc. – that wanted to help her. But I have my own problems. The world is harsh and there’s no reason to pretend that it isn’t. Giving people false hope isn’t kindness, it’s best to just let them get along with their business. She eyed me curiously as she sat gracefully on the bed.
“I’ve never been interrogated by a cat before.”
“It’s a new experience for all of us. Looks like this Ferros character was a rough one huh?”
I could feel Karta burning with shame but Scarlet took it all in stride “Nothing I can’t handle.”
“I’m certain of that. Did he rough you up enough that you’d want to poison him?”
“Is that what happened to him?”
“Yes, do you know anything about it?”
She shook her head slowly “No.”
“Do you have a room here?”
“No, I slept in the common room, Kichwa doesn’t let working girls in her rooms normally – she makes an exception for the Lieutenant on account of he told her he’d close this place down if she didn’t. He wasn’t a pleasant man.”
“So you have no room to search, if we search you are we going to find anything interesting?”
“You’ll find a few things, but nothing that would kill a man.”
“Except for the knife you have hidden.”
“Yeah, except for that.”
I nodded to Karta who gave Scarlet a thorough once over – finding, in addition to her small blade a few lumps of a drug called Harlot Sweets by some and a small vial of Sweetdream which was confiscated.
“Do you have to take that, it’s expensive.”
“Don’t look at me, I’m just the cat, I’m not the city watch. Maybe you can submit a form for reimbursement. Ferros had a wound on his chest, if I were a clever poisoner I think I’d wait until after the fun and then dribble a few drops of Blue Star extract into the wound.”
“Would that work do you think?”
Before I could answer we heard a muffled thump from the next room over. Karta and I glanced at each other and then we went out into the hallway. She stood by the door while I crept downstairs on quiet cat paws and summoned Callon to help her. After a moment they swung the door open, revealing what appeared to be an empty room, but a quick look under the bed dispelled that notion. They seized a scrawny man by the leg and dragged him from under the bed to much yelling and consternation. When they dragged him to his feet I saw that he had an abundance of silver earrings and was wearing a much-patched red and black outfit that was very well in fashion about fifteen years ago. I looked like it might have been the proceeds of graverobbing.
“Who the hell are you?”
“Nobody, nobody, I didn’t do anything!”
“Well, I’m satisfied we should probably let you go huh?”
Karta and Callon shook the man down and lo and behold what did they find but a bottle containing Blue Star extract.
“Well that was unsatisfying, I didn’t get to crack the case, it was just some moron hiding under a bed. Why’d you kill him?”
“Hold on, hold on, wait a minute! I didn’t do anything, I just snuck in here last night so I could sleep inside, it was cold last night. I found that bottle, I found it!”
“Is there any reason we should believe that?”
“She saw me, the tribal woman, she saw me sneaking in the window. I just wanted to be warm, I found that bottle, I found it!”
“The fact that you snuck in doesn’t prove anything, you could have snuck in here to poison him – and honestly you look dumb enough to stick around with the murder weapon afterwards.”
“I didn’t, I swear, I swear! Why would kill anyone? I don’t even know who you’re talking about!”
Callon grabbed him by the neck “Maybe someone hired you to do it.”
“Stand down there chief, no one with half a brain would hire this slug to kill a cockroach much less a person.”
“I’m not the Chief.”
“It’s an expression.” I eyeballed the captive “I’m usually pretty good at reading people but your problem is you’re one of those guys that seems like they’re lying even when they’re telling the truth because they always seem like they’re lying.”
While this was going on Scarlet had bailed out the window and was gone. Karta and Callon wanted to go after her but I told them not to bother, I was confident that she hadn’t done anything. They dragged Earrings down with the rest and I told them to search the place and make sure no one else was hiding about – which gave me a chance to look through the other rooms without them hovering over my tiny cat shoulders. Which they don’t really have. But you know what I mean. What are those things? Front hips?
It’s hard to riffle through people’s belongings with cat paws but I was able to make due. Karta’s room was very messy, don’t they teach you to make beds and shit in guard school? I found a little stone with dwarfen runes on it, which is an old country tradition – you’d trade those stones with your lover, especially when it was a match your family didn’t approve of. I also found a garrote in her backpack, which doesn’t seem like standard watch issue at all. It had some blood on it if you were wondering. There was nothing of interest in Rindol’s room nor that of the Merchant Weaver but in Callon’s room I found another of the same stones. So Karta and Callon are an item, is that any reason to kill your superior officer?
It occurred to me at this point that I’m not even sure why I’m doing this. I don’t really care who killed this guy and why they did it, I just want to leave. I suppose it’s just a childhood thing that I never got over, I want to be like Annebelle Spaulding. I suppose everyone is entitled to be a little childish once in a while, even me. We regrouped downstairs and I asked the Kostelos woman in her own language if she had really seen that fool sneaking in the window.
“Why didn’t you say anything to anyone?”
“I didn’t think it was my business.”
“Isn’t Kichwa your boss? Wouldn’t you want her to know that she was getting ripped off?”
“I don’t get involved.”
At this point Rindol started pitching a fuss about us talking in Kostelos, he thought we were conspiring somehow. I told him to cool it. This did not stop him from putting out the theory that she had brought in meat that was already poisoned and that’s what killed Ferros.
“You all ate that meat didn’t you? That makes no sense.”
“You just think you know everything don’t you! What have you learned?”
“Nothing really, this investigator thing isn’t as much fun as I hoped. Does anyone want to confess at this point? Besides you Kichwa, you already confessed once.”
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