“A day in the life of…” – Part 9

Grace

A short carriage ride later brought Jaedin and Marcus to the front of a large inn. As if to make up for his earlier silence, Jaedin had encouraged his protege to speak up; the ride, brief as it was, had been filled with questions.

“We’re a society of leisure, Marcus. They’re not going to bestir themselves much over death by stupidity.”

Marcus’ brown eyes looked to Jaedin, “Stupidity?”

“Raping someone who has a reputation for starting deadly fires qualifies as stupidity in most anyone’s book.” Jaedin answered before climbing out of the carriage and approaching the doors to the inn.

Marcus followed, and, ever the diligent servant, held the door the inn door open, “Then why…”

“…is there a fuss at all? Because we can’t have the hired help offing the rich, even if they deserve it. If one gets away with it, others may get similar ideas of justice.” If there was sarcasm to his words, Jaedin hid them well in the tightness of his smile. He stepped past Marcus and into the inn.

No one seemed willing to disturb Demnse Jacobsen to notify him that his had visitors. When even the innkeeper himself refused, Jaedin lost his patience, “Room three-one?” The innkeeper nodded, looking slightly abashed.

“Right then. Marcus, with me.” Jaedin took the stairs quickly, sick of the time already wasted. On the third floor he found the right door and knocked loudly. It took several minutes of constant knocking before a servant answered the door and he and Marcus were granted admittance.

“Do you know Grace?” Jaedin was standing in front of a large desk, behind which sat a man of rather large proportions.

“Grace?” Jacobsen’s dark brows furrowed as if he was searching his memory. “No, I don’t believe I do-“

“She knows you. She runs the Crimson Room and considers her time spent with companions quite confidential – but we are old friends. Old…and close…friends.”

“What are you suggesting?” Jacobsen pushed away from his desk and stood, his large meaty hands landing atop the hard wood with the sound a large tree being felled – intimidating, if you were you were the sort to be intimidated. When Jaedin didn’t react as Jacobsen had expected (which is to say, react at all), crimson bled into his cheeks, “Do you know who I am? I am a Demnse of the church! I can have you branded a heretic. I can have you shackled and buried somewhere so deep you won’t remember your name by the time your rheumy eyes next see daylight. You will be a snack for the other prisoners and the rats they keep as pets. You are nothing! How dare you come in here with accusations and slander….” Jacobsen would have continued, but his large frame couldn’t seem to catch the breath it needed to keep him standing, much less speaking. He leaned into his desk, red-faced and heaving as Jaedin studied him.

After a few seconds, Jaedin spoke, calmly, and in soft tones polar opposite to those used by Jacobsen. “Let us be frank. You don’t have the stature needed to have a prominent citizen of this county detained, much less,” Jaedin paused as if the act of calmly recalling Jacobsen’s words took an act of considered restraint, “dragged into a dungeon and left as a snack for the vermin. The only reason you have any authority over this particular case at all is because ArchDemnse Henliech is enjoying a three week sabbatical at one of my vineyards and you were visiting a relative here in town at the time of the murder. As for your time spent with Grace – well, the other clergy might not be too shocked that you buy time with women of her nature – many of them do the same – but they may be more disturbed by your…oh, how did she put it… inclination to prance? We all have our vices, Demnse, but being mounted by a woman while wearing nothing but a saddle, bridle, and horse tail sticking out of your ass, may strain the respect of even the most liberal of your brethren.” Jaedin smiled, “Not that I have anything against such behavior. Very forward thinking, very in touch with your animalistic side. But will your peers feel the same?”

Jacobsen stared at him silence, whether still out of breath or simply without words, it was hard to tell.

Jaedin withdrew his handkerchief from his pocket and settled it on the desk. Carefully unfolding it, he revealed the small black cylindrical object he had picked up earlier: the charred remains of a firecracker. “Let us discuss this case against Miranda. There really isn’t one. All we have is an eyewitness placing her near the kitchen at the same time as the fire. Oh, and the knowledge that in the past she has exhibited some small gift for firestarting. A gift she has not used in five years. There are no reports of its’ use, by the Kytrell family or anyone else, since her training was completed. For all we know, the gift has been entirely repressed.”

“On the other hand, we have some concrete evidence, found through diligent investigation, that suggest another explanation.” Jaedin nudged the blackened side of the firecracker, rolling it across the desk. “This was found amid the debris of the scene. And we have an eyewitness that says a box of fireworks were purchased by the household in preparation for the upcoming solstice festivities. Purchased and then placed in the kitchen above the firepit. Perhaps not the safest place for it to be kept.”

“Isn’t it more likely that Master Kytrell was at fault for his own death? That he reached for a caramel pear, found a firecracker instead and his surprise caused him to knock the whole box of firecrackers into the firepit, sending flaming fireworks through-out the kitchen – an act that may have ultimately led to his demise?” Jaedin lowered his voice to a notch just above a whisper. “Why don’t you forget about Miranda, Demnse Jacobsen. Forget about her and my good friends ArchDemnse Heinlich and Grace. Decide the case as inconclusive due to reasonable doubt, and move on to better pastures.”

Silence. Seconds stretched into minutes as the two men stood staring at each other. Finally, Jacobsen spoke, “Get…out.” The words were forced past clenched teeth and the knuckles on Jacobsen’s hands turned white as his fingers curled against the desk. “Get out, or I will have you thrown out.”

Jaedin shook his head slowly, “No. I don’t think so. Not until I know you are going to do the right thing and let past actions stay in the past.” Just whose past he was referring to was left unsaid.

“Oh, you will have your writ.” The table shuddered under Jacobsen’s weight as he drew himself to his full height, “But I warn you, should our paths ever cross again, outside of this shitty little province you call Erenthia, you will not find yourself a happy man.”

“Happiness is fleeting, Demnse Jacobsen, and the path to it strewn with misguided hopes. I walk a different path.” Jaedin turned and motioned for Marcus to follow him out of the room.

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