Once again it is time for a Shadow Wolf update. Let’s see what kind of trouble Ragnar finds himself in this week.
“Did you have your sister killed Miss Gemarkand?” I asked.
She laughed. Of course she did. Lily Gemarkand, at ease in the heart of her family’s power, separated from me by the spell-forged iron bars of an old bloodsport cage, had nothing to fear from me.
“You don’t think it was one of her lovers, Grimfang?” Lily asked.
“Possibly,” I admitted. “But if it is the assassin that everyone is pointing me toward, then he is certainly playing strange.”
“Maybe so, but what makes you think I wanted my sister killed, Mr Grimfang?”
“Having a whore for a sister was an embarrassment for someone consolidating their tenuous hold on a difficult family,” I said.
“Wrong on two accounts,” said Lily, waving her hand. “Rose, Sapphire if you will, was well hidden from the rest of the family. As for a tenuous hold over a difficult family Mr Grimfang, I have had an iron hold over the family stock for over five years. Only my death will end that hold. Malcontents like Freduar help root out any of the other kind of trouble. Your presence here serves as an adequate demonstration of that, I think.”
“Perhaps,” I said, a little arrogance creeping into my voice. “Although, truth be told, I am exactly where I want to be as well.”
“Is that so, Northman?” said Lily. “I have heard you are hard to kill, but you are hardly the first ascended I have had to deal with.”
I realized then that I was dangerously close to getting into a pissing contest with one of the most powerful women in Myrrhn, someone who had clawed her way to the pinnacle while little more than a girl. Unwise, Ragnar, unwise.
“I suspect if you wanted me dead Miss Gemarkand,” I said, “that you would employ other means.”
“Yes,” she said, “thank you for seeing that.”
“So what about your sister then?” I asked.
“Rose had a difficult relationship with father,” said Lily. “But I maintained contact with her. In the end she was actually quite useful in my takeover of the family. The contacts that she made outside of Old Myrrhn have been very useful to me. She was ostracized from polite society and absolutely no threat to my position.”
“I see, so you could slum without drawing notice using the context of visiting your poor disowned sister,” I said.
“Exactly, it is a situation I am sure you are familiar with… exile,” said Lily.
I smirked. I was at a loss now. A child lost in the woods as night falls. The Assassin, the man I knew as Sildus, was not the killer. Lily Gemarkand did not have her sister killed. Who else would have engaged in an attack that spoke of deep personal anger against Sapphire and her lover?
“could anyone else in the Germakand Clan have been behind this?” I asked.
“Not without my leave,” said Lily. “I keep a tight reign on finances. The kind of money required to hire someone for an assassination, especially one that is not guild sanctioned would never escape my notice.”
“Skygge’s bloody teeth,” I cursed, grumbling. “I have no idea where this trail is leading.”
“Has the wolf lost the scent?” Lily asked, eyes aglitter.
“I won’t be put off that easily,” I said, feeling my blood rise. “I will find Sapphire’s killer if I have to crawl into every shadow in Myrrhn.”
“Will you now?” said Lily.
“By all the gods in the north,” I muttered.
“Excellent,” said Lily. “I can make use of that kind of pig-headed myopia. You see, I am very interested in finding out who ordered the death of my dear Sister, Mr Grimfang. I will be glad to pay you for that information and the proof that goes with it.”
“I have already been retained by Madame Glorianna,” I said. “My first loyalty must go to her in this matter.”
Lily waved her hand as if swatting at an insect. “That is no concern of mine. I simply want to know.”
“Fair enough,” I said. “As long as you understand.”
“I do,” said Lily. “If you can pass my test, consider yourself on my payroll.”
“Test?” I blurted.
“You don’t actually believe I’d trap you in a private arena and not make use of the occasion, do you Ragnar?”