Once again it is time to hit the mean streets of Myrrhn for some Shadow Wolf.
Missed the first one? start here and follow the links in comments.
Missed last week’s Blade Breaker? Read it here.
“Are you sure about this, Ragnar?” asked Murith. “It seems dangerous. Just look at the people you have already butted heads with already in your investigation. If the perpetrator is one of their enemies, then you are in over your head.”
“It’s fine Murith,” I said. “I have already been dead once before. I’m not afraid.”
Many of the inhabitants of the City of Assassins would find it strange that I would risk drawing the ire of the Guild or a Scion of the seven families to seek justice for someone that I had never met. It was not the way of things here; people who stuck their necks out mostly ended up dead.
For my part I kept wondering what thoughts were going through Sapphire’s mind as she lay there, helpless and drugged, watching her lover get cut to pieces, awaiting her own violation and certain death. How would one summon the courage to face such a thing bravely?
The Wolves of the great forests of the North are much admired among my people. They are ferocious hunters, relentless trackers, and absolutely loyal to their packs. For all their savagery however, the wolves would never engage in a killing like that which had been visited on Sapphire and Bjorn Magnison. Even rival packs or challengers for the position alpha did not engage in viciousness like that.
Torture makes a statement. It is a demonstration of power. It is an attempt to show strength, to show that consequences of defiance against that strength are severe and painful. Wolves did not need to make that kind of impression. In my mind, the only people who engaged in such viciousness are cowards. After all, if a man has faith in his strength and skill, he does not need to such extravagant lengths to flaunt it. Torture is the product of the weak reasoning of men, not the noble instincts of the wolf. Those who engage in it must be driven from the herd and run down.
For those reasons I felt the need to hunt down Sapphire’s killer.
And as I stood there, thinking of her ugly death, a piece of the puzzle finally slid into place. Greeneyes. Sapphire was a follower of the Sirutiran god Kamesin Greeneyes, little more than an esoteric cult in this part of the world. I remembered her funeral. The rites of Greeneyes were still fresh in my mind. That one of the names on our list was Greeneyes might not be simple coincidence.
I turned to Murith.
“I think I have something,” I said. “Tell me Officer Murith, has the Watch had any trouble of late with religious cults?”
“This is Myrrhn, Ragnar, if you can name it we have had trouble with it recently,” said Murith. “What are you getting at?”
“Greeneyes is the name of god that Sapphire followed,” I answered. “An interesting figure. I’ve heard tell that he was an ascended who became a god by eating the heart of some fallen deity.”
“Isn’t Madama Glorianna’s bodyguard Sirutiran Ragnar?” asked Murith, “That strikes me as a good place to start. Perhaps she introduced Sapphire to the cult.”
Crimson Wind. A Sirutiran Sword-Bride. A deadly master of the blade. She would have access to The Pearl, and she certainly knew about Kamesin Green Eyes. But what was her motive? For that matter how would I get her to talk? The Sword-Brides were notoriously stubborn, with a reputation for ferocity that extended even into the north. I might as well try and have a conversation with a blood-frenzied Yakshanaar.
“You might be right Murith, I might be in over my head here,” I said.
“I warned you,” said Murith. “But you had to pull your big tough Twiceborn act.”
“You can write in my ashes if I die, Murith,” I responded. “Now, you are a trained investigator. Help me plan my next move.”