It is Thursday once more and time for some Shadow Wolf. <wolf noise> This is my weekly serial, written raw and unplanned.
“Can I tell just how pleased I am that you woke me up for this Ragnar?”
“By Skygge, Murith, you would waste away and die from boredom if it weren’t for my company.”
We were at the Burning Hills morgue, examining Rake’s body. I hoped that Murith and I would be able to glean some information about where he died.
Rake’s body was laid out before us. His heart and genitals had been removed from his mouth and laid out beside him.
“Well he definitely struggled,” said Murith.
I nodded. He had scrapes along one knuckled, likely from landing a punch against a hard target.Most Doxies’s knew how to fight and Rake had been a wild one to begin with. There was rope burn along his ankles and wrists.
“So, how does the coward’s feast work?” asked Murith. “They start with the painful stuff, I take it.”
“They do. It is said that a master can keep them alive long enough to see their own beating heart held up before them. Personally, I have a hard time believing anyone feels much after they lose their manhood to the knife. They call it the coward’s feast partly because they scream so much.”
“Your people are so inventive when comes to butchering their enemies.”
“Dreaming up new way of bloodletting helps us pass the time during blizzards. Don’t deny that your ancestors don’t have a way with vengeance as well, Murith; I’ve read the Grudgebearer’s Litanies.”
“My parents were shopkeepers, Ragnar. What else can you see?”
“The weapon that the killer used looks to be exceptionally sharp, I don’t see jagged edges on those cuts. Must have had a steady hand, too.”
“Aye. other than the wounds, the ropes, and signs of struggle, he only has a few cuts and bruises. No signs of additional torture or working up to the deed with any other assault. It all looks a little too businesslike does it not?”
“You’re thinking a professional then? A nightblade?”
“That would be too obvious, I think.”
“Few people seek out facts that undermine their preconceptions, Murith. Lily could have just hired a skilled assassin and told them to make it look like a Nordan did it. The damage was done to the Union the moment that woman screamed that I did it. I could have the Nine Masters of the Night’s Finger themselves swear that it was their doing and there are those who would still be certain that I was the killer.”
“Your reputation hardly helps. The witness statements are frustratingly chaotic. Some people saw a single figure, some as many as three. The only consistency is a carriage or cart of some sort, which seems obvious.”
“Cart. He lay on his side for some time. I can smell the wood… and something else.”
My stomach rumbled. Murith raised a brow.
“Meat. It was a butcher’s cart.”
“Ah. There is a rather large carving and processing house not too far from The Haven. They would have many such carts. Why don’t we start there?”
“After you, Watch Sergeant.”
Of course it was a trap.