Magistrate Dunwald’s butler had the air of a man who had never risen before dawn in his life. He stared down his nose at Donnen Brennokovic and his partner, Jevlan, as if he were on some lofty balcony above them instead of standing in the parlor in his dressing gown.
“The magistrate is indisposed. This can wait until a reasonable hour.” He gestured for the guards to see themselves out.
“The magistrate is dead,” Donnen corrected him. “Wake the household.”
As the butler left, Jevlan shifted uneasily in his new armor. “Shouldn’t the captain be here?”
“You want to go back to the barracks, be my guest,” Donnen said with a shrug, only half-listening as he studied the collection displayed in the room. A dozen ancient swords lay nestled in display cases, protected from dust and prying fingers. He moved to lift the lid of the nearest one. Jevlan started to protest, but then the doors opened.
She had eyes the color of topaz and dark hair that fell across her brow like sword strokes. She strolled into the parlor with such dignified elegance that Donnen didn’t realize for several minutes that she was clad in a housecoat and not a ball gown.
“You have news about my husband? What’s Seamus done this time, forget to pay his bill at the Rose?” She seated herself and indicated the guards do the same. Donnen nodded at the recruit to speak up.
Jevlan started, “No, Lady Dunwald, actually—“
She interrupted him with a wave. “Marielle, please.”
“Lady Marielle, your husband has been murdered,” Donnen took over for the flustered recruit. “When did you see him last?”
Marielle started at him, her jewel-colored eyes wide, and her voice cracked on, “Murdered? Seamus?” But a heartbeat, maybe two, passed, and she again became the perfect picture of noble grace. “I saw him at dinner,” she answered in a tone anyone might use to comment on the weather. “He left before dusk. He said he was going to play Wicked Grace with the Comte de Favre.”
“Do you know of anyone who might have wanted him dead?” Jevlan asked softly.
“People want magistrates dead on principle.” She gave a wry smile, but her voice grew pained. “Criminals. Political rivals. Even people in his district who disagree with him.” She drifted off, lost in thought, and then turned to Donnen, eyes blazing. “A week ago, a letter came. Vague threats. I thought it was nothing, but it upset Seamus.”
“Who sent it?” Donnen asked.
“It wasn’t signed. But the seal was six crossed swords.”