Juris Tenude had been a man who woke before the rise of the sun for many years, since he struck out to start a life of his own at the age of thirteen, oh so long ago. And though darkness still prevailed just beyond the window panes of his bedroom, he easily deciphered the muffled commotion from down the road as Constable Briffain and his two lackeys, the deputies, trundled up the road. Juris heard them along the outside of his stone wall, until they reached the wrought iron gate, at which point one of the deputies pulled it open with much strain and protest from the screeching hinges. Juris rolled his eyes as he lay in bed: those deputy buffoons had all the tact of a water buffalo in heat.
Juris sighed inwardly and shook his head with resignation. They were coming to have words with him, he figured the least he could do was offer them some fresh coffee. He rose from the bed covers and threw on some clothes as he made his way to the kitchen, where he stoked the fire and placed a pot of water above the flames to begin the percolating process. Seconds later, there was a knock on his door.
"Juris Tenude? It is Craine Briffain. We need to talk."
Juris grumbled to himself and went to the door. He spoke through it to the men on the other side, "Briffain? What are you doing out at this beastly hour? Leave me alone and go back home to your warm bed."
"Juris, cut it out; we both know you have probably been up for hours already. Open up, we need to talk."
Juris knew that Briffain was not a peacekeeper, he was a politician. Therefore he was not a man looking for justice, but rather a stuffed shirt looking for votes. Any conversation with him was a complete waste of words, in Juris' mind. Luckily, the man would look to climb the political ladder to a higher rank in the coming months, Juris knew, so his time here was short. And as much as Juris wanted to tell him to piss off, he nonetheless cracked open his door and peered out. The first tendrils of gray began to lick at the horizon to the east, though Briffain and his two goons remained nondescript in the shadow of pre-dawn fog, even though they were mere paces from Juris' front door.
Juris greeted them with barely a nod and then instructed, "Say your piece."
Briffain's fingers came to life and began twiddling nervously at the corpulent man's chest. There was an uncomfortable softness to his voice when he spoke, "Juris, um, I am sorry but your daughter is dead. Farmer Tulick found her last night. I wanted to tell you first thing in the morning."
There was a sudden lump of white-hot lava in Juris' throat, a ball of despair that twisted and burned with each breath. He leaned heavily against the door frame, the strength of his house the only thing keeping him upright as the room around him spun. Through swollen tongue he was able to ask, "What about Hope? Where is my granddaughter?"
Briffain shook his head sadly, "I don't know sir, the property was empty upon inspection."
Juris's teeth clamped shut like a bear trap as he spat, "And what of the bastard that killed her? Where is my dear son-in-law?"
"Well," Briffain looked confused, "we thought he was with Hope."
"I can assure you, gentlemen, that if that turns out to be true, then we can only pray to all the saints whom we hold holy in Hope's name, for she is now in the company of evil."