It was an hour’s ride from Edmund Manor to the small town of Carvil Crossing. Seymour borrowed one of Henry’s horses—a tall, white mare named Wyrinther—and left just after dawn, refusing Henry’s offer of accompaniment. His presence would have unduly influenced everyone involved. At least, that was what Seymour had told him, and while it was certainly true, by far the larger reason that he had turned him down was that he needed some time to himself. His lordship was beginning to get a bit too clingy for his liking.
His first stop was at the headquarters of the Sheriff of Carvil, a flat-faced wooden building along the town’s main drag, facing the river. The hitching posts that ran along the front side of the low porch were all either taken or marked as reserved, so Seymour elected to tie up Wyrinther next door, at a shop called Barrowman’s Clockworks. For a moment, the window display captivated him—a menagerie of ornate timepieces and unsettling automatons stared out through the plate glass, their moving parts winking and glinting in the morning sunlight. Then he recalled his mission, and he hurried on his way.
A bell jingled at the top of the doorframe as he entered, and he had to take evasive action in order to avoid hitting his face on it.
“Good morning,” he said.
Compared to the station back in Brysail, the sheriff’s department was a miniscule operation—one room, with the sheriff lounging behind a large wooden desk on the left hand side and a small band of lackeys, gathered around a table on the right, partaking in a pot of coffee that smelled distinctly of skunks. All eyed him suspiciously as he ducked through the door.
“What do you want, grunie?”
Seymour swallowed. “My name is Seymour de Winter, I’m a private detective. Lord Henry, uh, hired me to, I guess, investigate the investigation that led to his brother’s imprisonment—” He looked from face to face. They clearly weren’t ready to buy his story. “Um, hold on. His lordship gave me a thing, to, uh, prove my intentions…”
He dug in his pocket and located a small scroll, sealed in wax with the Edmund family crest, which he presented to the sheriff, who snatched it out of his hands and popped it open with his thumb.
“Seymour de Winter, eh?”
“Your parents gave you that name?”
“Yes. Well, my adoptive ones did. They were humans.”
“It’s not convenient, it’s the truth.” He straightened his spine. “Listen, sir. That letter should tell you all you need to know. I’d like to get started as soon as possible.”
“And how do I know you aren’t an imposter? You could very well have stolen this scroll from the real de Winter. Having it in your possession proves nothing.”
“It was sealed with his lordship’s crest.” Seymour narrowed his eyes at him. “How do you suppose I would know what was written inside it without opening it?”
“Perhaps you interrogated the bearer as to its contents. The possibilities are endless, grunie.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake.” Seymour pulled out his wallet and began to rummage inside it. “If that won’t convince you—”
“Excuse me, grunie,” the sheriff said sourly. “I do not take bribes.”
Seymour snorted. “Sir, I am merely retrieving my identification papers.” He emerged with a folded piece of parchment, which he opened and held out for the sheriff’s inspection. “Surname: de Winter. Forename: Seymour. District of residence: South Brysail. Date of birth: 12 August, 1194. Species: Sea Elf. Race: Cobaltic Merrish. Emancipation status: Free. Marital status: Unwed. Criminal convictions: None. Height: 6’4. Eyes: Green. Hair: Black.” He slapped the parchment down on the desk for emphasis. “Now can we please proceed? You don’t want me reporting back to his lordship about your blatant obstructionism, do you? He hasn’t been in the best of moods lately.”
“Fine.” He pushed Seymour’s identification information back towards him. “What do you want to know?”
“I want every single fucking bit of information gathered in the investigation of the murders of Lord Thomas D. F. Edmund III and his wife, Lady Eleanor Rose Mantoux Edmund, down to the bloody last Rezyn-damned shred of evidence, and I want it right fucking now.”