‘A bit of a mess’ was a considerable understatement.  There were papers strewn across the floor, bits of evidence from other cases piled on the kitchen table, and unwashed dishes waiting in unexpected places.

                “Rezyn,” Henry breathed.  “I hope some of that fifty thousand goes to hiring a housekeeper.”

                Seymour ignored the remark, opting instead to clear off spaces to sit on the sofa and chairs by the fire.

                “Please,” he said.  “Have a seat.”

                The three mages did as told, and Seymour joined them, pen and parchment in hand.

                The Aechyed detective turned first to Alt-Mage MacQuarrie.  “Will you tell me about your nephew?”

                MacQuarrie swallowed.  Clearly, he had been hoping that this wouldn’t come up.  “He is my sister’s second child, her eldest son.  His name is Seoc MacInnes.”

                “And how came he to be at Waelyngar Penitentiary?”

                “Well,” stalled MacQuarrie, shifting uncomfortably.  “It is a rather awkward subject.”

                “If I am to accept this job, sir, I must know.  I need to be aware of exactly what I am getting myself into.”

                MacQuarrie looked at the ground, hesitating.  “You must understand—he is young, only fifteen, and children of that age are prone to act before thinking—”

                Seymour looked at him severely.  “Mother of bloody fucking Rezyn, man!  Just spit it out!”

                MacQuarrie sighed in resignation.  “Very well.  His father—who is by the by, a rather cruel man—caught him…” He trailed off and looked at the ceiling as if searching there for the proper words. “Caught him with another boy.  He beat them both and turned them in.”

                Seymour sat silently, contemplating his own webbed fingers.

                The Alt-Mage cleared his throat.  “I hope his…mistake…does not bring you to reconsider your involvement.”

                There is no need to carry on as if the poor boy committed mass murder, Seymour thought at him.  I mean, really!  “No,” he said.  “I have no qualms about that issue.  I was merely lost in thought.  Forgive me.”

                MacQuarrie looked relieved. 

                “Now,” continued Seymour.  “Shall we discuss plans for the operation?”

*    *    *

It was late in the night by the time they had settled upon a plan.  Seymour had drafted it onto his parchment, full of edits, revisions, and scratchings-out.   He passed the document around.

                “Commit it to memory,” he instructed.  “I shall burn it shortly.”

                They did so, and Seymour gave it one last look-over before dropping it into the fire.  They watched in silence as the flames curled and consumed it, turning it to fine, black ash.

                “You have adequate lodgings, I trust?”

                They nodded.

                “Good.  I will see you on the morrow, at noon, to commence our journey to Waelyngar.  Have a good night—or rather, morning,” he amended after glancing at the clock on his wall.

                Once they were gone and Seymour had shut the door behind them, he undressed and went to bed.  However, he did not sleep immediately; there was simply too much to think about.

                He lay on his back, naked, his sheets pushed all the way down to the foot of his bed, and stared at the darkened ceiling while the chilly breeze whispered through his pane-less window, billowing the curtains.  He knew he should have felt cold, but he didn’t.  Not really.

 It occurred to him that this would be the last night he would lie in his own bed for quite a while.  Where would he be sleeping tomorrow?  In an inn, in Waelyngar, probably.  After that?  Only Rezyn knew.


The End

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