They met up with Garath at the Library’s entrance. Both Rannol and Maluk had maintained a thoughtful silence as they had crossed the courtyard.
“What are they saying!” Garath seemed flustered, his usual neat appearance had suffered from a hasty dash across the building’s many hallways. He stopped short as he glanced quickly at the abandoned courtyard. “So the young fool made a mistake, right?” He turned to Rannol and interpreted his icy silence as a rebuke.
“Do forgive me, My Lord Caretaker. Some young fool spread a most despicable lie, and…”
“Eryl Lewin was murdered, Garath.”
Garath’s mouth dropped open and he stared at Rannol before foolishly snapping it shut again.
“But how? … I mean …”.
Rannol drew himself up, feeling the hot stare of Maluk on his back as he ordered, “See if you can help Jarral in the courtyard, Garath. Your healing knowledge may tell something he cannot see. When you’re done, meet us in the Hall of Announcements. We must consider how to proceed quickly.”
Garath gave a short bow and hurried outside.
Rannol turned towards Maluk. “See that all senior staff is assembled, Maluk. I will join you shortly.”
Maluk gave a mere nod but his hand rested briefly on Rannol’s arm before he too, stroke away quickly, through the door and into the Library’s dark interior.
Rannol remained behind. He had thought to inherit a position most noble and ordered. Instead, on his shoulders rested the responsibility of finding poor Eryl’s murderer. Or at least, he mused as he made for the Hall of Announcements himself, all he needed to do was to pronounce judgement on the perpetrator. The Dakyrian would find him, or her, for him. But even with his firm belief in the powers of the Federation’s prime investigators, his mind wandered over the possible suspects.
As he neared the doors of the Hall, Aribald, his face pale and drawn, was there to usher him in. His eyes went from the aging secretary, to Maluk and Aran, who were in hot debate, judging from their gestures and flustered faces. His gaze glided to Salu, who stared in deep thought at the painted glass windows, oblivious to his surroundings. He was interrupted by Garath, who had somehow managed to revert to his former impeccable self as he came striding behind Rannol.
Rannol tried to ignore the niggling voice at the back of his mind that asked with every familiar face: “Did he do it?”
Straightening his robes, he mustered every bit of dignity, nodded at Aribald, and stepped into the Hall, muttering to himself: “For you, Eryl.”
Aribald’s voice shook as he announced: “The Lord Caretaker.” He closed the door behind Rannol, leaving the senior staff to its first unforeseen council.