Senator Toran Velach tried to relax his shoulders and straightened his back. He had spent the last two hours going through reports that were marked ‘Senator Only’. Their number seemed to increase with every month. Ever since the foundation of Penenz, the smooth operation of the Order had been riddled with setbacks. He shook his head at the latest of them. He had sent one of his most trusted advisors to oversee its creational stages but had not counted on the man actually infirmed by the cold and harsh conditions of the place. Captain Jarace had escaped death but would have to serve the order without a left foot and three fingers of his right hand. Frostbite made no distinction between the law and the guilty.
A knock at the door interrupted his sombre thoughts. “Come,” he said and lay the documents aside. A young man, dressed in the dark purple colours of the Order entered the room and saluted smartly. We are starting to resemble militairy command, Senator Toran though wryly.
“Honour to Judge, My Lord Senator.”
Senator Toran nodded and swallowed an ‘at ease, soldier.’
“More news from the North, Mauran?”
“No, My Lord. My news concerns the Library of Mova.”
Senator Toran sat up.
“Out with it, man.”
Mauran winced and stumbled on his first sentence.
“They … that is to say, the Caretaker of Mova has requested our service.”
Toran looked up. A man his age did not often taste the pleasure of surprise anymore.
“Have we become scholars, Mauran?”
The young man shook his head, eager to enlighten his superior.
“No, My Lord. They requested an investigator. Apparently…” he took a step closer, lowering his voice. “Their former Caretaker has been murdered.” He looked at the Senator expectantly.
A man of Toran’s age had had years of pratise in hiding his surprises. Mauran was therefore disappointed.
“We are not kitchen maids, Juditor Mauran. You make it sound like gossip.” Toran perched his lips. “It is more than gossip, I trust?”
Mauran recovered well. “Their messenger awaits inquiry in the guesthall.”
Toran nodded slowly. Outwardly, he seemed the weigh this request with impartial judgement, as expected from the Senator. Inwardly, he had difficulty in remaining calm.
They had met, he and Eryl Lewin, several times had they met. They were of the same generation and had embraced the Federation with equal verve. They had respected each other’s station and intellect. And now, he was dead. Not eased into the other life after a long and successful life, but shoved into it, by a hand as yet unknown. Toran felt his ire rising.
“…, My Lord?” Toran looked at his Juditor without comprehension. “Shall I sent for him, My Lord?”
Toran spotted the slight condecention. “Juditor Mauran,” he said coldly, “thank you for your message. You may go.”
The slight hesitation in the Juditor’s movements did not go unnoticed and Toran made a mental note for disciplinary action. As the door shut behind Mauran, he shook his head. What was he thinking? Or, what was he trying to avoid thinking about?
He stood up from his desk and touched the round, brass device that was anchored in place by ornate bolds at the top-left of his desk. It vibrated softly to his touch, indicating the device had been activated. It wasn’t magical. It would have been highly inappropriate if it was magical. It summoned his secretary without delay.
“Bring me Investigator Davyd and clear away these documents. No, wait. Quickly bring me Davyd. I’ll clear these documents myself.”
Consternation written on his face, the secretary had been long enough in the Senator’s service to not waste another word on the matter and ran to perform his errand.