turned to face the constables. ‘I believe the last case where a life sentence was issued was forty-two years ago: the Golden Park Ripper. A most unpleasant individual. Before your time, of course. For that you may consider yourselves lucky.’
‘Wow,’ Macsen said again.
‘Congratulations, young man,’ Master Solarin said, and put his hand out.
Edeard took the old man’s grip gently. ‘Thank you, sir. You got the verdict for us.’
‘I didn’t have much work to do, thanks to your extraordinary gift. I wish you luck in your future endeavours. It has been a privilege to be you legal instructor. But to use an ancient phrase, I think you have outgrown me now.’
‘Oh no, sir. I’m hoping for a lot more cases.’
‘And you’ll get them, of that I’m in no doubt. And I’m not the only one, it would seem. Do you see the gentleman over there?’ His gnarled finger pointed with only a slight tremor.
Edeard and the others glanced in the direction the old lawyer indicated. They saw a man in a flamboyant blue jacket and grey drosilk shirt making his way along the main aisle. He was probably approaching the end of his first century, yet still hale and healthy, with thick brown hair hanging over his collar, only a few strands of which were turning to silver. He had heavy gold rings on every finger, and loops of gold chain round his neck. His face was fattening, the result of many years of good living. Even so, he looked physically powerful. He was watching them with pale-green eyes that were overshadowed by a broad forehead. Some accident or fight long ago had left him with a jaw that was unable to close straight, giving him slightly lopsided features. His whole appearance was one of a successful, self-confident merchant. As if to confirm this, he was accompanied by two beautiful girls who wore expensive dresses and a lot of jewellery. They were several years younger than Kristiana, Edeard decided with a little burst of sympathy for them. Then he met the man’s gaze. It was a scrutiny every bit as intense as the one the Pythia had given him all those months ago. Edeard instinctively knew there was an enmity between them, and returned the stare levelly even though he didn’t know why.
‘Who is that?’ he asked quietly.
‘That,’ Master Solarin said with extreme distaste, ‘is Captain Ivarl.’
‘Has he some kind of ship?’ Edeard asked. He was mildly put out by the way the others groaned disparagingly.
‘No,’ Chae said. ‘He doesn’t own a ship, though he makes out he used to captain a merchantman. Ivarl is the owner of the House of Blue Petals.’
Edeard had heard of that establishment; a bordello in the Myco district, next to Makkathran’s port.
Captain Ronark had come forward to stand at Edeard’s shoulder. ‘If the gangs in this city can be said to have a leader,’ Ronark said. ‘it is Ivarl. He at least likes to style himself the master of our criminal fraternity. It was probably him who sent Arminel back to ambush you.’
‘Ah,’ Edeard said. He smiled politely, and inclined his head towards the villain.
Ivarl returned the gesture, tipping his gold-topped cane in Edeard’s direction. Master Cherix came up behind him, and murmured something in his ear. Ivarl smiled tightly, and came over to the constables.
‘My congratulations on an exemplary case,’ he said. His voice was rough and Edeard suspected the injury that left his jaw askew had caused some deeper damage.
‘Thank you,’ Edeard said with a heavy dose of irony.
‘This city is so much better off without such people,’ Ivarl continued. ‘They are cheap vermin; they bring nothing to our lives. You, though, you are an exceptional man, Constable Edeard.’
‘I do my best.’ Edeard was uncomfortably aware of the way Macsen and one of Captain Ivarl’s girls were smirking at each other. He wanted to smack his friend hard.
‘As do we all,’ Ivarl said. ‘Everyone in their own small way contributes to the flow of life