of this fine city. In this respect, I extend an invitation to you and your friends to enjoy the hospitality of my house.’
Edeard was very aware of everyone waiting for his response. So this is what Finitan was warning me about. I’ve shown the gangs that not all constables are pushovers, that their usual violence doesn’t work against me, so they want to see how far I’m going to take this. Politics!
He allowed an old, deeply personal, image to leak from his mind: the smouldering ruins of Ashwell, with corpses protruding from them.
‘I haven’t been down to your district of the city yet,’ Edeard said. ‘But I’m planning on visiting soon.’
Ivarl’s pudgy lips pressed together in a big display of disappointment. He shrugged elaborately. ‘I look forward to meeting you there, young man.’ He turned and walked away, a girl clinging possessively to each arm.
Only then did Edeard notice the looks the others were giving him. ‘What?’
Captain Ronark smiled. ‘Good man, Edeard. I knew you wouldn’t betray yourself.’
Chae gave him an admiring grin, and walked out with the captain.
‘Where was that place?’ Boyd asked with trepidation.
‘The village I grew up in,’ Edeard told him.
‘Lady, just seeing it frightened me.’
‘I wanted some emphasis. I wanted to make sure Ivarl understood.’
‘Oh, I think he got it. You don’t have to worry on that score.’
‘Shame, though,’ Macsen said wistfully. ‘Did you see the blonde one?’
‘You peasant,’ Kanseen hissed at him.
‘Hey! I can make noble painful sacrifices, too, you know. You have to have standards to be a part of the Waterwalker’s squad.’
‘Don’t call me that,’ Edeard said wearily.
‘Too late,’ Boyd said. ‘Far too late.’
It was mid-afternoon when they got back to the Jeavons constable station. They claimed their usual table in the hall, and the ge-monkeys brought over plates of sandwiches and mugs of tea. Of late, the station food had improved; local shopkeepers were keen to supply the constables with their better products at reasonable prices, grateful for the noticeable reduction in gang activity in the district.
Edeard appreciated the gesture, but it made him very aware of the expectations settling on his shoulders. And now I’ve seen the real enemy. Arminel might be gone, but Ivarl can send a dozen more just like him on to the streets. A hundred.
After the elation of the trial it was a sobering thought. He hadn’t really changed anything, just made himself famous. And ultimately, what use is that to people?
‘Result, or what?’ Boyd said as he picked up one of the sandwiches, a malted roll containing ham and cheese with a strong tomato chutney. He bit in contentedly.
All the other constables in the station were making a point of coming over to congratulate them on the verdict. Edeard was finally getting embarrassed by the admiration.
‘Yes. A result all right,’ Kanseen said, picking through the rest of the sandwiches. ‘But it’s only one result.’
‘Trust you to pour on the ice water,’ Macsen said.
‘She’s right,’ Edeard said. ‘We’re going to have to do a lot more than this before the gangs even start getting worried.’
‘Not so. Ivarl is worried enough about the Waterwalker to crawl out from under his rock and get a firsthand look,’ Boyd said.
‘Will you please stop calling me that?’
‘I thought Arminel would get thirty to forty years at least,’ Macsen said. ‘But for the rest of his life? He’s only, what, thirty? That’s at least a hundred and fifty years in Trampello. It’s not exactly a pavilion on the Iguru. A hundred and fifty years! Owain must really want to be re-elected.’
‘I’m not sorry for him,’ Edeard said. ‘He was going to kill me.’
‘Because Ivarl told him to,’ Kanseen said.
‘You think so?’
‘No way could he put together an ambush like that without a lot of help. He’d need permission. Ivarl must have agreed.’