But why would you care about honor?”
“If you have to ask, you wouldn’t understand. Let me ask you a question, if I may.”
“Why not,” he said again in that curiously flat manner of his.
“When was the last time you saw your brother? Alive, I mean.”
His face went impassive. I began to suspect that’s what he looked like when he was deciding whether to be angry.
“Because in all the time I knew Corbin, he never mentioned you. He spoke of his daughter, a little. Once he mentioned his wife, when he was drunk. But he never mentioned his old man, and he never talked about a brother.”
“What are you getting at?”
“Just this. For the past three years I’ve drunk with Corbin, eaten with him, laughed with him and once or twice I even cried with him. If I’d wanted it, I could have slept with him, though gods only know why he wanted to, considering the mess I’ve made of my face over the years. But I thought at the time it would just complicate our friendship.
“We watched each other’s back, and bragged to each other about scores. We lent each other money and we bet on the horses, and the cards, and the dice. The day before he died, he asked me to look after his dog. And the morning he died, I had to pull that howling mutt away from the smell of his blood. I’m the one that got to tell his lover that he’d died, and how. But somehow I’m the one who’s chained to a floor, and you’re the one laughing when I say I’m going to kill the man who did it.”
I shook my head. I was a little bitter. “Life’s a funny thing, when you think about it, lord.”
“You think I didn’t love my brother?” I heard a hint of roughness in his voice.
“I have no idea.”
“You’re right. You don’t. The Corbin you knew was a different man.”
“That’s my point exactly. The man whose death you came to avenge was already dead. I don’t know who killed Corbin Hardin det Thracen-Courune. I do know who killed Corbin Hardin, the thief. That’s who I have a score to settle with. Who do you have a score with, Lord Osskil?”
His face paled. I thought he was going to hit me, but he stood up and turned away. The silence stretched on and on. Osskil broke it first.
“Let her go, Kluge.”
“My lord, I hardly think—”
“I said let her go free. Do it now.”
“But Lord Osskil—”
“Do not make me say it a third time, Inspector.”
“As you wish, my lord.”
Osskil stuck out his hand. I didn’t know what he wanted at first. Then I got it. I put my hand in his and he hauled me up. He didn’t even wipe it, afterward.
“Amra, I am lodging at the Thracen manse, on the Promenade. I hope you will call on me, that I may be of assistance to you in your... endeavor. Corbin’s funeral is tomorrow at noon, at the Necropolis. You are welcome to attend.” And he walked out, just like that. Kluge trailed after him, snapping out a ‘release her’ over his shoulder.
The guards undid the chain, the shackles, the manacles. The one who had made Gerard eat shit said, “You must have struck a nerve.”
“I guess so.”
“You want some advice? You walk out the gates, you keep walking ‘till you get to the docks. Then you board a boat. The first one away. Because as soon as this lord leaves town, Kluge will round you up. And next time, you won’t never see the light of day again.”
They kept my knives. Said they were misplaced, along with all my coin. I wasn’t particularly surprised. I walked down an arched corridor to a huge set of double doors. The guard opened a pedestrian door cut into the huge left-hand gate, and the sunlight streaming in made my eyes water. The world was a blur. Street traffic was a howling din. How had I never noticed how loud Lucernis was before?
Slowly my eyes adjusted, and I set off. Three blocks from Havelock I saw a signboard featuring a straight razor and a spray of whitehearts. As soon as I walked in to the barber, a