Wren and Hess
In Wren’s experience, wizards came in two standard varieties. There were the frail thin ones, usually with long beards. And the young, voluptuous sorceresses who appeared to believe that wearing clothes hampered their magic. The suspect was the latter. Her cleavage spilled out of her top and the enchanted silk clinging to her supple flesh left little to the imagination. It might’ve proven distracting to another constable, but Wren wasn’t into that sort of thing. Her job had put her right off sorcerers and magicians and all the like. Nothing but trouble.
Hess, being a lizardman, was fifty percent immune to the sorceress’s charms. He was still a man though and noticeably distracted. Strange how even lizardfolk, whose females were mostly indistinguishable from males, were still mesmerized by a great pair of breasts.
“I demand my right to council,” said the sorceress.
“In a moment,” said Wren. “We just want to talk.”
The sorceress snorted. She wasn’t under arrest and not wearing the magic-impairing manacles that helped to keep her type predictable. She raised her hand, and Wren braced herself for something to explode or an army of imps to spring out from between her boobs and attack.
The sorceress smiled. “This is about that shopkeeper in Little Hollowtown, isn’t it? The one who was turned to stone?”
Hess nodded. “Yes, ma’am. You wouldn’t know anything about that?”
She ran her fingers around her red lips. “No, but I do know there’s a gorgon who lives on Baker Street.”
They’d checked the gorgon. She’d had an alibi.
“Petrifying someone is a stupid way for a gorgon to kill somebody if they wanted to get away with it,” said Wren.
“Exactly why a smart gorgon might do it,” replied the sorceress.
“With all due respect, Miss Shadowdagger—”
“It’s Shadowdagger-Grimsoul. My husband insisted I take his name and I insisted I keep mine. So why am I here? It’s because of my husband, isn’t it? I assure you, he’s a legitimate tradesman.”
Hess cracked a grin. Everyone knew Morsh Shadowdagger had a hand in every shady deal in town, but proving it was another thing. Wren didn’t obsess over Shadowdagger. There was always crime. There would always be crime. She didn’t worry about all of it. Only those little bits of it that came across her desk. Like a dwarf in Little Hollowtown doing a dead-on impression of a lump of granite wearing a terrified expression.
“My husband is a powerful person,” said Shadowdagger-Grimsoul. “I’m sure he’s already talking to your superiors about this.”
“I’m sure he is,” said Wren. “We have eye witnesses who say they saw you leaving the scene a little after midnight. Six hours later, the shopkeeper is dead and as far as we can tell, you were the last person to see him alive.”
“Eye witness testimony is hardly reliable proof.”
“Three separate gargoyles identified you,” said Hess.
Shadowdagger-Grimsoul’s smile faded. “You don’t say. They do so love to chatter, those gargoyles. I don’t suppose I have a right to know my accusers’ names?”
“Nobody’s accusing anybody of anything,” said Wren. “We were just wondering why you might be visiting a shop in the middle of the night?”
“Just some late night shopping. They have the most darling incense holders at Burdle’s shop.”
“We never told you the shopkeeper’s name,” said Hess.
“Hardly incriminating evidence. I shopped there. Of course I knew his name.” Shadowdagger-Grimsoul leaned forward. It was only enchantment that kept her in dress. Hess warbled involuntarily. “Would you like me to tell you what happened to that poor little shopkeeper?”
Wren said, “Are you volunteering a confession?”
The sorceress laughed. “No, but my dear Gendarme Wren, I am a master of the forbidden arts. I know things. It’s better that you don’t ask how. Such knowledge would only endanger your sanity.
She leaned back and her breasts stayed perky and upright. It was then that Wren was certain the sorcerer had sold her soul to some unnamable demon lord. That wasn’t strictly illegal, so it wasn’t any of Wren’s business.
Shadowdagger-Grimsoul put her fingers to her temples and closed her eyes. “I see a shopkeeper, charming, earthy, attractive in a stubby, delightfully cheerful way. And I see him taking a lover. Someone forbidden, dangerous. She doesn’t love him, of course, but she finds him amusing. And he cannot resist her. He must have her. And when she offers herself to him, he is happy, even eager, to reciprocate.
“Ah, but it is doomed to tragedy, as all such dangerous affairs are. The woman’s husband has dealt with this before. He knows his wife loves her diversions, but he also knows people will talk. He sends a wizard to solve this problem, and alas, poor Burdle pays the price for his passions.”
She lowered her hands and frowned.
“Such a shame, really. Burdle was such a lovely little fellow.”
Half-an-hour later, Wren and Hess watched the sorceress climb into a carriage and ride away.
“We’ll never prove anything,” said Hess. “And if we do, we’ll never go to trial. And if we go to trial, we’ll never—”
“I know.” Wren glared at the carriage disappearing in the distance. “I hate it when they get away with it.”
“Forget it, Wren. It’s Hollowtown.”