Slayer of Women
(and moving house … again!)
We got back from the rescue of Sir Alon and found out we’d missed a few developments. Some group calling itself “Black Shield” was taking over in Lowtown and, with help from the weasel of an agent who tried to feed us to the Carrion Crawler in the basement, was pressuring us to play nice with them … to the loss of our profits. Aliella looked into that (when she wasn’t chasing Dr. Itu around all moony-eyed) and decided we’d be better off moving. Somehow, Fiona (who can’t read) and Ardel (who can read a little) ended up with the task of finding us a new place. Amazingly, they found a place in Uphill West that would work. Fiona thought the big room on the second floor perfect because “we can all sleep in one room like a proper family!” Yeah … right. We partitioned things up a bit. Darkarus ended up with his own space and Fiona, Aliella, and I are sharing one big room. Raganash still has the basement. The staff has rooms on the main floor … and we can take in a tenant or two from time to time. It’ll work.
In the meantime, we also discovered from the gazette that the “Slayer of Women” was still at large. There had been a gruesome murder or two right before the Revels … and another one (involving a young lady from the Fifty whom I’d seen at a ball) before we left to aid Sir Alon. There had been a number while we were gone and the frequency was picking up.
So is the frequency of balls. Colvin and I were eating together when I returned … and he invited me to another one … which means I need more ball dresses (and another shopping trip with Aliella). More importantly, while we were eating and I was sharing the story of the rescue of Sir Alon, Colvin (astonished that we’d actually seen Uruk-hai) also let it slip that the sword he’d given me is his great-grandfather. (Oh ye gods! I had no idea!!! The man is indeed quite serious about me – not that I’m complaining.) Good thing I had another one for him. I’d already given him the first of the two ceremonial swords I picked up at Simkin Lake. Now he has the second.
But he and the others of the Guard are no closer to solving the slayer of women situation. And – back to the ball again – I agreed to go with him only if he promised that he would not allow Dr. Itu to have more than one turn with me on the dance floor and that under no circumstances would he permit Dr. Itu to take me out of his sight. That man’s overwhelming charm gives me the creeps – and that Aliella is so starry-eyed over him only adds to the overall creepy effect.
I got dresses; we did the ball. Nothing happened. Another woman was found brutally murdered. The frequency is getting up to one a night.
Darkarus has been doing stake outs since we came back. The next time, he wanted to borrow my spyglass. Does he know how to work it? No, he does not. (You want my spyglass; you get me – that’s the deal.) So I went along with him and as we were waiting, I helped him learn to work it. He’d been able to figure out the women were being killed somewhere other than where the bodies were left. A pattern was emerging that suggested the killer was bringing the bodies to the dumping sites through the sewers. By this time, Darkarus had narrowed down the possibilities to two places where the killer would be likely to exit the sewer with a body. He watched one of them and I watched the other. Darkarus had my spyglass … and I was the one who “got lucky.” The killer came up the manhole I was watching. As I followed his progress from behind a fence, something I bumped caused him to stop and look around for the source. I made a sound like a cat … and heard a muttered “damn cats” in a vaguely familiar voice. After I saw him with the body, I gave Darkarus the signal. He followed the killer back down the sewer … which was very foolish of him (especially since he had my spyglass on him).
When he didn’t show up the next day – and it was looking like Dr. Itu was the killer, we launched a plan of action. Aliella, who was now as sour on Itu as she had been over the moon (since he’d swiftly and viciously killed a would-be attacker right in front of her), went to see him with Fiona to create a diversion so Raganash and I could get in and see if we could find (and free – if still possible) Darkarus. It wasn’t easy I heard later, but Aliella managed to distract the bad doctor. We found Darkarus … who was alive and by that time had thoroughly perused a journal recording all of Itu’s crimes. I managed to slip out with the journal and ran to Colvin with it. After quickly paging through the thing and seeing the depth of Itu’s sickness, he rounded up a squad and summoned the magistrate. I led them back to Itu’s place and helped them find the sewer entrances to cut off Itu’s possible escape routes. Itu was captured and tried to creep us out. But the killings have stopped.
I think we’re all breathing a little easier now. Aliella was apparently trying to get books, herbs, and other goodies out of Itu’s office-residence, but that didn’t work out too well. It has worked out better for her to try to continue the clinic Itu started in Lowtown. But most of all, I’m free to enjoy the balls again.