Thraxas and the Ice Dragon / Траксас и леденият дракон: Двадесет и девета глава

Английски оригинал Перевод на български

Chapter Twenty-Nine


I wake early the next morning. My body aches. I feel old and battered. I'm debating whether or not to go back to sleep when Makri pokes her head into my room.


"Are we going investigating?"


"Why are you up so early?"


Makri shrugs. "I'm feeling better."


"I'm not." I haul myself out of bed, and glare at Makri. She ask me what I'm looking annoyed about.


"You. When I won the tournament I celebrated for a week. It would have been longer if me and Demmy the barmaid hadn't been arrested for indecency in the fountain. But here you are, sober and healthy. You even went to bed early. It's not right."


"I didn't feel much like celebrating."


I scramble around collecting my boots and sword. I ask Makri if she'll grab some food from the kitchen or cellar while I get ready. I suppose it's as well that Makri is sober. I need her help today. But it goes against the grain that she didn't celebrate. Anyone else would have.


"I have something for you before we go," says Makri.




She hands me a bright new Elvish sword. "This was part of my prize for winning the tournament. I have two good swords already, so you can have it."


I take the sword. It's a valuable item, and a much better weapon than my current blade. It's a very fine gift. I look at Makri. I have no idea how to thank her properly. I feel awkward, and lost for words. Perhaps her strategy of bursting into tears and running out the room isn't such a bad idea.


"Let's go," says Makri.


Outside I commandeer Lisutaris's carriage. "We need to hurry. Demelzos's son is due to get married later today. I'd like to solve this before that happens."


"Is there any chance of that?" asks Makri. "I didn't know you were close."


"I've got a good idea what's going on. Demelzos's daughter Merlione is interfering with her son's inheritance in some way. I don't know how, but she is."


Makri looks puzzled. "How do you know that?"


"Nothing else fits. Merlione's brother's getting married into Baron Vosanos's family, and he's taking a chunk of money with him. Vosanos needs that money badly. Somehow Merlione's spoiling things. That's what her friend Alceten discovered. That's why she was killed, and that's why someone's been trying to kill Merlione."


"I suppose it would make sense," says Makri. "But aren't you just guessing?"


"No. I'm sure. More so since I learned that Zinlantol at the Royal Record House is a cousin of Magranos, Baron Vosanos's Chief Steward."


We share some bread on the way. Makri hands me a bottle she brought from the kitchen. I take a drink.




"What did you expect for breakfast?"


I shake my head in disgust. When we arrive at the Record House I leave the carriage outside and march past the guards without looking at them. Inside the Record House, Zinlantol is sitting behind her desk, as always. When I approach, she regards me with loathing. A lot of people have done that recently.


"Did you pass information about Alceten's work to your cousin Magranos?"


"I have nothing to say to you!" says Zinlantol. She stands up quickly and disappears through the door behind her, into some private staff area.


"I'd say she was," I mutter to Makri, as we make our way upstairs. "She was already getting rid of evidence about the Baron's debts, destroying the papers. When she learned that Alceten had discovered something that was going to cost Baron Vosanos a lot of money, she passed that on to her cousin too."


Upstairs, the corner where Alceten was working is still surrounded by books and scrolls, many of which I haven't even opened yet. I pick up the large book of Samsarinan Commercial Law and hand it to Makri.


"This is the book that was out of place. Alceten might have been reading it before she was killed. Go through it and see if there's anything relevant. I'll make a start on the scrolls."


"How long do we have?"


"About three hours."


"I can't get through this in three hours."


"Do your best."


We sit down and read. As soon as I pick up a scroll I start to remember how much I ache. These Samsarinan Sorcerers really gave me a battering. I glance through the scroll, find nothing relevant, throw it to one side and pick up another.The Law of Tort regarding Interference to Property Rights with Regard to Trespass by Hostile Orcs. I shake my head. Already my eyes are starting to swim. Can't these legal clerks make their writing a little bigger? I put the scroll to one side, being fairly sure that no Orcs have been interfering with local property. I notice Makri has gone off to the far end of the room, where she's hunting through cabinets. I pick up another scroll. It deals with property disputes between Barons and their subjects in times of famine. Again, it's so densely written I can barely read it. I struggle on for as long as I can, then shake my head in despair. I'm beaten. If there's some legal secret here, we're not going to find it.


"Found it," says Makri.




"Alceten made a note in the third appendix of the law book. It referred to another book from three centuries ago. I've just read the relevant part."




"It referred me to another legal tract. I found that too."


"Are you ever going to come to the point?"


"Listen." Makri reads from a very old scroll. "In memory of Queen Eferinis, who first discovered queenstone, and arrayed her daughters splendidly in jewels, all queenstone will pass from mother to daughter, and be inherited in the female line."


I take the scroll from Makri. "This was drafted by King Moslos. He reigned about six hundred years ago. Could it still be current?"


"I suppose so, if it was never repealed. Everyone must have forgotten about it till Alceten came across it."


"Alceten discovered that Merlione should inherit her mother's Queenstone mines." I produce a magic purse from my tunic pocket.


"Where did you get that?" asks Makri.


"I borrowed it from Lisutaris while she was still sleeping. Let's go. We have to stop a wedding."


We smuggle the relevant documents out of the Record House using the magic pocket, then ride swiftly towards Baroness Demelzos's mansion. Outside the mansion are numerous carriages, ready to carry the family to the wedding.


"Have you ever destroyed a wedding before?" asks Makri.


"Once or twice. It never goes down well."


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