The croft-house door swung open at her touch, revealing Godric sitting by the low, orange fire. Startled, he looked round at her.
She stood in the doorway for a moment, assessing him. He looked apprehensive, but not yet at the stage of fight or flight. Probably thinking he might still talk his way out of this.
He started to rise as she stepped inside. “Sit down.” Her tone brooked no argument, and he dropped back down onto the rough wooden chair.
“Is it about the weapons? I told Erika it would take at least two more days.These aren’t easy jobs.”
It wasn’t about the weapons that he had been stealing from the glass-staffs’ armouries. He knew it wasn’t, and she knew he knew it wasn’t. He was just running through standard first-stage bluster.
“It’s about your friends. Alis, Konrad and Cranster. I’m afraid I have bad news.” It was almost amusing to watch him adopt a suitable expression of fearful concern.
“What about them?”
“They went to meet a contact last night. A captain in the glass-staffs’ employ, whose moral qualms had led him to sympathise with the resistance. The meeting was ambushed. I’m sorry to say that all four of them are dead.”
He buried his head in his hands, muffling a cry of anguish. When he looked up, his eyes were suitably reddened. “How?”
“Someone in our organisation, of course. A traitor.”
“Surely you don’t think it was me, I didn’t know anything about this meeting, I’ve been stationed here for the past week – ”
“Don’t worry, Godric, I know it wasn’t you.” She smiled down at him. “It was Siona.”
His eyes darted from side to side. “Siona? Are you sure?”
“Quite sure. I spoke to her this morning. She was most cooperative.”
He sprang from his seat, but before he was even upright she raised a gloved hand and his body froze. She watched the fear grow in his eyes as his muscles struggled against the arcane restraint. “Sit down, Godric. Don’t worry. Everything’s going to be fine. I’m here to help you.”
His body released, he sat back down, a new uncertainty in his eyes. “What do you mean?”
“You’ve been carrying a terrible burden for so long. It must be so hard, keeping all those secrets, maintaining all those deceptions. So hard, and so lonely. You’ll feel so much better if you get it off your chest. Tell me all about it.” As she spoke, she wove enchantments into her voice. She could see him relax as her influence enveloped him.
Eventually he spoke. “I’ve been working for the glass-staffs for years. It’s been so hard. I was nearly caught so many times. I had to kill Westrum last month, he got too close. Made it look like he hanged himself. He cried when I put the rope around his neck. It was horrible. Horrible.”
She cradled his head in her arms, stroked his hair with slow, soothing hands. “Shh. Shh. It’s all fine. Don’t worry about anything. Just let it all go. Who else were you working with?”
He sniffled. “Just Siona. I recruited her. We were going to live together after the war was won. It’s hopeless, you see? The resistance can’t win. Might as well make sure you’re set up with a good life afterwards.”
“And that’s what they promised you.”
“A house and a farm. Good land. We were going to be so happy.” He was half-sobbing now, his voice cracked and wavering.
“Don’t cry, don’t cry. Who promised you this?”
“Duellon the Proud. He’s one of the glass-staffs. He’s so smart. So generous.”
This name was new to her. More than likely, this Duellon was running other agents in other resistance cells. Now that would be an interesting man to have a conversation with.
“Where can I find this smart, generous man?”
He looked up at her. “I don’t know. I’m sorry, I don’t know.”
“Oh come on now, Godric.” She stroked his cheek. “Clever boy like you. I’m sure you know something.”
He smiled, remembering. “Yes. Yes, I do. He won’t be able to meet me for a while because he’s going north. Into minotaur country.”
That was a complication. Yes, minotaurs were technically allies, but they were notoriously difficult to work with. Even for someone as persuasive as her. Perhaps she could intercept this man before he reached their territory.
“You’ve been very brave, Godric, letting all your feelings out like this.” She took a step back. He looked exhausted, emotionally drained. “Do you feel better now?”
“Yes, Mawgojzeta. Much better. Thank you.”
“Good.” Her rapier slid easily into his throat. He didn’t even try to resist.
His body slumped and gurgled behind her as she went out of the door, closing it behind her. She had a long journey ahead, and there was no time to lose.