Magic Can Be Murder

Chapter 11



"To hide until the commotion moved to the other end of the house. Then, once everyone had given up on pursuit and was gathered around the shop, he could have scrolled out the kitchen door without anyone noticing."

Galvin is definitely too clever for his own good, Nola thought. He was complicating things even more than she had. Did he really believe this far-fetched theory, or was he trying to catch someone up? And if he was trying to catch someone up, who? She asked, "So that would mean that you're searching for…?"

Galvin made an expansive gesture. "Evidence of his being here. Or perhaps he left the stolen goods hidden somewhere in the house, with the plan of coming back to retrieve them at some later time, when things have calmed. Which, of course, would put all of you in danger. He might even still be here, trapped by the searchers coming back sooner than he anticipated. For all we know, he's in a corner of the root cellar, or in or behind a piece of furniture."

Nola glanced at Halig to see what he made of that notion but couldn't read anything from his face.

If Galvin said too much more, she would have to throw something out of sheer vexation. So Nola closed her eyes to indicate that she was tired and that they should leave.

When she peeked her eyes open, she saw that Galvin, Halig, and Alan had gone, and only Kirwyn remained, lingering in the doorway. She remembered how he'd looked when she'd seen him in the bespelled water before he had killed Innis. He'd been spying in the kitchen window, watching Brinna, and he'd been wearing an expression of venom and malice. Now his expression was only one of irritation. "What the hell are you trying to do, Brinna?" he demanded in a quiet voice, obviously intent on not letting the others hear.

Trying to do? "I fell," she told him.

He continued to glower.

Pain and the weariness of habitual fear conspired to make her reckless. "I didn't fall intentionally to inconvenience you."

Surprisingly he didn't take offense at her unservant-like brazenness. "Is anything amiss?" he asked.

Everything was. Everything obviously was. Even Kirwyn had to see char. And solicitude didn't suit him. Even his tone of voice was wrong. "No," she said, though she was nor sure what exactly he was asking her.

"Good," he snapped.

"Thank you for your concern," she muttered as he slammed the door shut.

What was that all about?

He would bear watching.

But of course she had known that already.

She waited until the men's voices and their footsteps faded, then she reached for the cup Galvin had left her. Since this was Brinna's bed, she had no difficulty finding one of Brinna's hairs. Whispering the words that prepared the water, she tossed the hair into the cup.

The magic was not fooled by the transforming spell. Instantly Brinna's shadowform appeared in the water. Looking like Nola's mother, she sat, hudcled and miserable, in the corner of what appeared to be a barn. Good, Nola thought, happy not over Brinna's distress but because Brinna was being quiet. And because she was alone. That was safest for both of them. And she had the basket she'd taken marketing, which meant she wouldn't go hungry, even if Nola couldn't get out of the house until after everyone had gone to bed.

Bur Nola hoped she'd have a chance before that. She hoped that Innis was to be buried today – it was, after all, summer – and that she could slip away then.

Lest Brinna get the idea that she was safe just because she was away from Nola's presence, Nola concentrated on the memory of her mother trying to snatch fairies only she could see out of the air. "Damn fairies," her mother would say, "always jeering and poking fun."

In the cup, Brinna's hand jerked and clawed at the air and her lips twitched.

Nola made her do it only twice, just so she wouldn't dare to go to her friends to try to convince them of what had happened. Then Nola plucked the hair out of the cup. There were more to choose from should she decide to check again, and she would never, ever, leave bespelled water about again. She was determined not to complicate the situation any more than she already had.

Galvin was doing enough of that already.

ALAN BROUGHT HER a meal, proof – if she'd needed any – that she'd lost any possibility of returning to the farmer's market stall in time for him to return her to the road to Saint Erim Turi.

"What's happening?" Nola asked.

"Much coming and going," Alan replied. "Lord Pendaran's men searched the house, the shop, and the grounds. They've questioned neighbors." Alan shrugged, possibly indicating he considered much of this a waste of time – which it would have been had Innis really been killed by an intruder.

"And Kirwyn?" Nola asked.

"Accepting the condolences of all … as well as accepting a few work orders." No need of brilliant deduction to guess what Alan thought of that unseemly haste to return to business.

Trying to get more information, Nola said, "That Lord Galvin, he makes my head spin."

"Well, yes," Alan said, "he does seem to have that effect on quite a few of the young women."

"No." Nola felt her face go red. "I mean with all his theories, all his questions." She was sure Alan didn't believe her. Serves you right, she told herself, after making it so no one believes Brinna. She went on, "He got me so muddled, I couldn't remember what I'd told him before. I couldn't remember what I'd seen before."

Alan patted her hand sympathetically. "And the knock on your head won't be helping any."

"Exactly," Nola agreed. She didn't need sympathy; she needed to know what had happened last night after she stopped watching in the bespelled water basin. "I remember being in the kitchen when I heard Master Innis cry out." She paused and hugged herself as though too distressed to continue, in case Alan would correct her and say that previously she had claimed it was the thud of the strongbox falling that had alerted her that something was wrong.

Alan didn't correct her.

"And I remember running down the hallway, where you joined me because you were coming from…" She reached for her cup and took a drink of water.

"My room," Alan finished for her, which was some of the information she'd been hoping to uncover.

She nodded, pretending he was saying something she already knew. "Then," she continued – Alan had already indicated this in front of Galvin – "I opened the door – "

Alan interrupted with another detail. "Because I was slower, being already asleep when the cry awoke me…"

Again Nola nodded. "And I saw … I think I saw … a glimpse of him. The one who did it."

Alan didn't say anything, because apparently Brinna had said no such thing last night.

"I shouldn't have said anything to Galvin," Nola said, "because I'm not sure. Maybe people talked me into it, with all their questions." She tested out that explanation, and Alan seemed to find it reasonable, but that was no assurance Galvin had.

"Maybe you saw his shadow," Alan said, a compromise between "I saw him" and "I didn't see him."

"Maybe," Nola agreed. "But, you know, after that everything seems confused."

"Everything was confused after that." Alan was just too agreeable. But then he continued, "Neighbors shouting and pursuing each other, everybody with opinions and advice, the baker's w:fe coming to help and then fainting…"

Galvin had mentioned something about Brinna screaming and Kirwyn and Alan pursuing. Nola said, "So while I was busy screaming, you and Kirwyn went chasing after the intruder…"

"See, you do remember," Alan said.

"And … What direction, again, did Kirwyn come from? Was he behind you in the hall?" That would have made sense if Kirwyn had run out of the shop and circled around the house, entering through the kitchen so that he, too, could say that he had been asleep in his own room. This would have given him the opportunity to throw the money he had stolen from his fathers strongbox into his room, to hide more carefully later.

But where had he hidden it, if Galvin and Halig had searched the house and been unable to find it?

None of this made any difference, for Alan was shaking his head. "No, Kirwyn came around from the outside, thinking to cut him off."

That meant he must have dropped or quickly stowed the stolen money outside. And yet none of the neighbors who had swarmed into the courtyard to see what was happening last night had come across it. Nor had Galvin and Halig today. And what chance had Kirwyn had to remove it to a safer place? Nola tried to picture the outside of the house, the courtyard. Surely Galvin and Halig would have had the sense to look into the well. And to check both the well and the outside of the house for loose stones behind which a treasure could be hidden. It couldn't have been a very complicated hiding place, because there was so little time for Kirwyn both to have scooped the money out of the strongbox and to have hidden it….

Leave thai hunt to the men, Nola told herself.

And yet maybe it was important. Maybe where the money was hidden could in some way point Galvin and Halig to who had hidden it. Though she couldn't help but wonder why Kirwyn had stolen at all – when in the end, as Innis's only son, Kirwyn would get everything anyway.

With that thought, Nola suddenly saw the why – not of the robbery, but of the murder itself. Innis was about to remarry. If he died after that, Kirwyn's inheritance would have to be shared with the new bride, Sulis. And if in the course of time Innis and Sulis had children, especially a boy, especially since Innis and Kirwyn didn't get along…

"You're thinking very hard," Alan told her.

Nola smiled and reminded herself not to concentrate all of her attention on Kirwyn or she'd be in danger of accidentally letting slip the transforming spell that held her to Brinna's appearance. It was not up to her to solve the hows and whys of the silversmith's murder. That was Galvin and Halig's responsibility. What she needed was to learn enough about what had happened that she could trick Galvin into believing she had been there – trick him long enough for her to find an opportunity to get out of the house, out of Haymarket, and back to her mother – Lord! There was a thought! – waiting for her in Saint Erim Turi. If Halig and Galvin couldn't figure out the who of this matter – or worse yet, settled on Alan – that was unfortunate, but it didn't, really, affect her.

It didn't, she mentally repeated.

Not that the repetition made it more convincing.

Out loud she said to Alan, "Just trying to get everything resettled in my mind, before Galvin comes in and confuses me all over again."

"Well," Alan said, "eat your lunch. Things always look better on a full stomach. And I need to see if Kirwyn needs help in the shop, before he comes looking for me."

"Thank you for preparing the meal," Nola said. "I'm sorry to be laid up and put more work on you."

"Not your fault," Alan assured her. "And Master Kirwyn has hired the cooper's daughters to prepare the funeral feast this afternoon."

Nola was glad to hear that Kirwyn didn't expect her to get up and hobble around the kitchen, but Alan seemed to be waiting for a reaction from her. "Well," she said, "good."

"No comment?" Alan asked, with a grin that indicated Brinna had strong opinions regarding the cooper's daughters.

Having no idea what those opinions could be, Nola asked, "Such as…?"

"Such as that there never were two such lazy girls," Alan said. " They're too lazy to shoo flies off themselves."

"That goes without saying," Nola answered. "Let's hope there will be no flies this afternoon."

As he was stepping out the door, Nola called after him, just to be sure, one more question. "And last night, was Kirwyn in his room also?"

Alan looked at her blankly.

"When Master Innis was attacked and we heard him shout?"

"He was in the kitchen," Alan said. "With you."

Nola hastily took a drink to hide her surprise. Brinna couldn't have provided Alan with that information because Brinna would have known Kirwyn wasn't there. But maybe Brinna hadn't heard this claim yet. Nola asked, "Is that what he said?"

"That's what both of you said."

"Both of us?" Kirwyn had killed Innis. Nola had seen that. Brinna had been alone in the kitchen; Kirwyn had peeked in on her for a few moments, and then he had gone around to the shop and killed Innis. Nola had seen this with her own eyes.

Alan was laughing at her. "Eat, and then rest," he said. "It's one thing for Lord Galvin to make your head spin. It's a sad moment when I can send you into a muddle."

To indicate she would take his advice, Nola smiled, though it probably wasn't much of a smile.

"It was a terrible and confusing time for all of us," Alan offered, just before closing the door behind him.

Terrible and confusing for Brinna, Nola thought. Obviously Kirwyn had been in the kitchen with her just before Nola had used the bespelled water to look in on them. He had left just as Nola was casting the spell and so she had been just in time to see him look in the window, then he had gone and killed Innis, and Brinna – in the horror of finding Innis murdered and in the pandemonium that followed – had forgotten that Kirwyn wasn't with her all along.

There couldn't be any other explanation.

Could there?

Chapter Twelve

WHY IN THE world would Brinna lie to protect Kirwyn?

Surely, Nola thought, after backing away from the thought and having to circle back around to it, surely Brinna has more sense than to be in love with him.

Nola had to believe anyone would have more sense than to be in love with Kirwyn.

She remembered once again the expression she had witnessed on his face, when he hadn't realized anyone was watching him watch Brinna – when Nola had first realized, even before she saw him kill his father, that he was dangerous. But she also remembered the night before, the one night she and her mother had spent under the silversmith's roof, seeing Kirwyn's clumsy attempt to put his arm around Brinna's waist. Brinna had deftly eluded him, which certainly seemed proof she didn't want him.


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