The next morning, Mabryl announced he had an appointment with Gromblo and that Carthinal was to go with him this time, to sort out the details.
Carthinal shivered. Gromblo had seen him last night. Would he recognise him as the thief who had broken in? Would he recognise him as Carthinal, grandson of Kendo Borlin?
He considered feigning illness, but he would have to face this sometime. The worst that could happen was that Mabryl might refuse to teach him. He could always return to the Beasts. Perhaps he could steal a simple spellbook from Mabryl and learn on his own.
Carthinal took his time getting ready to leave.
“Come on, Carthinal. We’ll be late,” Mabryl called. “Gromblo hates people who are late. If we want a favourable outcome, we must be on time.”
Carthinal came down the stairs, dragging his feet.
Mabryl put his head on one side. “Are you having second thoughts? I don’t want to go through with this adoption unless you are completely in favour.”
“No, Mabryl. I’m sorry. Let’s go.”
The sooner we see Gromblo the better, then I’ll know what my future holds.
Calling to Lillora that they were about to leave, Mabryl opened the front door and the pair turned their feet toward the centre of the town.
Halfway there, Mabryl sniffed. “Smells like smoke. Someone must have been burning rubbish.”
When they arrived in the street where Gromblo had his office the source of the smell became clear. Gromblo’s office was a smouldering shell.
“Goodness. What’s happened here?” Mabryl exclaimed.
Men with buckets threw water onto the building and those next to it to prevent any sparks from setting light to the surrounding buildings. Fire was a very real danger in Bluehaven, and in most towns, as the buildings were constructed of wooden frames interspersed with brick. If the wood burned, then the brick structure would collapse. With buildings containing so much wood, it was easy for a spark to ignite adjacent buildings. A butcher’s shop, next to Gromblo’s office, had a few scorched places, but the bucket wielding men had managed to save it. Not so Gromblo’s office.
A heap of rubble lay where the building had once stood with little wisps of smoke still rising from some of the wood.
Carthinal paled. He had not intended this. It must have been the candle Gromblo was carrying. He had not thought about that when he put Gromblo to sleep. All he had thought about was escape and destroying the false death certificate. He looked around, his eyes casting this way and that to see if there was any chance anyone could have seen and recognised him last night. Gromblo would when he arrived. The young man slipped behind his mentor.
Mabryl spotted someone he knew and hailed the man. “What happened here? I had an appointment this morning with Gromblo.” He glanced around. “Where is he, anyway? He should be here. After all, his office has burned down.”
The other man shook his head. “ You must have only just arrived. They found Gromblo’s body in the building.”
Carthinal’s hand flew to his mouth. All he had wanted to do was to burn the false death certificate so Mabryl did not think he was an impostor. He had not intended to kill Gromblo.
Mabryl continued talking. “What was he doing there at that time of night?”
The other man shrugged. “Who knows? But I overheard someone saying his wife told the guard he had returned to find some papers he needed today. He wanted to look over them.”
Were they the papers referring to me? Had Mabryl told him my name and he wanted to check he had the death certificate? Why had he not told Mabryl of my death? Or was it something else entirely?
A small group gathered around Mabryl and his friend. Carthinal slipped back, trying not to be noticed.
“They think he lit a candle and fell asleep while reading,” a woman said.
“The guard found the remains of a candle near his body. There’s something funny about it though. He wasn’t sitting at his desk when they found him, so how did he fall asleep?”
Another woman said, “I always thought there was something shady about that man and never trusted him. I wouldn’t be surprised if it wasn’t someone who he’d cheated in some way, having his revenge.”
A tall man said, “He was a clever lawyer, though. He got my brother off a theft charge when it looked as if he would be found guilty.” He looked around the gathered group. “He was innocent, of course, but it was thanks to Gromblo he didn’t go to jail.”
A girl of around sixteen spoke up. “I walked past the back of here last night when it had gone dark. The office was still standing then.”
A guard heard this and came over. “Did you say you were here last night?”
“Only passing, sir.”
“Did you see anyone hanging around?”
A young man around the same age spoke up. “I did.”
Carthinal went cold at hearing this. Shivers ran up and down his spine. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
“Who was it? Would you recognise them again?” The guard turned his attention to the young man.
“He was about…” He looked around and his eyes fell on Carthinal. “About as tall as that chap there.”
“I thought it a bit odd—him hanging about in the shadows, but took no more notice. I was with my girl, see?”
“We went to the park,” the girl replied, “and didn’t see any more.”
There were sniggers from some of the crowd.
“Well, that’s not much help. Could’ve been almost anyone. Anyway, the likelihood is that it was a tragic accident.”
Carthinal closed his eyes and sent up a quick prayer to Majora, the goddess of magic. If the authorities thought it was an accident, then he would not be suspected. But what had the woman said about Gromblo’s body not being at his desk? Would that make them think it wasn’t an accident?
Carthinal’s heart was beating so hard he thought it might jump out of his chest. He felt sick, and tears pricked at the back of his eyes.
Why did I think burning the document was a good idea? Oh, if only I could go back in time. I’d do things differently. I’d make sure the candle was out before I left. I would have had time.
He felt weak, and his legs could shook as he sidled up to Mabryl. “What happens now?”
Mabryl turned worried eyes to him. “This is a terrible tragedy, Carthinal. Gromblo was the best lawyer in Bluehaven. The poor man. I hope he didn’t suffer. Sometimes people die from the smoke, not from being burned. Let’s hope this was the case with Gromblo, and that he was dead before the flames reached him.”
Carthinal nodded. He could not find his voice to speak. He had killed a man. Not in a fair fight, but by carelessness and stupidity. What he had done in the gang fights didn’t count—it wasn’t the same. It was fight or be killed himself. Anyway, he couldn’t be sure he’d actually killed anyone then. This time was different. He was entirely culpable.
He heard a voice from the past in his head. A voice from a dream. When you meet problems, always think them through. Take your time, and don’t try to rush things. If you do that, things will usually turn out right in the end.
He had not done that. He had not thought things through, and it had resulted in disaster.
“Can we go home?” he said in a small voice.
Mabryl looked at his pale face. “This has shocked you more than I would have thought. Death is always sad, but this seems to have affected you badly.” He placed his hand on Carthinal’s arm. “It’s the thought of him dying in such horrible circumstances, I expect. Yes, we should go home. We need to find another lawyer, but sadly, none are as good as Gromblo.”
What did you think of this chapter? Let me know in the comments box.
If you want to find out more about Carthinal, and what he did later in his life, you can find out by reading The Wolf Pack, Book 1 of The Wolves of Vimar series. You can buy by clicking the name of the book, or the book in the sidebar.
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