07 June 2009

Murder by night

Paddy O'Gabhain was feeling well pleased. An excellent meal, good wine and the attentions of two of Madame Ilse's young ladies had given his world a rosy glow.

Things weren't going too well with his attempts to find more work for the regiments, but the strife around Europe would soon fix that. The 200 Liberties he expected to receive, for arranging the cantonment of a brigade on the Channel Isles, would fit nicely in his purse.

Tomorrow he would head for Hetzenburg and then on to Stollen. They certainly looked as if they may be interested in some extra troops and he thought he may have another task there. He also had to present the Grand Star to Prince Bishop Heinrich of Gruntshoffen. He had been informed by letter today that the order was already waiting, with a trusted agent, for his collection. There were also some other nations, too. Saxe-Huack was also worth a visit. Any nation that had recently expanded was likely to look for extra troops, so as to hold those new possessions.

The Roving Ambassador and Minister for War stiffened as the knife sliced into his back. Before he could do more, a second blow took all the energy from him. His legs buckled and he was dimly aware of being held up and then dragged.

"Footpads.." was his last thought.

The man who had murdered the minister released his hold and let the body slump to the ground.

"Hurry up!" his companion hissed.

The man felt through the minister's pockets, taking whatever letters he found and handing them to his companion.

"Take his money, too! It must look like a robbery, you idiot!" The woman's voice was unpleasant, made harsh by her desire to leave before they were seen lurking in the doorway, where they had dragged the body.

The man slit the coat lining and extracted a handful of gold and silver coins. His fingers then found a large, metal disc.

"The devil! What is this?" In the poor light he could see the disc was gold, if its weight did not already tell him that. On one side was a pattern of stars and on the other bird, not an eagle, and the figure "5".

"Give it here, you may keep the rest. But where is the letter?"

"It is not here. It was not in his rooms, either."

At that moment the sound of marching feet reached them.

"The watch! Drop the button, quickly! Come, leave him!"

The pair disappeared around the corner. Behind them, a minute later, the watch sergeant and four troops marched past the doorway, not even glancing to see the body laying in the shadow. Once they passed another figure moved slowly over and knelt. A hand felt the cooling neck and a stream of French profanities was hissed. The figure stood, looked around and stepped onto the road, before striding back towards the Golden Swan.

"So. What do you think, Johannes?"

"Stabbed twice, sir. The one to the kidney is the one that killed him."

"Are you sure he's that man from the south? The one who calls himself a minister?"

"Yes, sir. Ilse pointed him out last night."

"And he has been robbed?"


Lieutenant Gruenwalder was not surprised. The man obviously had plenty of money on his person. He liked to drink and made much of his own importance. And while murder and robbery weren't common in Fraudorf, a man showing that much money was taking a deadly risk.

"Sir, look at this. It's a button, looks like it came off a uniform."

The button was gilded, with a coat of arms on it. The Lieutenant didn't recognise the arms, which seemed to be some sort of tankard on a bordered shield.

"Watch Sergeant, you did well to send for us. Take the body up to the Golden Swan, please. The man may have left some money with Frau Keller, which will pay for his burial. Send my men back to me- tell them we ride for the capital. Someone there will know what this button is."

Once his men rejoined him, the Lieutenant was surprised to hear that the murdered man's rooms had been thoroughly ransacked. There were no papers to be found, just clothes, a large some of money (though made up of coins from several nations), a pistol and case and a seal, showing a strange bird backed by crossed swords.

"We ride, now!" The troop galloped off, first to report to their squadron commander and then perhaps to take the mysterious button to be identified.

The watch sergeant watched them ride away. Then his eye caught on a reflexion from under the door. He bent down and pulled a small, silver buckle from beneath the door.

"That's a lady's, Willie." one of his men said. The sergeant was pleased. The buckle could bring a few coins at the Old Bear and Hounds.
"OK. Let's get His Grace up to the Swan, boys, and then go for a small drink."


  1. All in Saxe-Bearstein will assume that the "lady" spoke with a vile Stagonian accent.

    -- Jeff of Saxe-Bearstein

  2. Intringuing pieces of evidence...

  3. This is the kind of work we would expect Lady Sarah O'Connars to have her hand in,...