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Alinore Valmont. Venday, Libra 2, 2353 AA. 2:39 PM. Arroyo Athenaeum (Alchemy Labs).

“Can I just see the records?” Lin pleaded. “I know there has to be some kind of mistake.”

Renair opened his mouth, then closed it. He was conflicted, and Lin couldn’t blame him. But if you don’t give me this chance, Azmuir may be expelled.

Lin had wanted to investigate the alchemy labs since the Keepers took Azmuir in for questioning, but the demands of her teaching schedule had tied her hands until that afternoon.  In between classes, Lin had tried calling Azmuir, but the precinct had stonewalled her, and he had yet to be released. Which is bad. It means he’s more than just a passing suspect.

“I’m sorry, Miss Valmont, but you don’t have a warrant,” Renair said at last. “The records aren’t supposed to be public and I don’t want to get in trouble with Master Plath.”

“Miss Valmont…” a voice interjected. “We’re pretty sure Azmuir Stillman was the one stealing the drugs. The Keepers interviewed me this morning.”

Lin turned to face a younger, smaller girl, who had been speaking with Renair at the counter when she arrived. Her pins noted her as a seventh-year alchemy aspirant. She had catlike pupils, small horns, and pronounced, narrow canines. Bastkin? No. Doesn’t explain the horns. Grimalkin maybe? Then the realization sank in. Wait. She’s half-fae.

Half-fae can’t lie.

“Why do you say that?” Lin croaked.

“Because I saw him,” she said reproachfully. “It was late. Like, really late. About a month back. He had an entire vial of dryad sap. Said he was putting it back in storage. But according to Ren’s records, that was the night the sap went missing.”

Lin’s heart beat cold. She must be lying. Azmuir’s caustic personality earned him plenty of enemies and detractors. But at his core, he’s a good keeper. And he would never steal reagents. Besides, the thief is probably the same person mixing the drugs and Azmuir’s only experience with alchemy is interdisciplinary stuff. She must be lying. But the refutation rang hollow in her head. Half-fae can’t tell lies without suffering extreme pain. And she’s fine.

The girl shrugged under Lin’s intense gaze.

“I’m sorry. I don’t know what else to tell you.”

“I don’t remember releasing sap to Azmuir that night either,” Renair added.

“Maybe there’s some kind of misunderstanding,” Lin said. “Can I ask you some questions miss…?”

“My name’s Citri Whitmore. And, I’m really… I’m not sure what I should say. I already told the Keepers everything I know. I also have a lecture I need to attend…” Citri glanced at the clock and shouldered her book satchel.

“Is there another time we could meet?” Lin pressed.

“Look, Citri and I’ve told you what we can,” Renair interjected. “If you want more, you should talk to the detective. It’s illegal to pry into an ongoing investigation, isn’t it?”

Lin knew it was a reasonable rebuttal.

“Why do you think he’s innocent?” Citri asked.

Lin pursed her lips and reviewed her own argument in her head.

I know Azmuir can be an ass. I know he can be mean. But he’s honest and hardworking. He doesn’t take shortcuts. And he takes pride in being here on scholarship. He even takes a strange pride in being poor. He wants to prove that he can make it through without the same advantages as everybody else. So he wouldn’t just… sell drugs. Right?

“He’s… I know him well. And this just doesn’t sound like him,” Lin said at last.

Citri shrugged and said.

“Sorry to give you bad news. But I really need to get going.”

“Wait,” Lin said.

She pulled out a piece of paper and hastily wrote down her symphone number, then handed it to Citri.

“If you think of anything else, or if you have time for a cup of coffee, please give me a call.”

Citri stared at the paper for a full second before accepting it with a nod. Then she walked away. Lin turned back to Renair and excused herself as well. She walked out of the alchemy labs, despondent and confused.

Renair is right. I should talk to the Venture. At the very least I can provide a character witness for Azmuir. She knew it was a longshot, protocol being what it was, but they might be willing to tell her something.

Lin checked her phone as she walked out, sighing. I have a lecture I’m supposed to attend at three, not that I’ll be able to focus for any of it. She shook her head. I’ve read ahead. I can afford to miss this one. But I have a class to teach at four which is non-negotiable.

Her phone started ringing before she could re-pocket it, startling her somewhat.

Oh good. Mother’s calling. Lin took a deep breath. She had long learned that answering when she was able and having brief conversations was generally more prudent than ignoring Mirian and incurring her wrath later on.

“Lin! Come to Remington Memorial. Your brother has come home.”

What? Really? Lin lost her voice. Oh thank God. She had tried to stay brave. She lectured herself to stay confident that her brother was alive, but part of her had been bearing a pall for Athren ever since he went missing. But he’s alive. Her eyes welled with tears.

“Lin? Are you there?” Her mother asked.

“Yes,” Lin yelped. “Yes, I’m coming.”

— 3:07 | Central Arroyo (Remington Memorial Mediclave) —

Athren’s brown irises had turned a vivid, faintly luminescent blue. Mercifully, it seemed to be the only quirk he had acquired in the Faed—nothing short of a miracle given how long he had been stranded there.

“Not bad as quirks go, right?” He asked Lin with a smirk.

“No,” Lin said, laughing. “You’re prettier than me now.”

“I’ve always been the pretty one,” Athren said as he leaned back in his bed.

“Jerk,” Lin laughed and wiped her eyes.

She stood to the left of Athren’s bed, while her mother and father stood to his right. He was in a bad way. He had a shallow wound in his stomach, a badly strained leg, and the doctors had pulled three serrated arrowheads from his shoulder when he was admitted.

“What can you tell us?” Mirian asked.

“Not a lot,” Athren said, sighing. “I debriefed my commander when I got out of surgery and he reiterated the importance of my mission staying classified.”

“What happened to your akrasiac?” Lin asked.

Athren shook his head.

“I honestly don’t know. And I just broke confidentiality admitting it.”

I take it Speare escaped, then. Lin thought. Lin’s father, Athenon, surprised her by speaking her thoughts:

“Did you get your man, at least?”

“Can’t tell you that either, Dad,” Athren said apologetically.

“My god, what’s wrong with you two?” Mirian said harshly. “I’m sure his experiences were traumatic enough that he doesn’t want to dwell on them.”

Well, what else are we going to talk about mother, the weather? Lin smirked to herself, then remembered something else worth mentioning:

“Does Ezel know you’re back yet? Have you spoken with her?”

Athren gave her a blank look, like he barely remembered his partner’s name. Christ, you vacationed together! After a couple seconds, he had the decency to look sheepish and embarrassed. Lin flicked him in the temple, hard.

“They made her break the news to us when you went missing. It tore her apart. She’s probably in love with you, dumbass.”

Athren bowed his head again and hesitated before speaking:

“Give me a break guys. I just woke up from having my stomach sewn shut. And that’s probably going to be a hard conversation. I’m not sure if you know… but I’ve been permitted to tell you my other partner, Siphan—”

“We heard,” Mirian assured him.

Athren sighed heavily and nodded.

“I couldn’t stand that guy. We fought. He always second guessed me. He always…” Athren shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. We had our difference but he was committed to the cause. Our cause. He was a good amagia to the end, and it’s… fucked up that I’m alive and he isn’t.”

“You can’t save everyone, son,” Athenon said.

“You taught me that,” Athren agreed. “But you also taught me a commanding officer’s first responsibility is seeing that his people get home to their families.”

“I’m sorry,” Lin said, then added in Japanese, “big brother.”

Athren gave her an odd grin. It was funny. She only called him aniki when she was either being deeply sarcastic, or cloyingly sincere. And this time, she wasn’t sure which it was. Mirian sighed at her. Her mother preferred Lin addressed her brother as nii-san or onii-san as opposed to the slangier alternative, but that just made it better.

“Did you know it was one of your classmates who rescued me?” Athren asked Lin.

Lin’s jaw dropped. What? Who—Then she realized.

Hace Matthews rescued you?” She asked.

“Him and his teacher. Fitzgerald. They basically found me bleeding out, and whisked me back to Arroyo. I take it you know him?”

“Isn’t he the halfu? First Defteros?” Mirian asked, eyes lighting up. “He’s very handsome.”

“Yes,” Lin said, irate. “He’s also a prick. Now I will always owe him a debt.”

“Sorry, beloved little sister,” Athren said in Japanese, then continued in English: “But if you get the chance, please let him know I’m grateful, and that I owe him one. I was fading in and out when they found me.”

“How long did it feel? When you were in the Faed.”

“Longer,” Athren admitted. “I half expected to come home to my own gravestone. It felt like months.”

“Then we should let you rest,” Mirian said. “And I’m sure Lin needs to return to her studies.”

Lin nodded and sighed. The last thing I want to do is go back to my troubles. She hugged Athren gently and bid him a good rest. Athenon and Mirian did the same and followed Lin out of the room. Mirian addressed Athenon before he could shut the door behind them:

“Dear, talk to Athren’s doctors. Find out exactly what his injuries were, what his expected recovery time is, and what amenities we need to prepare for him when he is discharged. I will see Lin out.”

Athenon grunted acquiescence and hailed a nurse. Shit. Mom never isolates me on a whim, but she always tries to act like it. Maybe there’s something I can say to stave off an interrogation.

“You know Athren has his own place, right mom?” Lin asked.

Mirian looked at Lin like she was being both stupid and impertinent.

“His stomach’s cut open, Lin. If we leave him without help or supervision, he’ll be bleeding out again within hours. He barely takes care of himself at the best of times. And have you seen his house? It’s a mess. I had to insist on a housekeeper.”

Lin sighed and nodded. The two of them stepped into the elevator and Lin punched the number for the ground floor. She could feel the question coming, as if it had a wyrd of its own. And sure enough, as soon as the elevator started to descend, Mirian asked:

“Are you going to tell me what’s wrong?” Mirian asked.

Lin shook her head and put on the brightest smile she could manage.

“Nothing. Just tired. You know, ninth-year stuff.”

“No,” Mirian shook her head. “I don’t think so. You never complain about being an amagia. Especially not to me. It’s something else. Pensey? That boy? Azmuir?”

Lin looked at her mother with annoyance before she could stop herself. God damn everything, how does she always know where to stick the needle? 

“Did he cheat on you? Dump you?”

“Mom, no!” Lin said.

“Then what?”

“It is not important,” Lin insisted. “It will have no impact on my studies whatsoever.”

Mercifully, the elevator stopped on the next floor and two hospital workers entered, chatting about a coworker. Lin spent the recess trying to think of a way she could shut the conversation down. If I let her know Azmuir has been arrested for a crime… well. I don’t even want to entertain the thought. No telling what she would do. So how can I get her to back off? A desperate thought occurred to her. Maybe I should try flattery.

“Mom, I am fine. Really. And if I need help, I know where I can find it.”

Her mother regarded her with a long glance and then smiled. Lin knew it was genuine too, because it had the sort of ruthless edge that Mirian reserved for her husband and children. It’s like she doesn’t know how to express approval without being mean at the same time.

“You’re getting shrewder,” Mirian said. “But allow me to give you one piece of advice, Alinore. Some men simply aren’t worth your trouble. The sooner you can tell which sort is which, the easier it is to cut your losses.”

Lin nodded and hugged her mother goodbye.

“I’ll expect you for dinner when your brother gets home,” Mirian said.

“I’ll be there,” Lin promised.

— Pensey Hayes | 4:23 PM | Arroyo Athenaeum (Student Union) —

Pensey didn’t see Hace approaching. She was too busy reading about his exploits on social media. Apparently, earlier that morning, several students saw him and his mentor return with Lin’s older brother, the illustrious Athren Valmont, on death’s door.

“Your check, Madam,” Hace said, bowing and extending an envelope.

“Oh, thank you! I wasn’t sure you were going to keep our meeting,” Pensey said.

“We’ve got to start booking services and stuff by tomorrow, right?” Hace asked. “Dance is one week away.”

“Yeah, but I heard you had an adventurous morning. Is it true that you rescued Athren Valmont from the Faed?” Pensey asked, holding up her symphone.

Hace shrugged sheepishly, then nodded.

“‘Rescued’ is generous. Fitz and I found him in a bad way and took him back to reality. He literally just stumbled into our path.”

“Sounds like a rescue in my book,” Pensey said brightly.

So why do you look so sad? She hesitated before asking:

“Did something else happen?”

Hace gave her a wan smile.

“Yeah. It’s been a strange day.”

“Uh. You don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to, but I’ve got a few minutes if you want somebody to listen.”

She assumed he would brush her off. He didn’t know her well, he didn’t obsess over her like she did over him, and he probably had plenty more suitable sympathetic ears to bend. But Hace considered her offer seriously and finally sat down next to her at the table she was using as her ad-hoc office:

“Yesterday was my mother’s birthday. And last night I learned that she has three years left to live, at most.”

Pensey’s heart seemed to implode. The resulting chill took the color from her cheeks and her smile died on her lips. She gestured a hasty apology and bowed her head. Hace gestured that there was no harm done.

“She’s been in a bad way for a long time. Ever since she had me, actually. This is embarrassing, but I hoped that I would be able to graduate from the Athenaeum early so I could earn money for her treatment. For a long time, we figured that she had oneirosis. But yesterday… we found out she has something more serious. And there’s no cure.”

“Hace, I am so sorry,” Pensey said.

This isn’t what I wanted. I shouldn’t have pressed him.

“I’m not giving up hope,” Hace insisted. “I won’t let her go without a fight. But I also don’t know what to do. Fitz took me to the Faed to search for my father, and it turns out he’s dead—”

“Oh my god,” Pensey said, heart imploding a second time.

Hace backpedaled, emanating dismissal and gesturing for her not to worry.

“He’ll be back soon enough. Besides, he’s the king of all bastards, so I’m sure he had it coming. But I spoke with my mom and… there are things I didn’t know before that I wanted to ask him about.” He snickered. “Figures that the one time I actually want to see him, he isn’t there for me.”

Pensey felt stupid. My affection seems so superficial now. I never really considered what being half-fae was like. Was his mother taken unwillingly? How often does he see his father? And I had no idea that his mother was dying. A realization startled Pensey as her eyes welled with tears. Up until now, this has been an infatuation. But now… She felt like she was finally seeing what she had suspected was within Hace all along. But I was too afraid to look. I was afraid I’d find out he was just an empty-headed playboy.

“Whoa, are you okay?” Hace asked.

Pensey wiped her eyes.

“I’m good,” she assured him, then snickered at herself. “I’m just… I haven’t heard something that sad in a long time. I can’t imagine… I have no idea what that must be like.”

Hace seemed confused, but touched.

“I’m okay,” Hace said. “Timing isn’t great, what with thesis declarations coming up. But I’m not about to give up nine years deep.”

Pensey nodded emphatically. Hace sighed heavily.

“I just wish there was something I could do for her now, you know? Some way to help her hold on. To make the time she has left valuable.”

“I think you may be overthinking it,” Pensey said.

“What do you mean?” Hace asked.

“Most of us do what we do for simple reasons. You don’t need to undertake some epic quest or make a grand gesture to show her how you feel. It can be small things. Daily things. Look, like, how often do you see your mom right now? Is she local?”

Hace nodded.

“How often do you get to see her a week?” Pensey asked.

“I try to stop by home every weekend.”

“Maybe try seeing her more often. After ninth year at least. You’re at the top of your class. Or close to it. I know because Lin complains every time you overtake her.”

“Yeah… I don’t think Valmont likes me much,” Hace said, sighing.

“She doesn’t,” Pensey confirmed. “But I can count the people Lin actually likes on my right hand. She’s not a people person. She’s a good person, but she is bad at people, despite my best efforts.”

Hace chuckled.

“Anyway, about your mom… once we hit tenth year, try spending more time with her. I doubt you’d fall too far behind and… what will be more important to you in the future? Medals, or the time you spent with her?”

Hace looked dumbstruck. Then he nodded and emanated gratitude. His smile was like sunshine. Warm. Bright. And too hot to look at for too long.

“Thanks, Pensey.”

And she could tell from his emanations that he meant it. Her advice helped him.

“Anytime,” she said.

Hace smiled at her. She felt herself blush and immediately turned her attention toward the envelope he had delivered. Inside, there was a crisp check with Amagiate letterhead. It was appropriately dated, payable to the Arroyo Athenaeum’s Student Union, and signed by Fera Fitzgerald. But the amount…

“Wow,” Pensey said. “I know you said Fitzgerald would probably give you a blank check, but I didn’t expect…”

“A literal blank check?” Hace asked, grinning. “There was a bit of a trade off involved. She said she would approve any budget so long that she didn’t need to be a chaperone.”

“Sounds like a good deal to me but… she really doesn’t care about the money?”

Hace shook his head smirking.

“Well, I mean. It’s coming out of the Athenaeum’s pockets, and they can’t easily refuse to reimburse a long-tenured master. So we might as well go all out.”

Pensey chuckled nervously. She had only taken a handful of classes from Fitzgerald—more like sorcery practice than actual lessons and lectures—and the woman struck her like a human tempest. She had sharp eyes, a tongue to match, and a good sense of humor with a hair trigger temper. She only gave personal instructions when the students themselves showed initiative, and Pensey only worked up the nerve to ask for feedback a couple times. She gives good advice though!

“As long as I don’t get you—or myself—in trouble,” Pensey said. “Your teacher kind of terrifies me.”

“Really?” Hace asked with surprise. “Your mentor is Steinbeck, right?”

It was a fair counter. Steinbeck was one of the most notorious masters on campus. He affected a perpetually nasty demeanor and aggressively punished infractions. But over the years, Pensey had found him to be a deliberate and insightful teacher. He didn’t tolerate disrespect and he had high expectations for his students, but he was consistent. Stable.

“He can be a jerk,” She conceded. “But… better the devil I know than the one I don’t.”

“Fair enough,” Hace said. “Do you have a ballpark of how much this will all cost?”

Pensey smiled broadly and pulled out a binder. She had made a list of every service they would require, from food, to photography and DJing, and color-coded their quotes by price. Halfway through her explanation though, she noticed that Hace was giving her a glassy, thousand-yard stare.

“Too much?” Pensey laughed.

“No… It’s brilliant. I’m just glad you offered to helm this instead of me, because I don’t think I’d be capable of organizing something so precisely.”

Pensey smiled. It would be hard to fit in your busy schedule of rescuing Regional Guardsmen and wooing fair maidens. Meanwhile, I was made for organization and incanter work.

“We all have our parts to play. And I’m glad we got to work together on this.”

Hace turned to look at her with a slow smile.

“Yeah. Me too.”

 — Alinore Valmont | 7:27 PM |Central Arroyo (AKF Central Precinct) —

Once Lin had finished her remaining classes and study groups, she drove to the Central Precinct and requested to meet with Azmuir Stillman. The receptionist said that they would talk to his lawyer, but he was still undergoing questioning and didn’t have an ETA on his availability.

“Is the Special Cases Venture in?” Lin asked. “Could I speak with them?”

“Do you have information about the case?” the receptionist asked.

“Yes,” Lin said, even though she didn’t really have anything.

The receptionist slid her a sheet of paper with the number for a general tip line.  

“Finish your message with star three-seven-one. That will direct it to their mailbox.”

Lin bowed her head appreciatively, but couldn’t hide her disappointment. A meeting would be so much better. God knows when they’ll get around to checking the tipline. And even if they do, they may not get back to me. Especially since I don’t have anything concrete to share. She dialed the number and said that she had information about Azmuir Stillman; a fae-lie, really. But it just doesn’t fit. Does it? Why would Azmuir steal drugs? Or if he didn’t, why would an infallible witness swear that he did?

After hanging up, she took a seat in the precinct’s waiting area. She had just managed to put her phone away when it started ringing. Lin answered immediately.


“Miss Valmont? This is Senior Detective Jecia Singh.”

Lin’s heart did a cute little kick-flip in her chest.

“Detective Singh! Oh my god, thank you so much for taking my call!”

“You said you have information about Stillman?”

“Yes. Err, rather… I don’t think he’s guilty. I’d like to serve as a character witness if I can.”

Lin heard Singh sigh, and there was a noticeable pause.

“Miss Valmont. I’m sorry, but we fit the investigation between our other caseload, and after we made the arrest… Well. The ball is in the Juris Lexis’ court now. If you have an alibi, or any kind of evidence that he wasn’t involved, you should submit it to his leximancer.”

“I just… I can’t believe it,” Lin insisted. “Azmuir wouldn’t steal. And he doesn’t even know how to do the kind of alchemy that’s involved in this case. It just doesn’t make sense.”

Another long silence.

“I’m sorry, Miss Valmont. We appreciate your help, but I have to go. Please reach out to Mr. Stillman’s defense if you have information regarding his case.”

Then the phoneline went dead. Lin hissed.


What did you think would happen? That they would call the dogs off over your hunch? In the face of damning evidence? You literally just wasted their time, Lin. She bowed her head and clenched her eyes shut. Part of her wanted to cry, but the rest of her was too tired.

Azmuir was framed. I’m sure he was framed. So why can’t I prove it?

—8:56 PM—

Lin buried herself in her studies while she waited for the chance to speak with Azmuir. Finally, his leximancer, a rotund man who wore his discipline’s robes rather than an expensive suit, came to the waiting area and gestured for her to follow him.

“I got you five minutes with Azmuir, sweetie.” Lin instantly disliked him. He continued: “After you have your little chat, if you have any useful information… I’d love to hear it.”

Lin nodded and followed him through the warren of interrogation rooms. He knocked on a door, and gestured for Lin to enter. She stepped in the room quietly. Azmuir looked at her and then looked away immediately.

“Hey,” she hazarded, and put a hand on his shoulder. “You alright?”

He scoffed and shrugged off her hand.

“My life’s over, Lin. They already charged me with the crime. Whether I’m convicted or not, that’s it for my scholarship. And I will have to pay it all back. With an asfalis license.”

Lin hadn’t even considered that. My god. He was here on a full ride. His family can’t afford—Lin shook her head. After what Citri told her, Lin was embarrassed to admit that her faith in Azmuir was shaken. But now she knew. He wouldn’t take that risk. Which means the girl is lying somehow. Lin sat on the chair next to Azmuir almost absent-mindedly as she racked her memory for ways a half-fae could tell a lie.

“Did your father do this?” Azmuir asked.

What? Lin couldn’t even ask the question aloud she was so stunned and confused.

“Is this political?” Azmuir asked, then repeated: “Did your father do this?”

“No,” Lin said, her voice hoarse.

And fuck you for suggesting it! If anybody did it, it would be my mother. Lin had to consider the possibility for a half-second. It’s possible, but I don’t think so. Whenever she meddles with my life, she lets me know it was her. It’s how she maintains this illusion of control. And mom was blind guessing this afternoon. Small surprise that she managed to guess right.

“Really?” Azmuir asked. “Your parents have always hated me, Lin.”

You’re saying it like an accusation. Like it’s my fault. Lin shook her head.

“They wouldn’t do this.”

“But you think I would do this?”

“No,” Lin said, hurt all over again.

Mirian’s words slapped Lin in the face. ‘Some men aren’t worth the trouble.’ She blinked and shook her head. She’s right. And the worst part is… I knew. I knew this thing with Azmuir was a fling, and I let it grow unchecked. I even suspected it would bite me in the ass one day, and I still just kept stringing us both along.

“Can your father help then?” Azmuir asked.


She refused to run to her father on her own behalf, let alone somebody else. And she was hurt that he completely glossed over her. As if she was incapable of providing any assistance personally. That’s when Lin realized that he didn’t love her either. He didn’t even respect her.

“I don’t think you did it, Az,” Lin said wearily. “And I’m going to do my best to prove you didn’t. But after that? We’re done. I am breaking up with you.”

Azmuir snickered and nodded.

“That figures. It’s okay to fuck a bad boy now and again, but when he is framed for something real, you can’t be fucked to stand by him.”

Lin’s jaw dropped. Then she scoffed, grabbed her satchel, and started to leave.

“Wait!” Azmuir said, and lunged to catch her hand. “Lin, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. You didn’t deserve that. I just… I don’t know what to fucking do!”

No. Lin thought. That line was a three-strike pitch. She looked at him with a mix of revulsion and reluctant pity. She wanted to keep walking and shut the door behind her. It would be more than he deserved. But figuring out why he’s framed is my best bet at catching the person who did this. And Nyka deserves justice.

“Do you know Citri Whitmore?” Lin asked.

“I saw her around the lab when I was doing interdisciplinary stuff. But I didn’t know her name until this morning, when she said she saw me with dryad sap a month ago. And that’s good enough for the Keeping Force, apparently.”

“If I can prove she’s lying, I can at least spare you the conviction,” Lin said.

“How, though? She’s half-fae. Her memory must be off, but she really believes it was me.”

Lin pursed her lips and shook her head.

“They arrested you last night. Started interrogating you this morning, but they already have an iron clad witness testimony in place? No. The only way they could move that quickly is if she came forward with a confession herself.”

“And?” Azmuir asked.

“If she wasn’t randomly questioned, she could have prepared herself for the interview somehow. Maybe there’s a ritual or… Alchemy. Maybe she drank a potion that relaxes a half-fae’s pain response to telling lies.”

Azmuir’s eyes welled with tears and he tried to embrace Lin. She pushed him away firmly and emanated rejection. Azmuir held up his hands and sat back down. He raised his head at her in contrition:

“Can you prove it, though? What are you going to do?”

“I don’t know yet. But I’ll think of something.”

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