Lord Kushim’s southern home was close enough to the shore for the ocean air to carry on the wind. It was the the most humble of his settlements, consisting of a single complex surrounded by a ten foot wall and a sole entrance; a gate with a dragon door-knocker, where my hand lingered.
There had been two attempts on Kushim’s life within the last five years. The first occured in his company mine in the northern mountains. As he was displaying the most recent mine to his political peers and allies, a series of bombs were lit prematurely and nearly took out the entire mountain. The blast took the life of Kushim’s wife, Malee, who had given birth to her second son only two months prior. Kushim himself suffered an injury to his left leg, but was otherwise unharmed. Afterwards, Kushim abandoned his northern mines and traveled to his southern settlement with his two sons. It took three years for him to find the property to restart the company.
After those three long years, during a party he held to celebrate the creation of his southern mine, Kushim’s soup was poisoned. He noticed the poison quickly enough to keep from ingesting a fatal amount, and the assassin was never apprehended.
My name is Sollan Hirot, and I was hired as a private investigator by Lord Kushim two weeks after the second assassination attempt. I’ve taken on similar cases in the past, but never alone. My partner, Ana, has refused the case in favor of caring for her newborn daughter. I considered turning down the job as well, but with Ana’s blessings and Kushim’s coin urging me on, I agreed to the lord’s terms. I traveled south by wagon for three days.
The southern towns were indescribingly charming. I spent much of my time wandering the streets and wasting my money on trinkets; a new pen, a necklace that a pretty merchant constructed out of holy beads, and a painted doll for Ana’s daughter.
With the holy beads around my neck, covered by the collar of my shirt, I grabbed hold of the dragon door-knocker and pounded it against the gate.