Jasper and I arrived at the Stahlgrau Haus rather late that evening. Most of the boarders have finished cleaning up their supper dishes, so we said “good night” and left for our rooms.
I took a quick bath and after entering today’s events in my ledger, I went to bed. At around two o’clock I woke up to a sound. When I listened I heard nothing else, I was about to go back to sleep when I heard something outside. Quietly, I approached the window and looked down into the back yard where the fence separated the property between the Stahlgrau Haus and the other boarding house behind it.
The moon was out that night, giving off an eerie light. A tall figure of a man leaned against a tree located near the fence. He was dressed in his pajamas; the light colour of his hair told me it was Jasper.
What is Jasper doing out in the yard this late at night? I wondered as I continued to watch from the window. He moaned with his hand to his head, his body swaying as in pain. He leaned against the tree and began to sob like a wounded man.
I felt the urge to help him, but asked myself if it would be wise to approach him. What if he was sleepwalking? I didn’t have to worry because after a few minutes, Jasper slowly straightened himself and walked back to his boarding house.
The next morning, the boarders sat around the breakfast table. I glanced at Jasper over the rim of my teacup as we sat across from each other. He looked like his usual self.
“Is there something on my face?” he asked, biting into his toast.
I quickly looked away, realizing that I was staring at him longer than I intended.
“Well-well, Jasper,” Ian teased, “Care to share with us what ye did to catch the lady’s attention?”
I spewed my tea, Jasper nearly choked on his toast.
“It’s not what you think,” he protested, “And you nearly made me choke on my breakfast!”
“Something’s going on between Jasper and Cassisa?” Rosemary jumped in as she brought another pot of tea.
“There’s nothing going on!” Jasper and I said in unison.
Ian, Harris, Merl, and Rosemary studied us. Rusty took a big gulp of his tea.
“Rosemary, may I have some more of that tea, please?” he asked, holding out his cup.
I took that opportunity to finish my tea and grabbed the remainder of my toast and jam. “I’m off. I’ll see you at the office, Jasper,” I said as I eagerly left the dining hall and out the door.
Just as I opened the gate, Jasper’s hand suddenly appeared and held it still.
“What is it, Cassisa?” He stood in my path.
“What is what?”
“I could tell something is bothering you. What is it?”
“We’re going to be late; I’ll tell you on the way.”
“Personally, I would like to know right now.”
“With an audience?” I gestured with my head towards the house, sensing five pairs of eyes watching us from the front door.
“Like I said, perhaps it is better if I told you on the way to work?” I suggested.
We caught a hansom, Jasper told the driver (Matthews was his name) to take the scenic route by going around the city’s atrium on our way to the office.
“So, what was it that you were going to tell me?” This man was not willing to let the matter go easily.
“I happened to see you in the garden last night,” I quietly told him, “I was wondering if you were okay.”
“When was this?”
“Around two o’clock.” I then added, “I saw you bending over leaning against that tree near the back fence. You seemed – to be in pain. I wanted to ask you then, but it was late and I…” I trailed off, unsure of how to explain what I saw, “I was wondering if you were sleepwalking. Were you all right?”
I felt Jasper’s eyes on me. I was scared to look at him. Did I just cross the line? Did I get into a place where he did not want me to step into?
Something soft and heavy lay on my head; it was Jasper’s big hand patting my head. “Don’t apologize. I am glad you told me.”
I looked at him and saw that he was not upset or angry.
“I did not know you saw that,” he said reclaiming his hand.
He took a deep breath and said, “I know I am putting this off when I say this, but I promise you, I will – talk about it. In the mean time, we have a case to solve.” Jasper immediately gave a different address.
“Where are we going?” I asked.
“To pay Lavinia a visit.”
The place that Gavin had written in his ledger was a large three storey mansion located in Moore-Havens, a residential area located in eastern part of Oxen Basin for the rich and upper class. The place was owned by a man by the name of Rineaux Willowdales who lived in a mansion with his adopted daughter. The Willowdales were an elven family that owned a trading and imports businesses in Oxen Basin.
Upon arrival at the Willowdale residence, the butler of the home sent us away after we gave our reason for the visit.
“Mr. Willowdale is not here. He is at his office.” The butler, a man with black thinning hair and a hooked nose, sniffed. Though he was an inch shorter than me, yet somehow he managed to look down at both of us.
Over the man’s head I saw a young woman who appeared to be in her twenties if she was a human, possibly in her fifties as an elf. Very pretty with yellow hair piled on her head and large green eyes the colour of new leaves in spring. She wore a high collared lace dress of champagne gold and rose pink with lace about the collar and sleeves – the woman whom the waiter at the Oronean restaurant had described to us. Her eyes briefly caught mine, as she stepped out from a room into the main hall.
“We are here to see Miss. Lavinia.” I told the man.
The man narrowed his eyes. “Miss. Lavinia is ill today and would not be having visitors.” He glanced over his shoulder and closed the door completely. “Please leave.”
With a “good day” Jasper tipped his hat, taking my shoulder he gently steered me away from the door.
“They’re hiding something!” I hissed. “I saw her in there!”
Jasper only nodded.
“Excuse me.” We both turned at a voice. A young rilud woman in a maid’s uniform approached us. “I believe this is yours.” She held out a lace handkerchief.
“That’s not ours,” I started, but Jasper reached over and took the item.
“Thank you,” he smiled. The maid bobbed a curtsy and went around the yard towards the back of the house.
Jasper opened the handkerchief. Immediately he folded it again. A grin filled his face. “Let’s go, Cassisa,” he said.
The moment I stepped into the hansom, Jasper handed me the office key. “I want you to return to the office and finish filing,” he said, then told the driver to take me back to the office.
“Wait! What about you?” I called back at him.
“I’ll see you at the office.” He replied with a wave.
On my way to the office I remembered we were out of chalk. I had Matthews make a stop at a store on the way.
As I left the store after making my purchases, I saw someone climbing out of the window at one of the buildings. The man’s shirt was unbuttoned with his undershirt showing. A woman poked her head out of the window and gave the man a passionate kiss. Embarrassed, I quickly turned away. Some people are certainly bold with their show of affection, I thought to myself as I kept walking. I jolted, seeing large form appear landing in my path. It was the man who escaped from the window. His back was to me as waved at his lover throwing her a kiss. He spun towards me and froze.
“Cassisa?” It was Ian McAlvin.
Wait a minute! Did I just see Ian climb out of the window, after having his tryst with a woman? Well, he’s good looking even when he looks – what the heck am I thinking?! My mind panicked at seeing Ian’s semi-dressed state.
“Cassisa? Yoo-hoo!” I saw Ian wave his hand before my face.
“Ian?” I heard myself say, finally finding my faculty of speech.
“Ye looked like ye were lost there. Are y’all right?” He spoke as he tucked his now buttoned shirt into his trousers.
Just when I was about to say something, we both turned to a sound of a crash and a man shouting Ian’s name while the woman begged the man to “not hurt him”.
“Time to go!” Ian grabbed my shoulder and led me away. Seeing Matthews waiting for me Ian jumped into the hansom dragging me with him. “Full speed ahead, Matthews!” Ian said with glee.
We sped out of the area towards Jasper’s office in record time.
“Excellent timing, Matthews!” Ian said tossing a silver maple to the driver. “Keep the change!”
“Miss?” I turned to Matthews. “We’re here, Miss.”
“Oh, thank you.” I reached into my purse.
“Don’t worry about it, Mr. McAlvin paid the fare.”
“Oh,” I replied, still dazed.
“Are you all right, Miss?”
I nodded dumbly, “Mmm-hmm.” I stepped out from the hansom and made my way up to the office.
The moment I entered the office and saw Ian had straightened his clothes smoking a cigarette at an open window.
“Hope ye won’t mind,” he said, holding up his cigarette.
“No,” I nervously shook my head, “as long as you have the window open.” I stood there briefly. Why was I here again? I was told to get something done.
“Looks like there’s some things on the desk for ye,” he nodded towards Jasper’s desk.
“Oh,” I looked at the desk and saw a few sheets of paper and a chess piece. I mumbled my thanks and approached, avoiding Ian by taking the extra steps to get to the items.
“Ye know, I won’t bite.” He smiled.
I nodded. On Jasper’s desk was a stack of files. Oh, yes, filing! I remembered.
Then my eye caught something on his desk; it was the chess piece he had received from Merl at the morgue. I remembered Jasper’s eyes widen the moment he found the piece in the envelope. Next to the piece was a small note made up of words and letters cut up from a newspaper. It said, “Hello, AP.” At the bottom of the note was a picture of a black rook.
“Cassisa?” I jumped.
“Sorry to scare ye, but I guess ye didn’t hear me,” Ian McAlvin said kindly.
I gave him a nervous smile. “Don’t worry about it.” Looking at the note I asked him, “Did you…?” I began waving over the strange note and chess piece.
“Did I what?” Ian asked.
“Uh, never mind.”
“If ye’re wondering why I’m here,” Ian held up a black pocket ledger and smiled. “I’ve some leads for Jasper.”
“Oh, he…uh, had to run.” I explained, “But he wants me to take a message.” I held out my hand.
He placed the ledger in my hand.
“Mind if I copy it?” I asked him.
“Sure.” He sat on the couch and brought out another cigarette.
“Here,” I placed an old saucer before him to use as an ashtray.
“Thanks.” He lit up and inhaled.
I opened Ian’s ledger and began to take notes using a pen on Jasper’s desk. Finding that it was out of ink, I opened the drawers to find a tube of ink in one of the drawers and found an open cigarette case with a photograph inside.
“Something wrong?” I heard Ian ask.
“I can’t seem to find a working pen.” I closed the drawer.
“Here, use this,” he got up from his seat and graciously handed me his pencil. I thanked him and quickly copied down his notes onto a clean sheet of paper.
“Gonna make us some tea, want some?” he offered.
“Oh, I could do that!” I put the pencil down.
“Ye keep writing, I’ll make some.” He entered the kitchen.
“The tea is in a tin in the top left cupboard.” I called after him. I went back to copying as fast as I could so I would not keep Ian waiting too long.
By the time, Ian brought two cups of tea, I was done.
“Thank you,” I accepted my cup. “Also, thank you for this.” I returned his pencil and ledger.
He took both from me. “Ye’re welcome,” he said with a charming smile.
I distracted myself by taking a sip of my tea, hoping to hide my flushing face.
“So, what made ye work for Jasper?” He asked suddenly, probably to ease tension.
“I just wanted a job to pay my rent,” I explained. “He hired me on the spot.”
A knowing smile played on his lips. “Just like that?”
“Just like that.”
“And how do ye like your new job?”
“I have a lot to learn about being an assistant – especially for a consulting detective.” After taking another sip I asked, “So what do you do, Ian?”
“I am Jasper’s informer.” Ian explained, he pulled up a chair and sat down across from me. I followed by sitting at Jasper’s desk with the desk separating us.
“So, what does an informer do?”
“I do some research, ask around and find information for Jasper’s investigations.”
“Oh, and how long have you worked for Jasper?” I was curious, both about Ian and Jasper, but decided to not mention to Ian I saw him escape from a lady’s window.
“I worked for him since this agency opened, which would mean over fifteen years.”
“Wow! So you know Jasper for a long time!” I was impressed.
“Ye could say it that way.” Then with a mischievous glint in his eyes, he asked, “Do ye want to know more about Jasper?”
“Jasper’s birthday is November 3rd. He said he came to Nordica when he was twelve and lived with his family in Oxen Basin since then. He’s a member of the Nordican Army during the Wars of the Western Kingdoms. After he got injured from the war, he returned to Oxen Basin and was recruited to be a member of the Emerald Knights.”
Jasper had a lot of experience.
“The rest ye should hear from Jasper himself.” Ian finished his tea.
“And what about you?” I quickly put in, part of me hoping Ian would at least tell me something about himself.
Ian smiled. “That’ll be for next time.” With a wink he left the office.
It was twenty minutes to two o’clock when I realized that I have missed lunch. I just finished going through the pile of messages and began organizing the files. I took my purse and went to Digger Leavesden’s shop.
At the shop I ordered a soup and sandwich.
“Hello, Cassisa,” I turned to see Jasper.
He smiled. “So, how was your day?” he asked.
“It was productive. Ian came. I left the notes on your desk in a file folder.”
He nodded. His eyes scanned a chalked menu located next to the counter.
“What did you order?”
“Soup and sandwich.”
“What kind of sandwich?”
He made a face.
“You don’t like roast beef?”
“Anything that tastes like blood doesn’t agree with me.” He ordered a tuna sandwich.
We decided to sit together at a sunny corner. After Digger brought our lunches to us, I decided to take this opportunity to ask about Ian.
“So, I, um, saw Ian today.”
“Yeah?” He took a sip of water.
“I mean, I saw him climb out of a woman’s window.”
He nearly spewed his water.
“Was, um, having rendezvous with females part of his job in getting information?” I asked innocently, but felt warmth climb my face.
Jasper put his water glass down. “Cassisa,” he began.
“I know I am sounding judgemental here, but I’m only asking this out of curiosity.” I reassured him.
He raised an eyebrow at me. “Are you interested in Ian?”
I opened my mouth and closed it as I scratched my cheek with my fingernail. “Um, what do you mean, interested?”
Jasper shook his head and took a bite of his sandwich.
“So, Ian told me you were one of the Emerald Knights after you served in the war before you became a detective.” I suddenly changed the subject.
Jasper looked surprised. “He told you that?” he asked after swallowing his last bite.
I shrugged. “I asked him what he did and his relationship with you and I ended up getting information about you.”
He again raised an eyebrow. “Did he tell you anything else?”
“Let’s see, your birthday and that you came to Nordica when you were twelve… and I think that’s about it.”
“He told you more than I thought he would.” He took another bite of his sandwich.
An idea came to me. I grinned. “How about I try to figure out your background?”
“Huh?” His sandwich stopped midway to his mouth.
“Well, I think it would be fair since that was how you have interviewed me.” And it would give me a nice distraction from Ian.
He gave me an interested look, putting his sandwich down, he leaned back. “All right, tell me what you find about me.”
Taking a moment studying his face, I rested my chin on my fist and leaned against the table. “You are in your…forties?”
He cocked his head and gave me a raised shoulder, turning his hand palm upwards.
“We already know you are not from Nordica so probably from one of the Western kingdoms. By your features,” I put my chin on my hand and studied him: his narrow blue-grey eyes equally spaced apart with a straight nose; his straw coloured hair swept over his receding hairline…then I noticed that his hairline was not really receded. Was that a scar just along his hairline? I stood up from my seat and walked over to him. “Excuse me, please,” I said, taking his chin and turning his head to the side.
He could have asked what I was doing, but he didn’t. I continued studying him and noticed another faint scar along the side of his face like a thin line running from his hairline down close to his ear and further down disappearing under his chin. I did not notice it before because of his five-o’clock shadow hid the scars.
“Well, what did you see?” he asked.
“Did you have an accident?”
“What makes you think that?”
“You have a scar. It’s almost hidden in your hair.”
He turned his head and looked right at me. Surprised by the sudden gesture, I jumped back, my hip hitting the corner of our table.
“Ow!” I said, rubbing my hip moving away from Jasper trying to hide the colour rising on my face.
“Are you all right?” he asked.
“I’m fine,” I immediately returned to my seat and busied myself with my soup and sandwich. Spooning my soup, I mentally kicked myself for making a suggestive advance on my employer. I can’t believe I did that!
We ate in silence for the rest of our meal. When we finished, I grabbed my purse to fish out my change, but again Jasper beat me to it.
“Jasper!” I protested.
“Consider it your tip for your hard work today.” He waved as he headed out of the shop door.
For the rest of the day at the office I tried to remain calm, but failed miserably as I felt an awkward awareness around Jasper after what I did during lunch.
Great! I had an awkward moment with Ian and now it’s with Jasper! I kept a distance from him, but it was very hard to avoid someone whom you work with especially when it comes to working in the same office.
“Hmm?” I pretended to be concentrating really hard in organizing the files.
“Did you touch my desk?”
I wanted to look up, but forced myself to keep my eyes on the documents. “I tidied it a bit.” I heard his footsteps approach me.
“Cassisa, look at me.” I gave him a quick glance. Seeing his arms crossed on his chest, I became scared. What did I do?
“Cassisa!” his tone was low and commanding. I raised my eyes and looked at him.
“I asked you a question.”
“And my answer would be a short ‘yes’,” I winced inside. That one came out stronger than I intended.
I watched Jasper’s expression change from being taken aback to an irritated frown.
“I’m sorry. I meant ‘yes.’” I rephrased my answer softly, but he did not accept it.
“What is the matter with you?” he asked quietly. He may be trying to sound gentle, but the tone frightened me.
I felt myself retreat from my work as I felt him closing in. He followed me. I tried to avoid him by heading towards the nearest exit I could find – the meeting room, but the moment I stepped in there he also entered and closed the door behind him.
I found myself backing against the wall. I felt my insides quiver. Fear gripped me as he placed a hand on each side of me against the wall.
“Why are you running?” he asked, peering into my face.
“You are!” He raised his voice. I flinched. I see it: the raising of the hand, possibly pinning me against the wall with one hand while the other touching me. I felt like crying.
“Why…Are you crying?”
“I’m sorry,” I whispered. “I touched your desk because I was trying to find something to write with and…and I just kept it tidy after I went through the messages. I only touched the surface. I swear it! I didn’t take anything from your drawers.”
Jasper’s angry face softened. He relaxed his arms and stepped away. Reaching into his pocket he held out his handkerchief. Seeing the folded square cotton, I touched my own face realizing that I was indeed crying. I took his handkerchief.
Jasper turned and walked out of the meeting room and out of the office, closing the door behind him. I sank to the floor and sat there hugging my knees.
I sat in that meeting room for what felt like an hour, though it was probably shorter than that. Once I felt calm, I went to the kitchenette and washed my face. I heard Jasper return. The sound of his desk chair move and creak as he sat at his desk.
I quietly said a prayer for courage and the right words, I stood before him.
“What is it?”
“I just want to say, I’m sor–”
“Stop apologizing!” he snapped.
I flinched. I heard the chair move as he stood. I prepared to bolt, but he didn’t move.
“Cassisa, please look at me,” he implored.
I slowly lifted my eyes to meet his and was surprised to find him not angry, but sad.
“I should be the one apologizing. I’m sorry for raising my voice at you,” he said as he passed his hand over his face. His words washed over me like rainfall.
I shook my head.
“Why are you shaking your head?”
“I was apologizing for causing the misunderstanding and for making an inappropriate advance towards you.”
“When did you make such an inappropriate advance?”
“During lunch time, when I was looking at your face.”
“It may have been inappropriate, but I gave you permission. Also,” he covered his mouth and mumbled something as a shade of pink rose up on his pale face and reached his ears.
“Could you repeat that?” I asked.
“What I meant was: I agreed by letting you study my face, all right?” he said with his back to me.
I blinked a few times.
“So, are we friends?” He faced me extending his hand over his desk.
I reached over and shook it. “We are.” I replied as I felt peace restored between us.
We locked up the office at half past seven. Jasper and I decided to take the railcar part way and walk home the rest of the way. I felt my heart warm knowing this was a chance to get to know each other better, and hopefully, in a more positive light.
We caught the railcar and got off at a station about twenty minutes away from home. The sky was awash with ruby red, blazing orange and molten gold. Jasper walked beside me taking the side closest to the streets while matching my steps with his long legs.
We walked like this in amiable silence for a while. Despite what had just occurred, I actually enjoyed walking beside him feeling safe and comfortable in my own skin.
“I was adopted,” he said suddenly breaking our silence.
I looked at him, but continued walking.
“My family died when I was twelve, a family friend brought me to Nordica and to his relatives who raised me as their son.”
“I’m sorry to hear about your family.”
He stopped and looked at me as he continued, “If it’s all right with you. I would like to hear about yours.”
I studied him. “I don’t know where to start, since you seemed to have known quite a bit about me when we first met.”
He chuckled. “A lot of that was just from speculation, but I want to hear it from you.”
“What would you like to know?”
“Let’s start with you.”
“All right. My birthday is on May 11th. I am the eldest of four sisters. I was married twice.” I continued, “My first marriage was with a man who did not tell me he was a homosexual. He left me for another man which I discovered two years later through his letter saying he wanted to meet me to sign some divorce papers. We met, we signed and we parted. The lawyers he hired to file for our divorce made it quicker than I expected. My second husband was from a wealthy and respectable family; however he was abusive and had severe gambling problems. It was so bad his habits extended to illegal dealings.”
Jasper said nothing.
I licked my lips. “Once he raped me because he wanted his share of the family fortune that would be given to him if he fathered a child. He succeeded in having me with child. However, after he learned that his family no longer wanted to have anything to do with him because of his criminal involvements, my husband took his disappointment and anger on me which led me to having a miscarriage. One day, the police paid me a visit telling me that my husband had killed himself to escape his creditors – he owed over ten thousand Nordican maples. My family paid back the creditors as much as they could, since my in-laws refused to help considering their son already dead to them.”
Pasting a smile on my face, I looked at Jasper. “So there you have it – the story of my life.”
Jasper looked at me and took a step closer, but no more. We stood face to face, about a few feet from each other. His sad eyes searched mine. I inhaled willing myself not to cry or do anything that would invite further sympathy.
“What you went through was,” he tried to find the word, “hard to imagine.”
“Well, I could say that I have experienced something normal people wouldn’t.” I said brightly, but the tone was hollow.
“No, they wouldn’t,” he agreed, his eyes held mine for a moment. “Thank you for telling me.”
“It’s fine. It’s all in the past,” I lied, knowing that the hurt was still in the present. I turned away and began to walk. “By the way,” I stopped briefly and to face him, “thank you.”
“For listening.” I gave him a real smile, one that showed I was glad I met him.
* * * * * * * * * *
“Cassisa,” said a familiar voice. I woke up to see a handsome blonde man peering into my face.
“Good morning,” he smiled.
“Good morning?” I didn’t recognize the man, but smiled in return.
“I made you breakfast. I hope you like bacon and eggs.” He said leaving the bedroom.
I got out of bed and followed him in my nightgown.
“What is it?” The man turned.
“Have we… met?” I heard myself ask.
He laughed. “You forgot about your husband?”
He approached me and drew me towards him. “We’ve been married for a while and you have already forgotten?”
Married? I felt the back of his fingers stroke my face. He kissed my forehead, when he pulled away and I saw…Jasper looking down at me tenderly.
“Aaaaah!” I screamed as my head sprang up from my pillow. The room was still dark. I turned on the lamp and looked at my clock on the night table. It was ten minutes after four o’clock. Off in the distance I could hear dogs howling.
I felt my face tingle with warmth as I recalled my dream. I swore the man in my dream who claimed to be my husband looked nothing like Jasper. I rolled in my bed and buried my face into my pillow. I gave muffled shout into the thick padding as I pounded my fists and kicked my legs on the mattress, in hopes of banishing that embarrassing image from my mind.
The next morning at our office, I overheard Jasper humming a tune as he wheeled a large blackboard into position in our meeting room. While preparing some tea, I told myself not to let the dream I had last night bother me. Besides, I reasoned, Jasper is my employer. That would never happen.
“Cassisa,” I jumped as I turned to see him at the kitchenette doorway, “are you coming?”
“Yes, I will be right there.” See? He doesn’t even seem interested in me…I think. I thought to myself as I got the tea, teacups and saucers on a trolley and wheeled them into the office.
He stood at near the blackboard with a report I had copied from Ian yesterday.
“According to family records, Tiller and his sister are half-brother and sister.” Jasper began, drawing a family tree on the blackboard. “Their mother’s first marriage was with Gavin’s father who passed away when he was three, his mother remarried years later and had Peony.”
I pulled up a chair and sat in it, jotting down notes in my pocket-sized ledger.
“The rock that was in Gavin’s hand was actually a diamond.”
I stopped. “A diamond? As in the gemstone?”
“The very one. What we found was a dwarven diamond, the size of a chicken egg, common but of irreplaceable value to the dwarves.”
“I thought dwarves hated diamonds.” I pointed out.
“What makes you say that?”
“Never give a dwarf a diamond, unless you wish grief upon him and bring war upon yourself.” I quoted from an old proverb.
“Oh, that is actually true – if you want to give gifts to the dwarves.” Jasper sat on the edge of the desk swinging his long legs. I glanced at his legs, sort of envying their length.
“Were you just admiring my legs?” he teased.
“Let’s just stick to the topic,” I replied with disinterest.
“You’re no fun.” He pouted. He was in a rather good mood today.
“The proverb you have quoted refers to the ancient times when the races in the Western Kingdoms had clan wars. There was a story of a human man who found a beautiful gem stone that he recognized as a diamond. Wanting to receive favour from the king of dwarves, the man took the stone to the king. However the man only lost his head as a reward.”
“I heard of that story too, but I didn’t get why the man had to get killed for that gem.” I reflected.
“Easy. The man brought a piece of the king’s family ashes.”
Now I was very confused. “I thought you said it was a diamond.”
Jasper sighed. “You are a university graduate. Didn’t they teach you these things for your degree?”
“The only history lesson I have received was from Mr. Verte in grade 9, he only taught the Nordican history for one week and politics for the rest of the school year. As for science, nobody taught us how gemstones are created.”
“Well then,” Jasper leaped from his seat and brought out a large chalk board he had in the room. “You will have your brief lesson on dwarven diamonds from your teacher – Mr. Blake,” he said with a bow.
He looked up and added, “You are supposed to clap.”
I gave him a slow applause. He just gave me an irritated look and picked up the chalk.
“So, class,” he began as he wrote “Dwarven Diamonds” on the top of the board and drew a line beneath it. “Could you please tell me what the differences are between regular diamonds and dwarven diamonds?”
“Ms. Fullerton, I’m sure you could tell me.”
“One of them is small; the other is big and has runes in them?”
“Excellent! Ten points for Ms. Fullerton!” Writing the number “10” and circling it, Jasper added, “Oh, is it true that diamonds are girl’s best friends?”
“Mr. Blake, could we please get on with the lesson?” I deadpanned.
“Like you said, dwarven diamonds are distinguished commonly by their size. Dwarven diamonds can be found as small as marble or as big as a chicken egg. Their noticeable features are the runes placed inside the stones that could only made by the dwarven diamond artisans. Here is a question for you: where do dwarven diamonds come from?”
“No, try again.”
“Why don’t you leave out the suspense and tell me?”
“Where’s the fun in that?”
“Oh, please, Mr. Blake! Tell me where those diamonds are from!” I said in my best grade student voice, batting my eyelashes for an effect.
Jasper’s cheeks got a spot of rose as he coughed and continued his lesson. “Dwarven diamonds, the ones with the runes, are actually made from ashes of dead people.”
I blinked. Did he just say dead people? “So the diamond caves are actually dwarven graves?” I asked, trying to make sense of what I have just heard.
“It’s more accurately a crypt in a sense.” Then he asked, “When a loved one dies what do we humans normally do?”
“We usually we bury them.”
“Right. Now the dwarves cremate their dead. Then they take the ashes of their loved ones and put them in a special furnace where they go through a compressing process. Once that is completed you get a dwarven diamond. They take that diamond and place it on a stone marker they purchased that has their family name.”
“So, dwarven diamonds are actually made of ashes from dead people compressed –”
“In extremely high heat and pressure.”
“So, going back to the legend, the reason why the man got killed for bringing the diamond to the king of dwarves was he brought king’s dead family member unknowingly.”
“Correct. Any questions?”
“How could this be connected to our case?”
“Gavin was found dead with a dwarven diamond in his hand. When we visited the crime scene, I removed the diamond and handed it to Captain Peere to have it examined by an expert – who could identify the type of gem it is. Also, I have mentioned a robbery. Dwarven diamonds are not meant for resale, unless you go through the black market – and that is illegal under the Nordican laws. Knowing the captain, he will do his research on the gem and its possible origin.”
“So you mentioned a possible report of a robbery to give the captain an idea where to look for the possible owner. Did he find out whom it belongs to?”
Just as I said this, there was a knock on the door.
Jasper looked at his pocket watch. He stepped out of the room and opened the office door.
“We have been waiting for you. Please, come in.”