Bitter 203

Freddy was a member of the Garbolum crime family, even if he wasn’t a particularly popular member. He was the boss’s son. They would no doubt seek revenge.

The fact Stan was locked up and behind guards wouldn’t stop them. As the mayor had said, it would probably make it easier for them to get to him. Britta wondered if that had been the mayor’s plan all along. Take care of Freddy and Stan in one fell swoop.

“What possible reason would I have for killing the poor boy?” said the mayor, affecting a hurt expression that didn’t quite make it past the smug one plastered across his face.

“I take it you are an acquaintance of the killer’s?” said the mayor.

“He’s a friend of mine, yes. He was also a friend of Freddy’s. He didn’t have a reason to kill him.”

“And I did?”

“I think so. Freddy recently got hold of something that belonged to you, something to do with his father. Unfortunately he didn’t have time to tell me about it before he was killed, but there are only a few places he would have hidden something like that. As soon as I find it, I’ll be in a much better position to answer your question.”

She was making a very risky play. It was tricky, trying to make it sound like she knew what she was talking about and not give out any details to prove it. Telling him Freddy hadn’t revealed everything to her gave her an excuse for her vagueness on the specifics. It also might mean the mayor wouldn’t consider her an immediate threat.

“I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about,” said the mayor, his smug grin locked in place. “I haven’t had any dealings with Gabriel Garbolum in many years.”

“Not since the sale of the Korlath Mines?” asked Britta casually. There was a small but definite jump in one of the mayor’s eyebrows.

“Miss Beyoncé, I assure you, the only person guilty of any wrongdoing here is safely locked up. Well, I don’t know how safe he is, but he won’t be leaving those four walls anytime soon. If you wish to know why he would do such a terrible thing, you will have to ask him.”

He rose from his chair. He was a large, broad man, and his fur-lined outfit stretched him out even more. It was like he filled the whole room. Britta felt tiny. He could easily pick her up and toss her out of a window. He wouldn’t even need to smash it, just open it slightly.

Britta stood up and backed away. There was no point trying to put up a fight, she’d have to run. Of course, if she was thrown out of the window, she would respawn in the temple. But it would mean wasting another twenty-four hours.

The mayor walked across the room to a table with drinks on it. He poured himself a glass of what looked like wine. “I can see this has you as shaken as I. The sudden death of one of my citizens is no easy thing to comprehend. Such senseless violence. Such brutality.” He downed the glass in one. “But here is not the place to discuss such matters.” He looked from side to side like there might be someone listening in. “Perhaps I can invite you to my home this evening, where we can go over the specifics in far greater depth. What do you say?” He gave her a look with one eye squinting and the other opened unnaturally wide. She wasn’t sure if he was trying to be seductive or secretly passing gas.

“Your home?”

“Yes. We can pool our knowledge over a light dinner. I want to get to the bottom of what’s going on here as much as you do.” He filled and sank another glass of the rich red liquid and smacked his lips. He had a lot of surface area in that department, so it made quite a sound.

“Alright,” said Britta. “I accept.” A light flashed in the corner of her vision, probably marking the mayor’s residence on her map.

“Excellent. Shall we say at eight?”

Britta agreed. She realised he may have only asked her to get her alone to murder her, but she wouldn’t stay dead and since the game knew that it was unlikely to be his purpose. She had also never been asked out to dinner before, so that would be an interesting experience.

She left the mayor’s office (through the door) and made her way back to the street. The cleaner was still scrubbing away. Digital blood was clearly very stubborn when it came to staining flagstones.

She took up position across the street where there was a small park with some trees and benches. She tried not to be too conspicuous. There were enough people coming in and out of the Town Hall for it to not seem too strange that she was loitering. She kept checking her mana as it slowly dropped.

After about twenty minutes the mayor emerged. A carriage rode up and he got in.

There was a shimmer beside her and the shade appeared.

“Anything?” she asked it.

“No,” said the shade. “He did some paperwork, rearranged a meeting and then called for his carriage.”

“He didn’t check his drawers or look in his safe?” Britta had hoped Dad’s idea would work sooner rather than later. If he had the incriminating evidence in his office, he would mostly likely have checked it was still there.

The carriage drove off. “Stick with him. Maybe it’s in his home.”

The shade shimmered back into stealth mode and floated away. There was enough mana left for the shade to stay active for another hour at least. It wasn’t like she had any use for it. Now she’d just have to wait and hope she got lucky.

She watched the cleaner finally get up and start packing everything into his cart. And suddenly she realised what had been bothering her.

If the game was keeping Stan trapped in the game so Freddy wouldn’t resurrect, didn’t that mean Stan was the one responsible for his death?

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