A Release of Pressure

“Didn’t think there were any of you left,” Markfeet says. “Not since Rozgavarivat burned, anyway.”

The patter wheezes somewhere deep in its hood. “Ffewer than we were, certainly,” it says, melancholy. “People mostly stay with their ffamilies these days. Can’t say as I blame them, either. But we still see one or two applicants a year, and more if it’s a bad winter.”

Markfeet grunts and watches Forensics beaver away, his ass rising and falling beside the body with the complacent diligence of a gardener weeding. The patter on the floor lies in the pool of her robes, lips and tongue gnawed nearly away.

The patter keeps its head turned away; in embarrassment, Markfeet thinks. “Was she a friend of yours?”

Another ambiguous noise from under the hood. “No. We… do not have ffriends. Or enemies.”

“Well, somebody must have hated her,” snaps Markfeet. “Hated her enough to kill her and wreck up her face like that.”

“Oh, someone did, certainly,” it says, and pulls the hood away from the moist ruin of its mouth, teeth red-stained and busy at lips and cheek. “But she’s beyond your justice now, I think.”