A Summertime Storm Chapter 3

The knocking was  soft and uncertain at first but by the time Dunn was awake and on his feet had  grown more demanding. Tarin’s room’s were still empty, the swordsman still out  on his job and the light seeping in around the cracks of the curtains showed  dawn was close but not yet fully at hand. The knocking came harder and Dunn  unlocked the door carefully. A dozen different situations came to mind but the  sight at the door wasn’t what he expected.

On the other side  stood a young man, not yet twenty and dressed in a plain shabby style that  pegged him as one of the students that had moved in next door. His nut brown  hair was pulled into a neat braid at the base of his skull and hung down his  back below his shoulder blades, his features were boyishly charming but not  overly handsome. He stood wide eyed and uncertain, with almost a frightened look  to his face. Dunn understood the look as soon as he noticed the young man  leaned heavily on a cane, his left leg strapped tightly in a wood brace.

“Can I help you?”

“Mis…mis…mister  Dunn?” The boy stuttered out, eyes wide and frightened.

“Yes?”

“I, I was, it’s  just, I was up and well, it’s… well you see…” The boy stumbled over his  thoughts, his eyes watching the older man uneasily.

“We’re going to  be here until the sun sets if you don’t calm down.” Dunn warmed his voice and  smiled gently. “Now, take a deep breath and just tell me what’s on your mind.”

The boy nodded  and drew a deep breath. When he spoke again it was slower, softly and with his  eyes down. “I moved in next door, I get up early, the light you see, it’s  different.”

“Out with it  lad.”

“Yes sir, a man  came to our door by mistake. He thought I was you in the dim light and told me  the message meant for you. I came right over here.”

They stood in the  door way with the damp early light of dawn surrounding them, watching each  other for a moment.

“What was the  message?” Dunn prompted gently, afraid too harsh of a word would send the boy  scurrying for cover.

“Oh!” He blushed  suddenly, understanding how stupid he’d been acting but quickly recovered.  “There was a message from a Mr. Vic Loyds, he’s asked you to come to his home.  Your nephew’s been hurt.”

“Jeses sake! How  badly hurt?”

The boy flinched  from the suddenly harsh tone but held his ground. “I don’t know, sir, the man  didn’t say and didn’t wait to be questioned. I’m sorry.”

“Never mind, it’s  okay, it’s not your fault. Thank you for telling me so quickly.”

The tone was one  of obvious dismissal and the boy nodded and backed away. He leaned a great deal  of weight on the cane, his bad leg unable to fully support him even with the  well crafted brace. Without another word he made his slow and careful way back  down the steps, leaving Dunn to hurry inside to pull on his boots.

 

By the time Dunn  reached Vic Loyd’s home on the other side of the river the sun was fully up and  people were bustling about the city. Only, near Mr. Loyd’s house, people didn’t  hurry about their day, they stopped and stared at the ruined front lawn.

Dunn pushed  himself past the whispering gossips and had to pause a moment himself. The home  was several blocks away from the river but not far enough away to be a high  class neighborhood. It was respectable, a small private home with a nicely  maintained yard around it. Only, this house’s front yard and flowers lay in  withered ruins. The grass had curled and blackened from a small fire which now  had been fully extinguished. Shards of glass winked back the sun from where  they lay scattered about the paving stones of the walk way and the clumps of  ruined grass. The glass had come from an upstairs window, now broken out and  looking blankly out to the street below.

It wasn’t the  black remains of fire or the broken glass window that made Dunn stop in his  tracks. Laying half on the paved stone walkway, a handful of paces from the  wide steps that led to the front door, was a blanket draped body. The thin  sheet showed the twisted outline well and blood stained darkly in several  spots. City guards stood watch at the entrance to the yard and hovered near the  body and door, they spoke softly to each other and glanced from the body to the  window with shakes of their heads. In that moment Dunn wondered if he’d been  called here to claim the body and he feared stepping forward.

If it was Tarin,  they’d send for Shelee soon if he didn’t arrive. That was a pain he’d spare the  woman if he could, she shouldn’t have to do such an unpleasant task. Dunn had  buried many men, far too many of them friends, he’d see to Tarin if it was him.

He stepped toward  the walk way and was instantly stopped by the guardsman.

“No one’s allowed  entrance.”

Dunn drew his  years of command about him, and raised a single eyebrow. “I was sent for. Mr.  Elorin Dunn, Tarin Morris’ uncle.”

The guard glanced  quickly to the blanket covered body and back to the handsome middle aged man  standing at the gate. “We’ve been waiting on you, come in.”

Dunn didn’t look  too closely at the body as he was lead off the path and fully around it. That  would come soon enough, there was no need to rush it now. The doors were opened  ahead of him and more guards waited inside, they led him down a hallway and to  a parlor.

The small room  faced east and with the lamps and morning sun was bright and airy. It was  packed with guardsmen, most appeared to be officers. They clumped around a  small settee where an overweight man sat holding a sobbing woman. Both were  still wrapped in robes, hair in disarray, and Dunn assumed they were Mr. and  Mrs. Loyd.

A guard moved  from his line of sight and Dunn caught a clear glimpse inside the secondary  clump of guards. It made his heart leap and he shook his head. Tarin sat on a  stool, bloodied and stripped to the waist but very much alive. His left arm  hung forward at an awkward and obviously dislocated angle. A surgeon hovered  near his right arm, carefully stiching closed a long gash. The man must have  been working for quite a while because several other cuts on the same arm had  already been washed and stitched shut. Tarin’s chest was wrapped in bandages  and he cradled his nonfunctioning arm close to his body.

“You can’t be in  here.” A guard officer said as Dunn approached.

“It’s okay, he’s  my uncle, I sent for him.” Tarin spoke up.

“What happened? I  thought it was you out there.” The officer stepped aside and let Dunn pass.

Tarin shook his  head. “It was a few hours ago, I got up, he didn’t.” He flinched away from the  surgeon’s efforts but that made his shoulder move and he flinched again.

“What happened,  are you okay?”

“I will be if I  can ever get my arm to work again.”

The surgeon, a  middle aged man with a sour look and warm, welcoming eyes, looked up from his work  and frowned. “You won’t be so eager when I get to it.”

“What happened?”  Dunn asked for the third time and found himself loosing patients.

“Tarin was just  being dramatic again, he’s trying to become a living myth.” The surgeon  muttered.

“Jot here patches  me up too often, he’s cyincal and annoying but his skills keep me from killing  him.”

That made the  surgeon chuckle warmly. “I’ll answer your question because my pin cushion  won’t. It seems Mr. Loyd’s concerns over an assassin were well founded. The man  on the lawn broke in and was going to set the Loyd’s on fire in their bed.”

“I jumped him,  didn’t know he had a hood lamp and a jug of oil. When I smelled the oil and  figured out what he was going to do I pushed him out the window. Ow, bloody  hell, Jot, gently!”

“Pushed him out  the window,” the surgeon went on and ignored the protest, “and followed him as  well.”

“Out the window?”

Tarin nodded.  “With the oil spilling everywhere too. Which is how the front lawn got  redecorated.”

“Are you okay?”

“A few cuts from  the window, a burn on my side and I landed on my bad shoulder, popped it out  again. Hey!” He called out as a guardsman walked by, “I want my knife back from  the body.”

“Yes sir, as soon  as we’re done with the investigation.”

“No, now, that  cost me good coin and I won’t have it becoming a souvenir. Get your commander  on it, I want it back before I leave.” His tone and eyes made the guardsman  back down. With a muttered agreement he continued on his way. “When I was sure  I hadn’t died I had them send for you.”

“It almost didn’t  get to me, the message got delivered to one of your new neighbors. Can I help  with anything?”

“Brandy, or  something strong, before this butcher puts my shoulder back in.”

It took only a  quick glance around the room to spot the glass decanters and fine glass  tumblers set around it. Dunn opened one of the bottles, sniffed it and replaced  the stopper. The second bottle he tested smelled strong enough to burn his nose  with one whiff. This was the one that he splashed a double dose out into a  glass.

Tarin took it  when it was offered and held it loosely in his right hand. The bottom of the  glass resting on his knee because the surgeons work had him feeling light  headed and his grip felt weak. He held still and waited for Job to finish his  careful stitching, a skilled surgeon that could be trusted was worth his weight  in gold to a swordsman. Tarin may not show it but he deeply respected the other  man’s skills.

That didn’t mean  the moment Job let go of his arm to line up the bandages Tarin didn’t down the mouthfuls  of strong drink. It instantly burned, spreading fire down his throat and making  him cough. “What was that?”

Dunn shrugged  casually. “You said something strong. You want more?”

Tarin sputtered  and nodded gratefully. He was exhausted, both from pain and injury and from not  sleeping. Once he’d calmed down and really understood that he’d not snapped his  neck in the fall, that the killer was dead and the Guards had arrived,  everything had instantly started to hurt. Jot had tried to get him to have some  brandy, knowing how much pain the swordsman was in but he’d been turned down.  Tarin refused to risk getting even slightly drunk without someone he trusted  near by.

That didn’t mean  he was foolish enough to refuse it now. He held still while Jot began the  careful job of wrapping the fresh wounds in clean bandages. The second offering  of rough drink was sipped slower, as he was able to move his arm from the  surgeons grasp. It was spreading a numbness and the pain was slowly receding.

“Mr. Morris, I’ve  been told you were badly hurt.”

Tarin looked and  his eyes didn’t want to focus properly. “Mr. Loyd, are you and your wife  unharmed?”

“Yes, because of  your fast action. We never dreamed he’d go so far, the guard has the letter of  hire on the killer. They’re bringing charges up against my partner. None of  this would have been possible if not for you. Are you badly hurt?” Loyd was a  good man, a merchant that practiced fairly and was well respected in the  community.

“Nothing that  won’t heal. Thank you for your concern. I would recommend you and Mrs. Loyd  leave for the country this afternoon, just to be safe.” Dunn plucked the glass  from Tarin’s numb fingers.

“We shall, don’t  worry about that. I’ll see to it my agent sends the other half of your payment  down to you, there’ll be a bonus with it. Ah! No protesting, I know you like to  stick to your contract but your contract didn’t include going out the window to  save us. You’ve earned it. If I can do anything for you?” He looked from Tarin  to Jot to Dunn and back again.

Tarin shook his  head. “You’ve already been kind enough to send for my uncle and Surgeon Jot.”

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