A deep shadow obscured Vasil’s mind as he went back to his shop, along with his wife.
He couldn’t chase the terrible picture of the King’s agonizing face off his head, and the feeling of powerlessness was so strong he felt overcome with a strong shame. He couldn’t help but think he was for something in Atanatar’s death even though every rational thought told him otherwise.
When he got home at last, he couldn’t make himself open the shop again, and decided to wait a few days before getting back to the business.
He sat down on a wooden chair and, for once, his wife sat silent with him. At last, it was him who broke the silence and who asked her for advises.
”What should we do, Hira?”
His voice was miserable, and so was his look. She tried to smile, but finally shook her head, as low as he was.
”I don’t know. We should try to speak to the Steward. I suppose he hold the throne now.”
Vasil hadn’t thought about that. Atanatar’s son, Tarondor, was far too young to rule.
There had always been a King on the throne since Elessar defeated Mordor, and Vasil couldn’t even imagine a world without one.
But it was in a world like that he lived now.
”To tell him what? That we know there is a murderer, but that we can’t recognize him? I suppose my dagger isn’t in his hands anymore, after that…”
She looked at him with a strange frown.
”Wait a minut. You said there was a stamp on the hilt? A merchant’s stamp?”
He nodded, without seeing where she was trying to bring him.
”Yes, a merchant from Arnor. His name’s Will Shaven.”
Hira shook her head again, but now she seemed fully awake, and impatient to do something.
”You’re right, he will drop it somewhere. And the Guards will find it. What do you think they’ll believe when they will see your Shaven’s stamp on the hilt?”
Vasil gave his wife a respectful glance, then got up.
”Right again, Hira. I’ll speak to the Steward at once. We must tell them the truth.”
She nodded and smiled.
”Good luck. I’ll try to find informations on the murderer.”
He gave her a slight nod, trying not to appear anxious for her. He knew she hated that, but he couldn’t help to give the dreaded line:
”Be careful with yourself.”
Before she could give him a frown, he got out of the shop and started for the palace. He saw that the street were now filled by little groups of men, talking to each other, all discussing the recent event and trying to decide whether the Steward would be a good or a bad ruler. Of course, the murderer wasn’t out of their discussion, but as none had the slightiest hint on who he was, there wasn’t much to tell.
Most of the rumours he heard were foolish, and the others unthinkable, but he couldn’t help but listen to them anyway. Some said the King wasn’t dead, and that gave some hope to Vasil. If that one was true, then it would ease the problem.
However, most people said the Steward has made his first decisions as a ruler, and that the banner of the King was soon to be replaced.
It is in a state of doubt that Vasil approached the doors of what was now the Steward’s room, under the suspicious stare of the guards. The guards stopped him when they saw he intended to enter.
”What do you want, and who are you? Be quick, we have no time to waste.”
Vasil couldn’t help but smile.
”That I doubt. My name is Vasil, and I’m a blacksmith. If I’m here, it’s because I’ve some informations about the outrage on the King.”
The guards seemed to relax a bit, but they didn’t let him enter.
”Give me a proof you tell the truth.”
”Did you found a dagger?”
They both nodded.
”I made it.”
They looked at each other, then opened the doors and let him in. He was soon lead by a servant toward the earth of the palace, to the Steward himself. It was a shock to see him on the throne instead of the King, though Vasil had never seen the King on it.
But it confirmed that Atanatar was dead, and that was as bad an information as any Vasil had had today.
The Steward gave him a quick glance, and dismissed some of the men – Vasil couldn’t be more precise about them – that were there.
”Ah, Vasil the Blacksmith! Could you describe this dagger to me?”
Vasil immediatly began to speak about the stamp and the other details of the dagger, untile the Steward told him to stop.
”Thank you, Blacksmith. Now, what do you know about the murderer?”
Vasil hesitated only a moment, then went on.
”I made this dagger for a merchant from Arnor, but the murderer stole it from my shop while everyone was looking at the Procession. I came here in order to prevent you from arresting the merchant. This would be an injustice.”
The Steward smiled.
”Let us please decide whether there is an injustice or not. We shall try Will Shaven.”
Vasil raised an eyebrow.
”But it’s foolishness! I just told…”
”Enough! I have my suspicions on the problem, and it is beyond your comprehension. Unless you’re skilled in the difficult art of politics?”
Vasil almost fainted.
”Politics? There wasn’t any need for politics for centuries! We…”
This time, a few guards approached him as the Steward made a gesture for him to stop talking.
”I said enough. You may go. Someone will be sent to you for the trial.”
Vasil shook his head, but he could do nothing against so powerful a man, so he started for the door. But the Steward caught him before he left.
”The Justice of the Steward won’t fail Gondor. You have my word.”
Vasil looked harshly toward the Steward.
”Gondor means nothing to me. I hope your Justice won’t fail Will Shaven!”
With this he all but ran out of the room, with the Steward too stunned to react. He broke at a run and went back to his shop.
He could do no more. No more.
When Kyagil opened the door of his chamber, he found himself in front of a tall man he didn’t know, whose short white hair made him seem old, though he wore an air of awareness and had a long knife sheated at his belt.
The old man looked at him head to toe, and smiled.
”You must be the one I sought. The Mysterious King-killer, ain’t you?”
Kyagil winced, then sat down on a wooden seat. He spoke with an harsh voice, for he didn’t like this old stranger that just put these facts in front of his nose. He had no need for annoyances now.
”Who are you and what do you want?”
The old man smiled, and kept his friendly voice.
”I don’t know what was your intention when you put this dagger into Atanatar’s back, but what I know is that you unconsiously served my wishes, and those of my friends. I wanted to express my gratitude to you.”
Kyagil began to sweat, then shook his head when he noticed.
”Answer my question.”
The stranger laughed bitterly.
”Well, you aren’t that friendly, it seems, uh? Want my name? Call me Old Brehar. I already answered the second part.”
”As it please you, Old Brehar. Play your games. My work is finished, and I hope we won’t meet anymore.”
Brehar sat down in front of Kyagil.
”The dagger you used was identified, and a merchant from Arnor will be put on trial. This is what we want. But there is a blacksmith who’ll be there. He saw you steal the dagger. He could spoil everything.”
Kyagil seemed suddenly more interested.