The Huntsmen: Chapter 5

The patrolmen whistled, warning them that the other officers were returning with the hearse. Mogen waved the little imp back onto his shoulder, while Rafe quickly began rifling through the man’s pockets.

“What on earth, Rafe?” Edmund said.

“It won’t do the police any good,” Rafe said. “You think they’ll know what to make of this?” He came up with a few scraps of paper he pocketed for himself, and they all made a hasty exit back out to the street.

Edmund leaned in closer to Casmin as they walked. “So how do you know his grace?”

“Please don’t call me that,” Mogen said.

Edmund blinked back at him. “I beg your pardon?”

“The name is Stian,” the duke said. “The title is a… useful formality.”

Edmund looked sincerely offended, and Stian went on quickly. “Andre and my father were very close. He came as a –”

Casmin interrupted. “I met the boy when he was this high, if you can imagine it now.” He held his hand flat at waist height. “He just kept growing.”

“Andre is not easily excited,” Stian said. “So when he wrote with so much excitement about you all, I had to come and see for myself.”

“So you went to a ball,” Casmin said. He grinned at that again, laughing at a joke the others hadn’t caught onto yet.

Stian grumbled. “I promised my uncle I would do so. It was his price for overseeing matters while I was away. So I accepted the first invitation I received when I arrived off the train.”

Casmin looked even more baffled. “You took a train?”

Stian brightened considerably at this. “Oh yes. It was amazing. They had a little cart that went up the hallway, and it was filled with drinks and little meals, and…” He trailed off at the others’ baffled expressions. “It was a new experience,” he said. “As I was saying, I accepted the first invitation I received, which came with… frightening speed.”

“Are you married?” Rafe asked.

“God, no,” said Stian.
“That’s why,” said Rafe. “There is no spy network on earth with the efficiency of English mothers.”

“They’re terrifying,” Stian said. “I was about to leave when I ran into Miss Greyson. Literally, I’m afraid. I was in such a hurry I nearly bowled her over.” He at least had the grace to look sheepish.

“Willamina?” Stephen said.

“Yes,” Stian said. “Absolutely astonishing. Andre, please tell me you’ve found a teacher for her already.”

Casmin winced as Edmund came to a complete stop on the street. “Your grace,” he said, his voice a low growl.

“Yes, sir,” Stian said.

“We welcome any assistance you have to offer in the matter at hand, namely, the deaths of those two poor souls back there. Casmin here calls you a friend, and that carries a great deal of weight with us. But you should consider the topic of my sister out of bounds,” Edmund continued. After a moment’s thought he added, “In any sense you can possibly imagine. Do you understand?”

“Of course, my apologies…” He looked utterly baffled. He turned to Casmin, who mouthed “Later.”

“Hullo,” Rafe said loudly. He had been looking over the papers he found, and now he held up one, a scrawled address and a time, 9 pm. “I know this place. It’s a… well, you know.”

“A landing spot for fallen women?” Stephen said.

Rafe scowled. “I hate that expression. Fallen women. As if they were walking down the street one day, turned their ankles, and suddenly landed in the brothel. Lovely way men have of evading responsibility, isn’t it.”

“Your point, Rafe?” Edmund asked.

“You don’t want to hear my point, but I do know this address. It’s a bar, among other things, and I should be able to find someone who knows our deceased friend back there. If I move quickly, I may be able to do it before anyone knows he’s gone cold. They’ll talk more freely.”

Edmund nodded. “Go on, then. There’s not much the rest of us can do tonight.”

“We’ll meet up tomorrow, then?” Rafe said.

“At the townhouse,” Edmund quickly added.

And with that, Edmund and Stephen made their way home, while Andre led Stian back to his flat. Once inside, Casmin made straight for the side table.

“You certainly stumbled upon quite the interesting family,” Stian said.

“You have no idea,” Casmin said, pouring a scotch. “Drink?”

“No, thank you. You said that Stephen is coming along quickly?”

“Incredibly. He’s only been working on elemental summoning for four months now, and he’s gotten one of them down.”

Stian whistled. “And you said Edmund…”

“Nothing that I’ve seen so far,” Casmin said. “Magic unnerves him.”

“And Rafe?”

Casmin sipped, and shook his head. “Also nothing. Which is almost certainly for the best, for all of mankind. But what did you mean about Willamina?”

“She saw Fetch, when I first ran into her.”

That got Casmin’s attention.“He was under a glamour?”

“The best one he has,” Stian said. “It’s never happened before. She’s the youngest?”

“No, Stephen is, although by all of twenty minutes from what I’m told.” Stian gaped at him. “What?”

“They’re twins?” Stian asked, incredulous.

“Yes, but…”

“Have you been taking precautions, then?” His voice raised slightly, already incensed by the coming refusal.

“What?” Casmin asked, still confused.

Stian sat down heavily in a chair and squeezed the bridge of his nose. “Fucking magicians.”

Casmin sat across from him and fished a cigarette out of a mahogany case on the end table. “What are you on about?”

“What’s the law of sympathy again?” Stian asked, with a patient but pedantic tone.

Casmin scowled with irritation. “Like affects like.”

“And?”

Casmin went on, “Two objects sharing the same origin or sharing close physical proximity for… oh, fuck.”

Stian nodded.

Casmin rubbed his face. “So as Stephen becomes more adept…”

“Her own abilities will continue to manifest with greater force. It could be harmless, but we have to assess her now…

“Or it could be catastrophic.” Casmin groaned. “This is… a serious problem.”

“Because of Edmund?” Stian asked.

“If it weren’t for Charlotte’s murder, we’d be having to teach Stephen secretly. I asked him once before if Willamina had shown any potential, and got the same reaction you did.”

Stian looked baffled again. “But why?”

“She’s coming out this season.” The younger man still looked confused, and Andre explained, “This year, or next, she’ll be married. She already has a reputation for being headstrong, and the family is terrified that if word gets out that she’s in any way… unusual, she’ll be considered undesirable.”

The duke’s expression shifted from lost to disgusted. “But if her potential is anything like her brother’s…”

“Even if Edmund were familiar with the magical community, he genuinely loves his sister. The idea of trading her off as a broodmare to one of the Brotherhood families…”

“That’s not what I meant!”

“No, but that’s how it would be. English mages don’t choose their own partners, especially not when they’re as talented as this pair seem to be. Edmund Greyson is a good man, who has had entirely too much thrown at him. He’s still in mourning for Charlotte; he has one brother who is wildly unpredictable, if entertaining, the other has developed the ability to create fireballs, and an hour ago he discovered that werewolves actually exist. And that’s not the strangest thing that’s happened to him this year. He is pushed to the limit.”

“And the girl?” Stian asked.

“He’ll do what’s best for her,” Casmin said, as much to himself as to Stian. “We just have to convince him that we know what’s best. But you can’t dictate to him, Stian. We’ll have to be canny about this.”

Stian grunted. “All right. But you must be careful with Stephen. We may have to slow him down. The elemental work should be fine, but if he shows any signs of Walking…”

“We’ll nail his feet to the floor. Now,” he said, looking at the clock on the mantel. “I’m kicking you out. I’m an old man. I need my sleep.”

“You’re only ten years older than I am,” Stian said with a grin.

“Talk to me when you’re forty. It’s a longer ten years than it looks from your end.”

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