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from The Gods' Own by Alexis Cunningham

Copyright © 2019–2021 Alexis Cunningham

Chapter 24
The Truth About Matriev Pt. 1

Two hours after the attack on Krackzy Street station, Krystof stood in the small observation room connected to one of two warded interrogation rooms in the Horvach District constabulary headquarters. Beyond the large panel of one-way glass he could see Mladin Yaraslav, hands shackled to the table, two red uniformed Raderi agents guarding him. The man smiled faintly at the mirror glass, smirking as if he knew exactly what was going on behind the glass.

Chief Hrozic slapped his hand against the wall beside the large one-way window. ‘I don’t care who you are,’ he said, face red behind an equally vivid russet beard and moustache. ‘I’m chief of this station and I won’t be dictated to by a bunch of jumped-up clerics.’

             ‘Yes, you will,’ Dima replied calm, unruffled and deliberately condescending. ‘You already spoke to Mayor Lydecki; my associates and I are in charge of this investigation. You and your men are to give us your full cooperation. So,’ Dima smiled tightly, ‘when I say leave, you leave.’ He and Lydecki were the same height. The constabulary chief had fifteen years on Dima and maybe twenty pounds of extra weight but Dima appeared to loom over the other man. Krystof fancied that the shadows in the room bunched around him, like the faint whisper of wings.

             ‘What the Pit damn is the Vanguard?’ Hrozic shouted, refusing to be intimidated.

             The man who had introduced himself to Krystof as Raderi Division Head Yuri Stojanosch chuckled. ‘Trust me chief, you don’t want to know.’ Stojanosch was a languid, dapper man his forties. His lean face was pock-marked and his pale hair slicked back against his head so well it looked like a polished glass cap. The curl of his mouth was amused, but there was a clear watchful light of intelligence in his eyes.

             Chief Hrozic rounded on him. ‘What the Pit damn does that mean, Yuri?’ he demanded. ‘I have eleven confirmed deaths; twenty-eight casualties, nine in critical condition. Initial witness reports of mass possession, the walking dead, deadly butterflies and a Pit damn dragon. The city’s on lock down; I’ve got the newspapers breaking curfew trying to get statements, and all I’m getting from you is “you don’t need to know”? Smythion’s balls, how am I supposed to maintain order when no one tells me anything?’

             Stojanosch sighed, casting an askance look over at Dima. ‘It’s above both our paygrades, friend,’ he said tiredly. ‘Trust me, I’ve been on this ride before. You want the city back to normal? Let the Vanguard take care of the problem.’ Stojanosch pushed off the far wall, his relaxed mien melting away and some of his native sharpness showing through. ‘I am saying this as both your friend and as a loyal agent of the bureau. Be grateful this isn’t our problem. Because whatever this is, it’s the sort of magic that will get your men killed.’

             ‘We caught that bastard, didn’t we?’ Hrozic pointed through the one-way glass. ‘We got the other one chained up next door. Seems like we’re handling this situation just fine on our own.’

             ‘Because they want you to,’ Dima snapped. ‘You were given the file on Atdottir, you know what he did in Ilinsk.’

             ‘Allegedly,’ Hrozic scoffed. ‘I’ve been doing this job twenty-seven years, son. Your file was nothing but conjecture. You’ve no evidence he was behind the attempted bombing of that hospital.’

             ‘I was there,’ Dima gritted out.

             ‘I don’t trust you,’ Hrozic countered. ‘Your word means nothing to me.’

             ‘You are a servant of this city,’ Dima snarled. ‘The mayor gave you an order. Follow it.’

             Hrozic’s face was a fantasic shade of puce. He was almost nose to nose with Dima. ‘You questioning my professionalism, boy?’ he asked tone dangerously calm.

             ‘Question your professionalism?’ Dima’s lips curled in a sardonic smirk. ‘Me? Of course not. I don’t need to question anything. It’s a well known fact that Djisi’s constabulary is the second most corrupt in all of Reagir province. Kirjana only has you beat because everyone knows the city’s one bad day away from anarchy.’

             Krystof had determinedly kept out of the argument, staying as quiet as he could. He was the junior most person present and barely better informed of what was really going on than chief Hrozic but now he straightened up, sucking in a sharp breath of shock. What was Dima doing? Surely he realised antagonising the chief was the worst possible way of getting his cooperation.

             ‘Rhado,’ Stojanosch grabbed the chief’s shoulders, inserting himself between the pair. ‘He’s not worth it, friend,’ he said close to the chief’s ear. ‘As for you,’ he said to Dima. ‘I’ve worked with your commanding officer. I respect Iorin and I expect better from one of his. You may be the expert here, but this is still a constabulary precinct. The chief and his men deserve your respect.’

             ‘This is a magical incident,’ Dima said, refus...

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