Chapter 5: Study

"I get that Winter's wanting to use me as a blood hound, or maybe an ace in the hole, or... something." Marrik said as he poured Cass tea, "The thing is it doesn't make much sense for her to more or less blatantly tell me to use Sparks to crib off of a book and work with her later."

As Cass reached for another fried dumpling from the bag that sat between her and Marrik. "I still think it was stupid to out yourself."

"Then they would have gotten hung up on a witness that wouldn't cooperate on a basic question, flip this place apart, and then haul me in while some death fetishizing wannabe gets to run around free and clear." His unamused look capped off his explanation.

"Fine," Cass grumbled, "But least-bad does not make it a good option."

"Fair." Marrik popped a dumpling in his mouth and paused mid-chew for a moment. Then after finishing, "These are actually really good." After Cass shrugged he continued, "So Sparks is going through the book I was allowed to keep-"

Which caused Cass to interrupt, "Why aren't you with her anyway?"

"Because," Marrik gave an annoyed huff at being interrupted, "I can't really learn a lot from working myself over one night, I don't know what they'll want me to do tomorrow, and I'm tired." He tilted the dumpling bag to Cass, who shook her head. "So I figure best use of my time is trying to figure out what to try focusing on."

A headtilt was Cass's only response, an invitation to continue.

"So let's say it were me." Marrik paused, his hands spreading wide on the table their food had been sitting on. "I raise a zombie, pannick because it actually worked or possibly forgot how to do the binding and instructing. Zombie keys in on the next closest source of necromancy." He nodded to himself as he looked at the table, "Would explain why it wasn't immediately hostile, if I had the body maybe we could get a signature off of it but-"

"You damaged the body fighting it." Cass chimed in sourly. "Even if the body is still around it's going to have You all over it."

A grunt from Marrik, "Theoretically the signatures can be unmingled, or at least we can ignore mine and look at what's left, but we're getting into territory I'd have to hope they can do without me, and I'm not wanting to hand them something they could do on their own."

"So why even bother looking at the Body then?" Cass asked, "They're going to go flame and sword on figuring out who had access, if there were any other unburned bodies-" She paused then looked to Marrik, "Why didn't they burn the body. That's standard practice."

There was a moment of thought, "I'd asked Sparks before she started doing the thing and she said something about it being against his beliefs." Marrik sounded unconvinced, "I don't mean to disrespect the dead, but if your faith won't change in the face of leaving potential corpses about," he let the sentiment die down. "The problem is the graveyards are watched, staff vetted and their affinities catalogued. So it isn't like someone could get work so they could go play with the oddball or two that doens't go in on cremation, and if someone could get past that then they wouldn't be so skittish to have left something unattended."

His brow furrowed, "Something feels off here."

"What?" Cass's question was quickly followed up with, "Either you accept what the lady said that the zombie went straight for here, or you have to look at the idea you're being lied to and-"

"I know, I know..." Marrik's turn to interrupt, "maybe she got her reports wrong? Only thing I can think is trace back to where Danny was and what killed him." Which lead to an unpleasant idea neither wanted to voice; that people could be primed to be turned into zombies before they died and would immediately turn when their heart stopped.

Instead, Cass got to her feet and offered Marrik a hand. "C'mon, we're chasing our own tails here."

As he took Cass's hand Marrik looked at the woman questioningly, "Courtyard?"

"Courtyard." Cass nodded as the pair headed for the door.





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