Black Iron's Glory - Chapter 152

"What did you say?! Morssen actually jumped and killed himself?!"

After hearing the news his butler delivered, Sir Fux stood up abruptly in the midst of biting into a grape at breakfast. His napkin dragged his crystal wine glass over and the fruit wine spilled all over his shirt. He couldn't care less about it in that moment, however. He drilled over to his butler and yanked him off his feet against the nearest wall by his collar.

"Is this true?!"

The butler, terrified from his master's face, nearly shat himself. He'd never seen so much fury in a single expression before.

"I heard he jumped just after sunrise this morning. He leapt from the mansion's roof onto the cobblestone and shattered his head."

Sir Fux let go of his butler and deflated like a balloon.

"He... how dare he commit suicide... Who allowed him to do it?!"

He overturned his table, and slammed it into the floor, nearly cracking the delicate marble tiles. His crystal glasses shattered into a million pieces and decorated the floor like tiny stars. The butler stared at his master from the corner he'd picked and shivered.

"How dare he commit suicide?! How... dare... he!"

He only calmed down after raging for half an hour, his head a tomato.

"His heir must be Bloweyk, yes?"

"Yes... I heard that he wrote a final will before he committed suicide and named Bloweyk his heir. The child would bear all his debt."

Sir Fux flipped out again.

"I knew it... I knew it, Morssen... Well played! You want to drag me down even after you killed yourself! You've made me the laughingstock of the whole town! His son... What's he called, Clow? Clover? Wait, it's Claude, right? Isn't he an adult? He can take over the household, yes?"

"He turned eighteen this year, yes, but he's already registered as the head of his own family, a branch of the main Ferd family. He doesn't own anything that could be taken against the debt either. He lives on Normanley Wood as its appointed caretaker. I heard he's really filial though, and takes great care of the family. I don't think he'll fight his brother for the inheritance against his father's will."

"Ugh... Maybe I shouldn't have pressed Morssen so much -- not so quickly at least. He might have kept his head if I'd agreed to give him some time to get the money, maybe a couple years... Damn him! He's going to drag me down with him! -- Is Arbeit still on Old Street?"

"Probably not. He went to searching for his little lover after you fired him and hasn't gone home since."

"Tell Bidlir to find him and keep a watch on him. Don't let him leave town. Also, tell him to go home and take over the household. Registered separately or not, he's the oldest so he can overturn his father's will. Tell him if he gives me the mansion I'll absolve him of the debt he'll inherit."

"Yes, Master."

The butler left in a hurry, and Sir Fux lost control again. He picked up everything he could find and threw it around the room, he even tore the doors off his cupboards.

"Damn you Stellin! Damn your stupid debt law..."

The gardener outside heard the commotion and the curses as he dutifully tended the plants. His expression stiffened immediately.

In an alley near Old Street a row of run-down two-storey buildings stood. Sir Fux's butler was brought to one of the buildings along it by a couple Blacksnake gangsters.

Arbeit was still asleep; it didn't stop the thugs from bringing the butler in.

"Arbeit, your father is dead. Why haven't you gone home?" the butler asked sternly.

"Go home? For what? To inherit his debts?" Arbeit asked, uninterested in the conversation.

The butler told him Sir Fux's conditions.

"Fine. You can go back now. Send Sir Fux my greetings. I'll go home later."

When the butler left, Arbeit cackled.

"You think I'm stupid? You want me to inherit that debt? Do you think I'm stupid enough to believe you'll just write off that debt for a mansion? That old bastard does nothing but fart!"

A red-haired woman squirmed out of the sheets.

"Abbey, are you really not going home? Your father is dead."

"No, I won't go back to be beaten up," Arbeit said firmly, "You might not know it, but that brother of mine is a real bastard. He loves to beat me up. He might have held back some when my father was still around, but he won't now that the old fool is dead. He can take care of the debt."

"If he could take the debt, why did Sir Fux tell you to go home and take it?"

"He probably wants to get this over and done with as quickly as possible. The king made a new law a couple years back that says that when a debtor dies his heir has to resign his debts in his own name when he inherits the estates. No one is allowed to collect any debts for three months either -- it's to give the new debtor time to grieve and get the estates in order. That bastard little brother of mine has a decent backing, so he might just be able to get them back over here before the three months run out to put a stop to any debt collections."

Arbeit, for all the smarts he'd inherited from his father, clearly lacked experience in scheming. He hadn't even thought of using Bloweyk to kill the debt.

"Speaking of which, want to make a little money?"

"Who doesn't? You've freeloaded at my place for three days now. You haven't paid me a single copper," the redhead said as she tugged on Arbeit's ears.

"S-stop! I'll write a letter to take home and ask my brother for money. He won't say no."

"You aren't lying? He'll really give me the money? How much?"

"Maybe one or two crowns... I doubt he can give any more."

"That much? Really? What letter will you write?" the girl asked excitedly.

"Well, I'm going to officially renounce my claim to the family inheritance. Just take it to him and tell him you want 3 crowns in exchange for the letter, but you have to split half of it with me."

"Wait, you really don't want to take the inheritance?"

Arbeit nodded firmly.

"After I write the letter, have your father wait before going out to sea. When you come back, bring me to the docks. We'll leave with your father. I can't stay in Whitestag any longer. That old fox will hunt me down for payback. I might have thought about doing it if he paid me a hundred crowns, but I'm not taking his word for spit."

Bidlir stood outside the red-bricked mansion. He never imagined he would be dragged into Morssen's suicide and be unable to leave. He was instructed by the town's chief justice to head to his house to investigate the matter at the same time he heard about the man's death.

He was beginning to regret joining the damned garrison. He could have just sent someone out in his place if he'd been a civilian, but as a bandsman he was duty bound to carry out his superiors' instructions exactly, and they were for him, personally, to go and deal with the matter. Not to mention that the promissory note he'd shown the man was no doubt the reason he'd committed suicide in the first place, so he was going to be interrogated about his role in the whole affair.

His eyes scanned the crowded street for the umpteenth time. He swore half of the town was there. The damned man just had to salvage his reputation before they could get to him for his debt to Sir Fux.

He'd never felt so humiliated in his entire life. No one actually came up to him to curse him for 'killing' the respected bastard, but they didn't have to, their eyes stabbed him a million times worse.

Gods, he was just the poor sod unfortunate enough to have been sent on the fatal errand! He felt even more uncomfortable when he felt the surging murderous intent from the bastard's second welp cutting him into a million pieces.

He'd killed many people before, and dealt with any number of people who'd wanted him dead, but he'd never felt a murderous gaze like that boy had. The welp felt more like a demon than a human.

His unease at the boy's gaze faded some when he was informed by one of his subordinates that the welp, for all his youth, was quite the experienced hunter; it at least gave a reasonable explanation for his inordinate amount of bloodlust.

"How much longer do they want me to stay here..." he complained.

"Be patient, Boss. We never thought something like this would happen. Just wait until the justice department's done with the promissory note," a witty subordinate answered.

"We've been waiting here the whole morning already! Why are they dragging their feet?"

He could have killed to be let into the house, but that bastard second welp of Morssen had forbidden them the house, and was standing at the entrance, watching them like a hawk.

"Eh? Isn't that Alice? Why's she here?" someone asked when a redhead burst out of the crowd.

She made for Claude and he let her in after she showed him a letter. She left a minute later, a giant smile on her face.

She was stopped by one of Bidlir's goons, but he soon let her go and returned.

"She delivered a letter from that babyface, Arbeit. He's apparently renounced his claim to his inheritance."

"Only a fool would take on a five-hundred-crown debt," one of the others answered.

An officer from the court arrived a few minutes later and checked the promissory note. He glanced at Bidlir contemptuously and snorted.

"Wait here. Chief Justice Kauff will come this afternoon. He wants to look into your relation to the debt. Keep the promissory note with you as well."

"How much longer?" Bidlir asked, on the brink of giving in.

"I don't know. Probably till this afternoon. Luckily no one's contesting Morssen's will. Kauff will deal with you. Just stay out of sight for a while. There'll be a service here in a bit."

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