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I set the head on a step and turned to survey the rest of the courtyard. Abattoir more like. Professor Lokomolos's torso lay atop a snowdrift, his entrails strewn across the yard like party streamers. One of his legs was draped over a tree branch and the other stood frozen in the middle of the yard as though it'd decided to take a walk without the rest of the body. There was altogether too little blood--the killer'd either dismembered him after death or done the deed elsewhere. Possibly both.

I went over to the torso and knelt down, thankful for the chill air dampening the stink of death. I lifted his arm so I could examine his hand--well trimmed nails, nothing underneath; he hadn't put up a fight. The underside of his wrist was rope-burned, a faint imprint visible--fairly thin rope, like the cord you'd use to tie a package.

A shadow fell on me. "What do you think?" Dean Osamalos asked.

"Mad augurer?" I suggested. The Dean wasn't amused. "Come on, let's get inside."

The Dean started towards the stairs but stopped abruptly when he saw the Professor's head staring at him. He looked at it uncomfortably, not wanting to step over it but daring not to touch it either. I shouldered past him, grabbed the head and tossed it to the ground.

"Please, Master Saefalsin, have some respect for the dead," the Dean said.

"Sorry, Dean. You rather I bring it inside, let it warm up a bit?"

He turned so white he matched the snow and little beads of sweat popped up on his forehead. "No," he said in a hoarse whisper, "that'll be quite all right. Quite."

He led me inside to his office, a pleasantly large affair with a window that would've offered a view of Lasino Square and the Falinor Palace if not for the frost covering the panes. Hanging behind the Dean's desk was a portrait of King Alastamonos. In the corner, unlit, was a marble fireplace, carved with a simple but ornate Dwarven design. A massive wooden liquor cabinet of human workmanship stood next to the door, filled with more bottles than some taverns.

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