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‘Can’t you at least pretend you’ve missed me just a little bit?’ he asks.

‘Pretense is your area of expertise,’ I say. ‘I’ve always been a fan of playing it straight myself, and I’d just about managed to forget you. Anyway, this is where I work. If you have something to say, then say it. Otherwise, let me get back to my job.’

For a second, Gino looks almost hurt. Then he steels himself and continues.

‘You never were one for messing around. I’ve come to you on behalf of the Hierophant. There’s been a murder in our Purum.’

That gets my attention. How could it not? I may have cut my ties with these people a long time ago, but even I can’t be that unfeeling.

‘Who was it?’

‘Carina.’

I bow my head out of respect for a minute. I never got to know Carina very well. She was very reserved – even at the height of ritual – and never associated with anyone from the Purum outside of the arena.

‘Any idea who was behind it?’ I ask.

‘The Hierophant thinks it was another member,’ he answers. ‘He wants your help getting to the bottom of things. You’ve always had good instincts, and you might be even better at reading people than he is. Plus, with Carina gone, our Purum is one member short of the required number.’

I pull a cigarette out of the pack on the desk in front of me and light it. Gino wrinkles his nose in disapproval.

‘You smoke now?’ he asks. ‘It’s not enough that you’re wasting your potential…peddling your skills to the superstitious in this hole - you have to kill yourself too?’

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