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The road to Geneva was a day's journey by horse and Evony was not quite ready for such an endeavor. Her legs still ached from the bounty killing of Monsieur Boutin, and with 100 Francs in her purse she could easily afford a bed for the night and possibly even a decent, warm meal.
Entering the door to an inn on the outskirts of the city, she was greeted by the wafting aroma of a succulent beef stew. Following her bounty hunter intuition, she located the innkeeper and inquired on the chance of lodging and a bowl of the stew. "Monsieur? Do you have vacancy? I wish to lodge for the night and partake in supper."
The innkeeper smiled broadly and motioned to a seat at a nearby table. "Madame, I can have a bed made and ready for you before you finish your meal. Can I interest you in a glass of wine?"
Evony paused, her mind trying to deduce her interest in wine and after a few moments, she smiled and asked, "Would you have any Bavarian mead on hand?"
The innkeeper nodded. "Certainly, Madame."
Evony sat quietly enjoying the warmth of the stew and the supple bread that came complimentary with her meal. The Bavarian mead was an adequate compliment to the savory tones of the stew. The soft sound of the fire in the hearth was only occasionally interrupted by the low talking of the few patrons enjoying their drinks and meals. However, one conversation caught Evony's attention.
Two gentlemen, clearly well into their adulthood and likely with sizable families to tend to sat, quietly across the room. Both men chatted nonchalantly of a string of murders that took place just 30 or so kilometers up the road. The gray-haired man said,"They say the girls were ripped apart, legs and arms strewn about. My nephew, he works with the magistrate. He said that the girls looked as though they were attacked by a beast."
The man with black hair retorted, "You must be smothering a parrot; no such beasts exists in all of Europe."
Evony, decidedly curious in what information these locals could give, stood from her chair and walked over to their table. "Good evening, sirs. If I may, I am investigating such murders, far less gruesome I must admit, to the north, just south of Geneva. It is entirely possible that my case is directly connected to the murders you tell of. Do either of you know who is investigating them?"
Both men glanced at each other before the gray-haired man spoke. "Madame, I appreciate your interest, but shouldn't a more qualified individual be investigating these murders?"
Within a split second, Evony had her thigh blade drawn and the men tensed in their seats. Without saying a word, Evony tossed the blade with purpose to her left, landing it with a thud into a wanted poster on a wall 25 feet away. "Monsieurs, I would have you know that I just visited my good friend the magistrate with the head of that man in my bag. I used that very knife to sever his criminal head from his dead and limp body. I walked for miles into the hills through snow and blistering wind to kill him. If a man had been more qualified, then Monsieur Boutin would have died eight months ago when he murdered his wife and newborn child."
Now all the Inn looked on with interest as Evony straightened her body and walked calmly toward the wanted poster. She tugged her knife loose and placed it back in its sheath. She walked back to the table and repeated her question. "Who should I speak to if I am interested in more information on the murders you described?"
Part 2.1: Departure
With a good night's rest and a filling breakfast of bread and tea, Evony planned to embark on her horse for the French city of Beaumont. Her head was clear, and her aches and pains, while not completely healed, felt much more manageable for the day's journey to Beaumont. As she readied her horse, a mahogany Rottaler, she heard footsteps behind her and awaited the impending remark of sincere concern from some man worried for her safety. Instead a familiar voice, the Magistrate, spoke. "Off to Beaumont, I hear? Before you go, I'd like to offer some advice." Evony paused and her silence was enough confirmation for the Magistrate. "The government is taking these killings very seriously. They have ordered a Parisian detective to the case. It may be in your interest to avoid him as I have heard his ego surpasses his thirst for justice; and to have a woman outperform him would undeniably cause his ego great harm."
"Monsieur Montague, I have to stop these girls from dying. Twenty one, when I left Geneva, had been killed. I do not care for the brinkmanship of Parisian politics nor do I expect to avoid the presence of an over-confident and under-qualified detective. I will investigate my case in the name of the Crown of Switzerland and will not run afoul of your laws but will also not stand down from my commitments."
Montague stared silently with pride and passion. "Evony, my only regret in life is that you declined my proposal. Your passion..." Montague trailed off with a sigh.
Evony turned and smiled before vaulting herself onto her horse. "My only regret is that I didn't take you up on that Kirshwasser yesterday." And with that she rode off down the road to face the Beast of Beaumont.