Adrienne listened to Constable Ash with an amused smile. His words sounded awkward to her, but it was something to which she was accustomed. Living on university grounds, she frequently had the opportunity to speak with people who learned words from reading.
Her own wildly informal education had exposed her to a surprising amount of words–many of them shockingly rude–which she could use quite comfortably in conversation. But she would have been hard-pressed to write many of them down.
Constable Ash appeared to be either enamoured with the campus, or else incredibly uneasy with it. “They are usually more busy than smart,” she said quietly, as though divulging a secret, “academia leaves very little time for anything else.”
Not that she would have known. Adrienne’s forays into academia were all on the face of the matter. The circular congratulations, dull parties, and petty rivalries made up a large part of her own experience. Truth be told, she didn’t even realise that her time aiding language professors in their classes was academic at all.
She watched Constable Ash with something like fascination, but said nothing more until they reached the flat.
Although she affected absent-mindedness throughout the constable’s tour of the scene, she took in details like a starving hawk at dinnertime. Charles had been meticulous with his things. The only books left out had to do with curses and redemption. Talismans were littered about, each of them offering protection. Several of those were scorched.
Constable Ash looked nervous, as though even he could sense the wrongness of the place. “The, er, Mister Brimley was found on the floor of his study. The one room was a bit messy, like there was a fight or something, but not really messy enough for an axe murder.”
“Oh yes?” Adrienne knelt by the marked place where the body had been. The remains of a talisman had been kicked away, possibly by an inattentive investigator. She examined it without picking it up. Another protective amulet. “Not messy enough, you say.”
“That’s why we concluded it wasn’t. I mean, the victims of the Axeman were hacked apart. Mister Brimley, well, there was just the one whack.”
She looked up at the pentacle on the ceiling, then back at Ash. “I see. Were there any items of religious or historical significance at the scenes of the Axeman’s… confirmed crimes?”
She doubted it, but she had to know. It was unlikely that this mundane axe murderer had anything to do with Charles Brimley’s death, but it couldn’t hurt to check. Human serial killers followed ritual more closely than ethereal terrors. A night fury of some kind wouldn’t care about the difference between one whack or forty.