(Ed. Note: this story also makes reference to the events seen in ”Leftovers”.)
Blotter’s apartment was much smaller than one would expect from a troll of such high office. Cramped and frugal enough to remind Ingot of the low-status apartment he’d grown up in. But there were no touches that made the place feel ‘lived in’. No awards on display, or drawings by young relations. No interesting marks in the furniture that told their own stories. Nothing that looked like a knick-knack or keepsake. This wasn’t a home, it was a place where someone kept his stove and bed and spare clothes.
A scratchpad and ink bottle sat ahead of Ingot on a small table. The Deputy of Security had not been offered any refreshments. Not that he would accept them, being that this was official business. “Thank you for granting me some of your time. I know how busy you are.”
The elder troll sat in a hard-backed chair and kept a hard, stoic face that he would probably deny was a scowl if asked. “I doubt that. I expect this is about the documents I sent your office.”
Ingot offered a conciliatory wave of his fingers. “Yes. On behalf of Security Branch I thank you again for the cooperation. Your contributions were quite thorough. “ Blotter’s records were extremely thorough, actually; a pile of leather-bound invoices going back all the way to the founding of Special Projects and Studies, where objects of point-ear make were supposed to be held. For archiving and study by Blotter in particular. Those in Scholar hands, at any rate. Much as Ingot wanted to keep his investigation of the black market small enough to go un-noticed by the rumor mill, he’d been forced to add an extra member to his team just to help read through the heap. And that was just the papers Ingot had clearance to see. “I’m here because of something that struck me as odd in those records. You’ve been the point-ear loremaster for centuries. Hardly taken any apprentices, not a lot of rivals for the job. I dare say your position is as entrenched as can be. Yet when the chance to examine a point-ear body, first hand, with your own eyes came along, in the 1698th Year, you weren’t there. The second Scholar name on the dissection report is a female named Thumbprint. At the time she was on staff in the Library.”
Most trolls when asked minor details from an age ago would have had to consult a diary, or ask time to collect their thoughts. Blotter merely turned his eyes downward for a moment, as if looking at something else beyond the floor, before providing the information. “Quill and Bludgeon had chairs on their respective House Leaderships, and their respective House councils selected Quill and Bludgeon as their representatives. It fell on each of them to select a second to bear witness to the procedure. Quill told me that Bludgeon insisted upon bringing one of the two warriors who found the body. She believed the Chief was using the situation to elevate the soldier’s status.”
Ingot nodded. “My father. I asked him about this, but he couldn’t provide me an answer to my question.” Or, more likely, wouldn’t. A fiercely loyal troll, even to the department which had discarded him, Redpike spoke in that interview in a manner which led his son to believe he was leaving something out. Speaking only to the clearances Ingot was able to provide. Ingot was under the growing impression that something had gone on which after all the decades, he was still not allowed to discuss. So here he was, looking for another angle of approach at the truth.
“Don’t interrupt. Redpike’s status was, I was told, on the rise. But he was far from an equal of mine. Quill could not have me at her side in the investigation chamber without insulting Tactics. She informed me that she’d selected someone of acceptable status to accompany her, and I would receive a complete report of the proceedings to meet my scientific standards after the inquest, as well as all the artifacts that Bludgeon didn’t walk off with.”
Ingot jotted some shorthand notes on his pad. But the answer provided only led to a new question. “If Quill was worried about stepping on toes, why pick someone from the Library? Particularly that someone. Thumbprint had swapped over to the Archives and back, by that time. That must have ruffled Lodestone, or Pigment, or the both of them. It’s no secret that they don’t like each other. Always sticking their fingers into each other’s stewpots. Surely Lodestone tried to insert one of his own protégés? Or Pigment offered one with less muddied loyalties?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t ask. I don’t have time to keep up with petty feuds. And I don’t care about politics.”
Ingot leaned back onto his chair. “You are one of the few trolls who I can hear say that and believe it.”
Blotter’s posture was rigid as ever. “My position is, as you noted, very entrenched. If you want to know what was in Quill’s head, you’d best go get it from the source.”
The interview was clearly ending. Ingot began gathering his things. “I intend to. If I may be so bold, I wanted to talk to you first as it was my best chance to get an unbiased view of events.” Let alone a complete one, if the rumors of Quill’s declining faculties held any weight.
Flattery accomplished nothing. “Is there anything else you require my services for?”
“Not at this time, thanks. But I may need to check in if something else turns up in your records.”
“Then you know the way out.” Blotter did not get up from his chair when Ingot departed.