“Lord Arrette is dead," Pól Braxietel announced as calmly as he could muster with news of that sort to announce to his Lord High President. "Murdered here in the Citadel itself."

Marion breathed in sharply. Kristoph controlled his response, but she felt his hand tighten around hers as he considered his first response to this revelation.

A murder in the Citadel was almost impossible to contemplate. This was the great bastion of civilisation, the place where laws were made for the greater good of all. It was not a place where murder happened.

At least, not murder that hadn't been approved by the Celestial Intervention Agency, and he was quite certain that Lord Arrette had not been targeted by them as an enemy of the state.

Not unless there was more to Lord Arrette than anyone had ever guessed about him.

"Is Madam Amycus still in the Citadel?" he asked Pól while he was still considering what he ought to do next.

"I do not know, sire," Pól answered, but like any good investigator he immediately sent a message of inquiry and almost as immediately again the news came back that the lady in question had been detained in the foyer by the Chancellery Guard.

"Detained?" Marion queried. "You can't think ..."

"Detained in the sense of being asked to wait," Pól added hastily. "In a politely discreet manner."

"Marion, my dear," Kistoph said. "Please go and meet Lady Amycus and bring her with you to the Reidluum house as your guest. Keep her with you and Mia in a safe and civilised environment. Drink tea and eat thin sandwiches, talk, as far as you are able, about those frivolous things that only women care about. Try not to discuss anything that has happened, here."

"But you really DON'T think she had anything to do with the murder?"

"We cannot exclude any possibility right now," Pól began, but Kristoph stopped him.

"Even on Gallifrey gossip and supposition does not imply guilt, and we have an axiom in Ancient Gallifreyan roughly equating to the earth phrase 'habeas corpus'. Without a body of proof nobody is to be assumed connected to this murder. But Lady Amycus was here, talking to us about her stepdaughter's fractious marriage to a man who was almost certainly killed as the discussion was ongoing. It is a coincidence too many. Let us be certain that we know where the lady is should any questions arise. But in the likely case that she is innocent, let her not be unduly troubled."

"I'll do my best," Marion promised. She wondered if she ought to keep the death of Lord Arrette secret from Lady Amycus - or was that already common knowledge in the Citadel?

"One of my men will escort you both to the Reidluum house," Pól told her. "For your safety and protection, not for any other reason."

Marion was reassured. The Chancellery Guard had a toy soldier uniform but she had always found them to be reliable and trustworthy. Kristoph kissed her gently on the cheek and then she went on her way.

As soon as his wife was safely gone, Kristoph rose from his seat. The Castellan, head of domestic security on all Gallifrey, had merely brought the important news to the Lord High President. Any other president might have asked to be kept informed of the investigation. Some might even have left the matter entirely in the hands of the Castellan, asking only for a final report.

Pól Braxietel knew that THIS President would want to take charge of the investigation and had fully anticipated his next demand to see both the body and the scene of the crime. He was ready to play his right hand man in this matter.

The crime scene was a dimly lit and little used back stair way into the external revenue department, the branch of the Gallifreyan Civil Service that monitored incomes generated outside of the Cruciform. The department occupied three whole floors of the west central tower but their work was so remote from all other aspects of the Revenue, let alone the rest of the civil service, that few people even needed to stop the lift on those floors. The back stairs were even less well known.

Kristoph looked impassively at the void in the pool of blood where the body of the elderly Time Lord had lain. The blood had poured down twelve steps like a gory waterfall before enough of it had congealed and damned the flow.

"Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?" Kristoph murmured, quoting Lady Macbeth on the problem of regicide.

"I beg your pardon, sire?" The Castellan queried.

"Too much blood," Kristoph added, dismissing his own quote as irrelevant. "How is that possible?"

"When you see the body you will understand, sire," he was told. "The answer to your question lies with the late Lord Arrette."

"Yes, I am sure you are right. But there must be other evidence to be found here at the scene." He looked up and around at the gunmetal grey walls and ceiling. There were specks of blood on the lower parts of the wall closest to where the body had lain and one very large splash about the height of a man's shoulders. That must have been from the first blow, the first cut, when the victim was still standing.

"I suppose it is too much to hope that there are any security cameras overlooking this spot?"

There was not.

That would have been too easy.

"There are no footprints," he noted, next. "All of your men did well not to disturb the scene as they removed the body."

"They used anti-grav boots to avoid such contamination," the Castellan answered. "I felt it necessary to remove the body - our of decency and dignity, but nothing else has been touched.”

"Perhaps the killer owned a pair of the same boots," Kristoph surmised. "It is not impossible. But in case he was careless, use black light to scan every inch of this stairwell, the walls, floors, ceiling, the doors, especially door handles. The area appears clean even to the well trained eye, but black light may reveal traces - blood transferred on a gloved hand opening a door, on the soles of boots - even anti-grav boots - a mere spot would be enough to point to the killer's escape route. Sooner or later he would have come into an area that IS monitored. That is what such surveillance is for. We might actually identify our murderer that way.”

The Castellan was impressed. Black light had not even occurred to him. The Lord High President's experiences on other worlds and in the darker realms of sentient society were much more useful in these circumstances than his own training in civil Pólicing. He gave orders for black light surveillance of the crime scene.

"Now, show me the body," Kristoph said after that was done.

"Yes, sire," Pól Braxietel answered at once. "Come this way, Excellency, to the Revenue Department's archive annex."

"Pól," Kristoph sighed. "We have been friends for centuries. Our wives drink gallons of tea together every week. You do not have to call me 'sire', 'Excellency' or any other such title."

"We are both acting in our official capacities, and we ARE in the Citadel, my Lord," Pól replied.

"We are both acting under extreme pressure in a situation neither of us have encountered within the seat of our very civilisation. Let us be friends, first and foremost."

"Very well, Lord... I mean... Kristoph."

Kristoph nodded in satisfaction at that one small point resolved and allowed his old friend to bring him to the makeshift morgue in one of the revenue department's empty offices. The body didn't look as if it could have stood up to much longer a journey. Lord Arrette was a mere whisper of his bombastic self, a dry paper bag from which all substance had been removed.

"He looks as if he had been murdered half a dozen times over."

"At least that often," Castellan Braxietel answered. "His throat was slit. He bled profusely and would have died quickly if he had not been injected with regen-omega, the substance derived from the elixir known to and guarded by the Sisterhood of Karn. As you know, of course, it is used in rare cases when regeneration stalls in a young Time Lord. In an older one it acts on the metabolism allowing wounds to repair quickly and lost blood to be replenished."

"Somebody tried to save him?"

"No," the Castelan continued with a weary sigh. "It was much more sinister than that. It... appears that the throat was cut again just as it repaired. He bled out a second time.... then a third, fourth, perhaps as much as six times.”

"And all the time he was alive?"

Kristoph was appalled. He had slit a throat with a knife more times than he could begin to count. It was quick and silent, the method of an assassin.

But not this way. This was the work of a cruel torturer who enjoyed the kill more than sanity could allow.

The word sadist came to mind, but as the term derived from the Marquis de Sade, a nineteenth century French libertine and philosopher, he didn't use it in front of his less-well-travelled fellow Gallifreyans.

"What kind of enemies could an old man working in the department of external revenue have who would kill him in such a way?" Kristoph asked.

"Sire..." Castellan Braxietel paused and checked himself. "Kristoph... you cannot be suggesting that this murder had anything to do with Lord Arrette's work? Surely this is a crime of... well, passion. The scandal involving his wife...."

"If his wife had been murdered, he would be my first and only suspect," Kristoph answered. "But it was not. It was Lord Arrette himself and it happened within yards of his own department within the citadel. Unless there is evidence to prove otherwise, I am inclined to think that the noise about his marriage has nothing whatsoever to do with his death. I suggest that his colleagues here in the Revenue department are questioned. Have the accounts he was investigating frozen and checked for inconsistencies. It is possible that he stumbled upon a fraud and was silenced for that reason."

Even as he said that, Kristoph knew it was unlikely. The nature of the murder, the long drawn out cruelty of it, just didn't fit with a financial irregularity. It WAS a crime of passion, not money. Money paid for quick, quiet, dispassionate assassination, not blood on the stairs.

But at the same time he was sure it had nothing to do with Lady Arrette. That just didn't fit, either.

"What have we here, then?" he asked himself. "A frenzied attack, and yet at the same time, one with peculiar coolness and lack of hurry about it. Who has the passion to commit such a murder and at the same time the nerve to draw it out so dreadfully, causing so much suffering to the victim?"

Pól Braxietel shook his head. He didn't understand it, either.

Then even that mystery was thrown into confusion when another man entered the room flanked by two of Braxietel's Chancellery Guards. It was a moment before either the President or the Castellan recognised him as the younger Lord Amycus - husband of that Lady Amycus who had gone to take tea at the Reidluum home with Marion.

"I had to see it with my own eyes," Amycus said. "He REALLY is dead?"

"He is," Kristoph answered.

"I really do not understand at all," Amycus added as he drew close to the body. "He has been dead for at least three hours judging by the appearance of the corpse."

"At least that, I should say," Kristoph answered, his words weighted by far more experience of death than anyone else in the room.

"But I was talking to him only one hour ago," Amycus said very quietly and slowly, aware of what his revelation would mean.

Kristoph shook his head wearily. An hour ago, he had been thinking about supper with his wife and their friends, the Reidluums. If he was lucky, now, he might manage breakfast with them.