Zinya\'s house was a two story building, in the middle rim of Xylita.
Her husband came from a family of merchants that had been on the rise during the past decade.
Kamila shivered at the thought it could have been her living there.
To bind the Sarta and the Retta households by blood, her parents had offered the young Fallmug his choice of their daughters to be his bride.
Back then, she was still obedient and naïve.
Only after seeing her sister\'s misery had Kamila found the strength to rebel against the fate her parents had set for her and joined the army to escape from the marriage they had arranged for her.
Fallmug had picked Zinya because she was prettier than Kamila and also because back then Kamila was too young.
In his eyes, there was no point in having a toy if he had to wait a couple of years to play with it.
Kamila steeled herself, trying not to think about the lust filled glances Fallmug would give her whenever they met or his creepy remarks about regretting his past choices.
She knocked on the solid wood door and waited.
Vylna, one of the housemaids, opened the door.
Her countenance went from surprise to contempt in the space of a single moment when she recognized Kamila.
With her pretty face and curvy body, she was currently her master\'s favorite, making her more powerful than the lady of the house.
In her eyes, Kamila was just an outcast from whom she could make some pocket money from time to time.
You\'re not welcome here.
Please leave, or I\'ll call the guards. Vylna said when she noticed that Kamila wasn\'t handing her the usual two silver coins.
Vylna wouldn\'t risk her master\'s anger for a smaller sum than what a Lieutenant made in a week.
Kamila grabbed the door\'s edge, blocking it with ease.
She was weak for a soldier, but she had always kept herself in shape, whereas Vylna was just weak.
I\'m Lieutenant Kamila Yehval, Field Assistant Constable.
I\'m here because we have received an anonymous report of domestic abuse.
I need to speak with Lady Sarta. Kamila shoved her badge in the housemaid face and rejoiced seeing her going pale.
Master Fallmug doesn\'t want you in here, badge or not. Vylna stuttered.
You can\'t come inside without a warrant and I doubt there is any report.
You\'re just making it up!
Yet she was wrong.
Kamila had written it herself and submitted it diligently following protocol.
For once, the inescapable tendrils of bureaucracy were on her side.
Your unwillingness to cooperate with the investigation forces me to ask for a search warrant.
I\'m sure mister Sarta will be grateful to you when his house is turned upside down by the officers.
I wonder what the neighbors will say, though.
Kamila took out her army amulet and called the local authorities with a voice so loud that many people stepped out of their doors to see what was happening.
Please stop, miss Yehval.
You can come inside. Vylna grabbed her hand as fear quickly turned into panic.
Having a Constable at the door was already bad for the Sarta, getting their house searched like they were petty criminals, might ruin their reputation and business.
Fallmug would flay her alive if he lost even a copper coin because of her.
It\'s Constable Yehval to you. Kamila broke Vylna\'s grip, her voice oozed poison.
She was seconds away from slapping the maid\'s face, but she held her temper unwilling to taint what her uniform stood for by abusing her powers.
Touch me again, and I\'ll arrest you for assaulting an officer.
Vylna seemed to shrink.
She lowered her head, incapable of looking Kamila in the eyes anymore, and turned around to show her the way.
Just like Xylita, the house hadn\'t changed.
The floor and the walls of the house were covered by deep brown wood briquettes, giving it a warm appearance of hospitality.
The hallway was filled with portraits of smiling members of the Sarta family.
There was even one of Zinya with her husband and their three children.
The hypocrisy of it made Kamila want to spit on the precious gold embroidered sky-blue carpet that led from the hallway to the tea room on the ground floor.
Aside from the heavy steps and the voices of the house staff, the place was silent.
The walls were pristine, and judging by the many fragile ornaments decorating the furniture along the corridors, the kids weren\'t faring better than their mother.
\'Thank the gods I\'m not a mage, otherwise not even my sense of duty would stop me from destroying this accursed place all the way down to its foundations.\' Kamila thought.
Her rage peaked when Vylna used a key to unlock the tea room\'s door.
I see the claims were accurate.
Lady Sarta is prisoner in her own home. From the moment Kamila had stepped through the door, she had never stopped typing on the holographic interface of her amulet nor taking pictures.
It\'s not like you think.
Our poor lady is blind.
We do it for her own protection. Vylna said with a quivering voice.
It\'s exactly as I think.
Now leave us alone. Kamila took the key from her hand, just in case, and pushed her out of the room before locking it from the inside.
Just like the rest of the house, the tea room was pristine.
The white sofas and armchairs looked like they had never been used.
The center of the hardwood table in the middle of the room had been carved out and replaced by a crystal slab.
Several vases containing fresh flowers were gracefully arranged around the room along with white cotton doilies.
Zinya was sitting on a chair near the glass paneled east wall, as if she was looking at the outside.
She was so still that with her light brown hair, pale complexion and immaculate yellow day dress, she almost looked like a doll.
Zin, are you alright Kamila was sick with worry, but she only spoke after activating the Silencer, a magical device that prevented them from being eavesdropped on.
Kami Zinya turned around following her voice, breaking into a smile.
I thought my ears were playing a trick on me.
What are you doing here
Kamila rushed to hug her sister as small tears streamed down her face.
Gods, I\'ve missed you so much.
Why are you so pale Is something wrong
The Healer says it\'s just depression.
Since the children left the house, I feel very lonely. Zinya replied.
What happened to them Kamila\'s voice was filled with concern.
The oldest one was almost ten years old, so she could have been sent to a boarding school, but the other two were too young for that.
Business isn\'t doing good, so Fallmug is often in a bad mood.
I know how to be quiet, but the children scream and run a lot when they play.
So their grandmother took them with her to avoid further… accidents.
You have yet to answer my question, Kami.
I\'m here for your eyes. Kamila said almost choking on her rage.
Thanks to my new job, I can now afford to get you cured.
I can\'t bear to see you like this any longer.
You deserve a better life, and I know someone that can help us with that.