Janna n'ha Cassilde studied the body in front of her carefully. The man should not be dead. There were no marks of violence, no signs of illness. She uncovered the matrix around her neck, hoping her laran would reveal something. It did not. Tucking the rewrapped matrix back into her tunic, she turned, thinking to speak to the deceased's wife. A crowd had silently gathered behind her, in this old, dim shack where the body lay.
Janna ignored the staring eyes. "And you say a Renunciate did this, mestra?" she asked the woman.
"Ay, ay, no mistake. She had her hair sheared off--wore pants, and a sword just as you have." The woman pulled her head scarf closely around her face, obscuring her features.
Janna scratched an ear. The woman's accent was rustic, not the learned casta or the city-dialect of cahuenga she was used to, but she could make out the words. The Renunciate turned back to the body, half-expecting it to rise up behind her, but it was as still and cold as before. "And you say she just looked at him and he fell dead."
"Ay, ay." The words were slower this time, less certain.
"And there was no reason to kill him, you say?"
"Nah, nah, no reason. Just out in the field, minding the crops." The widow glanced nervously from Janna to another man in the room, named Ruyvil, who appeared to be one of the more prominent men in the poor village.
"All Renunciates are crazy, if you ask me," he blurted out. "The Comyn Council should revoke your charter, and marry you all to men who would whip you into shape. The Dry Towners have the right idea--keep the women in chains!"
Janna ignored him. "I am sorry for your loss," she said to the widow. "I, too, have a freemate, and he is very dear to me...."
"A sandal-wearer, no doubt," mumbled Ruyvil.
"If your family needs help with the harvest, I and my Guild-sisters will do what we can."
"Na' thank you, mestra," said the widow, pulling back a little to make it even harder for Janna to see her face. "I ha' three grown sons to help me, two unmarried."
Janna reached out to give the widow a reassuring embrace, but the smaller woman flinched away. Instead, Janna murmured a polite formula and walked out.