The knife’s twin was balanced horizontally in the air between large slender hands. Aquila held it close to his eyes and inspected it closely. It seemed as though thin lines traced patterns across the metal surface. But as hard as he looked he could not discern their shape or meaning.
He began to suspect that these patterns were an illusion caused by the light. Flourishing the knife in the air, he watched the sunlight coming through the window pick out patterns on different parts of the blade.
“What’s this? Brandishing weapons in your office?” The overweight man stood in the doorway with an amused expression on his round face.
“Forgive me, Porcius.” Aquila smiled reassuringly, “I have been investigating a murder this morning. It was committed with this weapon, and I believed that it might offer some clue regarding the attacker’s identity. I trust your day has been somewhat quieter thus far?”
“It has been much quieter by the look of things. My cases have been postponed until tomorrow. We received news while you were out that a senator was murdered. The courts have closed out of respect for the deceased and his family.”
“That is terrible news. It does, however, allow me to focus my attention on this soldier’s murder.”
“A soldier did you say? You would expect that soldiers and senators might be safer than anyone else in this city. This isn’t the barbarian frontier after all. And killing a senator in broad daylight on the Via Plenium, there must be a madman loose.”
“You said the Via Plenium? Where the soldier was murdered?” Aquila once again drew his eyes away from the knife and looked inquiringly at his friend.
“I suppose so, but the senator was also killed on the same street. Or so I’ve heard, although I suppose the two stories might have become confused in the telling. I heard the news from one of the court clerks, and you know how they are with gossip. Apparently, the senator was on his way to the senate house when an unknown person stabbed him.”
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