As the four thugs sent by the Alchemists strode onto the little bridge where I stood, stupidly, with my sampling tubes and rope, I had occasion to reflect on my deductive abilities.
Among my correct deductions:
- The abrupt increases in deaths by drowning among the fishing villages of the Delta have been due to direct attacks by maddened water elementals.
- Those wild Ondina were deranged by contamination of river water by heavy metals and exotic hydrocarbons.
- The pollutants were output by the College of Alchemy and Material Substantiation of the University of Higher Art at Dwallowforge.
Some of my incorrect deductions:
- The Alchemists would be interested in protecting their public reputation by preventing unecessary harm to others.
- The Wizards of the University Administration would not object to my contacting the civil authorities.
- As a member of a gentle family I would likely not be subjected to threats or violent attack.
Things I missed entirely:
- The delay in renewal of my research grant was a result of my investigations.
- The death of my parents’ hounds was the result not of random burglary by persons of low character but rather by highly specific burglary by persons of professionally low character.
- My conjuring staff had been impurified without my knowledge and rendered magically inert.
As the four men advanced, I realized that there were two more at the other end of the bridge, approaching calmly and openly.
From this I deduced that they were unaware of certain facts:
- My findings had already been recopied, notarized, and sent to the Great Library in the capital.
- I had three friends nearby with archery skills unusually formidable even for the people of my forested homeland.
- My sampling tubes were not empty cylinders of silver on slender cords held by me, a meek academic, but rather were packed with lead shot and held on sturdy hemp lines by a seriously pissed off me, an academic with an attitude problem.
I gritted my teeth and tried not to laugh. Or I tried to laugh. Even at the time I wasn’t sure which.