(Brescester Gazette, 11 Harpa 1,985 IC)
‘After recent events, it is evident that young gentlemen of fortune, living in Ludlin as the stewards of their parents’ trade concerns, take good care not to entangle themselves in any attempts on their lives and their property. The case of Alexei Volkovsky, son of Tirsk shipping magnates, and Vladimir Voronov, chairman of the Marcaster match factory owned by his parents’ concern, is a particularly grievous “confidence trick”.
‘The two young gentlemen were recently solicited by the philanthropist Simon Seymour, warden of the Lockley workhouse, to contribute towards repairs to the dormitory roofs at the similar Swellwater institution. The trouble began when both men arrived at the workhouse to discuss terms with the mistress there, Mrs Portia Wragg. Boris Silnov, formerly Volkovsky’s valet and erstwhile secretary to Mr Seymour, invited them into a tavern opposite the workhouse, claiming Wragg was indisposed. Upon entering the “nip”, the gentlemen were approached by Silnov’s associate, Harold Frinton, posing as a country yeoman named Farrell, offering to buy the gentlemen drinks. Fortunately, Voronov spotted that Frinton had drugged the rum procured from the tap, alerted Alexei, and declined to drink his measure. The robbers then showed their true colours and tried to force it down their throats. The patrons of the bar intervened in the following brawl; both Frinton and Silnov were arrested and await trial.
‘Such attacks occur quite frequently to men and women both of property and of none, and this case would not be of note aside from two factors. Firstly, the wealth of the victims causes unease for many such individuals remaining in the city after the tragic disappearances of Michal Piech and Anselm Lederer, believed to be the victims of these “skinners”. Usually, the victims of such crimes are gulled, drugged or abducted and crudely stripped of their clothes and belongings. Their bodies are most often thrown into the river. Piech’s house was looted and his valet Tarczowski kidnapped and murdered in a workhouse where he was being held captive by the mistress, the “Witch of Pendlebury” Aushra Vainyté.
‘Secondly, Frinton posed as Farrell presumably to evade identification if the crime was successful, as he was hitherto a respected Lockley courier with government patronage. However, this disguise was particularly notable because it was a magical mask, a physical changing of the features in the manner of the known sorcery allowing people to change into animals. Such powers pose a dire threat to the victims of crime. For good reason, witchcraft alone is no reason to prosecute a person. Frinton and Silnov went beyond the boundaries of lawfulness when they conspired to drug, rob and probably then kill their genteel victims by mundane means. However, the magical element of this crime stands out as worrying. Accordingly, attention must be turned by the Diet, Service and Provincial Cabinets to formulating a law against the practice of magic inimical to social relationships, lest the most heinous crimes should go unpunished.’