Andrea, Attorney at Law
The Mad Dwarf: Part 5
We let Blackstone know that we would be back in a day or two. Orenda had told Andrea we only had one week until the next court date, so we had to move fast. We guessed Orenda felt that would give us some time to tie up loose ends. With such a deadline we thought it apparent Orenda never met Blackstone. Or she had never looked into this case beyond a cursory glance.
Sunshine shone down on us as we exited Felninburgh Correction Facility, and made our way up the brick-laid path to the dirty streets. We had a good half hour ride back to the offices and would be working all night to try and dig up contacts, family members, etc. We had to gather all the information on Blackstone we could.
As the buggy pulled up to the curb, waiting for us to get in, it hit me.
“Hey, who is paying for Blackstone’s defense? I can't believe the city would foot this bill." I rubbed my chin a bit, thinking of alternatives. "He must have savings, or someone else paying for it. Like a rich uncle, or something.”
Andrea frowned. “I doubt he has much money, or he wouldn’t have been driving a buggy to make ends meet.”
"Okay, so 'no' to the stockpile of gold theory." Swing and a miss.
“Or...” Andrea began. I could see the wheels in her head turning. “You were right about him having a wealthy family member.”
“Yeah?” I said shocked. “Well, maybe, but think about it: if he has any family with money why hasn’t he just used that to grease some palms. No rich man stands trial in this city." I looked out at the skyline, seeing the tall brick buildings come into view. "And someone at the firm would note that. They wouldn't stick a wealthy dwarf with the likes of us. No matter how angry Orenda was over her nephew's arm. Why wasn’t it in his file?”
“It could very well be in there. Looking at who was paying the bill wasn’t exactly my priority when we came down here. I was more concerned about dealing with a mad dwarf.”
I drummed my fingers on my briefcase. Something about Blackstone’s calm demeanor made me tense after all we had heard about him. “And that’s the other thing. He is definitely crazy, but I didn’t see an ounce of the dwarf who destroyed a courtroom and needs a thing like that Taldesh to keep him in line.”
“People react differently under stress, Travis. You should know about that.”
I thought back to my nervous chatter, and near running away in the jail. “Good point,” I said blushing a bit.
We sat quietly for a while, each turning our thoughts over and over. When we were almost to the front steps of Orenda & Frey, Andrea suddenly popped open the door to the buggy and jumped out. She ran frantically down the street and yelled over her shoulder “I’ve got an idea! I’ll be back at the office in two hours!”
The Buggie, a Belter with some human blood, stopped the carriage and gave me a good stare. I laughed uneasily and patted my coat pockets for a few coppers. “Don’t worry. I can pay.”
I was a bit insulted the Buggie wasn’t worried about payment. Until Andrea jumped out.
Andrea was late. I was sitting in my darkened offices at Orenda & Frey, going over every file I could find on the Blackstone case. There wasn’t much, just the one we had from the very beginning, and a few straggling documents that got left out while he was being shoved around from one poor attorney to the next until he ended up in our laps.
The first thing I looked for was whether or not we knew he was paying for his own representation. It turns out he wasn’t. It also turned out that neither was the generous taxpayers of Felninburgh.
That’s where things got fascinating. Payment was coming into Orenda & Frey from an escrow account set up in the name of Del Blackstone, but not by Del Blackstone. When I dug a little deeper, I found that the escrow account was paid for by an already existing retainer with a company called “Delatrosh Mines Inc.”
I was just looking into the company, trying to find some information about the funding when Andrea finally showed up. She was just in time, too, because I felt like I had hit a wall with the Delatrosh Mines research. Even my little preliminary search was yielding nothing.
She was beaming. I knew that look. It was the look Andrea got whenever she fit pieces of a puzzle together. It relieved my anxiety a bit, thinking that whatever compulsion she needed to check out seemed to pay off. “Oh, please tell me you solved it. Please tell me I can sit around and do nothing between now and court.” Maybe I was a bit overzealous, but one can wish.
“No. Not even close. If anything, it just became much more complicated.” Even though she said the exact thing I didn’t want to hear, she still looked happy. She walked over, sat down in her chair, and put her hands behind her head smiling.
“You’re kidding, right? That isn’t good news. That’s bad news, and we already have plenty of that.” I felt exhausted.
“Tell me, Trav, what did you find while I was gone?”
Now I was really worried. Andrea was never that familiar with me, or anyone else. It threw me a bit off, but I told her everything I could about the Blackstone accounts, and where I was at with Delatrosh Mines.
“Hmmm,” Andrea closed her eyes and rubbed at her temples. “We need to find out who owns that company.”
“I just started looking. We have no files on it here other than the paperwork starting the Blackstone escrow account, and the paperwork to set up the Delatrosh retainer.”
“Who signed for each of them?” Andrea leaned forward.
I scanned the paperwork and found two signatures. “A Tome Bellsprit signed the Blackstone payments and a Drake Relam signed the Delatrosh retainer paperwork.”
Andrea frowned. “You’re looking at the wrong signatures. Old Tome is that half-elf who runs reception and Drake retired years ago. Both are Orenda & Frey employees.”
I flipped through the paperwork, only finding those names again. Andrea, annoyed, grabbed them from my hands and looked through herself. When she saw what I had, she gently put the papers down and looked at me. “Power of attorney. Each one of them. That’s why there are no other signatures. Whoever created the accounts didn’t want to be on the paperwork, so they had two of our staff do it for them.”
I waved, dismissing any notion of meddling. “Standard procedure for large companies. Just have a lackey sign for everything, so the big boys don’t need to worry about anything.”
“Usually you would be right in this scenario, but everything else is too vague. I’m sure it worked to someone's advantage.” Andrea stood up and began to pace. “Now, we have to wait.”
“It’s no big deal. Let’s backtrack a bit more. We will find the paperwork giving those two the power to sign. Someone on the board, or on a committee, or a shareholder will have had to sign off on it. Then we have a tangible lead.”
Andrea shook her head. “You won’t find it.”
“Huh? Why not?”
“Don’t you know who Drake Relam was?”
“No. Must have been before my time.”
“Mine too, just a bit. I was here for a few weeks before he retired, and he died shortly after. It was a big deal because he caused so many issues for Orenda when she took over. He was Frey’s personal assistant for years, up until Frey died.”
“So... if Delatrosh Mines Inc. is as big a company as I am assuming, and this Drake was their signatory...”
Andrea looked me right in the eyes. “That means Frey was their personal attorney.”
I tossed the file across the table. “Orenda wants us to mess this up. She needs an excuse to fire us for the Tag disaster. She knows the dwarf has no case. It’s too strange. She also knows that no matter how bad we mess up she still gets paid. The funds are all backed by a company her old partner represented.”
Andrea held up a finger. “Don’t forget Orenda couldn’t wait for Frey to be out of here. If this is still an account he held, she might not want anyone on that account who has an interest in seeing Blackstone declared innocent come out on top.”
“Spiteful on two ends of the thread. Eek. We’re really screwed.”
“We could try and talk to Tome tomorrow when he comes in.”
I was appalled at the idea. “No way, Tome was one of the first hires by Orenda. She would know we were starting to figure out her angles. She might just let us go right then and there, or pull any leads we might get from this.”
Andrea smiled wickedly. “I know. That would work for us.”
My jaw dropped. “How? How could any of that possibly be a good thing?”
“Let’s just say I think I have an idea who is behind that Blackstone escrow account, and they won’t be too happy when they find out Orenda is personally trying to sabotage the case.”