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Books:Greg Keyes Novels/Colin Vineben

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'''Colin''' was an [[Lore:Anvil|Anvil]]-born Inspector in the [[Lore:Penitus Oculatus|Penitus Oculatus]] who investigated the disappearance of [[Books:TheGreg InfernalKeyes CityNovels/Prince Attrebus Mede|Prince Attrebus Mede]].
His initiation into the Penitus Oculatus involved the elimination of a man. He approached the man on the bridge and, as the foot-traffic thinned, engaged him in conversation. They spoke of Anvil, and of a tavern there with dark beer; [[Books:The Undertow|The Undertow]]. The man appeared to mistake Colin for someone else, and began speaking to him of a book, ''Astorie'', before noticing the knife in Colin's hand and screaming as Colin attacked. It was a clumsy kill, slicing into the man's hands, arms, and abdomen as he struggled and questioned before Colin was able to cut his throat. Two other Inspectors, [[Books:Greg Keyes Novels/Arcus|Arcus]] and [[Books:TheGreg InfernalKeyes CityNovels/Khasha|Khasha]], help him heave the corpse into the river and chastise him for his carelessness before announcing to him that though it was "sloppy", he accomplished his task and had become an Inspector. The next day, [[Books:TheGreg InfernalKeyes CityNovels/Intendant Marall|Intendant Marall]] gave Colin his official papers and asked after Colin's well-being. In response to Colin's questions, the Intendant reminded Colin that it was not his place to question why his targets were targeted.
After the Prince's disappearance, Colin was sent to the scene of the slaughter of the Prince's personal guard. He instructed his men in the first steps of routing people away from the incident and searching for witnesses. Among the bodies, he found a young man partially burnt and beheaded, and wearing the signet ring of the Crown Prince. Expressing to himself that he felt it was too convenient to be authentic, he informed the leader of the expedition, [[Books:TheGreg InfernalKeyes CityNovels/Captain Pundus|Captain Pundus]], that he was now in charge by the order of the Emperor's signature on a scroll he showed to him. After giving the captain some instructions, he triggered his ability to see and speak with spirits, and saw two at the scene. The first, a man, seemed to be too disturbed to be of any help. The second, a woman staring down at her own body, explained that they were traveling to [[Lore:Black Marsh|Black Marsh]]. She wasn't sure of the purpose, something about an army of undead and a flying city, and she admitted she didn't listen closely since his quests were always made safe by others. At the end of their conversation, she told Colin that there was "something wrong" with him, and told him to think of her the next time he sees a willow.
Back in the Imperial City, Colin was unexpectedly questioned by the Emperor regarding what he had found. He admitted that he thought the headless body recovered with the Prince's ring was not the Prince, which the Emperor appeared to agree with. After the meeting, in a tavern in the [[Lore:Imperial City|Imperial City]]'s Market District, he met his old friend [[Books:TheGreg InfernalKeyes CityNovels/Nial Sextius|Nial Sextius]]. They discussed the disappearance of the Prince; Colin learned that [[Books:TheGreg InfernalKeyes CityNovels/Gulan|Gulan]], Attrebus' adviser and assistant, would have reported Attrebus' plans to the Prime Minister's office and not directly to the Emperor.
Though Colin had been pulled from the Attrebus investigation, he continued investigating. He followed the last person Gulan had spoken to, [[Books:TheGreg InfernalKeyes CityNovels/Letine Arese|Letine Arese]], an assistant to the Prime Minister, as she made her way deep into the Market District and entered a building, where Colin climbed a nearby building in order to reach a third-story window. He entered a small empty bedroom and made his way downstairs until he heard voices. Arese and a male voice were speaking, and she seemed concerned that the "job" was not accomplished as it should have been. Colin learned that a courier brought news to the Emperor that the Prince lived. As their conversation escalated, though Colin could not see what was happening, it seemed that Arese changed form into a sort of beast before he heard the screams of the men. As the presence moved through the building, Colin kept his gaze on the floor since he knew if he saw it he would lose control. It moved past him, up the stairs, then a few moments later came back down and exited through the door. The building was burning, and Colin escaped through the window. Unable to search the house, he wondered why Arese wanted the Prince dead, and why she didn't accomplish the task herself. He also wondered, of course, whether she was working alone or not - a dangerous question.
He was later abducted by two unidentified men and rescued by Arese. She revealed that the men were working for her, but she killed them to avoid them becoming suspicious. She showed him a small wolf tattoo, the branding of Emperor Titus Mede, and told him that she was placed in Minister Hierem's office ten years before. She then convinced Colin to help her find out what the minister was doing, as Hierem was the one who had ordered the ambush on Attrebus.

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