The estates of Hightown fall into three types. The dwarven palaces in their enclave, huddled around their counterfeit paragon statues for shelter against the onslaught of human ideas that surround them. The foreign quarter, where the wealthiest Orlesian and Antivan merchants stay during their twice-yearly visits to criticize the ship captains and shop clerks and accountants in their employ. And the noble mansions, where families who can trace their lineage back to Orlesian conquerors and Tevinter landlords perch to look down on the rabble of ordinary folk scurrying at their feet. But whoever they belong to, all of the Hightown estates have two things in common: a showy front entrance used when the occupants want to be seen and a hidden back way when they don't.
The servants' door to the Comte de Favre's mansion was in an alley hidden by overgrown topiaries. Donnen Brennokovic picked the lock while his partner, Jevlan, kept an uneasy lookout. They had left their armor at the barracks, but even in civilian clothes, the recruit managed to look like he was wearing an older brother's hand-me-downs.
"I don't think this is what the captain meant when she said to get evidence," he muttered.
The lock clicked, and Donnen gently pushed it open.
Only a few slivers of light slid through the shuttered windows. Silence hung in the air like a cheap tapestry. Donnen and Jevlan crept through the dark rooms, alert for any sign of servants, but nothing broke the eerie quiet except their footsteps. In fact, there was no sign that anyone had been in the house at all until they found the room whose door had been torn from its hinges.
Inside, the comte lay in a pool of blood, one hand clutching a loaded crossbow, a dagger hilt protruding from his back.