A New Suit
Kien rang the bell, and summoned a joyous looking man behind the counter. His lip spread almost completely across from side to side, and fashioned a mustache that’s a century out of style. “How may I help you sir?”
“Is Mrs. Erae taking up residence here?”
“Well, that’s confidential information I believe,” the manager managed a small smile as he rejected Kien’s question.
Kien took the package from under his arm and placed it firmly on the desk in front, “Then I assume she is, and I trust you’ll deliver this to her.” After examining the manager’s face and noticed the hesitation, Kien added a little more motivation, “It’s something that belonged to hers, and I’m returning it. And just for the record,” Kien showed the man his identification, “I’m a local inspector. So I trust you’ll do what a law enforcer will ask of you. If you kindly.”
The manager quickly fashioned his face to a smile, and nodded, “Yes of course, I’m a good Samaritan.”
Kien pushed open the door of the humble little inn, paying no regard to the farewell the manager had left him with, which was much too sweet for his taste. Checking the sun now up in the air, Kien gave an estimate of a little in the afternoon. The walk to the city would a laborious one, made worse by the crowd that’s heading back to work after lunch. However, even as Kien’s squeezing through the filtering wall of flesh, he knows quite clearly, his destination will be a lot worse.
The “Office of Public Safety and Welfare” is the one place you do not want to be to get either of the two qualities advertised. Several rooms were squeezed uncomfortably onto each and every floor, which made the hallway the literal equivalent of a “tight squeeze”. Luxuries such as safety exit have been blocked with walls in favor of creating more office space at the end of the hallway. The northern and southern stairways still lacked its railings, and if Kien still trust its intuition, a few nails would be loose on there too. As Kien often told his sister, it was the place where nothing made sense, and that’s also when he concluded for her, that justice will be forever twisted. The only place that might have passed the inspection of a safety officer would be the cells in the basement, with its nicely placed stone walls, and space big enough for two but for the luxury of one. However, considering that most of the people in there are either on death row or dying, no one’s too eager of using the place as their office.
Not like anyone is really using their office anyway. As Kien entered to what has been often described as the no man’s land. People were walking with incredible force and speed to destination in all corners of the building. Papers flew, files were mixed, and the sound of someone yelping after a cramp had struck his hand, a lesson for all children to have a good working habit. Converging at the center of this small universe, was Mr. Straussler, his hand outreached into the only available space around him, as he pointed his finger in three-sixty-degrees and yelled commands coded with a heavy supplement of what Dia once labeled as “an articulation of unpleasantness”. Each command was followed by a puzzled look and obedience that spells out doom and distress.
“Why is Mr. Straussler in a bad mood?” Kien remember asking this question on his first day.
“Mr. Straussler in a good mood? Now I know an oxymoron when I hear one,” the receptionist answered that time.
To this day in fifty years, Kien had only seen Mr. Straussler smile once, and that was during his divorce. Kien made his way closer to the Chief of Command, waiting for the order to be yelled at him. A wish he soon got.
“Holy shit Kien!” the man yelled to him on first sight, “I must congratulate you son of a gun. I heard you got killed and crawled yourself out of the Nether just to come to work. That better be the reason, because it ain’t, I sure stored some *** whooping for your sorry little buns.”
“I was just released from custody this morning, and took a nap before coming here,” Kien tried to reason, but who was he kidding?
“Well did you hear that?” He turned to a female elf staring at her file, startling her with the question. She probably didn’t hear anything, but nodded anyway. Going against Mr. Straussler is treason in this universe, as Kien’s about to learn, “Ain’t you a little smartass?”
“No sir. But I was wondering whether anyone’s taking the case of Markl Linte.”
“Well, **** me Kien. Do you think these people are running around for a circus? Was the quote, early bird gets the worm? Well, you know there’s a second part to that? It’s the late bird can go kiss my ***. The case been taken already, and it’s been settled. The man named Markl was the murder, and that is that. Now everyone’s onto the second part of the game. We are preparing for the court cases, or should I say were, because you just walked in all high and mighty and demanded the world’s attention to yourself. Since you walked in from your fancy little nap princess, why don’t you go back to your firm and suck in all that mold in the air? And while you are at it, why don’t you draw some circles on your chest, and go to the shooting range where the elves are practicing their targeting. I bet that will be more than what you’ll contribute to this place,” Mr. Straussler was into it, and when he’s into it, it means someone’s getting it.
Kien’s not just going to sit tight for this one to blow over, he got to pass the ball back in the court. He needed this case. “With all due respect Mr. Straussler – ”
“With all due respect?”
“Yes with all due respect sir, I think the case deserves a second look,” he was firm in his request, but Mr. Straussler stared back at him unwavering. Kien needs to sweeten the pot, and he’ll have to do it in a roundabout way, “It’s a big case sir, we got to give the public a thorough report. A proof read over the material wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Also, I believe the defendant needs a representative.”
“The council already assigned one!” Mr. Straussler made the easy dismissal, clearly still unsatisfied with the offer.
“I meant a representative that the defendant will agree to, isn’t that something we valued, to provide choices? You assign me, and I’ll make sure to drill the case so hard, and provide evidence so solid that you can take it and present it to the front page news.” Good, Kien thought to himself, now that he brought up the topic of publicity, it will be easier to move onto more attractive bargaining chips, “The place will get a lot of publicity, and you’ll get plenty of funding.”
The eyes of Mr. Straussler sparkled at the mentioning of funding, and he coughed briefly in thought. “How would that funding exactly go about?”
“Well…” Kien took the time to think up a few quick things, “Using publicity, you could reveal the poor state of our work place, the danger we face, and the lack of a proper management system, and guarantee that public safety would improve if provided the necessary improvements.”
“How about sewage system for this building?” Mr. Straussler was always keen with the sewage system, because he’s the only one brave enough to use the toilets situated in the building.
“Yes, better sewage. We all needed that.”
“Hmm…” Mr. Straussler is not talking, a good sign. After a minute or so of greedy consideration, he hollered out, “Hemlholtz! Hemlholtz! Where are you, you bloody dwarf?!”
The scream surprised him, and Kien stepped back a feet or two before settling down. However, speaking of the devil, as Kien looked around, he could not locate the short man, not that there is a chance even if he was there. The sea of people had swallowed the first floor in its entirety, and the only chance to spot Helmholtz is if he could swim through it. And if Kien remembered correctly, the man can’t swim to save a duck.
“Helmholtz!” Mr. Straussler continued, but his voice was soon covered up by the chattering in the building. Among many other things that can peeve the man, having someone louder than him is equal to a direct insult. He was never an elf of patience, who really is when you have the power not to? “Alright every single bugger in this room, drop what you are doing, and shut up, unless you can tell me where that dwarf is!”
The workers froze, their eyes scanned right and left, puzzled at the Chief’s outburst but not surprised. All of them stopped questioning the mental construction of Mr. Straussler, it’s a void. “Helmholtz!” Mr. Straussler tried again, and let his voice bounce on top of the heads and out through the window. The response was poor.
“Did all of you become blind? Look for him!” Now that’s a command that can be understood, and the people gladly followed the first sign of clarity.
Then the door opened, and in walked a platter with a mug filled with hot coffee. A whistle came beneath it between the lips of a dwarf, which everyone remembers as the lovable Helmholtz. It took a while for him to notice the eyes of the entire building was on him, and took him a few while more to halt his step, “What? Izis a burglar drill?”
“Where did you go?!” the chief was high on adrenaline, and low on sympathy.
“You tol’ me to get ya some fresh coffee,” Helmholtz replied, without ill intent.
“If I told you to jump off a bridge would you?”
“Maybe, depends on whether it’s a hot day,” Helmholtz did not meant it as a sarcasm, it was an area of speech that he is not quite developed in. He just spoke his mind, innocent in its reply, but malicious in the eyes of Mr. Straussler.
“I guess someone has to be funny around here. But it sure as **** isn’t you,” Mr. Straussler would have gone on if Kien didn’t put a cap to it.
“So what was the point of getting my partner here?” Kien asked.
The chief diverted his attention back to the earless elf, and with an irritated tone, he replied, “Because he’s your partner, is that even a question?”
“Sorry, dumb question.”
“You bet your *** it is. Better do better than that out there on the field.”
Kien didn’t retort, instead he motioned for Helmholtz to come closer. The dwarf squeezed his way in and placed the platter somewhere on the desk in front of the chief. Having drained a bit of his energy, the chief calmed down, giving the two a good look, “I got to say, I’m reluctant to do this. But as justice demands it, we’ll serve it, I grant you permission to reopen the case, purely for the sake of assuring all the evidences are solid. The case’s a cooked fish, so don’t try to catch a new one. As to whether you can become Mr. Linte’s representative in court, it will be a matter that I will leave to you lovers to decide, all I need is a signed agreement to it. Also, since you are reopening the case, I will have to tell this to the detective who was responsible before you, and Valham knows how much I despise that. He may wish to have a little chat with you later, but I hope that’s all it will be. I don’t want any inner conflict in my firms; it makes me look like an idiot. And if I’m the idiot, I assure you, you will be dead. Now get your *** out of the place before you stink the air up. ”
After Mr. Straussler’s done, he diverted his attention to the staff of the building, still glued to their spot, and his anger swelled up to his throat again, “What are you all miscreants waiting for? My face isn’t made of gold so stop staring! And if it is, it’s mine, so don’t look at it either! There’s work to do! Get a move on, do I have to order everything? And Adam, go take a piss, your pants are wet! Sally go get Adam a fresh pair of pants from the closet!”
“There isn’t a closet sir…” Sally replied.
“Well, I thought they taught kids how to problem solve at school! If I see Adam walking around in his underwear, he’s fired! And it’s all your fault!”
“Why am I fired?” Adam asked.
“Because your biological juice is dripping in front of my desk! Go take the piss!”
Kien took that as a cue for him to leave as well, and without saying so much as a farewell, or good luck, he left the office behind him with Helmholtz. Once the two made their way out, the dwarf turned to Kien and asked, “Did I do anything wrong?”
“No you didn’t my friend,” Kien comforted the dwarf, “But nothing’s ever right in there.”
The Magician of the Other Cell
The Penitentiary in Monark ran beneath the city in a labyrinth. No one really knows the layout, except the original engineers, some of whom still resides at the entrances as warden. Most of their times were spent trying to communicate the brilliance of their design to a younger generation, a useless struggle to continue the tradition. The labyrinth will most likely be sealed off once the last of them passed into the Nether, because now on days, the place stays mostly uninhabited. The humans were the most common costumers, and their input often went beyond their output. At one point, the place was fully populated. Now that they no longer walk the land, the place became the outhouse of darkness. Not that it meant anything really, since everyone’s fate in there was to meet the blade by the neck. Unlike, of course, someone could say otherwise.
Kien knocked the door to the Southern entrance, and saw a pair of eyes appear behind a slit opening, “Password.”
Kien displayed his identification, but the door remained shut. “Password.”
“Stop messing around and opened the door, or I’ll report you to the management.” Having stayed in the labyrinth for majority of their work, the wardens themselves are eccentric, and out of touch from society.
The door creaked open, and revealed behind a thin statured man, with long braided beard touching the floor. His blue eyes rested within sags of skin that gloomed over Kien by the entrance. An Original, that was the term the department used for the engineers of the dungeon. The old fellow didn’t budge from his spot, and made no attempt to invite the stranger in. Kien pushed himself in and took a seat on a chair that was uncomfortably small.
“I need to see a particular prisoner that was recently transferred here, Markl Linte is the name,” Kien spoke his demands and waited for the old elf to reply.
The warden trotted along the floor, his feet dragging on the ground below as he made his way to another door within the room that leads deeper into the labyrinth. Without a sign of apprehension, he entered through the door and shut it behind him. Kien was left sitting for an unbearably long time, and he was wondering if the warden had forgotten about him completely.
A moment later, the door reopened and the old man peered from behind with an air of mischief. In some ways, the engineer never grew up, and maybe it’s a good thing. He beckoned for Kien to come, and Kien obeyed, with a small bit of doubt taped to the back of his head. He entered through the door to witness an array of glasses, set on the side as they ran down the pathway in the center. The glass were like the display window of museums, except most of them were empty. Only most, because one of them was occupied by the familiar figure of Markl Linte.
“Five minutes,” the warden informed Kien.
“No, don’t limit my time. This is not strictly visiting, but strictly business. Order from above,” Kien refused the warden’s restriction.
The warden was clearly not happy, but chose not to push any further. By the look of it, it seems a wave of sleep just overtook his consciousness, and he’s going to go back and pass out. Kien examined Markl, from head to toe, and was slightly assured that his attitude didn’t seem to change from the first time he met him.
“Always wondered how those animal feels behind the glass at the zoo,” Markl, a well trained entertainer.
“You’ll get to feel how those animals feel in a slaughterhouse soon enough as well,” Kien jested, with a hint of spite.
“Strike where it hurts, don’t you?”
“I meant no ill. But let’s not debate that. Let’s get right to the point, my partner’s waiting outside for me.”
“Partner?” Markl raised an eyebrow at this.
“Strictly business, and falls short from what you are thinking. Let’s skip ahead and why don’t you just tell me why they want you? Murder was what I heard, is that statement still valid?”
Markl shrugged, “Seems so. At least they haven’t confirmed with me on any changes.” He took a look around the room he’s in. Beside the glass that set in front, the sides were covered with sturdy plate, and the glass was at least a foot thick, so thick, that a noticeable distortion is present to Kien’s figure when looked from one side. Beside the physical barriers, the hoaxes and barriers put on the place was enough to strike fear in any magician. No escape, that’s the message.
Kien scratched his beard, and examined Markl up and down, trying to make an initial opinion whether the man was capable of crime at all. However, Markl didn’t like Kien’s glances, and retorted, “I’m a bit frustrated at the situation, and as much as I love the attention of an enthusiastic audience, I’m not particularly fond of being stared at like a jewel on display.”
“Don’t praise yourself too much. You are in too much dirt to shine through,” Kien enjoyed to be in the upper hand of things, it’s time to get back at the trickster, “So tell me, who did you exactly murder?”
“I believe you meant, accused of murdering,” Markl knows Kien phrased it intentionally, but he still wasn’t pleased with the sound of it, “But if that’s the case, it is the Minister of Affairs.”
Kien didn’t reply right away, as he mind became blank. Wild possibilities floated around, and he couldn’t find any to settle down upon. “The Minister of Affars?!” He asked loudly, edging closer to the glass that separated the two. “Crowford Bil?”
“I know you had a little argument with his son Oliver, but why did you go and kill him for?!”
“Well, then I think the point is, that I didn’t!” Markl was frustrated with the tone that Kien had kept up with. Although, Kien didn’t intend to implicate anything this time, just a slip of the mind and the wrong words leaked out.
“What did they have against you?”
“Nothing,” Markl paused when he said this, then reconsidered his answer, “At least, I was told of nothing. But I suspect something must have triggered it for them to warrant an arrest.”
“How about your representative? Didn’t he at least update you with the case?” Kien seemed wary of the situation the more he learns about it, a strange sensation that things are set in stone.
“You mean that majestically grand individual? Yes, he told me that the execution will be painless,” Markl bore a grin, a mix of lightheartedness and skepticism.
“A common misconception.”
“Or so I’ve heard,” despite his situation, Markl was at peace with himself, “You know, if I was given the chance, I would have proved my own innocence.”
“What you are about to do, but with more class.”
“Is that a question of my professional abilities?” Kien was surprised that Markl still had the energy or will to continue this conversation with that tone, but he was partly at fault as well. It’s time to throw a curve ball, “How do you know that I will be helping you?”
“Why else would you spend your time stuck under a basement, that doubles up as sewage system?”
The topic of sewage came up twice today, and Kien didn’t like the topic very well, nor does he enjoy being in a place similar to one. “Maybe taking a tour of the jail cells, to improve my knowledge of the justice system.”
Markl scoffed at this, “You want me to tickle myself and laugh? As great an actor as I am, I am not particularly keen on keeping up the act against an unshaven, single elf that lives in the boundary of poverty, and has the manner of a troll. Maybe it was your sister who I am talking to, maybe we can be more civilized and mature enough to carry some proper communication.”
Kien put his hand close to his heart, and mouthed an “ouch”, before speaking once more in a jesting tone, “To think you were endlessly praising me before, I guess that was all an act.”
“I mean please,” Markl put his hand up, signaling he had enough of this, “First of all, that sounded remotely strange to my ears, second of all, if it wasn’t for your sister, you would made a fool out of yourself up stage. ‘She’s not dead’,” he mimicked Kien’s words back on the stage, “I’ve seen boys in puberty with more confidence than that. I just don’t want to say it out loud yesterday to save your some face, so can we please move on to better things to talk about?”
“Alright,” Kien’s had enough as well, or maybe not, “how many days you got before they pop your head off like a cork in the bottle.”
“Could you stop with that?”
“Fine, how many days before a piece of iron severe your neck.”
Markl sighed, he give up, “Three days.”
“There is a trial, two days from now. If I’m guilty, I’ll be executed right away the following day.”
“Want me to defend you on court?”
“That sound strangely like a threat.”
“Maybe because it is one. Every trust the man who you just pissed off?”
“Who else better right?” Markl sounded sarcastic, but followed with a sincere voice, “Kalea trusted you, and I trust Kalea. So I think I’ll take this bet.”
Trust me because of Kalea, that logic sounded strange but valid for Kien. He wasn’t about to question how Markl came to know or even trust Kalea, it was talk to be done after, with Kalea present preferable. With that, Kien’s done what he needs to do, “Alright, if anything comes up, I’ll be sure to update you on it. And if your old representative ever shows up again, you can fire him, and tell him Mr. Straussler said so. He’ll never question it.”
Markl give a wave of his hand and knocked on the metal door behind him to signal he’s finished. The two elves stepped out from that room, one into darkness, the other to truth.
There was no one at the door when Kien walked through the front door of the giant mansion that rested on the east of Monark. Jokes and slandering aside, he was uneasy from what Markl told him. Markl Linte didn’t just go and knock off a regular Joe from the slum, he got himself tangled with the big fish. He murdered the Minister of Affairs, Mr. Crowford Bil, or so everyone believed he did. A later chat with the dwarf told him that there was enough evidence to pin Markl, and witnesses too. Not that it mattered, because in Monark, you are guilty until proven innocent. If Kien leave things the way it is, the guillotine is what Markl will see.
The house was far from empty though. The fact he was ignored only signified his unimportance in the whole scheme of things. People are running about, trying to catch new clues, to no doubt, push Markl further into the pit. As Mr. Strausller said, you don’t catch a new fish, when you got one cooked.
No one talked to Kien or asked who he is, the polite introduction was a mannerism fit for the inexperienced. One glance at Kien’s badge which he pinned just before he entered the door, warded away the other inspectors like bug spray to black flies. “I thought Mr. Straussler said the case was close for good… before I asked him,” Kien was irritated at the crowd which was running about the scene, no doubt ruining more evidence than they could find.
“These are private eyez,” Hemlholtz reminded Kien of the workings of the city, “All want to get in on zer big pie.”
“And they got into this building with Mr. Straussler’s permission?!”
“Private eyez have private dealz,” Helmholtz was glad he could teach Kien something new, “You don’t question it.”
Not that Kien needed to genuinely worry really, because most of the locations with the evidence were fenced off, off limit to private owned business. Unless of course, Mr. Straussler was insane enough to sell those as well. The mansion was sectioned off into groups using rules that Kien assumed was arbitrary, their boundary marked with a redline and labeled with numbers. From what Kien could see, these sections were sold to private eyes like land rights. Whoever thought of selling these was no doubt a green eyed goblin, but whoever thought of buying these possessed a stupidity that deserved to be cheated
And to Kien’s disbelief, a fight actually broke out in front of him when someone seemingly overstepped the boundaries. “Hey kid, watch where you are stepping on!” A beastkin in a suit, a strange get up. His eyes reflected yellow, and orange fur stripped with lines of grey. When he bare his teeth in the argument, two row of fine white showed its beauty and ferocity. He had short ears on top of his head, triangles dipped in black at the corner on top. Like any other beastkin Kien encountered, this one is not in the best of mood, “It’s against the rules!”
The “kid” was really a kid elf. Angular chin smoothed out in curves. His eyes were wide hazel, embedded within the white background of his face. How someone as young as him could be a private eye speaks out about the flaw of the system in the city. He was nowhere as tall as the beastkin, nor as muscular. “I’m sorry sir…I was too busy following these footprint that I forgot about the boundaries…”
Although Kien tries not to be prejudice with his judgment, but he still feel the need to stand behind his own kind, even after he made the promise to cut all ties from them. As he watched the argument becoming heated, and possibly growing to be physical, Kien slowly progressed toward the scene with the mindset of “rescuing” the kid.
“You broke the rules, and there are punishments for breaking the rules,” the beastkin was just about getting reveled up.
The elf looks hesitant in his reply, “I wasn’t aware that there was any punishment for breaking the rules…”
“Of course there are!” a mixture of anger and joy, something only a beastkin can manage, “The punishment is that we divide your sector with everyone else! Isn’t that right?”
Now that he has gotten the crowd involved, and added that bit of favor, the hungry eyes of the private inspectors were reflected by their hungry replies, “Of course! Divide the sector!”
The young elf was helpless, but still felt the need to retaliate somehow, “That seemed awfully unfair.”
“Too bad kid,” the crowd was unified on this one, “You got to play by the rules. We need order, especially for this kind of business. So don’t you go and break some, and be selfish about it.”
“Yeah, absolutely don’t be selfish about it,” the words came from Kien, who manage to make his way through the crowd, and make his presence known.
The beastkin took a glance at Kien, and then at the badge pinned near his heart, “Glad that there are some officials that understand how things works here, would you like to lecture this youngster about the way we ran things?”
“Sure thing Mister…” Kien paused and looked around the beastkin’s clothing for any name tag, but seeing none he continued, “Tiger, I got things under control.” He turned toward the young elf and leaned his head right and left, as if in self-questioning, “Here’s how things work kid. If you step out of the boundary and into someone else’s zone, you are out. And for punishment, you’ll going to have to accompany me to a trip to a place where real evidence are.”
The youngster’s brow was wrinkled in confusion, “What do you mean sir?” And Kien could not believe how dim the fellow is. Before he could try to explain himself, the beastkin interrupted him, “What do you mean! You can’t do that!”
Kien scratched his beard and shrugged, “Can’t I? I didn’t know. Why don’t you talk to Mr. Straussler and find out if I can. A real charmer to talk to that one.” Kien loved to pull out Mr. Straussler, the ultimate period to an argument.
“Maybe I will!” The beastkin was running way above his head, and Kien just hope the fellow doesn’t hurt himself.
“Be my finest guest,” Kien waved a goodbye to him, “Come along Helmholtz, and grab the kid. We are going up stairs behind the restricted zone.”
The young elf remained quiet until he reached the end of the stairs, after which he asked, “Sir, am I in trouble?”
Helmholtz took the pleasure of answering, “Disrupting investigation, I think that’s a crime fitting to label ya as one of those Tainted fellows. I’m afraid son, it’s ze death penalty for you. Betta prepare a towel to wrap ya head with.” As the dwarf said this, he patted a hatchet on the side of his belt.
It was a bizarre reply, especially when Helmholtz spoke it with a grin that spread from side to side. The boy came to the conclusion that the dwarf is either psychotic, or horrible humorist. He give the short reply "Oh" just in case he's the former.
Kien pulled his upper lip in and smiled, Kien always thought Helmholtz's humor always slightly missed the mark, but he was never the one to point it out and hurt the man's heart, only playing along when he should.
Kien walked past a sign post that alerted in big letters "With permissions only". Glancing over his shoulder, he realized that the boy had stopped short before it, looking down toward the laces of his shoe. "You are permitted, now look up and step over. What's your name?"
"Kanvis," The boy answered. As he took a step past the sign post, he looked around in awe as if he has just stepped into a new world.
"We are still in the hallway," Kien responded to the boy’s behavior as he pushed the door to his left, marked in the middle with bronze plate as "The Office".
As he walked into the room, he was greeted with two short figures, both of dwarves’ descent. “Kien Cephalon, here under permission from Mr. Straussler to check on the case,” Kien identified himself before any question was asked, “Here is my partner, and…,” he looked to Kanvis thinking of an appropriate title, “prodigy.”
“I didn’t know the public detective have prodigies,” the two dwarf spoke at once, and only now did Kien notice that the two were twins.
They were both dressed in plates of bronze, and wearing a checkered patterned quilt that Kien thought was in bad taste. They carried the typical beard, which was braided near the end meticulously that each braid was no thicker than a straw. Their eyebrow was shaven, revealing a set of eyes that rested deep in their skull, shining in amber.
“Then I am first of its kind,” Kien pushed the subject matter away to focus on more serious topics, “Now would you kindly guide me through the evidence that has been examined so far?”
Before the dwarves could answer, the door behind Kien was pushed open, frightening the group quite a bit. A middle-aged elf walked in, bearing a similar hair style with Kien, but was clean shaven. His angular jaw met in a chin that curved slightly to hold his thin lips. His nose fell straight down, and ended with a point, that occasionally expanded as the man sniffed and flared his nostrils. His eyes were big, but drooped in boredom and roofed with a set of eyebrows that appears as thin as threads. His finger was slender, to the point of bony, and the rest of his body was merely an extrapolation of his hand. His faerie was a splitting image of himself with a more profound bundle of hair and a hint of obvious grandeur (ignorance is what Kien calls it). “You must be Kien Cephalon, Mr. Straussler told me all about you,” the man extended his hand, reaching out like tree branches , “I’m Inspector Solomon.”
Kien took the inspector’s hand, and felt it tighten in a painful clutch. “A pleasure to meet you.”
“The pleasure’s all mine. To be able to meet such a fine enthusiastic colleague who was kind enough to proof read my work.”
Kien turned over to his shoulder and met the eyes of Tania. Ah, the word went up in both of their head, so he was the one responsible for solving Markl’s case. In that case, the situation can only grow more awkward. “I have much to learn, and was wondering if you would like to guide me along with some of your logic in solving this case.” The persona Kien have to put up made himself feel sick, and Tania flew away, obviously unsatisfied with the act.
Inspector Solomon let go of Kien’s hand and put it into his pocket. He briefly took out his pocket watch and took a long look before dropping it back, and faked an expression of excitement, “Of course, I would love to. Where shall we begin?”
Kien’s eyes followed Tania who rested herself on top of a pen holder by the desk. It was the most obvious destination to go, marked by a touch of blood. “Where ever you would like to start with, an overview of the situation would be nice. Such as where was Mr. Bil when he met his unfortunate time, predicted timing of the death, the instrument used, witnesses, and evidences. Anything really.”
Not really. Having arrived at the scene when things already gone stale and crawling with vultures, he’ll need to rely on Inspector Solomon’s personal recount of the process, which could be a compilation of nonsense, and Kien wouldn’t be able to tell otherwise. Mr. Straussler was right on this one, the late bird does need to kiss some serious *** to get the information it wanted.
Inspector Solomon coughed several times as if to clear some throat, but both men know he was just wasting time. He gives the two dwarfs a wave to pardon them from the room. When they were alone, he pulled out a pair of gloves from an inner pocket of his jacket and slides them on one at a time, taking his sweet time. “It’s a very complicated process I’m afraid,” Inspector Solomon held a pained expression on his face, as if having to talk about the logic of investigation had stirred up some headaches, “Maybe I can just go over the basics of things?”
“It’s alright if you dump all the information on me, think of me as a blank pages of a journal,” Kien had to plow as much information from the man as possible, and “the basics of things” is just not going to cut it. Helmholtz give Kien a questioningly stare at his analogy, and Kien will later admit, it was a bad one.
After putting on the gloves, the inspector nodded a few times and moved in a circular path around the room, as if trying to recollect the events that had occurred, “It’s incredibly complex.”
Kien rolled his eyes when the inspector turned his back to him. If he really wanted, he would have read the inspector’s mind. However, Kien doesn’t want to resort to that on his first meeting, he believes in choices, and the consequences could be dangerous if Kien “accidentally” stole something he wasn’t supposed to. “Horrendously complex,” Kien added to the inspector’s statement, with a sliver of mockery laid on top.
“And most secretive,” the inspector nodded, and his fairy pacing about his head to the rhythm of this nods.
“Dwelled with mystery.”
“An act that should not be committed.”
“A case that should not be left unsolved.”
“An event so evil, capable only by the hands of a Tainted.”
“Those buggers of blight.” Kien felt he was getting the hang of this, but it’s getting him nowhere.
“It was the treasurer of Mr. Bil that reported the death. After which I quickly came about and issued a full house lock down.”
“I knew it was an urgent business, no time was left to waste.”
“An absolute role model.”
“And so – ”
“Can we just get to the point,” Helmholtz broke the trend, and Kien actually felt slightly peeved that he did, “I mean, if this is all we are doing, I might as well go catch myself some snooze.”
“Helmholtz, this is no way to speak to such a respectable inspector as Mr. Solomon. Apologize to him at once,” Kien kept the role up.
“It’s quite alright Mr. Cephalon. Dwarves are known to be harsh and rude bunch. I pay no mind to such creatures that are lower than us,” as he insulted, he towered over Helmholtz and purposefully stared down at him. The look made Helmholtz’s hands itching to grab his hatchet and chop some decent sense into the conceited elf.
“But the case, what happened next?” Kien distracted Inspector Solomon’s attention away from Helmholtz.
“The usual, I solved it and made the arrest shortly afterwards.”
“Well…”Kien dragged the sound, with the hope of possible baiting out more information. When the hook returned empty, Kien made it more direct, “How did you exactly manage it?”
“Well…” Inspector Solomon dragged the sound as well, “It’s a complicated process. Harline, could you go downstairs and ask the guards if there are any teas being brewed currently? I feel thirsty.”
The faerie fluttered around in circles around Mr. Solomon, before the inspector opened the door and let her out. Once he closed the door, he resumed, “So anyway. As I was saying, it was a – ”
Mr. Solomon never got to finish that sentence as he felt his mind go blank and his vision turned white. All that he remembered was of his head falling down to the red carpet below him, and an explosive pain near the side of his head.
Kien rubbed his knuckles and shook his head, he saw Tania looking him disproving him, “Honey, you know he isn’t going to spill a single bean.”
“I’d say ya should ‘ve done it earlier,” Helmholtz stepped over the inspector’s head and walked over to the desk posted a few meter in front of a large one piece window.
“You think it might be shady if his faerie come back and see him like this?” Kien asked in curiosity as he dragged the body to the west side, where a sofa had being conveniently placed beside a shelf of books.
“Well, with the right luck, I think you might convince her that he collapsed form heat stroke,” Tania held a skeptical look, and her lips tilted to the side with doubt, “But I got to say. I didn’t exactly like his attitude, treating you like a child. I think he’s younger than you.”
“I don’t ‘think’, I know he is younger than me.”
“Now that is definitely in appropriate, pulling out his identification card like that…” Tania puffed her cheek slightly, “and his wallet…”
“Tania, truth be told. You are hardly helpful here.”
“Then tell me how you are going to resolve this situation.”
“Simple, I’m going to take his memory of when I punched him.”
Helmholtz popped in, “Why don’t you take his memory regarding the case as well?”
“Tania, explain to Helmholtz exactly why that is not possible.”
Tania flew closer to Helmholtz’s nose and swung from side to side. The dwarf’s eyes crossed as he tried to stay focused on her. When Tania spoke, it was in the tone of a lecturer, those that Kien hated especially during early days of school. “Memories aren’t just facts. Along with memories are often emotional attachments. For example, is the glass half empty or half full? A famous question, and depending on the context, you might reflect on the situation positively or negatively, a natural biased associated with all things viewed in first perspective. If Kien was to steal the memories of the inspector, it is true that he will obtain the information with regard to the case at hand, but nothing stops him from adopting the same emotional context the inspector carried when solving those cases. In worst case scenario, Kien would hold onto the same belief as the inspector, which will result in him convicting Markl as the perpetrator.”
“Ah I see,” the dwarf nodded and shook his head as he relaxed his eyes from their crossed position.
The soft bang on the door broke all of them out of their concentration. It was Harline. Helmholtz looked at Kien eyes wide, then at the inspector still out of the cold on the sofa. “Now what?”
Kien shrugged, “I would say panic, but I think that’s not the word to use right now.” He looked toward Mr. Solomon, and with a burst of effort hoisted the man up and sat him up straight on the sofa, with one hand resting on the wooden arm rest. He pulled out a copper framed chair from nearby and sat across from him. “Tania, could you tell our little friend that Mr. Solomon and I are engaged in a very heated conversation, and that we can use a little bit of time to cool down. Helmholtz, open the door for her if you please.”
With a sigh, Tania flew toward the door, as Helmholtz held it open a crack. Harline was just about to dash in when Tania manage to get a hold of her hand and pulled her out. Through the crack, Kien could hear Tania’s voice carrying over. “Mr. Cephalon and your master are engaged in a conversation and just had chased me out. I don’t think it’s appropriate to enter as of now. Why don’t we go outside a bit, and have a civilized conversation?”
Kien heard her stress the word 'civilized', followed by an icy stare toward himself. It was the second time that someone implied Kien was crude, and he started to wonder if the accusation have substance. Harline looked over Tania’s shoulder and saw Mr. Solomon resting comfortably on the sofa, with a nod she agreed to Tania, “Let’s.”
When the door closed once more, and they’ve waited enough time for the two faeries to get out of ear shot, Kien stood up and motioned to Helmholtz. “Let’s get to it, I’m assuming either this is the scene of the crime, or they decided to slaughter the dinner in his office. Look at all that stain on that chair.”
“Ya go take a look at that, I’ll make ma way around zer room to see if anything’s left behind.”
The room was illuminated by a one piece window that replaced the Southern wall. It bent around in a soft curve, stretching from west to east. There was no curtain in sight to prevent the light from entering, but that might be the appeal, to be constantly be bathed in the warmth of the sun. At night, sunlight will be replaced by the artificial light source on the ceiling, luxury of the rich. The desk that Kien noticed before rested in the middle of this curvature, and its shape was uncomfortably angular. The papers and various wares remained untouched on its surface, and had gathered dust because of it. The rest of the room was pale without decoration. The western side held two shelves of books with the same binding, and Kien can vouch that the content within was equally monotonous. Beside it rested the sofa with Mr. Solomon, and a leg rest padded with the same red leather as the sofa. The eastern end was occupied by only one thing, the world map. A traditional piece seen in so many offices, that Kien wondered whether it was because of the love for geography or world domination. Typical, was all the comment Kien could muster from his brief glance.
He went and examined the desk in detail, and noticed quite clearly that the paper had being ruffled about. One of the documents that was clearly placed on top contained a unfinished manifesto on trade. However, it wasn’t the politics that Kien was interested in, it was the water mark that seemed to stretch diagonally. With care, he lifted the paper up using one of its corners, and noticed that the watermark isn’t watermark at all. Unless, blood had became the new ink for it. Written clearly was the words, ’Markl did it.’
“I think I found Mr. Solomon’s aforementioned, ‘complex evidence’,” Kien called Helmholtz over and showed him the writing.
“Izis zer Minister’s writing?” Helmholtz examined the characters.
A few glances at the pieces of manifesto told Kien it was most likely the Minister’s handwriting, “Probably.”
Helmholtz handed the sheet back to Kien, “Zat pretty much settlez it doesn’t it? In hiz dying breaz, Mr. Bil wrote the name of hiz killer. Itiz az clear az red on white.”
Again, Helmholtz’s off sense execution of humor, but Kien didn’t respond back this time. He examined the paper once again, this time with more attention to the characters. The blood was already dry and gained a dark brown hue from the time it was left in the open, but the stroke was clear, like those of ancient calligraphy.
“I have more doubts than ever now,” Kien spoke out his mind.
“What do ya mean? zisis conclusive evidence. Can’t be nothing more clear and crisp than what the minister wrote there iz there?”
Kien put the paper down, “That’s the problem.”
“The minister has absolutely beautiful handwriting, but if his handwriting is still beautiful when he’s dying, then that’s a problem,” Kien points to the chair, “See that? How much blood there is? You think anyone has the sweet time to write nicely on the back of this paper the name of the murder?”
“Maybe he’s compozed,” Helmholtz took a guess.
“Maybe…” Kien scanned the table and noticed a pen resting in its holder, “Then, think about this. Why would the minister write this in blood when there is a pen already resting on his table? I understand there’s a need to add drama to the situation, but wouldn’t instinct tell him to use the pen, and save some blood to make him last a bit longer?”
“Zen what are ya suggesting?”
Kien couldn’t really give his reply, “I’m not sure. I guess we’ll look at things further.”
“Sure zing partner,” Helmholtz left Kien alone to his task again as he ventured around the room once more.
Kien paced around the desk, as his eyes moved from one corner to the other. The damage was well contained, within the vicinity. Whoever killed the Minister did it with precision. The blood barely splattered beyond the chair except for some drop on the desk. Kien’s eyes looked around the drop, and set its target on the candle stick. He lifted it up, and noticed the detailed care the smith put to carve the pedals of chrysanthemum that decorated its base. The candle was in white wax, but wax being caught on the bottom contained numerous dots of red. Kien’s finger moved over them and picked at them with his fingernail, and to his disappointment, they were just wax. Kien shook his head at how paranoid he’s getting and placed the ornament back onto the desk.
After having satisfied with his examination of the top, he moved down to look at the bottom. The desk top was made of one piece of wood, a rare luxury now that most carpenters just nails pieces together. On the bottom were two slots, which Kien put his finger through and felt a “slide-and-lock” mechanism constructed within them, possibly allowing for attachment of another platform for storage purposes. It’s most likely removed to allow more leg space, which for Kien was always a wise choice. Another solid piece of wood was attached to the front, hiding the person’s bottom portion from the visitors. Kien never understood the true reason for this attachment, what was there to hide down there anyway? He didn’t spend too much time dwelling with the question and moved on to the drawers on the side.
He pulled at the drawers and was amazed that they are still locked. He was sure some curious investigator would have cracked it open with a wrench. However, he prefers more of a subtle way of doing things. “Helmholtz, can I have the hatchet.”
The dwarf walked over and handed it to him, and Kien used it to make some effective hammering to the slits where the lock is. When the wood finally give way after a dozen more blows, Kien pulled the drawer open to reveal the treasure he uncovered. Again, he was surprised.
Several envelop rested within it, with the first being stamped in dark black, ‘Confidential’.
It would be a shame if no one reads them, Kien thinks to himself as he pulled the top one out and wrapped the strings that kept it locked. He pulled the pages inside out, and several sketches fell to the ground. He bent down to pick it but stopped when he saw what the sketch was of.
It was an elf. A very familiar elf. The elf's hair was in slight disarray of grey and brown, but his face was a reflection of youth. He had a slender finger, possibly fragile, medium height, and an aura of mischief. Other may know him as the “magician of the other kind”.
Kien knows him as Markl Linte.
His eyes darted to the pages he held in his hands, and his eyes scanned the words neatly written in black ink:
Alias: Kevin Steinosky, Rick Charm, Markl Linte, Caine Eisenwall, Philip Blain
Immediately report all sightings.
Do not approach without aid.
Wanted for murder of 32 innocents.
“Iz zis also a problem?” Helmholtz asked as he scanned the document with Kien.
Kien was quiet, his eyes drifted through the window to the neatly laid marble walkway that made its way to the front door of the mansion. Several servants went about brushing the path clear of dirt, unwavered by the death of their master. The marble shined clear, blank of the earth it pressed upon.
Blank in its existence.