Vercingetorix Noir

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Read Legends of Cobalt from the beginning:

Vercingetorix Noir

I awoke to a dark room. Gentle rain pounded a steady rhythm against the window in time with Wyanet’s breathing and Phebes’s snoring. I pulled on my damp clothes and crept down to the common room.

Dull red coals popped in the fireplace. Bucephalus thrashed about in his sleep. I cleared away a handful of tables and started my morning workout. I finished the first two sets and began the third as the front door of the tavern opened. A massive white tiger with blood-red strips slunk through the open door. It sat on its haunches and chuffed at me. I ignored it and continued through my exercise.

“That’s a curious workout for a rager.” A woman said.

I looked for the source of the voice. The tavern door thudded closed. A woman close to my age stood where the tiger had been. White hair with a blue streak framed her face.

“Pardon?” I stopped mid-action.

“I asked what you were doin’ down here in the dark?” Raisa replied from behind me.

I turned to face her. “Oh, uh, sorry. How long have you been there?”

“Not long. I came down to get started on some things for breakfast, and I saw you out here.”

“I wanted to run through a morning workout before everyone else woke up.”

“Okay, be sure to put all the tables back when you’re done, else Bella won’t be too happy.” Raisa walked back to the kitchen.

Bucephalus shot up. His chest heaved and rivulets of sweat matted the fur on his face.

“Bad dream?” I grabbed a table and pulled it back to where it had been.

Bucephalus turned his head toward me. “Only the same ones that have plagued me since birth.” He clasped his hands and started muttering to himself.

“When you’re done begging for forgiveness for shit you didn’t do, help me move these tables back.”

Bucephalus glared at me. “You would do well to submit yourself to the service of a god. They have much to offer us.”

“Save it for the choir. I don’t need some stuffy old man telling me what to do.”

Bucephalus snorted and went toward the bar. “I need a drink.”

The Dwarf clomped down the stairs, a round hat in his hand. “Morning, sir. Has anyone gone to fetch the constable?”

I put a chair back. “I don’t know.”

The Dwarf put his hat on. “I’ll go and let ‘em know about last night.”

Bella emerged from the kitchen, a candle glowed in her hand. “That sounds like a splendid idea Mister Bigtoe. The sooner we can put the mess of last night behind us all the better.”

Bella floated about the room lighting candles. The smell of fresh bread filled the common room. Not long after Mister Bigtoe left, the rest of the guests filtered down. An uneasy silence clung to the air and no one made eye contact with one another.

I took a seat at the table by the fireplace. Bucephalus flopped into the chair opposite me. He took a long pull from his hip flask then extended it to me.

“No, thank you.”

Bucephalus shrugged and took another drink. “That younger girl told me it was too early to sell me any liquor, so I had to tap into my own stash.”

I rolled my eyes.

Phebes claimed the seat beside me. She arched her back and stretched her arms above her head. “What’s everyone waiting for?”

“The constable. That Dwarf went earlier this morning to get them.”

Wyanet sat in the last chair at the table. The tavern door swung open. Mister Bigtoe, soaked through, stepped in and held the door open. A six and a half feet tall Dragonborn followed the stout Dwarf into the tavern. A dark grey poncho hung to the Dragonborn’s knees and a matching pith helmet sat on top of their scally head.

The Dragonborn stepped further into the room and removed their helmet. “I am inspector Norixius.” Their copper scales half reflected the candlelight. “Mister Bigtoe has informed me that there has been a murder.”

Bella rushed out from behind the bar. “Yes Inspector,” She fumbled with the keys. “The body is right in here.” Bella opened the door to the private room. 

Inspector Norixius turned back to the patrons. “I will need to speak with each of you in private, then, you can all be on your way. I will start with those of you who visit this establishment on a regular basis.” They looked at our table. “I will speak with the four of you last.”

Bella crossed behind the inspector and unlocked the other private room. “You can use this room here. No point in gathering around a dead body.”

Inspector Norixius turned back to Bella. “Thank you for your cooperation, ma’am. I want to speak to you and the rest of your staff first. Inspector Norixius strolled into the offered room, unclipping their poncho as they went.

Bella followed the Dragonborn into the room and closed the door. A few minutes later, Bella emerged from the room and Raisa went in. The cycle repeated over the next hour with the other patrons. Halfway through, Raisa brought breakfast out and Grazer moseyed his way over to us.

The front door thudded closed behind the last patron. 

Inspector Norixius emerged from the private room and strolled over to our table with a notebook in their hand. “I will interview the five of you together.” They lead us into the room with the body and stood at the head of the table. “Who wants to tell me how this girl died?”

I stepped up to the foot of the table. “We heard a scream last night and ran to see what was going on. We found Carina bleeding out in the street. We tried to heal her, but didn’t get to her in time.”

Inspector Norixius rapped their claws on the table without breaking eye contact. 

“I don’t know,” Grazer chimed in. “I had an order to deliver here last night and found these three with the dead girl in the fog. It looked like they needed help, so I did. I probably would have gotten lost if it hadn’t been for their nifty light spell though.”

Inspector Norxius looked back to me. “Some of the other patrons accused you of killing her.”

“How could we have killed someone while sitting in the common room?” Wyanet interjected.

Bucephalus shrank into the corner.

“Okay, we found her and then a little girl taunted us about killing her and then she ran off,” Phebes blurted out. “I knew it was a bad idea to bring the body back.”

The corners of Inspector Norixius’s mouth smiled.

“We spoke with her departed soul.” Bucephalus whispered.

The smile on Inspector Norixius’s snout vanished. “What did you say?”

Bucephalus loomed behind me. “I said we spoke with Carina’s departed soul, and she told us who killed her.”

Inspector Norixius raped their claws on the table. “How did you accomplish that?”

“Being a priest has its benefits.”

“Who did she say killed her?”

“Carina claimed someone named Jack killed her.”

Inspector Norixius’s shoulder’s slumped and they rubbed their eyes with one hand. “I suspected so, but I needed to be thorough.” They looked at Phebes. “You’re certain you spotted a little girl running away from the crime scene last night?”

“Oh, um, uh, yeah.”                   

“Dai, I mean Percival tried to stop her, but she disappeared into the mists before he could catch her,” Wyanet added.

Inspector Norixius sighed. “At least there is a new development in the case. I just wish more could be done to stop this evil man.” They scribbled some notes into their notebook and pushed past us to the door. “I’ll send someone from the temple to collect the body this afternoon. If you all would be so kind as to stay in the city for the next few days, in case I have more questions for you.”

The story will continue, January 16th  2020.

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Written by: Sweeney (@oceansoul316 on twitter)

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