With the timepiece ticking down toward the Queen’s arrival, the Town Criers had split up to cover more ground on their murder investigation, with harrowing experiences on both sides….
As arranged, Emeraude a’Right and Dorcas Oddpick met with their fellow Town Crying cousin Harold Angel at the Globe Stage to compare notes.
“I hope thou hast fared better than have we, Cousin,” Emeraude sighed, “for Dorcas and I have had no luck at all with the floozies.”
Harold raised an eyebrow. “Really? I would have figured they’d go for that sort of thing, if the price was right.”
Emeraude glared at him. “If I wished to hear that manner of off-color jesting, Harold, I’d not have sent in foreigners to interrogate Chastity Trollop on my behalf. From what I can make of their Englitalian, Chastity has been in the presence of her sister whores and/or various clients all morning long, leaving no time to go around murdering anyone, including Jasper Trustworthy. So that’s a dead end.”
“Life is a dead end,” Dorcas said in that deliriously philosophical way of hers.
“Erm, yes. Encouraging.” Eager to proceed to a more pleasant topic (and, at this point, even talk of rat-catchers qualified), Emeraude asked Harold, “Get anything useful out of Amil Stands?”
“Actually, I spoke with him not, but—”
“What do you mean, you spoke with him not?!” Emeraude demanded. “Honestly, Harold, I give you but a single task…!”
Harold held up his hands. “Hear me out, Emmers, I’ve got a fine excuse. I spoke not with the rat-catcher because, as I was on my way to find him, I was ambushed just off of Trader’s Cove!”
“Ambushed? By whom?”
Harold leaned in close to whisper with the weight that no regular-volume declaration could carry. “By the Sirens.”
Emeraude’s and Dorcas’s mouths constricted into appreciative “O”s. Living in a port town like Bristol had many advantages, but also its dangers. Proximity to enchanting she-monsters of the deep fell into the latter category.
“Mercy, Cousin!” Emeraude gasped. “How didst thou manage to escape their song with thy soul intact?”
“I nearly didn’t,” said Harold. “The tuneful trio had almost reeled me into their clutches when I was saved by the timely arrival of Randalf the Blue!”
“The wizard of Bristol?” Dorcas cried.
“One and the same. He cast a counter-spell that stopped my ears long enough to make a getaway.”
“That was a lucky thing,” said Emeraude, much relieved.
“’Twas a twice lucky thing,” said Harold, appearing even more pleased with himself than usual, “for whilst I was thanking Randalf for saving my soul, I had the presence of mind to ask him if he would be able to look over a corpse and identify what it had died of.”
“Silly,” said Dorcas, disdainfully. “Corpses can’t die of anything. They’re already dead.”
“Split not hairs, Dorky,” said an irritated Harold. “The point is, Randalf said he would give it a go; even grabbed Doctor John Dee for a second opinion.”
“An impressive collaboration!” said Emeraude. “So, the town’s wizard and the Queen’s mage walked onto a ship… Trustworthy’s body was still safe aboard the Gabriel, I hope?”
“Aye,” Harold confirmed. “And the good news is that, between the two of them, they were no time at all in ascertaining the cause of Jasper’s death.”
“Good news? That’s fantastic news!” Emeraude cheered, bouncing on her toes with glee. “That’s a good third of the mystery solved! Go on, what was it that killed him?”
“Yea, well, that’s the bad news,” said Harold, expression dour. “The murder weapon… was a Crier bell.”
What does this new development mean for our Criers?! Is it a frame job? Or could Emeraude’s search for the murderer end disconcertingly close to home? Follow here to find out whodunit!