Dead to rights

daird

Edgesquire
Original poster
It was a crisp fall day in Willowby. The leaves had just started to turn on the maple trees, and the wind carried the faintest nip. Rebecca opened the door to her shop/home, and put out the sign with the scissors on it to show she was open for business.

The building itself was unpainted wood- she couldn't afford anything else yet, and likely never would. A small loom had been set up on the left side of the room, ready for either wool or cloth, depending on what the customer wanted. Dye pots occupied the center of the display, for those who decided against natural colors. Finished clothes were on the right. Behind a small wooden wall lay a bed and cupboard, perfect for hiding... sensitive items.

The auburn-haired women rolled her eyes as she looked over her supplies. Some of her dyes were running low, and no traveling merchants were expected for several days. Dye-making was the worst part of the business by far, so after checking to make sure wasn't being watched, she muttered a quick duplication spell.
Saves me hours of filthy labor. Thank the gods.

Putting the newly conjured jars together, she slipped behind the counter, looking across the way at the blacksmith's now-unoccupied forge.
It has to be tonight. The longer I wait, the longer the killer walks free.
 
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The recent murder had the town on edge, those kinds of things simply didn't happen in their home, and no one admitted to having a grudge of any sort against the murdered man.
The guards were of course trying their best but were mostly there to ward off wild animals or petty criminals, and it would be days before an investigation team arrived from a nearby city, more than long enough for the trail to grow cold.

Mere moments after her bit of magic a customer entered, a robed customer entered, their face and body concealed well enough that it was difficult to tell what they looked like, though their voice revealed them to likely be female, they seemed to stare at the dies before ordering a travel cloak and leaving for an inn.

Other than her there was few customers until closing time, when people retuned home, only a few people were allowed out after the guard mandated curfew.
 

daird

Edgesquire
Original poster
It wasn't the worst day Rebecca had had in her career- the cloak the woman had bought was one of her more expensive options, and a local man had purchased new outfits for his young twins. Still, all day, she had looked across the way, waiting for her opportunity. Finally, night came, and in the gloom, Rebecca made her move.

A lot of people thought black magic took items like basilisk eye and manticore venom, but for this working, all Rebecca needed were three items that wouldn't have aroused suspicion. Chalk to draw the sigils, a candle for flame, and a knife to shed her blood.

As a few crimson drops fell into the candle's flame, Rebecca felt the harsh, sharp power of violent death around her. It took some work to mold the energy into a form suitable for opening a portal between the worlds, but she was an old hand, and managed the feat with ease. She whispered her beckoning into the beyond: "Charles, come back to us. The living have need of you yet, old friend."
 
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The magic worked quickly, restless souls of the recently deceased were far easier to bring back to the world of the living than long dead souls who had given up their attachments.
"What?... But I was..."
It seemed he was more than a little confused by the situation, as most undead summoned with their minds intact tended to be.
"You... I knew something was off about you..."
His tone was only slightly accusatory.
"I know you didn't kill me at least... Not unless you are secretly an elf as well..."
 

daird

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Rebecca grimaced a little bit- with the belief that all magicians were evil beaten into people all their lives, it was rather common for said fiction to persist past life. Still, it seemed Charles wasn't anywhere near the point of malice with her.

"So, the killer was an elf. That helps. Could you give me some specifics? Any reason an elf woman might have had to butcher you in your bed like this?" She looked at Charles, her eyes filled with pleading. She really wanted this killer brought to justice.
 
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While normally Charles would probably have taken a swing with a hammer by now, there was something about death that tended to mellow people out, well, usually anyway, sometimes spirits could be quite dangerous.

"I can't remember much... They came from behind and when I did catch a glimpse they seemed to vanish into thin air... I remember the ears, clearly elven, and they had big ass eyes! And a cloak that covered them up".
 

daird

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"So, the killer was an elf with large eyes." Rebecca shook her head- it wasn't much to go on. Still, it could have been a whole lot worse. "Thank you for the assistance, Charles." She created the portal to beyond again, but she didn't send the ghost through right away. "Charles, I'll give you a choice. You can stay here in the mortal realm, or you can go back across the veil. I don't think it's fair to ship you off like a raven's letter without so much as a by your leave."
 
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To say the ghostly blacksmith was surprised was an understatement to be sure, though he didn't seem displeased.
"Huh... No evil tasks or eternal slavery? I guess not all those old stories are true..."
He looked forlornly around his home before letting out a quiet sigh.
"I'll go, my time is done in this world... Maybe talking to you is enough to let me go... Might even find my wife..."
He smiled faintly and headed towards the portal, stopping just long enough to say one last thing.
"They weren't from this town... That much is sure".
With that said he disappeared, hopefully to peace.
 

daird

Edgesquire
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Rebecca waved him farewell- the blacksmith had never been what she'd call close with her, but he had treated her with respect. He deserved a goodbye, at the least. When he departed, though, the witch knew it was time to get to work.

She walked up to the guard barracks- most were on patrol, but there was still someone watching the place. "Excuse me, sir, but I have information regarding the murder a few days ago." That ought to get his attention.
 
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With his spirit gone into wherever such spirits went, she was left alone in the dark, vaguely musty building, and was quickly able to sneak out and to the barracks, where there was indeed a sleepy looking guard on lookout.
"Hey! What are you doing out past curfew..."
He demanded as she approached, before going silent, eyes seeming to bulge.
"Uhh... Okay that's a reason to be sure... So what do you know citizen?"
 

daird

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"They were wearing a cloak with a hood, so I didn't get a really good look at them. But the hood slipped for just a split second, and I was able to see that they had pointed ears, so it had to be an elf. I didn't come forward earlier because I was nervous and scared. If the killer knew that I knew something, they might come after me next. Eliminating witnesses and all that." Rebecca turned on all the charm she could muster, hoping that he wouldn't ask too many questions. Her lie would stand a brief glance, but the harder the guards looked, the more likely it was that she would be found out.
 
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The guard seemed to take it all in readily, with their distant demonic heritage, elves were often considered to be trouble, even friendly places would keep an eye on them.
"Heh... I knew it must be an elf... Bet I know the one too! They haven't taken that cloak off the whole time they've been here..."
He declared, before suddenly looking closer for a moment.
"You... Better keep quiet about being a witness... For your safety of course!"
There was no concern in his tone... Rather it was greed, he likely intended to collect the small bounty on information.
 

daird

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The guard's greed went completely over Rebecca's head. Sure, she'd seen people's love of money get the best of them, and once even had to get the guards to arrest a would-be thief, but you had to beat her over the head before she'd acknowledge anyone's less-than-honest intent. "You're right- it would be very risky for me to tell anyone else, at least until the killer is caught." She nodded as she departed- she'd given the guards important information, information that could well help send a killer to the gallows.
 
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After her tipoff it didn't take long for the guards to act, charging into an inn and emerging with a struggling elven woman held between them, shouting and trying to break free.
"I didn't do anything! Let me go you brutes!"
That voice belonged to the same robed woman who had purchased a high quality cloak from her.
"No use lying miss, we have evidence that the killer was an elf... And you're the only one in town!"
 

daird

Edgesquire
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Rebecca watched the spectacle with interest, as the elf was hauled out in chains. That was quick- surprisingly quick as a matter of fact. She went up to the guardsman she had informed, who was helping keep a gathering crowd out of the way. "Thank you for being so swift, good sir. None of us were safe with her on the loose."
 
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The guard grinned at what he assumed to be just a happy citizen praising him.
"Honestly we've been keeping all the strangers that were in town at the time of the murder under watch at that inn... Can't let suspects leave you know, only one of them was an elf, the others are all human, so the culprit is obvious, they even had weapons!"
He explained.
 

daird

Edgesquire
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Rebecca took a long look at the elf. She certainly didn't seem to be the type to be a murderess, but the witch figured that wasn't something one could tell just based on looks. Still, Rebecca had one last jibe at the accused. "You know, I should really be taking that cloak back."
 
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The elf turned to her voice with a look of subdued rage, removing the cloak and throwing it in her face.
"Greedy human pig... Take it, for whatever few coins it's worth to you..."
She spat, her slim body revealed.
"You are fortunate no one knows about you... But the detective will ask..."
It almost seemed like a threat?...
The guards soon pulled her away though.
"Heh, isn't she one of those Beautiful Ones or whatever they're called? The ones with the succubus blood?... Maybe we should 'try her out?...'"
One of the guards openly suggested, only to earn a laugh from his companion.
"I wouldn't recommend it! You never quite know what they have down there..."
After that bit of mockery they entered the town's small prison.
 

daird

Edgesquire
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A tiefling? Rebecca would have been forced to admit that she hadn't seen that one coming. From what little hearsay she had been able to pick up over the years, half-demons tended to have humans as the mortal parent. Then again, she didn't know much- demonology wasn't a subject one didn't talk about much in polite company, even more so than necromancy.

With the show heading into the guardhouse, Rebecca turned and headed for her shop-cum-hut, satisfied that she had done an exemplary deed. Justice served.
 
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It was later that day that a squad from a nearby city arrived, several elite soldiers led by her worst nightmare.... A church licensed mage, a witch hunter... Almost immediately they ruled that sorcery had been used at the scene of the crime, had they found Rebecca's work or something else? Either way, it was trouble, and she soon had the hunter strolling into her shop.

"What a... Rustic... Shop, quite unlike those at home..."
They declared, the glassy, false eyes of a mage who's powers had been 'tamed' by the church looked Rebecca over.
"I hear you are the one responsible for catching that taint blooded thing... I thought I might stop by and ask some questions of you".
It was clear by the tone of voice that this wasn't optional.
"My first question... How did you really know who it was? At the time of the murder the doors were locked and the windows covered... The only people with a clear view were the victim... And the killer".