The elf Ireniana Falfaren and the halfling Melissa Tarrsbourough were sorting their files and notes on prior investigations, when they head the cheers and screaming coming from outside of their office.
After Putting on their coats and their hats, they walked outside to see hundreds of people flooding the streets of Mauertain‘s dock ward.
“The entire city populous must be out on this very street,” Melissa commented.
She and Falfaren quickly made their way through the crowd, while saying hello to the townspeople they were familiar with. Children were throwing flowers and confetti to the stage.
Once they reached the front of the crowd, they spotted a burly ork trying to control the crowd. Recognizing the chain armor he wore over his body, Falfaren walked forward. “Quite a spectacle you have here Graymood.”
Lieutenant Graymood Danrys turned to greet Falfaren and Melissa with a wide smile. “Yes, the queen and Marshall Armarose have all of the guard on crowd control.”
Falfaren commented, referring to the tooth that the ork chipped moments before they had arrived. “Judging by your jaw, crowd control does not look easy. Where is Captain Nestor?”
Graymood looked to the front of the crowd. “He is up there standing with the priest Raulo, and Lady Selene.”
Melissa and Falfaren turned to each other with confused looks. The halfling asked as someone pushed past her. “Who is this Selene? Is she anyone special?”
The ork’s yellow eyes widened in astonishment at the question. “I know you both have lived in this city for less than a year, but you must know of Selene Montabelmont. She is one of the most honored bards to come from this city.”
Falfaren held up a finger, remembering the name. “She was a stage performer, but I heard she was killed in battle several years ago.”
“She did die Miss Falfaren, but the church brought her back from the dead.”
Melissa shrugged her shoulders,” The church has brought back people before. Is there any special reason why they are holding a ceremony?”
The ork let out a grunt as he felt an elbow push into his back. “Selene lived in Mauertain for many years before her death and brought a renewed interest in the arts. She has decided to perform a series of shows at the Beresford Theater down the street.”
“That sounds exciting,” Falfaren said, staring up at the beautiful blond haired actress. She then turned her attention to Captain Nestor Rogers, then at Raulo the priest.
“Nestor seems to be enjoying himself,” the elf remarked as she watched him speak to the actress.
“He is a lucky bastard,” Graymood said with a hint of jealousy in his voice. “Many would give their right hand to be up there with Selene, myself included. I have been a fan of her work since I was a boy.”
Both Falfaren and Melissa stared at the ork when he added,” My father is a playwright back home and she and her companions served as basis for many of my father‘s protagonists, including Abaraxs the holy and Minerva the swift, both of whom were based on Selene‘s companions.”
Falfaren smirked at the ork’s comment and looked back up at the stage where Selene took a bow. She wondered if she would get a chance to cross paths with the Selene.
Just as she was about to leave, Falfaren was approached by Agatha Haracade, the baker who lived down the street from the office.
“Miss Falfaren, could you and Miss Tarrsburough, come to my bakery, I fear that someone has been killed.”
Falfaren and Melissa quickly followed Agatha to her bakery. “What exactly happened Agatha?”
Agatha took a deep breath and said,” When I entered the bakery, I found everything on the floor and Claudis was missing”
“Claudis, as in Claudis the fruit vendor?” asked Melissa.
“The same one,” Agatha replied when they reached the bakery. “He has been helping me count my inventory and cleaning the bakery.”
Falfaren walked to the oppisite side of the room and examined the two tables. “And how do you know that Claudis was murdered? Could it be he decided to ransack the bakery after closing?”
“That is what I thought when I came back and found this mess, but when I went to his home, I was unable to find him.”
Melissa listened to the baker’s words as she walked across the kitchen and opened a small closet. She stepped back as the body of a young man was folded in the closet, his lifeless eyes open.
The halfling examined the pale skin on the corpse. “I think I may have found Claudis.”
The baker walked over and jumped back when she saw the young man. “Poor, poor Claudis.”
Melissa looked at Falfaren. “This is cold. I mean he’s dead so of course he‘s cold, but I mean he is frozen to the touch.”
Falfaren came over and looked at the body. “It looks like his body was frozen. Yet there is no evidence of ice in the closet or the floor.”
Melissa shook her head as she looked at the floor. “What’s that on the floor?”
Falfaren bent down, staring at a light green residue. “This feels plant-like and a little bit damp.”
The baker nodded while Falfaren stood back up and helped Melissa pulled the body out of the cupboard. Both the elf and the halfling looked over the body until Falfaren unbuttoned the man’s shirt and looked at his stomach. “There is a scar on the belly but it is old.”
Melissa turned to Agatha and asked,” Aside from the murder, is there anything that is missing?”
The baker nodded and pointed to the empty pantry. “That is where I keep the apples I use for my pastries, and I can not find them anywhere.”
As Falfaren and Melissa looked down at the body, both Nestor and Graymood arrived at the bakery. “Good afternoon gentlemen, I‘m surprised you were able to show up this quick.”
The captain bit his lip and looked at the body. “So what do we have here?”
Falfaren refocused her attention to the scene,” According to Agatha, Claudis the fruit vendor who would help her in the evenings. Melissa found his body in her closet and I found what I think are traces of plant on the floor.”
Graymood bent down and touched the residue. “This could be dry scalp.”
Falfaren ignored the ork’s statement,“ We think he was killed last night. So has Lady Selene set a date for her first performance?”
Nestor handed her two tickets. “Actually I picked up tickets for you and Melissa for tonight’s performance.”
Falfaren smiled as she took the tickets. “We will be putting these tickets to use, after we look into this murder a little longer.”
The lanterns were hanging throughout the theater’s main auditorium, as Falfaren and Melissa sat quietly at the front row, staring up at the large stage along with the hundreds of other audience members.
They were both focused on Selene, who despite looking a little bit pale, was singing in a soprano voice.
Melissa commented. “I have to admit that this is most interesting performance I have seen from this play. As she continued to sing, a thin flame danced in the air, causing the audience to clap in awe.
The elf looked past Selene and saw a bald tan skinned man in royal blue robes standing behind the curtain. “That gentlemen behind the curtain, I think I recognize him from the celebration. Brother Raulo.”
Falfaren looked down at the tickets and then back at Selene, whose singing caused the flames to dance in the air. “Melissa, are you feeling up to talking to a famous actress?”
The elf looked at her companion, who continued to be focused on the performance. The lack of a vocal answer told Falfaren that Melissa was more than eager to talk to the beautiful woman on stage.
After the show, Falfaren and Melissa were scooted to Selene’s dressing room by a large bouncer. They found the actress wearing a simple white shirt and leather pants, hunched over a table while looking over maps.
Once she noticed her guests, the actress dismissed the bouncer and greeted both newcomers in her quiet soothing voice. “You must be Ireniana and Melissa. It has been years since I have been in this place and I am still finding treasures from my past. Nestor told me about the both of you and said that you would make it to the show.”
Falfaren shook her hand. “I am glad that he and Graymood told us to come. Both Melissa and I agree that you put on an impressive performance.”
The actress smiled as she shook Melissa’s hand. “Thank you both. I have to admit that being onstage comes natural, even after being dead for so long.”
Melissa tilted her chin. “How long were you dead? If the discussion is too hard, you do not have to answer-”
Selene said as she rolled up the maps. “No it’s quite all right. Ten years ago, my friends and I were fighting a group of demons inside of some ruins, and I sacrificed myself to make sure they would make it out safely.”
The actress walked to her dresser and picked up a tart and took a bite. “After I had died, the goddess Serendipity assured me that I would be brought back to life. I was brought back to life by Brother Raulo, a kind priest and a servant of the gods.”
Melissa looked up at the actress and asked,” Do you have any family to keep in contact with, or any friends you can talk to?”
“I know from Raulo that all of my family have died. I have been trying to correspond with some of my old companions, but it has not been easy. To tell you the truth, I have trouble recognizing many things, including people and places. I probably would not recognize my closest friends, at least not at the first glance.”
As the actress finished, the priest from behind the curtain entered. “Good evening ladies, I trust you are well acquainted.”
Selene smiled and presented the priest. “This is Raulo DeMarco of the church of the Claymore. Raulo this is Ireniana Falfaren and Melissa Tarrsburough.”
Falfaren and Melissa both offered a bow. Raulo straightened his blood red robes and smiled back,” Pleased to meet you both. Selene, we must get going as we have prepared a bed for you at the temple.”
Selene looked at her new friends. “As you could probably tell, I have come down with a sort of sickness, I must be going, it was wonderful to meet you both.”
“Our pleasure Miss Selene,” Melissa said before she and Falfaren left the room.
As they walked down the hall and passed painting of a gray scaled dragon, the halfling looked up at her companion and asked,” You seem at a loss for words.”
Falfaren raised an eyebrow as she looked back at the dressing room. “She is a woman out of her own time, and that priest. There is something about him.”
“You never trust priests,” Melissa said as they left the theater.
Falfaren shook her head. “That is not what I meant. Although it is just worries me that Selene would have to stay at the temple. Does she even have a home?”
Melissa said as they walked back to their office. “I would say that the theater is her home.”
Two more days had passed when, Falfaren and Melissa were walking down the street when they saw Graymood walking towards them. Behind him was a middle aged man with long gray hair in a pony tail. The detective noticed the weary look in the ork’s eyes as he introduced the man.
“His name is Byron Trampas from the town of Feltin Hills about six miles away,” the ork said after a deep breath.
Falfaren looked over Byron’s ordinary clothes. “Mister Byron, what brings you to our city?”
Byron took a bow and said,” I was one of Selene’s companions years ago. In fact I was the last of her friends out of the ruins when she had died.”
“How did you come to learn that Selene was resurrected?” asked Melissa.
“I had received a letter from Selene yesterday. After getting the letter, I spoke with my family and they allowed me to travel to Mauertain and return in a couple of days.”
Graymood looked back to Falfaren and pointed to the East,” Not to be rude, but Nestor told me to look for you. The jewelry store has been robbed and a body has been found.”
Falfaren shook her head. “Is there any connection to the fruit vendor?”
Graymood answered. “Not necessarily Miss Falfaren. While the fruit vendor appeared to be frozen, this body looks like it was burned.”
Falfaren and Melissa entered the jewelry shop where Nestor greeted them with a wave. The captain quickly brought them over to the body of a slender gnome with a thin mustache.
Nestor circled the corpse. “Jiles Fillismoore just moved here not that long ago. His body and clothes appear to be covered in burns, but there really seems to be no sign of a fire.”
The captain looked at Falfaren as she stared at the body. “Is something wrong Miss Falfaren?”
Falfaren looked at Nestor. ”Do you have any idea how long the body has been burned?”
Nestor looked down at the gnome as Melissa examined the area around the corpse. “At least more than three hours. Do you have any theories?”
Falfaren bent down and looked at the gnome. “There does not seem to be any sign of fire around him. In fact, there are small droplets of liquid a few inches away. I would say this has to have been by magic, just like the body back at the bakery.”
Melissa pointed to the droplets. “These could be remnants of reagents wizards use for spells.”
“Or a bard,” Falfaren added. “Selene was able to create fire out of thin air while she sang.”
Nestor and Melissa looked at the elf with skeptical expressions. The captain folded his arms and asked,“ Are you trying to convince me that Selene did this?”
Falfaren stared at Nestor. “Because the nature of the fire and the time when this murder happened. Could she at least provide an alibi?”
Nestor shook his head. “I am sure she could Ireniana. We can go speak to her at the temple.”
Melissa grabbed Nestor’s arm. “She is staying at the temple?”
The captain nodded and said,” She has been saying that the priests have been telling her that she is experiencing some side effects from the resurrection. In fact they are not sure that she will survive the end of the week.”
Falfaren was the first to reach the temple, followed by Nestor and Melissa. The temple guards quickly allowed them entrance. As they walked through the lobby, they entered a small room where Selene and Byron were sitting and drinking wine while priests and acolytes watched silently from the back of the room.
Upon seeing the captain and the two detectives, Selene stood up and smiled. “Miss Falfaren, Miss Melissa, and Captain. I was just sharing stories with my old friend Byron Trampas.”
Byron smiled at all of them. “We have met before. I was just finishing this glass of wine and telling Selene about how much her sacrifice meant to me and the others.”
“Where are you staying Byron?” asked Selene.
Byron straightened his overcoat. “Just at the Bronze Scale Inn. I can find my own way back.”
Selene sat back down. “He is a good man, and it is nice to hear that he has settled down. He was just telling me how he named his daughter after me.”
Falfaren walked over to Selene, her nose picking up the faint scent of wine. “That is Delnair wine, not bad, although I prefer the beer myself.”
Selene stared at Nestor with loving affection. “It does the trick and thank you again for the bottle captain.”
Falfaren’s lips parted in a smirk as she watched Nestor blush. She turned back to Selene and asked,” We had just gotten back from an investigation and we were wondering if you could tell us where you were last night.”
The actress was taken back by the elf’s words. “Miss Falfaren, are you accusing me of a crime?”
Melissa stepped next to Falfaren. “Actually, we are accusing you of a murder Miss Selene. When we looked at the body, it appeared to have been burned by a magical fire, and we remember from your show that you used fire.”
“They are just making sure that you can be placed during the time of the murder, which took place during the time of the show,” Nestor said, hoping his voice would calm her down.
Selene looked back and forth. “If you must know, I was sharing correspondence with Byron. He is a very talented wizard. He was explaining to me about some of our friends. Like Hilda, who died of sickness two years ago, and Abraxs, who had mysteriously disappeared in his tower in the Western Fell.”
Falfaren looked at Melissa and Nestor. “Maybe we were wrong to look at Selene.”
The actress rose from her seat once more. “Surely you are not suggesting that Byron is committing the crimes. He is a good man. He would not kill those people or steal the jewels.”
“We did not mention about anything about being stolen,” Melissa remarked.
“Selene, when are you planning next to meet Byron?” asked Falfaren.
“Tomorrow at my show. You can not be serious. Nestor, please convince your friends that they are going after the wrong person. Excuse me, but I must get my rest for tomorrow, so I think it is time that you all left.”
The captain turned to Falfaren and said,” Ireniana, I hope you are wrong about this.”
Falfaren titled her fedora and watched Selene leave for her chambers.
Falfaren and Melissa spent the morning making notes from the murder scenes, and the afternoon in their office, planning on how to confront Byron. An hour before they were leaving for Selene’s play, Graymood came to the office and informed them that the performance had been called off due to Selene missing.
Falfaren and Melissa followed the lieutenant to the theater where they found Nestor talking with a couple of officers..
“I am glad I found you both,” the captain began after he told two officers to search behind the curtain.
“What is wrong captain?” asked Falfaren.
Nestor stepped towards her. “Apparently Byron is missing from his room at the Bronze Scale.”
As Melissa and Falfaren wore confused looks, he continued with a sigh,” The men who were suppose to watch Byron reported that he went into his room, but did not come out.”
“How do they know that he is not still back in his room captain?” Melissa asked.
“Because when housekeeping went into his room, they reported him missing and his clothes gone,” replied the captain.
Falfaren scanned the area of the stage. “Perhaps Selene met with Byron and said that we would be waiting for him.”
A second before the captain could answer, Graymood stepped from behind the stage and pulled down a stiff form wrapped tightly in a curtain.
“Or perhaps she killed him,” Falfaren remarked as she, Melissa, and Nestor made their way over to Graymood.
Nestor bent down to remove the curtain, but his partner grabbed his hand.
Graymood traced his hand over the corpse. “I would not remove the curtain captain. When we came across his body, it was not a pretty sight.”
Falfaren eyed the form the twisted form the body was in. “Can you at least tell us what happened?”
The ork shivered. “We found him covered in head to toe from blood, but underneath the blood were several bruises. I think he may have been beaten to death by some sort of object, like a hammer, but we have not been able to find it.”
Melissa asked Graymood. “Have you been able to locate Selene?”
Falfaren touched Melissa’s shoulder and said,” We should check the dressing room. Sorry gentlemen, the dressing room is for ladies only.”
Melissa and Falfaren began searching through the dressing room. “Do you know what exactly what we are looking for?”
Falfaren tossed a couple of silk shirts around before she noticed she found a large piece of wood behind the dresser. She placed it on the floor and stared at it. “It appears to be a painting of her old adventuring group.”
Melissa stared at the painting with her partner, her eyes looking at each of the faces. “Selene did say that she kept finding things in this dressing room that reminded her of her past life.”
Falfaren continued to stare at the painting. She must have known it was here. Now if you look at this painting.”
She stopped as Graymood came into the room and shouted,” We found Selene, the guards have her trapped at the grocery store.”
When they arrived on the scene, a young blond bearded dwarf approached them. “A couple of men saw her try to sneak in. We have her surrounded, and the captain went inside.”
Falfaren and Melissa waited until they saw Nestor walked out with Selene, arm in arm. Rather than being dressed in a beautiful gown, the actress wore a dark brown tunic with a hood over her head.
Selene bit her lip as she squeezed Nestor’s arm and looked at Falfaren. “I did not kill Byron.”
Falfaren removed the actress’ hood. “I know you did not kill him, just like I know that you did not steal the jewelry.”
Nestor walked over to Falfaren and Selene “Were you able to find something in the dressing room?”
Falfaren looked at the captain with determination in her eyes. “I did captain, and I know who did this. If you could please follow me to the Beresford Thearter.”
Everyone arrived at the theater as Falfaren stood on the stage underneath a light that illuminated the entire stage.
Falfaren smiled as she looked down at the audiance. “I have to admit that this is my first time taking the stage.”
Falfaren held her hand up and looked back at the entrance as Brother Raulo walked towards the stage. “Now we can begin. “Tonight, we had the death of a wizard, and Selene missing from the theater. We found her returning to the jewelry store where a body was found yesterday. A couple of days before that Claudis the fruit vendor was found dead at the bakery.
The elf walked towards the left edge of the stage. “Both of these murders happened a couple of days after Selene was brought back to life. Did Selene commit these crimes? After all, the tarts she had in her dressing room and she did know about the missing jewelry.“
Falfaren quickly walked to the other side of the stage and continued,“ Or was this a part of a sickness from the resurrection? After all the priests, Brother Raulo in particular suggested she stay at the temple to be healed.”
Raulo stood there for a moment then sat down as Melissa brought out the painting and said,” That may explain the first two murders, but what about Byron? Why would Selene kill one of her oldest friends. A man who named his daughter after her.”
Melissa handed Falfaren the painting. The elf smiled and said,“ I found this painting in Selene’s dressing room it is of her and her companions during their adventuring days. In the painting is a replica of the necklace Selene was trying to bring back, the same necklace that was stolen the night the jeweler was murdered.”
“So Selene could be the murderer because the necklace reminded her of the one she had,” Graymood commented.
Falfaren shook her head and said,” Or it could be However, it was Graymood who pointed it out to me that Byron’s body was covered in what you said were dents, something from a silver hammer spell. A spell that a priest would know. Brother Raulo, or should I say, Brother Abaraxs.”
Raulo stood up and looked at everyone. “I do not understand. I was the one who found Byron‘s body and reported it to the ork. How could I have possibly killed him?”
Falfaren asked. “That is simple brother. After he left the temple, you followed him, killed him and brought his body to the theater. You used as much magic as you could to make it seem like Selene used her own magic. Just like you were using magic to kill the others, and magic to make Selene to think she was suffering from a sickness from her resurrection.
Nestor looked at Raulo, then turned to Falfaren. “I suppose with the first two murders, the victims were there as he was committing burglary. Why would he go after Byron?”
Falfaren held her finger up. “Selene mentioned that she had trouble remembering some thing fom her past. After I looked at this painting, I immediately recognized Raulo’s face on one of the men. Abaraxs had hidden the painting to make sure that Selene did not instantly recognize him. He killed Byron because he would have recognized him right away.”
Turning her attention to the priest, Falfaren added,” You brought back Selene from the dead because you still loved her and you hoped that by your deeds she would stay with you.”
Raulo looked at Selene with sadness in his eyes. “The apples and the jewelry were meant as gifts. I was hoping that you would love me in turn. Once you figured it you, I was hoping we would run away together.”
Selene looked at her old friend and shook her head. “Abaraxs, I do not know what to say, but you had no right to take the lives of innocents, or the life of our friend.”
It was at that moment when Graymood rose from his seat and stood behind the priest. “Brother Raulo or Abaraxs, or whoever you are, you are under arrest. Please follow me to the prison where you will be taken for questioning.”
Abaraxs sighed as Graymood placed shackles around his arms. He gave Selene a look of sadness before the lieutenant took him away.
The actress embraced both the elf and the halfling. “Thank you both. I am not sure how to repay you.”
“You are welcome and if it helps, Nestor will be the one who is paying us,” said Falfaren, who was surprised at the strength in the actress’ hug.
“You both can go to the barracks and receive your payment in the morning,” the captain remarked.
Selene walked back to Nestor’s side and said,“ I would like take Byron’s body back to his family and tell them what happened.
Nestor looked at her and said,” I can go with you.”
Selene smiled and hugged the captain once more. “I would like that a lot Captain Nestor.”
Falfaren and Melissa watched the two walk out of the auditorium. The halfling sighed as she looked back at the stage. “I have to admit, I rather enjoyed being on stage.”
Falfaren nodded. “As did I Melissa. Perhaps Selene will write a play about our exploits.”
Melissa let out a laugh. “A play about Ireniana Falfaren? I do not think anyone would come to see that.”
Falfaren remarked. “I would come and see it. Just as long as the part of Ireniana Falfaren is not being played by a man.”