Gilded Blue Theft Part Eight

Chapter 7: The Stink of the Case, and the Sinister Cook

“I was getting a bit worried about Oranna, I had finished my questionings a while ago, but she hadn’t re-appeared. I decided that it was best not to worry about her though, she could take care of herself, and I needed to think about the case, and Golds seemed to be letting me stew in his office. Gingerbread shouldn’t be stewed, but I was coping fine, really.

As I thought from the start, the whole case stank. Especially now that I knew where a lot of the suspects where supposed to be on the night of the theft and what happened then. It was a regular enough day same as always, everyone going about doing their business, business in the case of some of them being fooling about doing nothing.

The evening meal had gone on as usual for Golds’ family, everyone stuffing their faces, then things turned nasty when inheritance came up, seemed mostly everyone was sure that Gilgamush Goldie was going to be the heir, so everyone was wondering how everyone else would fare after Golds’ death, seems that he didn’t much like that line of conversation and things spiralled out from there. Nobody could remember who started it, but Dalbert, Gail and Golbassy were the main names that came up.

So, mostly everyone split off to stay away from each other as a result there wasn’t many people that had an alibi. But that wasn’t as much of a problem as it seemed. If nobody was lying about where they were, it would have been very hard for the thief to have gone past them to the ungilded room and if Dalbert wasn’t lying the thief likely entered the room after he did.

Then when Dalbert discovered the thief, he ended up alerting a lot of the rest of the mansion by accidentally making a lot of noise. The thief left through the balcony. A lot of the suspects then converged on the crime-scene. What interested me though was that several of the suspects left at this point, which was important if I was following the possibility of the key being taken to cast suspicion on Golds’ kids.

Serelotte left to get Golds.

Golbassy left to get servants.

Gail left to get her other relatives.

Gilgamush left to search for the thief, Gordon also did this but he arrived after Gilgamush had left.

Those who knew about the theft were suspects for concealing the key.

Golds had the mansion searched, but nothing was found, other than the fact that the key to the cabinet that the jewel had been in was missing. While the search was going on was too late for one of the children to take the key, as Golds confined them in the dining room after it had been searched. Only Serelotte, Dalbert and Dalbert’s wife, Kyat, had the freedom of movement to do something.

There was a problem of motivations for a number of possibilities.

Most of the children believed that one of their number stole the jewel as a prank, but was now afraid to admit to it, but if that was the case, why wasn’t the jewel planted in someone’s room?

The possibility that I was following was that a master thief came into the mansion from outside, took the jewel and left not using the jewel once for some reason. Then someone took the chance to take the key to throw suspicion on the children for some other reason. That reason could have been something to do with the inheritance row. I didn’t get the feeling that the action was planned, there would have been a better frame job done if that was the case. It was likely that the framer wanted one of the children implicated, and thus impact how Golds thought of the child. The most likely targets were kids who were in favour or those out of favour.

Motives and proof were the two big problems I had. Well that and the fact that Golds wanted me to find the thief among his children, which wasn’t going to happen if the thief wasn’t one of them.

I didn’t have anymore time to worry about it though, as I heard a knock on the door”

Indeed Tough Snaps did hear a knock, and the door opened promptly after the knock. It was not Oranna, but a snowman. The snowman had a golden cap with a shiny black visor, his branches were gilded, and had fine gloves on the ends of them. His nose was a very fresh piece of mined orange, and his eyes were two bits of charcoal. His mouth was a scooped out canyon in his head.

Snowmen were generally pretty common in Elcon, it was hard to make a snowman and it not come to life, though it took a particular quirk to be able to make snowmen that could actually think or ones that weren’t particularly murderous. In the rare occasions that war has managed to happen in Elcon it wasn’t uncommon to get the soldiers to make snowmen and then hide from the results, hoping that the enemy would get got. The the other side often did this too, which usually just meant both sides waiting until the snowmen stumbled over one side.

“Mister Snaps I presume”

“I told the snowman he was right, and asked him what he wanted”

The snowman didn’t have eyelids to bat at Tough Snaps’ speech problem, but it didn’t seem to have any reaction to it regardless.

“The master would have you join him and the family for the evening meal, he says that he’ll receive your results after the meal”

“I didn’t have much choice, so I accepted, hoping Oranna would get back to me before I had to give some kind of conclusion to Golds”

* * * * *

Meanwhile, Oranna was unceremoniously dumped on the floor of a dimly lit kitchen. She could see numerous cauldrons and ovens, and above these dark shapes hung all around the room, some she could see were various cooking-utensils, knives and so on, but others she didn’t want to think about too much.

What really drew her attention however was the sinister figure presiding over this gloomy abattoir. A thin figure and where its head was, a multitude of arms.

“I got another one for you, Miss Flaya” Wrute Pushpaw said.

“Wonderful! Wonderful!” cried the creature.

Wrute looked around the kitchen.

Oranna didn’t dare say a word, instead she was quietly worming her way to what she thought was the door.

“Uhh, Miss Flaya, you do know the lights have gone again?”

“Ah, really I didn’t notice, be a dear and get them would you Wrute”

“I’m a bear, not a deer” Wrute muttered as he stomped away from Oranna.

He started beating on something and Oranna took this chance to rush at the door, she had some difficulty finding the doorhandle but she managed to pull it open just as the lights came back on.

Oranna found herself pulled back from the blazing oven she had just opened and nearly jumped into.

The voice of the many handed creature came to her.

“No no no, that won’t do at all, I couldn’t allow myself to cook such a scrawny ill-prepared thing!”


Then she internally screamed as the creature turned her around to face itself.

It was one of the handlers. Handlers are denizens of elcon that have instead of a head a collection of hands, these hands however are actually made from hair, which grows from the neck of the handler.

Hidden in its hair is a rather large and worrying mouth. The hair comes in many colours. Their bodies are quite odd, being all tail, but being quite flat, they often curl their scaly bodies such that they look like a dress a coat or a robe. Unlike the thinking rocks of Elcon which see in spite of having no eyes, handlers ‘see’ by sensing things with their hair and tasting the air with their trident shaped tongue. Supposedly they have a good sense of smell too, but it isn’t clear if they have a nose or even nose-slits.

Handlers are known for roaming in packs and eating anything they come across. They have quite the scary reputation, and being a creature with many hands and arms, being a pain to fight.

“Oh, frightened are we my little morsel?” The handler asked.

Oranna tried not to nod.

“Well, you don’t need to be, we handlers only eat what we kill, and we only kill things that attack us so you’ll be fine if you don’t attack me” The handler said.

Oranna being sharp made a few connections and then blurted her reasoning out.

“Wait does that mean your kind’s reputation is because people attack you because they think you’ll kill and eat them, and because of them attacking you kill and eat them?”

Tir Flaya parted her hand hair and gave Oranna a toothy smile.

“Quite so my dear, It really is unfortunate, but we can’t help but kill and eat those that attack, why our kind completely lose our senses and next thing we know we’ve eaten a whole village it really is most distressing. Part of why I like this job, I don’t end up eating people.”

Oranna looked back and forth between Tir and Wrute.

“You mean you aren’t going to cook me?”

Tir looked angrily at Wrute, hairhands waving with agitation.

“Did you not tell her what I needed her for? For that matter who is she, clearly not one of the servants here! There is never any meat cooked in this place, one of the reasons I don’t like this job!”

Wrute muttered some half-hearted excuses.

“I’m Oranna, I’m here with Tough Snaps an Investigator about the theft of the genie jewel” Oranna explained.

“Ah, terrible business that, some pranks go too far I tell you, Ah! Sorry how rude of me, I am Tir, of the the Flaya clan” Tir said.

“So, if I’m not going to be cooked, what am I here for?” Oranna questioned.

“Well, all of my apprentice cooks have come down with something rather nasty after one of them fed all of them one of her experimental cakes, honestly they should have known better than to eat something unfamiliar that was able to look back at them! So, I’ve had to round up some of the other servants so as I have a few more hands for tonight’s meal!” Tir explained.

“Uh, will the meal turn out all right with unskilled hands?” Oranna wondered.

Tir revealed another worrying smile.

“My instruction is wondrous!”

Then Tir began barking commands harshly. Oranna found her body moving on its own, and she lost full consciousness.

When she came to, she was standing against a wall in a maid’s dress in a vast dining hall filled with shewpogs seated before a table covered with all kind of vegetable, nut and fungus dishes. There was one person seated that was not a shewpog.

It was Tough Snaps, who waved sheepishly at her. She was going to wave back, but a stern looking suited owl stared her down.

So Oranna was just left wondering at the hygiene of a cook who’s hands were hair.

Author: SnowyMystic