Crime and Punishment

Crime and Punishment

A Chapter by Eddie Davis
"

Everyone gathers at the site of the murder, but are surprised at what is revealed.

"

41.

Crime and Punishment

 

  In no time a large group had gathered at the scene of the murder and stood around with cloths covering their mouths, looking at the dead Dwarf.  Thorm knelt close to the carnage, looking with repulsion at the bloody head.



“Well?”  Aurei asked after a long moment, forcing herself to breath through her mouth.

“It’s Shilis Olvensvarn; he was one of the two Dwarves who went crazy and started this whole thing.”   Thorm announced, getting to his feet.

“That is one of the criminals?”   Pectros verified, surprised.

“Yes, that’s him; or what be left of him.   Somethin’ else; his magic ring isn’t on him.”

Everyone in the attic looked at each other in puzzlement.

“Who would have killed him?   His brother, maybe?”   Eleazar asked.

“I don’t know.    Maybe if he was drunk enough.   But it looks like an animal ripped his throat out.   Not something a Dwarf would do, not even a drunken one.”

“Didn’t his brother also have a ring that did the same thing?”   Alis asked as she held her nose.

“Aye; maybe he wanted another.   Or maybe this one lost it and that’s why he killed ‘em.”

“It still doesn’t explain how they got up here.”   The Queen commented, from behind everyone.   Her stomach would not permit her to look upon the scene.

“The doors were locked.”  Zeatt assured everyone, “I have the only set of keys.”

“Locks can be picked.”   Alvis suggested.

“Yes, but there were just one set of footprints on the stairs when we came in, other than the ones I made days ago.   One fresh set of prints and marks like something dragged up the stairs.   The prints were going upstairs, but I didn’t see another pair going down.”  Zeatt stated.

“So he could still be in here?”   Aurei looked around nervously.

“I doubt it; there’s no place large enough for even a Dwarf to hide behind up here.”   Zeatt replied.

“How big were the footprints coming up the stairs?” Pectros asked and they all realized at the same moment that they hadn’t thought to check.

“They’re long gone now with all of us tracing up and down.”  Thorm sighed, “Dwarf feet aren’t really any smaller than human feet, maybe a wee bit, but not enough to know for sure.”

“I was thinking that we could have taken one of his boots and tried to match it up with one of the footprints, but it’s a moot point now.”

“But where is the other one then?”  Aurei asked.

“Gone, I’d wager.”   Alvis theorized, but continued, “I don’t think it was just an angry Dwarf that did this.   It may have been the other Dwarf, but if it was, he wasn’t just a Dwarf anymore.   This wasn’t a weapon that did this.   I’ve seen Vampire attacks that resemble this.”

 

“Vampire!”  Several of them exclaimed together.

“It looks like one.   It may explain a lot too.   How he got him up here, and how he escaped with the doors locked.   That broken shutter - a bat could have fit through it.”

“Yes, but even if the other Dwarf was a Vampire, how’d he get him through a locked door?”   Aurei argued.

“I don’t know, Duchess.   Maybe he loosened up a shutter downstairs, opened it up enough to carry him through and then sealed it up again.”

“But you said there were no other footprints on the bottom floor except those going directly from the front door up the stairs.”

Alvis shrugged, “I have no other theory, Aurei.   Magic could explain some of it.   A Passwall spell or a levitation enchantment, perhaps.”

“Well, we need to figure out what we are going to do now.”  Eleazar told them and was just about to make some suggestions when they heard footsteps coming quickly up the stairs and the voice of Al calling, “Hey!   Hey, come quickly; we think we found the other one!”

 

***

 

They raced out of the parsonage behind the guard, who led them to the front gate of the city.   It was usually open at this time of day, and they had opened it this morning to let farmers and merchants to come and go, though they were closely watching for anything strange.   

 

A group of guards surrounded a large, rather dilapidated wagon with an ancient horse pulling it.   The horse looked to be only minutes away from death, but stood there on somewhat wobbly legs, held back by the guards.   The gate guards had lowered the portcullis while the other guards held spears and pole-axes at something in the cart full of hay.  

 

As they approached, they could see that the guards had uncovered a long rectangular wooden box, partially hidden in the hay.

“Open it.” Aurei ordered as they all pointed weapons at it.  

 

With a creaking sound it opened, revealing it to be a make-shift human sized coffin that held a Dwarf body on top of a thin bed of soil.   The Dwarf had his hands folded over his chest and his eyes were closed, but his beard and clothes were stained with black blood.   Two small bite marks in his neck told them the rest.   

 

Holding the cross of Yesh inches away from his face, Zeatt waited while guards scrambled to craft a make-shift stake.  

“Is that the other one?”  Aurei asked Thorm in a whisper, though it was fully dawn now and the form in the coffin was totally immobile.

“That’s him.   Orto Olvensvarn, the oldest of the brothers.  It looks like he got hungry.”

“So he attacked his own brother.”   Alvis mumbled in disgust just as the guards ran up to them with sharpened sticks of wood and a mallet.

 

They all glanced at each other; none of them relishing to do the needed task.   Eleazar held out his hand somberly and they handed him the tools without a word.   As Zeatt held the holy symbol directly in the Vampire’s face,

 

Eleazar took a deep breath, positioned the stake quickly, then took another deep breath and hammered the stake in.

Thankfully, the Vampire didn’t scream or flinch at the action.  

Lute gestured everyone away and when they all were clear, he carefully brought his great axe down onto the Vampire’s neck, severing the head.    A few groans went up from the crowd, but all knew it had to be done.   The Half-Ogre pulled the Dwarf’s head up by his beard, causing several to gag at the sight. 

“Burn the body and the head- separately.”   Eleazar told the guardsmen and they made the old cart full of hay into the Vampire’s funeral pyre.   The old horse that had carried the Vampire and his coffin was gently led off into the ducal stables. 

Aurei and her friends turned and walked back toward the Muddy Boot.

“Ah, well!   Breakfast, anybody?”   Alis joked and they all gave a grim laugh at her wit.

Aurei turned to her Aunt, “So do you think he was a Vampire all along?   Maybe he had been bitten last winter when Westmark was attacked.”

Zeatt shook her head slowly, “Who knows, child.   It seems obvious that he was trying to escape.   He probably used some sort of charm on that old horse and ordered it to pull his coffin out of the city.   Maybe he was hoping there would be enough traffic in and out of town that no-one would notice a horse and cart without a driver.”

 

“It sure seems like a long shot to me.   We must have caused him to move in a hurry.   What if he had made it through the gate?   Where would the horse have taken him?   I wonder if he has any servants somewhere?”

“Possible.”  Eleazar answered, “But it does seem odd that he wouldn’t just make his brother a Vampire too.”

“Well, he may have turned into one if we’d not found him in the attic.”   Zeatt suggested.  

“Maybe,” Aurei looked troubled, “The whole thing still seems odd, though.”

She tried to brush it off and escorted the group into the Inn to clear their minds of the gruesome scene.

 

***

 

It took them a while to get the whole thing out of their minds, but after a few hours, they all filtered out of the Inn and went their separate ways to their various duties and responsibilities.  

The guards had taken the corpse outside of the city gates and burned it and Pectros brought the finish of the whole horrid tale to Aurei as she sat in the Muddy Boot trying to get caught up with the business of the Inn, as well as discharging her duties as Duchess.

 

 



© 2014 Eddie Davis


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"...or what be left of ‘em." I believe your wanting "'im," here. "'em" would refer to "them." You also did this in the next sentence, as well as "Or maybe this one lost it and that’s why he killed ‘em.”

Posted 10 Years Ago


Eddie Davis

10 Years Ago

Good eye, Elina, you are quite right. Isn't it odd how most Fantasy writers seem to give Dwarves a.. read more
Elina

10 Years Ago

Haha! It is, indeed, very interesting...and amusing.

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Added on February 6, 2014
Last Updated on April 21, 2014
Tags: Drow, Elf, Dwarf, murder, fantasy, Adventure, vampire, undead, Sword and Sorcery, romance

The Chronicles of Aurei Book 3: Bane of the Necromancers


Author

Eddie Davis
Eddie Davis

Springfield, MO



About
I'm a fantasy and science-fiction writer that enjoys sharing my tales with everyone. Three trilogies are offered here, all taking place in the same fantasy world of Synomenia. Other books and stor.. more..

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A Chapter by Eddie Davis


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A Chapter by Eddie Davis