Chapter 3:

Devil's in the Details

Charon's Legacy: The Clockwork Oracle

Going above and beyond all expectations—though that in itself is, paradoxically, nothing remotely unexpected from this man.

Well, now that the Oracle had blessed Charon with its knowledge, he thought it time he got to putting it to use—though rather, there were two fronts for him to start investigating. On one side, of course, the attendants—Isaac would be back with the first suspect soon enough. Until then, though, it would be wise to get a grasp of just what kind of artifacts could be at play here. If one were to extrapolate based on the Sword and the Oracle Savio had already become acquainted with, it would be safe to assume all the other curious would not contain an ounce of common sense anywhere within them.

“Excuse me,” Savio asked a young woman who seemed to be a member of staff, “could you direct me to where the rest of Lord Charon’s curious are? I would really appreciate the chance to take a good look at them.”

“I-I’m afraid that might not be possible, sir, we can’t let just anyone go around and possibly disturb important evidence. I’m sure Lord Charon’s puzzle can be solved within this space…”

“Hmm. Well, you may be right, young lady—still, given that a murderer may likely be among us, if they wanted to disturb evidence they probably already did so. And regardless, I would of course have no problem with staff escorting me if that would solve the issue.”

“That sounds reasonable enough of a compromise then. We do want justice to fall on whoever murdered our Lord, so if you don’t mind me going along with you, we will gladly assist you in your investigation.”

Content with how smoothly the negotiations with the staff had gone, Savio was led through the spacious hallways towards another room—a studio, probably Lord Charon’s, minuscule in comparison to the hall they’d just come from. Still, it was covered from floor to ceiling with all kinds of artifacts, though as Savio quickly found out, most of them weren’t particularly impressive or awe-inspiring, which is why they wouldn’t be neatly presented in the main hall for this event.

Some did call his attention though—a children’s story that would translate itself to any number of dead languages, a bottle of liquor that would pour itself when you were about to finish your glass…

Behind Charon’s desk, which was filled to the brim with paperwork and even more tiny curios, was a small safe—and just upon laying eyes on it, Savio’s mind started racing. It was, after all, left open.

Had the killer wanted to steal whatever was inside? The urge to look was too strong to contain, and the detective jumped at the chance to examine it a fraction of a second after getting his escort’s approval.

Upon opening it though, he found it wasn’t empty.

A half-empty minuscule bottle lay atop a label similar to those used in the main hall’s exposition items—perhaps this was intended to be displayed during the event?

The label read as follows:

The Ale of Resurgence.

A miraculous potion that will bring its user back to life should they meet an untimely demise—though the means through which this will come to pass are unknown, for no-one’s tried the potion before.

Savio simply stared at the label for a good minute—could this imply that Lord Charon was still alive? The half-empty bottle would make one think so—though what was left was probably more than half of the bottle’s full capacity, and it barely looked enough for one sip, so he couldn’t be sure it had been used before.

Carefully putting the bottle back in its place and making sure to close the safe to prevent anyone tampering with its contents, Savio Alves continued methodically examining Charon’s study, though it wasn’t long before he let out an exasperated sigh upon being interrupted.

“Mr. Alves, two men have come looking for you. Isaac and Mars, I believe.”

“Oh, yes. I guess I was waiting for them. Let them in if you don’t mind, I have some questioning to do.”

“As you wish.”

Isaac and Suspect Number One, full name Mars Hendrickson, were now in front of Savio’s questioning gaze.

“Well then, Mr. Hendrickson, I assume Mr. Wildthorne here has told you why I called?”

“Yes, of course. You need to check my alibi for your investigation.”

“That is correct. I would like to ask you what you were doing about a week ago, if you don’t mind.”

“A week ago? But I thought the murder was just discovered today?”

“Well, you see, the body shows signs of having been dead for a lot longer than just a few hours, and the latest point of time in which we can be sure Charon was alive is when he sent the invitation letters for this event. Which was, coincidentally, about a week ago according to my own invitation. Therefore, it’s only natural that I’d put focus my questioning on the time immediately after that.”

“I see… yeah, that would make sense. Well, I have nothing to hide—as I’m sure my family can tell you, I was in a work trip for most of the past two weeks, and only arrived three days ago, so I believe you would have no problem proving my alibi.”

“Surely, that’s pretty conclusive. Might I ask where you went for your business trip?”

“That would be to the Netherlands. Not a distance short enough to make a round trip to on the daily.”

“Yeah, certainly. So when is it that you received your invitation for this event if you were away around the time they arrived?”

“I found it on my mailbox two days ago when I finally was able to check it. It came as a bit of a short notice, but obviously there’s no way Lord Charon would have known to find me at an address in the Netherlands. And this event was far too intriguing to pass on. Very sad to see that something so horrible could happen…”

“Yeah, it really is a shock. Thank you for your time, Mr. Hendrickson, you’ve made your innocence crystal clear.”

“It’s my pleasure, Mr. Alves—ah, be careful!”

Mars called out to Savio before he could shake his hand, startling both Savio and Isaac, who’d been standing silently by Mars’s side. It didn’t require a detective to figure out the reason for the warning, though—looking down at his hand, Savio saw that a paper cut he hadn’t noticed until now had caused his palm to bleed a decent bit.

The staff lady, embarrassed that she hadn’t noticed earlier, quickly went to find some bandages, and the three men walked out of the deceased lord’s study.

“That didn’t give us much useful information, I’d say. I suppose the interrogations must continue…”

“You would be correct, Isaac, there’s still some questioning to do. However, any information, no matter how meaningless it may seem, can turn out to be essential later on.”

It didn’t take long for them to reach the exposition hall again, with Savio summarizing his findings to Isaac meanwhile. However, the second they crossed that door—

“Mr. Alves! The head has been found!”

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