Chapter 6:

Revelations

Charon's Legacy: The Clockwork Oracle


With the assistance of the somewhat confused staff of the manor, Savio quickly had everyone in the building rounded up, gathered at the same place the sword had been discovered not long before.


For once in his life, he struggled to maintain his poker face. The excitement and satisfaction of figuring everything out was one thing, but the idea of solving his own murder post-mortem, thereby outplaying the one who took his life, was a greater feeling than any he had had before. In truth, he was practically giddy. 


“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m sure by now you’ve guessed my reason for gathering you in this place.” He paced in front of them as he spoke, barely containing his excitement. “The murder of Lord Charon has come as a shock to us all, but it is here and now that I declare this with certainty: his killer will swiftly be served the justice he deserves. I say, this of course,” he paused, as he dramatically turned on his heel, looking directly into the relatively large gathering before him, “because I know who the culprit is.”


Unsurprisingly, the crowd broke out into loud chatter. Some looked relieved, some looked skeptical, but many simply seemed confused. If Savio knew who the killer was, why would he summon them all here? The area was far from secure, there were entrances and exits one could escape through. Not to mention the weapon of the lord's demise sitting a mere metre behind Savio. Was there a ploy in play, or had the man simply gone mad?


Savio, however, was unconcerned with the mixed reaction. He looked for two faces in the crowd, and was delighted to see exactly what he had expected. The first, his accomplice in this plan, was notably absent. And the second, his suspect, was barely concealing his fear. Savio hid the momentary smile that curled onto his face.


“For you see, ladies and gentlemen, there is one among us who has been deceitful from the very beginning. Before the investigation started. Before the body had been discovered, even. Yes, this person’s campaign of deceit began the very moment he murdered Lord Charon over a week ago. Am I correct, Isaac?”


Isaac, Savio’s suspect who had finally been called out by name, looked utterly shell shocked as the faces of the fellow guests and staff members all turned to look at him. The crowd thinned around him, isolating him entirely as he began to stutter over his words.


“Me? What are you talking about, Salvio? You yourself said I couldn’t be the culprit. You know it to be true. I arrived after the body was already found!”


“On paper, yes, that is the case. In fact, it was quite the clever trick. But in truth, you’ve been in the city much longer, though the identity you assumed was not that of Isaac Wildthorne. It was instead that of the Lord Charon himself, was it not?” The slight twitch in Isaac’s mouth told Savio he was right on the money. Isaac’s defense was crumbling, though he wasn’t ready to give up so easily.


“How exactly could I have assumed the Lord’s identity? We hardly look alike. The staff would have noticed it, surely?” Though he feigned a casual attitude, the sweat on Isaac’s forehead betrayed his real emotion. He was scared.


“Aye, that’s true. The Lord Charon and you don’t share a countenance. Though, with an item such as this, that ceases to be a problem, wouldn’t you agree?” Savio produced the scroll from within his pocket, and Isaac’s expression crumbled. “Mei, take the stage, please.”


At Savio’s command, the meek servant who had discovered the lord’s head not long prior emerged from the crowd to his side.


“When was the last time you saw Lord Charon alive, Mei?”


“It was not 12 hours ago, sir. I served him breakfast just this morning.”


“So despite the body appearing to have died over a week prior, you observed the lord alive today?”


“Yes, sir.”


“Did you notice any sudden changes in his character? Any odd behaviours, perhaps?” The young maid thought to herself for a moment, before speaking once more.


“In his final few days, he appeared agitated. Distressed, even. I would often see him pacing the halls, mumbling to himself. His diet also changed, and he cleared much of his schedule at the last minute. Truth be told, it was as if he expected to die.”


“And when did this pattern of behaviour begin?”


“Not ten days ago, sir.”


Bingo. 


“In that case, the series of events is quite clear. The man you served these past ten days was not Lord Charon at all. Mr Wildthorne murdered him, used this magical instrument to steal his face, and assumed his identity in the days before this gathering was supposed to happen. He then shed his disguise and hurriedly hid the decapitated head, placing the body on display for the world to see, just at the moment when the most potential suspects would appear. Then, to clear his own name right out the gate, he showed up late for the gathering and pretended to assist me in my investigation. In any event, it was quite the smart plan. Were it not for some glaring inconsistencies, I do believe our killer would have gotten away with it.”


Although Savio was the one speaking, all eyes were firmly locked on Isaac, who was now visibly shaking in fear. Taking a moment to relish in his killer's distress, Savio paused for a moment before he continued.


“For one, Mr Wildthorne refused to see the Lord’s body, claiming an aversion to blood. Despite this apparent squeamish, however, he paid no mind at all to the lord’s decapitated head. In fact, he was so casual that it caught my attention. In that same room, he also professed a knowledge as to the function of the magical instrument that had taken the Lord’s face, something few people would be well versed with considering its rarity. Even more suspiciously, it did not do exactly as he said. Mr Wildthorne claimed the device solely functioned to remove one’s face, no doubt attempting to scare me away from using it. However, as I looked at the scroll I found that it did not render me faceless at all.” To the shock of those in attendance, Savio once again opened the scroll, transforming his own face into that of lord Charon.


In the face of the ever-mounting stack of evidence, the crowd once again began to murmur, this time in near-universal agreement of Isaac’s guilt. Savio returned his face back to normal, and prepared to deliver the final blow.


“Now, I confess, I haven’t been entirely honest. My suspicions did not begin at the discovery of the Lord’s faceless head. No, the first thing that struck me as odd came the very first time I spoke to you, Isaac. When you refused to try to pick up this sword.” Savio turned and made a show of attempting to pick up the sword, to no avail. “Simply by proving that you couldn’t have used the sword as a weapon, you could have cleared your name from the very beginning. And yet, you refused to even take the chance.” Savio was unable to hide his smile this time. “So, I’m giving you a second chance. Hold the sword to your throat. If you were telling the truth before, that you lack the intelligence to make it sharp or heavy, it should be completely unable to cut you, correct?.”


Though they were now entirely convinced of Isaac’s guilt, the crowd once again saw Savio as a madman. What sort of imbecile would invite a murderer to pick up the very weapon they slew their victim with? And they were right, of course. This was an enormous gamble on Savio’s part. But neither in this life nor the last was Savio afraid of a good gamble.


Slowly, barely able to keep his composure, Isaac stepped forth and passed by Savio. He reached down, put his hand on the sword, and swung with all his might at Savio’s neck.


Savio’s slight smile became a grin as the magical barrier appeared before him. The absent Lucia Gilwood, who he had instructed to covertly put up protection talismans around the room, had come through for him. 


In a mad panic, Isaac bolted for the nearest door, the crowd parting rapidly as he approached. He pulled with all his might at the door, even hacking at it with the sword still in his hand, but to no avail. Lucia had followed through with his second request, too. She had magically sealed every door but one.


As the crowd watched in silence, Isaac frantically ran about trying every door in the area, to no avail. Finally, he came to the last door: the door to the room where the oracle was stored.


Checkmate.


As Isaac burst through the door, Savio followed some seven or eight paces behind, the rest of the crowd following not long after. In front of their eyes, Isaac sank to his knees in front of the Oracle’s great form, the sword falling to his side with a loud clatter.


“How could I have failed?! What did I do wrong?!” The killer wailed at the oracle, staring at in despair.


“You of impure heart and foolish mind

Trifled with one who’s intellect you could not match

And in your hunger for wealth and power 

Have sealed your doom at his hand.”


As the oracle’s voice boomed throughout the room, its great head became animated for the first time, though this was not a good sign for Isaac. In a movement one could only describe as unbridled violence, the oracle’s jaw stretched wide, and bit Isaac’s head clean off, his neck now pouring with blood. It was a horrific sight to see, but Isaac had brought it upon himself: he had dared to ask the oracle two questions.


“Well then, shall we put the icing on the cake?” The entirely unphased voice that had come up at Savio’s side was that of Lucia, who had remained in hiding until this moment.


“I believe it’s time for them to know.” Savio and Lucia, without saying another word, approached the oracle, stopping a few paces short of Isaac’s headless body. Turning to face the crowd, Lucia spoke her question aloud.


“Great oracle. Who is Savio Alves?”


Once more the great voice of the oracle spoke out once again, and its words confirmed what Savio had suspected.


“He who was the victim

And he who served justice

Are one in soul and mind.

 

Invoking the power of the rare and precious liquid

He who you revere was reborn

To bring justice to the one who betrayed him.”


Savio and Charon were one and the same.

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