Chapter 7:

His Legacy

Charon's Legacy: The Clockwork Oracle


“So it’s done, then?” Lucia asked.


Savio and Lucia stood before the Oracle, undecided between awe and horror. It wasn’t every day a humanoid machine bit off a criminal’s head—Savio had anticipated Isaac would meet his end, but not in such a gruesome manner. His neck still spurted fresh blood.


“It would certainly seem that way,” Savio replied. He turned towards the gathering crowd. “Everyone, I’m pleased to announce that we’ve solved the greatest puzzle of all.”


Hushed murmurs spread among the attendees. “But it was obviously Isaac.” 


“What’s he on about now?” 


“Greatest puzzle?”


Savio would have addressed them one by one, but he felt no need—all their questions would be answered. He took a deep breath and continued.


“As I’m quite sure you all remember, our invitation mentioned a great reward for solving this mystery. Charon so graciously gifted his inheritance and manor to whosoever put the pieces together. But Charon, as risky as his plans were, would never put his entire sum of wealth on the line. Never… unless he knew he would be murdered.”


Savio walked across the Oracle’s stage, allowing the titan to tower behind him. He felt it made a good backdrop. “My running theory is this: he crafted the Clockwork Oracle and asked his one question, likely along the lines of ‘when will I die?’. And it told him.”


Lucia came forward and patted Savio on the shoulder. “I’ll take it from here.”


“Of course.”


“Just a week from when he asked, he would be killed,” she explained. “This would have been about two and a half weeks ago—assuming standard postage times, we can assume he sent out this invitation knowing full well of his impending demise. But death is not an ultimatum for the magically adept.”


Savio cleared his throat and began speaking again. “When we investigated his personal study, we found a curio titled the ‘Ale of Resurgence’. It claimed it would resurrect its consumer upon their untimely demise. I would have brought it here to show you, but it’d been taken in one swig, presumably by Charon, fearing for his life.


“Charon’s body, of course, was found earlier today. His Ale of Resurgence did very little to preserve it. One might even think his plan a failure, if not for one key clue. Yes, one clue, one massive clue, which is affixed to the wall just behind me.”


Lucia stepped aside to showcase the Oracle’s golden majesty. “When Savio came to the Oracle seeking answers–”


“Sorry, Miss Gilwood. I think I have more right to tell this part of the story than you do.”


She scoffed. “Rude.”


“Rude, but true.”


“Fine. Have your moment.”


Savio nodded, moving back to face the crowd. He nearly tripped on Isaac’s beheaded corpse. “Ahem. When I came to the Oracle seeking answers, it told me that I had been the one murdered, that it was my face that had been stolen. I’d thought it a cryptic hint at the time. I was mistaken.


“The Oracle told me the exact truth. The Ale of Resurgence did not resurrect Lord Charon, it reincarnated him—and that is why I stand before you today. It certainly does explain why we were such close friends. That is the most interesting puzzle. And thus, we’ve reached our verdict.”


The murmurs resurfaced, louder this time. Its new volume withstanding, Savio couldn’t pick up any individual questions. Someone in the back spoke up, though—Mars Hendrickson, from the earlier investigation. “Hey, that’s great and all, but what of the inheritance?”


Lucia smiled wide and put a hand on Savio’s shoulder. “Mister Alves has decided to distribute the wealth, of course. It’s only fair.”


“Wha– no, I didn’t– when did– what?”


She elbowed him and whispered through clenched teeth, “Mister Alves. Has decided. To distribute the wealth. Right?”


Savio let out a sigh full of contempt. “Yes. Because you all were such a great help.”


“Was that sarcasm?” Lucia questioned.


“I think you know the answer to that question, Miss Gilwood.”


Just then, the timid servant from before came forward to Savio. “A-ah, so you’re his inheritor, then?”


“Yes. Mei, was it? How does one… acquire wealth of this proportion? I’ve never had the privilege of being so privileged.”


“Oh, well, um, you’ll do some document signing tonight, but everything here will be passed onto your name. That’s all there is to it,” Mei replied. “Though, you’d also be entering lordship. Your political situation may be… problematic? I’m sure you’ll be alright.”


Savio thought about it for a moment. But if he really was Charon, he wouldn’t have much to worry about, would he?


“Yes, I’ll go along with it. And, as a display of my utmost kindness, tell the clerks to gift every attendee a generous fifty dollars.”


-



Case Report.

Charon’s Legacy: The Clockwork Oracle


Seventeen days before his body was found, Lord Charon learned of his impending doom. After taking the Ale of Resurgence, he organized an event to narrow down who his successor would be—rather, who among his circle was a reincarnation of his own damned soul.


Ten days before his body was found, Isaac Wildthorne, a street thief, broke into his estate. Charon, fearing his demise, hid in the cellar, while Wildthorne discovered the Anima Scroll in his collection of curios. When he found Charon, he used the scroll to suffocate and kill him.


Wildthorne, having read the description of the scroll, knew he could impersonate Charon. He stole his face and left his own in the scroll, continuing business as usual. He made preparations for the event he’d heard about—he scattered the evidence, hid as much as he could. But he knew nothing about Charon’s reincarnation.


Just hours before the body was found, he asked the Clockwork Oracle an important question: ‘What happens when someone asks you a second question?’ It told him it would bite down and decapitate them, something which became vital to his plan.


He found the Blade of Intellectual Burden and, hoisting it with all his might, cut Charon’s blank head cleanly off. He hid the head in the cellar, had a small scuffle switching his face back, and dragged the corpse to the Oracle’s chamber. He mistakenly assumed the attendees would blame the Oracle.


Savio Alves, the man with Charon’s soul, immediately suspected something deeper. In fact, a key failing in Wildthorne’s plan was that Lord Charon never had the chance to describe the Oracle—no one knew it was capable of decapitation. Wildthorne realized this error early on and tried his best to misdirect Alves instead, who he feared might discover the truth.


When Alves’s, or perhaps Charon’s, inquisitive nature led him to use the Anima Scroll, Wildthorne’s case fell apart. He hadn’t anticipated Alves would make such a rash decision, and he couldn’t defend himself. In a last-ditch effort, he tried to kill Alves with the Blade, but it was too late. In the words of the Oracle, he could not kill twice.


Wildthorne was beheaded by the Oracle he thought would be his saving grace. Alves, with help from Lucia Gilwood, inherited Charon’s fortune and went on to take his place. He wasn’t happy just solving one mystery, though. The world had more for him, surely—so he set out with some of his curios to find the next most interesting puzzle.


Though many of his exhibits have been moved or placed in private collections (to prevent another unfortunate murder), rumor has it the Clockwork Oracle is still active. Mounted upon its chamber wall, it waits patiently for its next question—and its next victim. One question, one answer. It shall be…





Thank you for reading Charon’s Legacy: The Clockwork Oracle! We all worked hard to make this a fun read for everyone. Let us know your thoughts in the comments!


Credits:


Jon Spencer | The Most Interesting Puzzle

Always in the discord channel, edited everything.


ArufaBeta | The Killer Who Can’t Kill Twice & His Legacy

Wrote the plot outline and twist.


BlipXP | Devil’s in the Details

Solidified the case and supernatural elements.


Otkrlj | Chapter Four

Helped characterize Savio and sat through early plot discussion.


Nellien | The Answer

Rescheduled and pushed through despite an unexpected no-show.


Kaabii | Revelations

Helped brainstorm and develop the idea from the very start.


And you, the reader!


Mo
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Taylor J
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