GENRE: fantasy/erotic adventure mystery
WORD COUNT: 50,814
SUMMARY: Bored with her latest string of patrons, a courtesan decides to investigate some mysterious murders with an eccentric but high profile detective.


“It would probably interest you to know, my lord, that I have deduced that the ruffian responsible for the murder probably came from the window, especially since no one in the household saw anyone other than Lord Elderwood enter the study today.”

Rathen briefly looked up. “That was an extraordinary deduction, inspector.”

But the inspector did not appear to notice the undercurrent of sarcasm. Instead, he puffed out his chest as if he had made a particularly brilliant move. “I thought so myself, Lord Rathen.”

Finally, after examining the mantel, I glanced down at the victim who had himself murdered earlier in the day. Lord Elderwood was a man slightly past his prime. He would have been considered quite the catch in his younger years. He was probably still considered quite a catch today despite his deteriorating looks if his lodgings were any indication of his wealth. He was still wearing his day suit, so it appeared that he had indeed been working in his study up until the time that he was murdered. His death expression, though, appeared to be one of surprise, from what I could make of from all of the blood, which somewhat puzzled me. I moved onward to look out the window when Rathen bent over to examine the body. Despite Rathen's opinion that I was not one to become hysterical over the sight of a dead body, it still did give me some kind of disturbance. It is not easy witnessing death, no matter how many times one sees it.

The window was, it seemed, curiously closed even though the latch itself wasn't locked. It overlooked a back gardens which seemed empty and tranquil today.

“What do you make of the injuries, Lady Aire?”

I turned back to go over to Rathen. “It was blunt trauma to the back of the head. Someone with considerable strength was able to use the poker to bash his head in. Death was instantaneous.” I watched as Rathen raised one of the dead man's arms and pulled up a sleeve, revealing that the corpse had slight bruising on his forearm. His eyes slightly narrowed, but when he put the arm back down again, he didn't say anything. Interesting.

“Your observations back at the inn was almost as brilliant as Lord Rathen's back at the inn,” remarked the inspector. “How do you know so much about the trauma of the body, my lady? Surely you are not a doctor ?”

I gave the inspector a wry smile. He was attractive enough, but on my part, I didn't feel any particular spark that told me that I would want him as a patron, even though an inspector was a very good catch indeed. But I spotted the ring on his hand. The man was married and even I had some scruples. “I am not a doctor, inspector, but I have been trained in the healing arts when I was younger and my parents had, uh, higher hopes for me. But I am afraid that I only help out in the odd accident now and again.”

The inspector gave me a curt nod. “I see. A healer or sorts?”

My smile turned into a grin and I was aware that I was showing my teeth which were much sharper than the average human's. The magistrate gasped and the inspector nervously swallowed. “My kind would call the occupation of that of a hedge witch. But as you can see, I had no desire to spend the rest of my life in a little cottage out in the middle of nowhere with nothing but cats for company.”

“I've seen enough,” Rathen declared as he finally straightened. “Come, Lady Aire. We have other things to attend to.”

“But my lord,” protested the inspector. “What is your verdict of the case?”

“The verdict is very simple, inspector.” Rathen pointed to the desk. “If you take a closer look at Lord Elderwood's personal affairs, you will find that he is in deep financial trouble. Several of his investments in mining have been disasters and so he is desperate to recoup his money. The direct result of that desperation was the murder we saw at the inn. However, Lord Elderwood had a certain creditor who could not simply wait.”

“And so he was killed?” the inspector shook his head. “Yes, that much is obvious. But the murderer escaped through the window. We didn't see any footprints out in the garden, but he could have hidden them. It would be virtually impossible to figure out who came in here.”

“Follow the paperwork, my good inspector. I'm sure you'll find a list of suspects there,” said Rathen.

“That would seem most sensible,” I concurred. “Especially since the murderer didn't come in or escape from the window at all.”

“What?” exclaimed the inspector.

“Very good, Lady Aire,” Rathen said, appraisingly. “The murderer did indeed not come in through the window. While not locked, the window is closed and the rest of the vegetation outside seems too undisturbed for anyone to have come through that way. No, the murderer came in through another route.”

copyright © 2001-2012 S. Y. Affolee