Murder, Sharp and Shiny

A Fantasy Short Story by Rodney Milton

Murder, Sharp and Shiny

by Rodney Milton

A grizzled detective and a mischievous granny are thrust into a magical land, where they decide to make a living solving crime. Only some crimes are more dangerous than they are worth.

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‘So your tough guy boyfriend cut himself shaving with a big shiny sword, what’s that got to do with me exactly, sister?’  I asked the exotic woman next me at the bar that didn’t seem to understand the idea of leaving a fella to have a quiet drink on their own.
‘It was murder, Mr Lane; he made so many enemies I know one of them must have got to him.  He had so much to live for, I mean he had me after all,’ she said in that way a dangerously beautiful woman does when she wants you to do something stupid.

‘So this wizard warrior of yours was murdered by some vengeful brother or rival magic man.  I fail to see what that’s got to do with me, lady.  That thing you’re doing with your tail don’t impress me by the way, were I come from lets just say broads don’t have tails or come in purple for that matter.’
She brought her face close to mine, those baby blues as wide and deep as any ocean back home, drawing me in like a wasp about to drown in a cool sweet glass of lemonade.
‘I need a man to track down the killer; I am told you’re the best detective in the whole kingdom.  Was that wrong?’
‘Yeah I am the best, but then again there are only two of us.  I avoid murder investigations especially when dangerous mass killers are murdered by someone even bigger and deadlier.  That kind of risk I prefer to skip, now if you’re looking for a missing pet unicorn or your husbands sneaking out to meet his lover every Tuesday night I might consider taking the case.’
She started playing with the rim of my glass, letting her long icy sharp nails gently scratch the edge of my hand in that way some men find endearing.
‘Couldn’t we discuss it over a drink?  I am sure I could make it worth your while.’
I was about to blow the risky dame off when my business partner, who had clearly been listening in, slides up to the bar.

‘Make mine, a gin and tonic my dear.  What sort of remuneration were you thinking of?  Sounds like a dangerous and expensive case’ says Ethel, flashing me her little old lady up to no good smile.  She looks as sweet and English as scones on the village green with the vicar but let me tell you, she can handle a revolver like John Wayne.
‘You got them serving gin in this place, granny,’ I say, she hates it when I call her that.
‘Oh yes dear, it was quite straight forward, I just invited Jorg the ales mother Tabitha the troll and the high wizards sister Petunia round for tea.  Persuaded them to get their relatives to magic up and start serving gin and tonic.  My it is a boost to the constitution.’
‘How about, say five hundred each?’  It was the damsel in distress finally regaining her composure.
‘Would that be five hundred gold dear?’  Says Granny, getting down to serious business as she sips her gin and tonic.  ‘I didn’t catch your name, by the way, we do like to know who we are doing business with, you understand.’
So dead boy’s lady friend agrees to the five hundred gold and says she called, Misteria.  Yeah, the lady’s giving nothing away except a lack of imagination.  Granny lets it go as she watches the gold get counted out, two hundred fifty down the rest when the killers doing the high wire tango.

‘I take it we are taking the case then,’ I say to Granny as soon as Misteria makes her exit, leaving us with a list of possible suspects and a look at the murder weapon.
‘Given our financial position, I thought it unwise for us to turn up our noses at five hundred gold.  Our enigmatic friend is if nothing else a good paying customer.’

I guess granny had a point I just didn’t fancy questioning all those hardened killers especially the ones who dabbled in magic.
‘So many suspects,’ says Granny letting the end of the long roll of paper touch the floor as we looked over the fifty or so names.  I couldn’t help noticing how many of them had blood, death or pain as middle names, some with all three.
‘Did you see the runes on that sword?  It must have been enchanted, what kind of magic would you have to carry to turn a magic sword on its owner?’  I ask, wondering how the hell we are going bring in the magical sword master, without my gun being persuaded to turn traitor.
‘Don’t worry dear, I’ll question the wizards, you can stick to the mercenary warriors and jealous lovers,’ granny reassures me.
‘Sure,’ I say ‘that’s a weight off my mind.  The only question is who is going to talk to the angry dwarfs?  Those fella’s are at the right height to do a lot of personal damage if you take my meaning.’
‘I quite understand your rather crude references but to be honest they would not be a threat to anything you use very often.  Anyway we can split them, I’ll take the local ones and you take the rest, fair enough?’

As I nod in agreement a huge green troll fist smashes down on the bar in front of me, a snarling face with rancid breath looms close to mine.  ‘Don’t be causing any trouble in my bar, Mr. Detective, or I’ll be causing trouble to your throat, understand?’   He said in his usual direct and cheerless manner.
Before I can tell the overgrown bridge botherer, to boil his head, granny distracts him in her usual manner.
‘I must thank you Mr Jorg, for serving gin here it is quite marvellous.  Almost makes one forget about being stranded so far from home with only a single other member of the human race.  I know he’s a nuisance and far to keen on profanities but I prefer to have him in one piece.  He’s the only thing I’ve got left of home.’
Well ain’t that sweet, almost brings a tear to a fellas eye don’t it.  Anyway old Jorg’s face goes through this extreme transformation as he turns to granny, a big happy childlike grin spreading across his big green mush.
‘It’s my pleasure, Miss Ethel, mum was so happy when you went visiting her.  She don’t get many visitors with so many folks looking down on trolls’ said the huge green lump of troll actually giving out a little sigh.
‘Oh it’s my pleasure dear, anytime she wants to pop in for tea she is always welcome.  Now dear I wonder if you can help us, in the strictest confidence of course.  You see we are investigating a murder, and are wondering if you’ve heard anything suspicious such a magical person, saying something like he or she wanted to slit someone’s throat or such?’

As you can guess in this kind of establishment a question like that either gets you a warning about asking questions being dangerous to the health or twenty extra suspects.  In this case granny’s magic certainly loosened the big fella’s tongue and it seems every other customer over the last month had expressed an interest in cutting someone’s throat.  Unfortunately no one wanted to finish off our victim.  I do hate it when the criminals get smart and keep their mouths shut; it makes my job a darn sight harder.

So me and Granny decided to split up and pursue our own very different lines of questioning.  The last I heard she was taking tea and buns in the great eastern tower of sorcery.  Questioning the ancient and extremely powerful time mage who in his younger day wielded his great magic on the battle field killing many thousands for power, glory and lots of shiny gold.  It seems this gent and our victim had a long running disagreement about a magic sword as well as a number of curious amulets that gives a fella certain unnatural abilities.
While granny was having her cosy tea parties with lonely old wizards, I on the other hand was being held roughly by the throat.  An angry young fighter whose sister had been seduced and abandoned by our amorous victim had taken rather violently against my line of questioning.  As he held my throat in his vice like grip and screamed abuse about my lineage, five angry dwarfs poked me about the bottom half of my body with silver pointed sticks demanding the return of various gold filled chests that they had been tricked out of.
If truth be told it wasn’t so much my suggestions of their possible guilt which enraged them but rather the news that they had been beaten to it by someone else.  Some even rather forcefully insisted that I put about the rumour that they had committed the crime despite it being fairly obvious that they could not in fact have done it.
As I tried to reason with the brainless barbarian and his little friends I keep wondering to myself why all the people our man had upset were all complaining about events years in the past.  Had this man really not upset anyone in the last three years?  What or who happened to him to turn him away from annoying the locals.  Was he slowing down and mellowing with age or was it the influence of a good woman.  Someone like his present mysterious lady friend.

Of course the present crowd didn’t seem to be interested in this fascinating development in the case; I was going to have to cut them a deal before I lost consciousness.  ‘So you fellas want your gold and compensation for injuries sustained by the victim?  Well I might be able to help you out.  You’re all going to have to attend a little get together.’

I heard the bullet as I began to pass out and those dulcet tones as I started to drop.  ‘You gentlemen are really being very foolish.  My colleague is talking a lot of sense and I think you should release him and jolly well listen.  Now don’t make such a fuss dear, that finger can be easily be reattached if you put it on ice straight away mind.’
I fell hard on the dusty bar floor as the angry blood stained warrior held his wounded hand.
‘Looks like I misjudged your mother,’ said the warrior looking at granny with all the dignity he could muster.
‘She’s not my mother,’ I said trying to stand as I slowly regained the use of my battered throat.
‘Certainly not,’ said Granny, ‘I wouldn’t like a son of mine use the kind of language he comes out with.’
The angry dwarfs with the pointy sticks were starting to get restless with the latest developments which saw them no closer to regaining their precious gold.
‘We don’t need to know your domestic arrangements.’  It was the head dwarf who seemed to have forgotten Granny’s smoking gun, pointed in their direction.  ‘When do we get what’s ours now the thief is dead, do you know where he buried our property?’

‘Let me put it this way,’ says Granny, ‘I know a lady who was very close to the gentleman who took your gold.  If you come to our big reveal party, you’ll get the chance to ask her yourself.’
As the warrior and the band of dwarfs debated loudly the merits of Granny’s plan. An old well-bearded, dishevelled sorcerer ambled in with a plate of Granny’s patent macaroons which he munched in an excited and messy way.  ‘Will you be bringing more of your delicious cakes to this reveal?’  Asked the old magic wielder with a cake- shaped glint in his weary eyes.
‘Yes, dear, lots of cake and the chance to see your old sword again, like I promised.’
‘Oh my,’ said the old man,’ it will be marvellous to see my old sword again, such good times we had, cake too, how exciting.’

It was the day of the big reveal and Jorg’s bar was to be the host of; warriors, wizards, and angry dwarfs as well as several bitter ex-lovers some armed to the teeth.
We had realised Misteria herself was the only real possible killer; she must have magic abilities we knew nothing about.  Determined we should get paid we made a deal with several of dead boys debtors that we get our fee as a priority from any loot.
So we sat with an angry crowd waiting for Misteria to make her appearance.  We did the classic round the room, you had a motive but you could not have done it routine for a while until the crowd started demanding coin and then blood.
So we all went searching for Misteria.  We found her soon enough, in a back room, throat slit just like lover boy.
What the hell was going on, we’d clearly misjudged Misteria, the killer had struck again, but who was it?
‘Oh for heavens sake you people,’ bellowed Jorg the troll as we all stood around scratching our heads in confusion.  ‘It’s obviously the enchanted sword, what sort of detectives are you?  It was pretty clear from start.’
‘What do you mean, Jorg?’ asked granny.
‘The thing with your magic enchanted swords is they really like killing.  If you give up killing they get very restless.  Your victim met Misteria and became shall we say more of a lover than a fighter.  The sword killed him in frustration hoping that Misteria would go on a murder spree to avenge her dead lover.  Much to the distress of the sword she called in two mediocre detectives instead, hence she was killed so the sword might pass on to someone more bloodthirsty.’
Everyone stood mouth open looking at the rather smug troll.
‘Don’t look so surprised, we trolls aren’t as daft as you folk think we are.  Anyway I can’t stand around solving your cases all day, I have a bar to run,’ he said heading back into the main bar.
As we looked at the blood-stained sword that lay next to the body, the old wizard now smattered with cake crumbs shuffled forward and touched the sword.  ‘My old sword, it is good to see you again.’
From the sword rose up a spirit woman, half demon half devil, all warrior, she touched the old wizard with affection.  ‘If I make you young and strong again, will you take me in your hands and kill, and kill and kill?’  she asked softly.
‘Yes I will kill the world for you my beautiful blade,’ he said as he began to change into a fit young man in his killing prime.
‘All debts fall to the new owner of the sword,’ I said to the crowd as me and Granny pocketed the rest of our fee from Misteria’s dead hand and slipped out a back door.

As we listened to the killing spree going on inside, we decided our next case would involved the king’s daughter and her missing pet unicorn that had got lost in the woods.  A big reward was being offered and Granny assured me unicorns could easily lured by a fresh batch of her patent macaroons.

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