The Fate of Mr. Norb
“Osoth, Osoth! Come quickly! A terrible thing has happened!” cried Gimuse.
Osoth put down his writing-drill. “What’s wrong? Where’s the trouble, Gimuse?” Osoth only deigns to use informal contractions with the dead.
“It’s Mr. Norb! Someone has murdered him!” wailed the ghost.
So Osoth scrambled out of his hangar, and scooped Gimuse up with an incantation or something, and flew this way and that to the glade where the small people of his expedition were wont to make their nonmarital assignations.
There Mr. Norb stood, thoroughly murdered. Someone had acquired one of the spars of woven titanium that support Narethy’s peculiarly tilted buildings: five yards of sharp and jagged metal. One end had been hammered into the mossy soil, so that the other end was erect and three yards high. Mr. Norb had been impaled on the spar, so that his hooves were on the ground and the shaft protruded through the back of his neck. His head lolled forward, eyes frozen in misery.
Osoth spread his wings and roared. “Some miscreant of a drake has murdered an important and well-loved small member of my expedition! I shall not permit this trespass against me and mine! I shall bring the deadly breath of justice to the murderer!”
Gemuse cried, “But who is the murderer?”
Osoth looked around. “It is not instantly obvious, so we must perform our detective-works. There are no clawprints, not even in this soft soil so comfortable to small people. No matter. Every dragon learns levitation spells after their Great Separation, and it is no great matter not to leave footprints. Indeed, I am doing the very same levitation myself, without even thinking about it, for I knew I did not want to trample the crime scene.”
He sniffed around, his tongue flicking everywhere. “Again unsurprisingly, there is no scent of any dragon here. We can thus, for a first approximation, exclude Atharis from our list of culprits.”
Gemuse wailed, “Why?”
“Because Atharis is deficient in the magics of illusion and concealment. He doesn’t even have veriception blocks. He could not have cast the simple spell to hide his scent. Which is to say, anydrake else could have done. Well, then. Since the most obvious investigation yields nothing, I shall simply call forth Mr. Norb’s ghost and inquire of him the circumstances of his death. And then, good Gemuse, I shall leave him in a form of animation such as you yourself enjoy, and you may conduct your posthumous romance on more even terms.”
And Osoth spoke seven ancient words that fell on Mr. Norb’s corpse like heavy drops of mercury.
And nothing happened.
“Well, that’s odd. Something has, somehow, interfered with my spell,” said Osoth. He performed an intricate gesture that is blasphemous in every decent religion, and in every decent form of atheism as well.
And again nothing happened.
“It seems that I must work harder at this!” grumbled Osoth. He drew forth a grey powder found only in the interiors of certain extinct stars and cast it forth, with an incantation like the cracking of knouts.
Once again, nothing happened.
“Well, this is bothersome. The murdering drake has taken great pains to prevent necromancy. Well, certain of our scholars could likely manage this: Xilobrax, Lovrian, Driaith, and Borybran, for four. I would like to bring someone in to consult upon what has been done here, but if I bring the murderer himself as my consultant, the results shall be inferior,” mused Osoth.
“Bring all four!” cried Gemuse. “If one of them is balky and interferous, that one implicates himself!”
“An excellent idea, good Gemuse, and one which I shall do forthwith.”Support this project! Show that you’re reading it by exchanging notes with the characters, other readers, the writer, and occasional other entities at sythyry.livejournal.com. And/or buy Bard Bloom’s books on Amazon, especially Mating Flight and World in My Claws, the prequel to this story. Also: Glossary and Dramatis Personae.