Monday, 16 March 2015

Witch Takers (part 3)

I threw out my hands and cast a small summoning ball. I made the glowing green orb catch the air around it and twisted that air, pushing my hands forwards. A gust of wind caught the Potholer directly in his stomach and he was propelled backwards into the quarry wall around us. I raced quickly to one of the barrels and drew a pickaxe, brandishing it like the Potholer had. When I got to him, I faced the pointed edges towards his neck and said, "Did you kill Buster O'Rhian?"
Before the potholer could reply, I saw a glint of something in his half rimmed spectacles, so I turned and realised what I'd seen. There was another racing Potholer, again brandishing an axe, so I stepped forwards and swung my pickaxe into his. My height gave me a suitable anchoring compared to his stability, which meant the blow caused him a lot more difficulty than it did me. He stumbled back and went once more to hit me, but I managed to side step and kick his leg, throwing out a wave of air from my hand which knocked him clean to the floor. More potholers began to ooze from various sheds and caves carved into the quarry. "Freud!" I screamed, gripping my pickaxe defensively. "Freud!"
The Potholers raced towards me and I managed to fight the first group off, smashing their axes and swords away. I slammed the head of my axe into one of the approaching Potholer's head, kicking and elbowing all the while, that same cry jumping from my mouth. "Freud! Freud!"
I stabbed the rounded end of the axe's handle into one potholer's stomach and then head butted another one coming towards me. In hindsight, that only made me feel worse than I already did, dizziness spread through me. I clipped a potholer's ears with the stick and then brought up my knee into his waist. "Freud!"
The older witch taker finally answered my call, racing from the log cabin far above and throwing out his staff, crying several painfully powerful words that tore apart the forming army of Potholers, knocking them all to their backs and leaving me the last standing. "What the hell is going on, Winters?" He shouted.
I'd never seen him really angry before that. I had now.
"I was casually inspecting a quartz vein when they all came out and started attacking me." I replied.
He nodded and turned to one of the Potholers. The pint sized miner was unable to stand up, leading me to suspect Freud was using a variation of the classic Turtle Back charm, mixed in with a truth charm. "Did you kill Buster O'Rhian?"
The Potholer shook his head rapidly.
"Did you know of the murder of Buster O'Rhian before today?"
The Potholer shook his head.
"Did you know of any conspiracies to murder Buster O'Rhian?"
The Potholer continued to shake his head.
"Do you know of any illegal activities conducted by any members of this mining crew?"
The Potholer continued to shake his head, but then stopped, slowly beginning to nod.
"What are those illegal activities?" Freud asked.
"Mood changing drugs can be accessed in the rocks of the quarry. The reason why we are known as the Honey Shop Lads is because the drugs we sell looks and tastes like honey." If the Turtle Back enchantment hadn't been securing his arms down, I'm sure he would have clapped a hand over his mouth.
"Thank you." Freud said, turning to me. "Go call the Bruskin Eighth. Tell them we've just found a large drug ring."

The Bruskin Eighth turned up quickly and thanked us, informing us that they'd found a sample of the Honey a few months earlier but hadn't been able to place it on anybody. Once the relevant paper work was complete, we handed the case over to the Bruskin Eighth and, with a sample of Honey, set off on the long journey back to Mortlock.
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking, sir?" I asked Freud, staring at the honey.
"Depends what you're thinking, Winters." He replied in the neutral way that he seemed an expert in conveying.
"Well, is it at all plausible that O'Rhian was using Honey on the occasion of his death? That, perhaps off his head, he knocked his head on a large rock or something near the canal and drowned?"
"It's certainly possible." Freud replied. "Whether it's the answer or not, I'm entirely unsure. Only a post mortem from Geoffrey could give us the full answer."
I nodded when Freud's mobile phone began to vibrate. "Answer that, will you? I don't understand why Miss Doherty insists on using these devices."
I accepted the phone answered it.
"You two need to get back here, pronto!" Lynda shouted.
"Why?" I asked.
"Irwin Stonetoe just offered us 16 Hundred Sainsburys to hurry up the investigation as a public gesture, due to O'Rhian being a Barons fan."
I thanked her and hung up, turning to Freud. "The manager of the Balivion Baron's has given us a bribe."
Needless to say, we were back at the First Nick in not very long at all. We raced up the steps and into the main room, where we turned to Lynda. "Where's Stonetoe?" Freud demanded.
"At the Marauders'' Stadium." She replied. "He wants to talk to the two of you."
"Thank you." Freud said, leading us back out of the Nick and up the Mortlock High Street. The parade of towering shacks to our either side remained, swaying slightly in a gust of wind that only began to affect us as we trailed around the path the church council had put in that led to the nature reserve behind the canal. The canal was filled by water flowing from the Mortlock Falls, and that man made waterfall was fed by a stream lacing through the grass until it eventually got to the Marauders' stadium. Large gates, designed to welcome as many fans as possible, instead welcomed us into a large glass lobby where a receptionist hurriedly led us to the visiting Manager's office. When the door opened, I began to take mental photos, observing that he'd brought several of his possessions to brighten the room up. On top of a selection of empty filing cabinets were several of the team's trophies, including the Arlington Championship trophy, won in the only Balivion Baron's game I'd watched, under sufferance. Between the Arlington Championship trophy and another from the Zeroth League, there was an empty space leaving a ring of metal with no dust on.
"Mr Stonetoe," Freud offered his hand, "we're Detectives Freud and Winters. Apparently you're prepared to give us some money?"
Stonetoe stepped out from behind his desk and offered his hand. "Of course, Detectives, however we can discuss that in the press conference I'm organising. The reason I pulled you here was because I have some information."
Freud's eyes widened. "What information would this be?"
"I know who murdered Buster O'Rhian."

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