Korisius Scrim, Private Detective: Episode I

A Cursed Eight short story


Accipiter G. Goshawk

Welcome one and all to another side-track into the world of the Cursed Eight!

Here follows the peculiar tale of one Korisius Scrim, private detective…

If trouble were a ship, then Lady Olina Tremex would be its captain.

She sashayed into my office one warm autumn afternoon, blown in by one of Port Xirshe’s kindly southern winds.

“Now, what is a classy dame like that doing in a place like this?” I remember thinking to myself as I tried to make my workplace/living arrangement look a little less dirty. She didn’t seem to care,  and simply sat her satin-covered backside in my only good chair.

“Are you the famous Korisius Scrim?” she asked, while taking a long drag from a thin cigarette holder.

“Who wants to know?” I answered. Suspicion is, after all, my middle name.

She was less than impressed.

“A prospective client and a lady. You would do well to remember both of these qualities.”

By unfortunate coincidence, her current position and outfit had me a little confused as to which “qualities” she was referring to. However I quickly came to my senses and bowed; never let it be said that Korisius Scrim, Private Detective is not a gentleman.

“Madam, you will have to forgive me. I am rarely lucky enough to be in the presence of people of your class. I am, but of course, your humble servant.”

Flattery always works with these types. Where before there was a frown, now blossomed a smile; where before a purse was closed in a vice of suspicion, now I could see  the promising glimmer of gold coins.

“Well, Mr. Scrim! You are too kind! Very well, let us be friends.”

“Yes, let’s,” I answered while serving her a rather large helping of the “good” moonshine. To her credit she sipped it as daintily as if I’d just served her a Thelan Rouge ’57.

“Now, to business, Mr. Scrim. I am coming to you because I have nowhere else to turn. I am in desperate need of your help.”

“Well your ladyship, I’m at your complete disposal. What appears to be the matter? Blackmail? Somebody following you? Husband a cheater?”

The slap knocked my hat clean off my balding head and sent it spinning into the small pile of empty bottles behind the desk.

“Trouble.” I thought to myself as I straightened myself to face the furious woman. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that it was not fury but sadness that distorted her face.

“My…my Walter would never cheat! He…he didn’t leave me! He’s disappeared!”

Tears flooded her eyes and for a moment, I was speechless. A quick search through my liquor cabinet resulted in the discovery of a very old handkerchief. I proffered it to her and she immediately blew a few tornado-like gusts that almost made Mother’s portrait fall from its precarious spot above the dresser.

“Oh Mr. Scrim. I’m so very sorry for hitting you…it’s just…I’m distraught!”

I resisted the reflex to roll my eyes: there where probably blind and deaf monks in Surthoni that by now where aware of the lady’s condition.

“There, there milady. Now, tell me all about your husband’s disappearance.”

The story was like the dame: trouble.

Lady leaves in the morning to go out about town with her friends. Husband stays at home with a full contingent of armed guards. Lady returns and finds the manor robbed. No sign of the husband or guards except for a few dinged-up pieces of armour and a few scraps of clothing.

“Any…blood on that clothing, miss?” I asked, doing my best to appear caring.

“I don’t know! I didn’t stay long enough to notice!”

Soon after, she left, carrying a story of disgrace in her wake.

It seems that her husband’s family didn’t like Olina’s version of what went down. They accused her of foul play and were threatening to take her before the high magistrate if their cut of the family fortune didn’t appear by next week.

I had my work cut out for me.

As I walked along the salt-stained streets of Port Xirshe, my mind wondered along the list of unsavoury characters that I’d had the misfortune to cross during my previous investigation. Which one of those cutthroats would be most likely to go after a rich nobleman? And how could they pull off his murder as well as the massacre of a dozen guards?

I didn’t have any immediate candidates, which lead me to believe that I was dealing with someone new.

Or foreign.

I swerved and dashed down an alley, making for the Gutted Guppy.

The story continues in episode II

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