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Topic: The Mysterious Body  (Read 2142 times)

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on: August 02, 2013, 09:53:13 PM The Mysterious Body

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The Mysterious Body

The Harpers asked me to write up this incident, as I was around for a lot of it. If anyone who reads this has more information about it... I know things were happening 'here' while I was 'there'... I hope they'll send me a scroll so I can make the report more complete.

I was sailing my skiff down the Kuma Passage recently, coming back to the low country with a load of trade goods from my cousins in the hills. Across from Harper Hall I saw something hung up on the boulders at the south edge of the waterfall. I worked the boat over there. The wind was from the north, blowing spray pretty heavily, but I could tell that the flotsam was a human body. Looked very dead - the clothes were badly slashed, maybe the body too. There was no way I could anchor the skiff there to investigate, so I beached it across the river, near the bridge. I found a Healer apprentice, and later a Hold guard, and told them about the body. Neither seemed very concerned.

The next day I was in Runners' Rest talking with Healer Rodney, Shanna, Heather, Masterhealer John, and Harper Wordmaster Ludo. I told them about finding the body (apparently neither Healer apprentice nor Hold guard had told anyone) and we walked over to look across the river at it. Cynianne came swimming up the river... told us she'd needed to cool off after riding in from her holding. Upon learning what the people were looking at she rushed out of the river, fuming that she'd been swimming with a decomposing body.

While the group was discussing how to reach the body, Ayla popped in displaying a big knife slash in one leg. Cynianne was... more upset than ever. Ayla remembered a man with a knife on a rope. Could someone have slashed her? But why wouldn't she have gone Between to escape an attack?

Rodney examined Ayla while I fetched my skiff and took John across the river to the body. It was of a man, probably dead several days, who seemed to have been attacked by several people with knives. But how could he have gotten to where he was found?

John suggested taking the body to Healers' Hall for examination, and loaded it into my skiff. I got us close to the Hall door, getting under the low bridge by lowering the skiff's mast and letting the southward current in the Passage carry the skiff under the bridge.

The group gathered around the body on the shore in front of Healers, trying to figure out what had happened. Rodney reported that Ayla's wound would heal.

Cynianne said Ayla was very angry at the man... associated him with a rope... and with her secret stash of shiny things. Cynianne said that considering how Ayla had attacked her when she found Ayla's nest, it was possible that the man's injuries were all from the firelizard's teeth and claws. Perhaps he had found her stash on a cliffside, climbed down to it on a rope, and met his end when she returned.

Heather identified the man as the one whom she'd chased off her farm several days earlier when he tried to steal her mother's jewelry and to attack her. That led to the conclusion that he'd attempted a robbery somewhere upstream (Ayla's stash?), somehow been slashed to death (by Ayla?), fallen into the ocean, and been washed down through the Passage until he landed on that little snag of rock.

We wondered who the man was... and whether he might have been one of my folk, which the Holder was likely to assume. Neither I nor the others knew him, which proved nothing. I guessed that he was either one of the refugees from Thread, who've come to shelter in the lower caverns of the Hold, or a renegade from somewhere inland.

John had a couple of apprentices carry the body into the Hall for examination.

He noticed that there was a head injury, suggesting that the man had fallen from somewhere; but there seemed to be no place from which he could have fallen and landed beside the waterfall. Might he have fallen from a cliff on the island in Etamin bay, and floated to the north mouth of Kuma Passage?

We decided that I'd summon my green, Leaf, and try to ask her to 'talk' with Ayla (who had gone to sleep) to find out more about what had happened and where the stash was. Finding it on a cliffside with a rope dangling beside it would connect most of the dots. We also needed to look for signs that the would-be thief had an accomplice (or several).

After Ayla awoke I expressed curiosity to Leaf about Ayla's injury, but all she picked up was anger at the man, a cliff, a rope, and her stash of shinies. That didn't add to what we had already picked up.

The next day I did some sailing around Etamin Bay, looking for cliffs that dropped almost straight into the ocean. I found a spot, near the peak of the firelizards' island, but Rodney and I couldn't find a strong indication of a rope having been tied there. Besides, Ayla was hanging around radiating curiosity but no concern - suggesting that we were nowhere near her stash.

We sailed back to Gianfar, but noticed that Ayla was getting agitated as we approached Fishers Hall and the mouth of the Kuma Passage. I beached my skiff just east of the rivermouth and we got off to look around. Heather and, I think, several other folks happened along. After a while of cliff-scanning, I spotted a straight line going down from the balcony of the Rift Dome.

Heather and I climbed the long winding stairs up the face of the Hold to the Dome, and (very carefully!) peered over the north edge of the balcony. (I was wishing that the ancients had used their strange abilities to put a railing on the edge!) We spotted what looked like the remnants of a rope that could have been tied around one of the Dome pillars and dangled down the cliff.

So my conclusion is that a very stupid, greedy man (from parts unknown had (somehow) gotten the idea (perhaps correct) that Ayla had a stash of "shinies" on that cliff face. He must have decided (probably correctly) that the stash included small jewelry, perhaps loose gemstones, and other valuables. He thought (the fool!) that he could hang a rope down the cliff, climb down (without a safety rope!), rob the stash, climb back up the rope, and escape.

Clearly, Ayla found him there and disagreed with his intent. Disagreed violently. And in the process of being slashed and bitten, he lost his hold on the rope and plummeted to his death. (John said he died from head injuries.) Apparently his body landed in the swirling water at the mouth of Kuma Passage and drifted (there was a brisk wind from the north, the couple of days before I found him) down till it washed up on the rocks beside the waterfall.

No one has claimed the body, which is no surprise. We're very unlikely to learn who he was or where he was from. It's possible that he had an accomplice, but that person ought to have been tied to a pillar and holding a second rope tied around the thief so that he couldn't fall far. However, we found traces of only one rope so he was probably a loner.

And in any case, the average intelligence of people on our island has increased just a little with the removal of this... I'd best just say "person lacking wisdom and other useful traits."

-- Colin
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