“I, Grizvald the Ghoul—you may call me Gigi—am the finest detective in all of Otherealm!” The diminutive spirit punctuated his claim with a quick jab of his fist. He returned to pacing before the gathering of creatures of the night; The guests at tonight’s party. “Or, well, the finest in this mansion, anyway.”
He reached a window that looked out into the shadowed grounds, turned, and continued his manic march. His path was visible to all as ectoplasmic trails along the floor of the old manor’s library. “I have detected until there was no detecting left to be detected. As a result of this most exhaustive investigation, I’ve come to the conclusion that the killer is in this very room.”
An incredulous murmur rumbled from the gathering of creatures.
“Are you sure?” Someone in the cavernous room asked. “Maybe the culprit was the room itself!”
“Don’t be absurd! It’s not the room. The floor did it!” said another.
“Scoff. Scoff, I say!” Scoffed somebody else. " 'Twasn’t the room nor the floor. 'Twas the ceiling, since nobody ever looks up!"
Talk about a sarcastic crowd.
“All right, all right!” Gigi yelled. “Settle down and give me your attention, if you please.”
The rabble died down a bit. The various creatures of Otherealm turned and looked at and through the hazy ghoul.
“Earlier this evening, a murder was committed in this very room. It was a violent affair full of blood, mayhem, and a lot of contradictory clues.” Gigi looked to the corner of the room where a pile of meat cuts towered. Like a gory puzzle, if reassembled, they would constitute a massive centaur. But, much like Humpty Dumpty, there would be no putting him back together again. “It’s almost as if someone is trying to get away with murder.”
The ghoulish detective cast a steely gaze at the crowd. “But that shan’t happen. Oh, no. Not while this ghoul is on the case.”
Gigi knew the victim. His name was Ken, and he was a mountain of a centaur who had loved betting on anything and everything. And, annoyingly, he seemed to never lose. The ghoul’s mouth twisted into a wry grin. Well, nobody can win them all.
“You, fairy-boy,” Gigi pointed to a Falstaffian fairy that was hovering nearby. “Where were you approximately—” He sniffed the chunks of gore in the corner"—three hours, twenty-one minutes, and thirty-nine seconds ago?"
“Me? I was here in the library the whole time, but I didn’t see anything! I heard a neigh and a splattering sound, and when I turned around, that corner looked like some kind of abattoir.” The chubby fae bobbed in the air and crossed its arms. “But I couldn’t have done it, anyway. Look at me. I’m too small to have dismembered that centaur.”
“A likely story,” Gigi smirked. “But I’ve learned to never underestimate the strength of a lover scorned!”
“Lover? I hated horse-face. He stepped on my cousin last year and didn’t even apologize.”
“Ah, so you admit to having a motive to kill him,” Gigi said excitedly, hopping a little.
“I guess so. Everybody here has a motive, though. I mean, Ken was a huge dick,” the rotund fairy said.
“That he did,” slurred a nymph in the back and then hiccuped.
" ‘Was.’ I said was a big dick! Get your head out of the gutter," the fairy snarled.
A stretched-looking vampire standing at the back of the library cleared his throat. “This is getting us nowhere. Shouldn’t we get everyone’s statements and have CSI investigate the crime scene?”
Gigi somehow clucked his incorporeal tongue. “What do you think this is, some human-town? We don’t do any of that nonsense. We do it the old-fashioned way. You… You aren’t a human, are you?” He asked suspiciously.
“What? No! Well, not anymore. I mean, I’m a vampire obviously, look at these things,” he said, pointing at two absurdly long canine teeth. “I’ve only just learned how to speak with these damn things in my mouth.”
“So you’re new to Otherealm?”
“Perhaps you aren’t aware that murder is illegal in these parts? I mean, god knows, you humans—sorry, your former human brethren—kill each other ad nauseam.”
“Actually, it’s illegal for humans too.”
“Pfft. And you expect me to believe that? Do you think I was just spawned yesterday?” Gigi turned his attention to a werewolf who had been quiet. Too quiet.
“So wolfy… You sure are being quiet.” Gigi squinted. “Too quiet.”
The furry creature turned its big brown eyes on him and said, “Please, sir, might I be allowed to leave?” Her voice quivered. “I have sick pups at home that need attending to.”
Gigi laughed. “That won’t work on me! Don’t you know? Ghouls aren’t susceptible to puppy-dog eyes.”
“Dammit,” the werewolf said in a suddenly deeper voice.
“And where were you at the time of the murder, pray tell?”
“I was, well…” The hairy monster squirmed in her seat a little. “I was in the backyard.”
“Ah, and who was there with you? Can anyone corroborate your story?”
“No.” The werewolf fidgeted even more. “Nobody, I was… I-I” She took a deep breath. “I was taking a dump, okay?”
Gigi blinked. “Outside? Why didn’t you use the loo?”
An old vampire stood near the door, her back ramrod straight. Sneering, her entire posture seemed to scoff. “Because I wouldn’t let her.”
Gigi’s eyebrows met in the middle of his forehead. “Why?”
“You’ve never seen a bathroom after a werewolf was through with it, have you?”
The lycanthrope crossed her arms.
Gigi sniffed. “I find the whole idea of washrooms offensive. You corporeals with your secretions and ablutions… Yuck. I’m happy to be incorporeal. Far less messy.”
The dusty vampire tilted her nose at the floor and the streaks of ectoplasm that oozed beneath Gigi. “You don’t say.”
“Ah-hem. A-anyway. Where have you been this evening?” Gigi asked the old vampire whose wrinkles had wrinkles.
“It’s my year to host the Allhallowtide party, so I’ve been stuck cleaning up messes, mostly.” Her eyes flicked down to Gigi’s translucent feet, where some fresh ectoplasm plopped to the floor. She wrinkled her nose then her eyebrows jumped. “Oh, and I was smoke for a little while there. I needed a break.”
“I didn’t know you smoked,” a ruddy little gnome squeaked.
“I don’t smoke… I was smoke.”
Gigi nodded. “Yes, yes.” Old vampires could temporarily vaporize themselves. And any creature that can become incorporeal was all right in his book. He glanced over the library and frowned. “I grow tired of all your lies and misdirections.” He floated up, high enough to be seen by the entire room, and raised a fist. “I know who is to blame for this tragedy!”
They all looked at him in silence.
“It was the butler, of course,” Gigi smirked. “It is always the butler.”
A gasp went up from the crowd.
The host tilted her head and flicked her wrist, palm up. “But I don’t have a butler. I ate the last one a hundred and twenty years ago.”
“Ah. Of course. I knew this.” Gigi cleared his throat. “That was just a test. You pass.”
The vampire rolled her eyes.
“There is only one conclusion that lines up with all the facts. You are all guilty. You each took turns stabbing and dismembering the victim!”
Everybody shook their head at him or crossed their arms. Someone in the back blew a raspberry.
“Wrong! I win the bet.” A voice rose from seemingly inside the centaur’s corpse-pile. A ghostly horse-face popped up and guffawed at Gigi. “Dude. Everybody did it? So lame.”
“Dammit,” Gigi crossed his arms. “Fine. So who did kill you?”
“Nobody, I have a mystical disease that causes spontaneous limb separation.”
“What? How could I have possibly deduced that?”
“Actually, it’s a pretty common cause of death for centaurs.”
“B-but… That’s cheating! It wasn’t a murder at all, it was death by natural causes.”
“True. But you didn’t guess that either. So I still win.”
Gigi sneered at the centaur. “Fat-boy-fairy was right. You are a dick.”
The centaur laughed again.
“A disease, eh? I always thought that centaurs just tasted so good that they were divvied up when they die,” Gigi said.
“What? No way, man.” The centaur huffed and looked at his corpse. “I mean, look at that. No butcher could cut such straight lines.”
Gigi glanced at the pile of parts and had to admit, it would take a master butcher to separate the muscles from the bone and cartilage so cleanly. It was almost artistic, in a macabre sort of way.
“Well…” The werewolf walked over and picked up a sizable piece of flank. “They do taste good.” She bit into the meat. “Mmmm. Not too gamey.”
“Dibs on the prairie oysters,” the nymph called from the back.
Gigi’s face twisted in revulsion. “Eating. Gross.”
The centaur watched the werewolf chew. “I really do look tasty. Man, I’m gonna miss eating.”
Gigi floated up and put his arm around the ghostly centaur and ushered him out of the library, right through a massive bookshelf. “Trust me. You won’t.”