Headed by a Snake
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Headed by a Snake
Author :CouchSurfingDragon
© Wuxiaworld

516 Access

"You know..." Giorgio slowly turned back to face them... "Everything I've done... was for you, Lucrezia."

The old Popoto's voice grew deep, dark... it was almost... evil. 

Lone clenched his fists... He really wished had his weapon... or his wolf companion. 

"F-for me?" Lucrezia choked on a sob, "The lies... the secrets, Giorgio... Just why would you hide the truth from me?"

The Popoto swiped his arm to the side, "You deserve... the absolute best, my love. And without my troublesome dealings... I would scarcely be able to afford it on my own."

"No, dear..." Lucrezia gasped. "You didn't..."

"I hope..." Giorgio gulped, placing a palm over his heart, "that somesun... you'll be able to forgive me."

"Giorgio!" The older woman screamed, "Tell me you didn't!! We... you... you make more than enough money for us to--"

"I! Lied!" Giorgio grit his teeth. "There. I said it... I lied to you, my love. I'm... I'm not a wealthy president of a mercantile association... I'm... I'm just a fraud."

"Eh?" Lone looked to Coraline. Did she understand what was going on? 

Coraline's jaw was unhinged, "Hah?"

...She was supposed to be the smart one. If she didn't get it, Lone wasn't even going to try. 

Tears began to fall from Giorgio's wide eyes, wetting his tiny Popoto mustache and beard... "I... I took a loan from a friend to afford this trip. It's our second honeymoon... It had to be... perfect."

He tilted his head up, "I'll pay it back, for sure! I've always paid back my loans! My credit is as solid as Tyrion steel!"

"Oh... Oh, Giorgio..." Lucrezia shook her head, "I... I also have a confession to make."

Coraline turned to Lone, pursing her lips. Lone responded by wearing a wide grimace. 

The older Popoto woman took off her embroidered gloves... "All of the jewelry I wear... I borrow from my friends. All of the clothes... I make, myself."

She chuckled to herself, "I know the designers, certainly... 

"But these terrible hands..." She raised her ungloved hands, her fingers covered in bandages, "This is the result of being poked and pricked with pins all sun." 

Lucrezia raised her crying face, "I only ever wanted to be beautiful for you, Giorgio."

"Oh, Lucrezia..." Giorgio sighed, approaching her. "You only grow more beautiful, each sun."

"Oh, Giorgio..."

"Lucrezia, my love..."

Coraline loudly slumped down into one of the dining chairs, placing her hands over her eyes, "The dagger, Mister Giorgio?"

"The dagger?" Giorgio turned to the side, furrowing his brows. 

"...OH!!!" The Popoto leaped up, nearly half his height, "THE DAGGER!!" 

Speeding towards Lone, the child-sized gentleman latched onto his gambeson. 

"I was FRAMED, SIR!!!" Giorgio shouted. 

Lone frowned. It seemed like the Popoto was trying to shake him... but that's not how moving a bigger person worked. Mister Giorgio was essentially alternating between pushing away and pulling towards him... 


Coraline sighed, "Please... explain, Mister Giorgio."

"Someone used my DAGGER to stab SOMEONE!!" Giorgio wailed, "Maybe... maybe it was even the MURDER WEAPON!!" 

Lone gently peeled Giorgio's hands off of him... "Was it... you? Sir?"

"ELEVEN HEAVENS, NOOOOO!!" Giorgio sat on the floor, choking and sobbing into his tiny palms. "I... I turned in the dagger to Olesya! It was in the vaults! I would never, ever do such a thing!"

Coraline sighed, looking over to Lone with a half-hearted smile, "I don't... think it's worth using my truth-finding skill on Mister Giorgio."

"Y-yeah..." He sighed. "I don't think so, either."

...

⟬ Afternoon, second sun. Twenty bells until Cersei's Rest. ⟭ 

"So... you think the murderer planted the weapon in the Popoto's room?" Elladan offered. 

Coraline shrugged. That was the best explanation she could come up with. 

"He's still a suspect..." She admitted... "and unfortunately, the evidence is against him."

"What I don't get..." Lone rubbed his chin, "is how the dagger could have made its way there?"

Coraline sighed... "I don't want to say it, but... it would make the most sense if Mister Giorgio placed it there, himself..."

She reclined in her chair and put her palms forward. 

"It's like this... Let's say... he went into Master Highblade's room. He gets behind him, (somehow)... he stabs him in the lower back, he slits his throat." She made a cutting motion across her neck... "He heads back to his room. He hides the dagger... changes out of his clothes..."

Coraline paused to catch her breath, "--and then... meets up with everyone in the hallway."

Elladan bared his teeth, discontent, "Why... would a high elf... answer the door for a Popoto merchant?"

"I have no idea," Coraline groaned... 

Lone leaned back, resting on his folded palms, "And don't forget how much wine Mister Giorgio had..."

"Right... he certainly didn't have the faculties to... murder a high elf Warrior..." Coraline placed her hands on the sides of her temples... "And Lady Lucrezia would have seen all of that..."

Elladan shook his head, "Maybe... Lady Lucrezia is... a damn good actress...?"

Coraline sighed. It didn't sound like Elladan believed his own theory. 

She looked over to Mister Lone... who was... staring at her... chest? 

"...Key," Lone declared. 

Coraline tilted her head, "Key?" 

Oh. She was wearing the Captain's Key on a thin chain on her neck. Right. 

"Right, access," The half-elf nodded. "Who has access to... the dagger-- it should have been in the vaults, right? And who can get into Mister Giorgio's room?"

Lone took in a breath through his nostrils, "That'd be... Mister Giorgio, his wife... and Coraline-- but she's always stayed in a group and hasn't been anywhere near the rooms."

"Right," Coraline held up the Captain's Key... "Oh, and also, Miss Maisie can open the doors to clean."

Lone raised an eyebrow, "Oh. That makes sense. Does she have a key, too?"

"She does not," Elladan shook his head, "When I went with her to clean, the doors... just seemed to open for her."

"They what?" Coraline's eyes widened, "Oh... I see. There's... someone else with access to the rooms... and the vault."

Elladan and Lone shared a look of confusion. 

The cheek-scarred boy leaned forward, "Who is it, Coraline?" 

Coraline bit her upper lip... She was going to sound stupid. 

"Beatrice..."

Elladan narrowed his eyes... "Who is... Bee-uh... treechay?"

"She's... she's the spirit of the Golden Eagle," Coraline frowned.

The half-elf sucked in air through his teeth... "You can't be serious, Sapling," 

"Hah... haa..." Coraline laughed-sighed in response... 

Elladan rolled his eyes, "That *really* doesn't tell us anything new."

"It's relevant information!" Coraline slammed her fist on the table... the sound it made wasn't nearly as loud as she hoped, for how much it hurt her hand. 

"So the most likely murderer is the late ship Captain-- the only person who can speak with the Elemental Spirit," Elladan shrugged. "Which again, only reinforces the fact that, in a few suns, Mister Giorgio's going to be renting out his throat in a Tyrion prison." 

Coraline glanced over her shoulder. The elderly Popoto couple were sitting together at the other end of the dining hall, holding hands and talking about nonsense. 

It was very likely that they knew their fate. Even though the evidence against Mister Giorgio was weak... it would be enough for the Church's inquisitors to incarcerate him. 

"YOoooo!" A certain big, burly tiefling sauntered into the dining hall. Ramon's thick, black and white coat of plates should have made more noise but was largely muted by whatever enchantment had been cast on it. 

A sullen and somber Maisie followed him wordlessly. She looked like she was dead on her feet, her eyes puffy from tears and shambling like an Undead zombie rather than a human. 

"Why are y'all lookin' so... saaad?" The tiefling crossed his arms. 

Coraline immediately spotted something she did not like. 

Resting on the big man's waist was Olesya's sword. 

"Mister Ramon..." Coraline bit her upper lip, "Why do you have that?" 

"Eh? This thing?" Ramon patted the sheathed weapon, "Oh. Yeah. I use a sword, myself-- a two-hander, though. This arming sword'll do. Gotta protect Miss Maisie from the bad guy! Ain't that right, babe?"

Maisie let out a long, depressed sigh, "I don't really care..."

"See?" Ramon grinned, "What she means to say is 'I appreciate my strong and handsome protector very much.'"

Elladan groaned, rolling his eyes, "Ramon, really. Two people have literally died."

"Come on, Squinty," the big man bared his jagged teeth. "We're adventurers-- we deal with blood and death and vengeful spirits every damned sun."

The half-elf took in a deep breath and sighed... but then narrowed his eyes to thin squints as his companion suggested. 

"Ramon..."

"Yeap?"

"...Where is Felicity?"

The tiefling furrowed his brows, "It's just been me an' Maisie-- I've been tellin' her about all our good deeds. She might even join us after all this is over."

Elladan stood up, "Ramon. I'm not going to ask again. Where. Is. My. Woman?"

"Seven hells, man. I dunno?" Ramon shrugged. "Thought she was wit' you?"

The half-elf stomped towards the exit, literally growling, "If I can't find her in the next ten minutes, I swear to the gods, I'm going to *kill* you."

"Hah! I'd like to see ya try!" The tiefling laughed. 

Coraline stood up, pointing at the door Elladan exited, "E-everyone! We have to search the ship!"

She pointed to Tychon, specifically, "You too, Sir!"

The young master stood up with a sigh, still holding his puzzle box, "Right..."

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