“Ezekiel 'Zeke' Tripman.” Red was flicking through a folder on his desk. “You've an interesting history. Arrested for armed robbery when you were thirteen...”
“Destruction of Public Property aged sixteen...”
“I worked for the state department for a while.” Zeke smiled and pushed his overbearing haircut to one side. “I had access to my own criminal record.” He rubbed his head a little, his hair bouncing as his hand moved it up and down. “I couldn't resist.”
“Is any of this true?” Lucy asked, leaning forward. “I ask because if part of it's true, I might be willing to believe that it's not a clever way of hiding something.”
“Public Property.” Zeke's expression grew ashen. “I knocked over a statue.”
“Well... THE statue.”
“Which statue?” Red asked, looking up from folder of notes.
“The one in Mas City National Park.”
Lucy's eyes widened somewhat. “You're the one who knocked over the statue of Richard Ulysses, the first President of Towan? The destruction of which caused a public outcry?”
Red turned to Lucy. “You're a former ranger. Mas City National Park, by any chance?”
“Yep.” Lucy's expression grew dim as she leaned over the table. Zeke jumped backwards in his chair slightly. Lucy's arm reached forward, causing Zeke to let out a small scream. She grabbed his hand and began to shake it, smiling.
“It was an ugly statue.”
“Ha... haha...” Zeke said, adjusting himself in his seat. “Yeah...”
“I'm going to be frank, Zeke. You're not here because we think you killed anyone. Your alibi is solid. It's backed by security cameras. I just need to ask you a few questions.”
“The company you worked for, Crisis Solutions, they were a premium-rate freight company, right?”
Lucy tapped a pen on the table. “Anything... supernatural involved?”
“Hm... Some people say our whole world is pretty supernatural. I'm a Were, did your file tell you that?” Zeke laughed.
“A were?” Red narrowed his eyes. “Traditional, I assume?”
“Yep. Traditional-style Werebear.”
“Werebear... Man...” Red laughed. “Now, back to my question. Anything unusual?”
“Well... Zeke considered the question for a moment. “We did have to deliver something pretty big to Hra.”
“Hra? The Monastery?” Red began tapping his fingers on the desk. “Any idea what was inside?”
“No, I only saw the manifest.”
“No, nothing else that I can think of. We're normally just big business. That's the only thing even remotely unusual for any reason at all.”
“Hm.” Red stood up, opening the door. “Thank you, I think this is a lead we can use. We'll call you if you need anything.”
Zeke stood and stepped out of the room quickly, leaving Red and Lucy alone.
“Sounds suspicious to me. Hra's Monastery is the old kind. If there's a ritual involved, they'd know about it.” Red reached for his coat.
“Field trip, then?”
“There's nothing here.” Melee, Blackwood and Sepia were standing in the offices that the murders had taken place. “No markings, no blood trails, no nothing.”
“Well, the night's still early.” Blackwood rolled his eyes. “Anything jumping out at you about where the bodies were?” He pointed to markers on the floor. Each was a triangular wedge, the base of which pointed to the head, and the apex of which pointed to the legs. “Anything at all?”
“They all seem random. No one was in their seats, though. Could that mean something?”
“It means this wasn't random.”
“I thought the wounds meant that.” Melee made a cutting motion with her hand. “They're pretty specific.”
“But with the right incantation, you could produce something like them.” Blackwood shrugged. “Removing the bodies from their chairs seems to suggest it was more... practical a solution.”
“Actual incisions made by actual people.” Sepia kneeled down. “Hang on.” He lay on his back and pulled himself under a table. Melee and Blackwood quickly joined him, struggling to fit.
“What's that...? Looks like some sort of Glyph.”
“A glyph would be more magical in nature.” Blackwood brushed his finger against it. “There'd be some form of residue. No, this is just a mark. Someone's signature.”
“Three circles inside a curved-cornered square. Pretty boring signature.” Melee said flatly.
“It's not someone's doodling with a letter opener. Someone sat here and carved it out. Quickly, too. Look at the dent it's made. Shallow but sharp, but getting shallower, like someone dug a knife in with a quick blow and pulled to make the shapes.”
“Pulled? Not pushed?”
“It gets shallow quickly. Pushing would be stronger, it'd keep a deeper shape. This person had to pull, means he was probably...” Sepia shifted backwards slightly, his head just under the table, his body stick all the way out the other side. Melee and Blackwood stood up, giving him room to move. “About here?” Means he sat down first and pulled himself under. Couldn't go any further because there was something blocking him... But he did get a better vantage point. The inner shapes – the three circles – they're deeper. Means he shifted vantage point, which means...” Sepia pulled himself out again and ran around the table. “Body sixteen. It was lying on the other side of the table. Check for bruising. The amateur artist probably kicked it to get more room.”
“What about this table?” Blackwood asked, confused. “Surely we should focus on whose it was?”
“Go ahead, but find me Body Sixteen.” Sepia turned, a look of excitement in his eyes. “Everyone else here was staged deliberately. Careful cuts, laying them flat, cleaning up afterward. Whoever Body Sixteen was, he's the one person our marauding mutilators didn't mind roughing up.”