Slothenburg Confidential; Chapter 2

 Thigpen pulled the whistle out from the neck of his tunic and gave it a loud, shrill blast. He followed that with three short bursts, and waited. If anyone was around they would have heard the whistles, it was so eerily quiet here. Thigpen held the lantern up and looked around. He thought he saw movement in the windows above the shuttered tavern but he wasn’t sure. In the distance he heard two short whistles. Another constable was on the way.

Turning his attention back to what looked like a body in the water, Thigpen lowered the lantern to let his own infravision function fully. There wasn’t anyone in the dark that he could see. There wasn’t anything living out there. No frogs, no lizards, not even a rat. It was spooky.

Monklar came jogging down the walkway from the opposite side Thigpen had come down. The huge, slightly overweight, but jovial orog was sweating, his kepi pushed back on his brow. “Hey, Thigpen.” He panted. “What happened?”

The half-orc pointed to the bobbing corpse bumping up against the piling behind the row of boats. “I think that is a body. I need you to stay here while I go check, and if it is, then go fetch somebody to help bring it in.”

Monklar nodded in agreement, and set down his own lantern. “Ok, you got it.”

Thigpen set his lantern into one of the small skiffs, and made sure there was a gaff in it, before he got in and pushed off with an oar. He set his truncheon on the bench next to him, and began rowing the short distance to the pilings. Monklar stood on the walkway and kept an eye out for any trouble, alternating his gaze between the walkway and the waters around Thigpen.

In short order Thigpen reached the body in the water. There was no mistaking it now, it was definitely a dead body. Looked to be a jor, the common term for the swamp orcs indigenous to the coreland. Using the gaff, Thigpen hooked the corpse by the trousers it was wearing. The body was shirtless, and face down. It appeared to be male. Thigpen couldn’t hazard a guess as to how long it had been in the water or how long ago the person had died, or even how death had been visited upon this hapless being.

He waved the lantern at Monklar with his free hand. “WE HAVE A CORPSE!” Thigpen shouted. “GO ALERT THE PRECINCT!” Monklar waved his lantern in acknowledgement and headed quickly for the undercity gate to the precinct tower. By now a small crowd was gathering, alerted by the whistles and yelling. Everyone wanted to see what was happening.

This is the first thing that irritated Thigpen during every investigation. People wanted to know what was going on if a crime was committed, but if they actually knew information to help catch a criminal, they didn’t want to share the knowledge.

Thigpen sat in the little boat, one hand on the gaff and the other just resting in his lap. He took a deep breath and watched the little crowd gather. Thigpen found some rope in the bottom of the skiff and made a loose loop. Using the gaff to bring the body closer, he then worked the rope around the feet of the corpse. Pulling it tight, he then secured it to one of the boat’s cleats. He put the gaff in the bottom of the boat and waited for reinforcements to secure the walkway before he rowed back.

It took a few minutes but Monklar returned with half a dozen constables to begin the process of bringing in the body and keeping curious onlookers away. Thigpen rowed the skiff over to the walkway, doing his best to keep the body between the boat and the other constables. One of them took hold of the rope, and a couple of the other constables worked a rope around the upper part of the torso so that the corpse could be hoisted out of the water. On the count of three the constables on the walkway heaved, and rolled the dead body on the walkway with a ghastly wet thud.

Thigpen tied up the boat, and climbed out to examine the dead man. The other constables kept the growing crowd at bay, while Thigpen tried to determine what had happened. It was a jor, alright, and it had been dead for about a week. It had on trousers and boots, but no other clothing. No pouch or satchel was present, or any way of identifying who this man had been. There were large, conspicuous fang bites in the throat. Almost everyone present knew that could mean a vampire. But the exact cause of death would have to be determined by the local doctor. And that meant getting the body to the upper city.

One of the constables had brought a stretcher, and they slid the body onto it, covering it with a blanket. Thigpen took the lead, and with Monklar’s help pushed aside the bystanders so the constables could get through. They took the body up at the nearest available staircase, and began making their way through the upper city to the only doctor in the precinct. His name was Igrandir, and for a human he was considered a most sinister fellow. Rumors surrounded why he had moved to Slothjemia from Geldenreich, and almost everyone thought he was up to no good. That did nothing to prevent him from continuing a thriving medical practice, of course. He might be an evil ne’er-do-well, but he was a doctor, and he knew anatomy inside and out.

There wasn’t much of a wait to see the doctor, and when he heard from his assistant that there was a body in route, he had cleared out his patients and made his examination room ready. The assistant left the constables waiting outside of the office for just a few minutes, and then they were allowed to bring the deceased in to determine how he had died.

Igrandir had them set the body on the large exam table, and with that done, Thigpen told the constables they could go, and thanked them for their time. Monklar hurried back to resume patrolling, and a couple other constables were going to see if they could scour the area where the body was found for any evidence of what had transpired. Igrandir, in the meanwhile, began to take a long, serious look at the remains he had been brought.

The doctor and his assistant carefully cut off the dead man’s trousers and boots, setting them aside in case Thigpen wanted them. Most obviously the jor had been bitten in the throat, and there was no sign of other open wounds. Igrandir made note of the marks, measured their spacing, and took some cloth to swab the bite marks. He made sure these bits of cloth were handled carefully, placing them in small jars for later testing. Then he and his assistant, with help from Thigpen, rolled the jor over to look at his back.

There were two odd markings on the jor’s back; long bruises with tiny indentions that ran from right below his rib cage up towards where the spine met the shoulder blades. The doctor took a magnifying glass, and with a pair of tweezers removed a number of small, coarse hairs, putting them into yet another little jar. He stood up straight, and looked at Thigpen.

“I wouldn’t worry about this being the work of a vampire, constable.” He could see that Thigpen was relieved by this. “But something did drain the blood out of this man. And, I suspect, anything else liquid in his body.” The doctor thumped the lower back of the dead jor. It sounded completely hollow. “I’ll run a few tests, and cut him open to be sure, but I think you have a monster lurking under the city.”

Thigpen couldn’t hide his disappointment with that revelation. He had so wanted this to be a simple, straightforward affair. While he was glad it seemed to not be a vampire, he was dismayed that there might be something even more mysterious to be dealt with.

“I’ll come back after my patrol is complete.” Said Thigpen. “I’m sure you’ll have something definitive for me by then.”

The doctor nodded his head, and motioned for his assistant to show the constable out. “Yes, we’ll know in a few hours what we have here.” With that, Igrandir began to get ready to dissect the body on the table. Thigpen was glad to follow the assistant out of the room.

Outside of the doctor’s home, Thigpen sat down for a few moments on the front steps. He gazed down the street, letting his mind wander. He would finish out his patrol, just as he did every other day, and then find out the doctor’s results. He might as well go see how the gang was doing in the undercity. Thigpen stood up and made his way quickly back to where his patrol had been interrupted. Surely this had to have been the only hiccup in the day. What else could happen?

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