Luckily the rest of Thigpen’s patrol went uninterrupted. He did however spend more time on his undercity beat than he normally did. There were people lingering about where the body was found for the rest of the day, and everyone on his beat wanted to know what had happened. Thigpen told them all the same thing.
“We fished a body out of the water, a jor male. Once we find out how he died we’ll know what we’re dealing with. May have just drowned, or been mugged. When we know, you’ll know.” That was as standard a line as there was. It gave enough information that it satisfied curiosity, but it also left the door open for any witnesses to what happened to add their insights. More questions were being asked than being answered, though. Thigpen felt as if this was going to be a slow-moving case.
At the end of his shift Thigpen filled out the papers for finding the jor corpse and left them with the desk sergeant. Word had already reached the shift commander, Captain Johann Ordrander, an elderly hobgoblin who tended to not notice what his constables were up to most of the time. He had sent the two senior investigators for the shift, a lieutenant named Gartran and a sergeant named Petler, out to canvas the neighborhood in the undercity near where the body had been located to ask if anyone had seen anything. Ordrander had left word with the desk sergeant to tell Thigpen to report back after speaking to the doctor. It was pretty much a game of passing notes. Thigpen read the one he was given, and tucked it into his pocket. He told the desk sergeant that he was going over to see the doctor, and that he’d be back later.
It was only early afternoon when Thigpen left the precinct tower. The upper city was alive and humming with activity. A city as big as Slothenburg rarely had a slow time, even more so when so much of the population was naturally nocturnal. While a great many native goblinoids had adjusted to life in the sunlight, their preference was still the nighttime hours of the upper city or the constant darkness of the undercity. Commerce though was held mostly in the daylight hours. Shops were busy, street vendors were hawking their goods, and everywhere people were conducting business oblivious to the fact that somewhere under the city was a monster. Thigpen was eager to know what he was up against and he quickened his pace to get to the doctor’s house to find some answers.
Thigpen rang the bell outside of the doctor’s front door. Igrandir’s assistant answered the door and quickly ushered Thigpen into the parlor outside of the examination room. The assistant knocked softly on the door, and upon hearing an acknowledging grunt from inside, opened it and quietly announced that the constable had returned. Thigpen stood in the parlor and looked at the décor with a disinterested sigh. It was gothic, and heavily so. He liked it. He just wasn’t concerned with it, because right now his mind was on what had drained the blood out of the jor that had been floating below the city.
Soon enough the doctor opened the examination room door wide, and nodded at Thigpen. “Come in, constable. I’ve made some excellent progress in determining how this jor died.” Thigpen walked in and the doctor closed the door behind him. Igrandir pointed at the corpse. “Here, take a look at this, if you aren’t squeamish.”
The doctor pulled back the sheet that was over the body, and Thigpen braced himself. Igrandir took a pointer off the table, and directed it at the abdominal cavity of the dead jor. Thigpen looked, and was surprised he wasn’t sickened. There was nothing there except bone, muscle, and skin. No internal organs at all. He must have had a quizzical look on his face, because Igrandir laughed.
“Exactly, constable.” He set the pointer down. “All of the internal organs had been liquefied and then removed through these holes.” The doctor pointed at the holes in the jor’s throat. “Down around the ankles you can see that the body had been hung upside down for quite some time. I’d guess a week.” He pointed back to the upper part of the body. “The liquids accumulated here and were siphoned off over the course of that time.”
Thigpen put his hands on his hips, and narrowed his gaze. “So somehow this guy had his insides turned into soup, and then something sucked it out over several days?” He looked at the doctor. “What can do that?”
Igrandir smiled, picked up the pointer again, and used it to direct Thigpen’s attention to the little jars on the shelf behind him. “The answer is in those jars.” He looked at the constable and his smile faded. “There were traces of venom around those bites, and there was plenty of leftover venom in the abdominal cavity. Highly toxic, very caustic. You are dealing with a spider.”
Thigpen’s eyes bulged. “How big would this spider have to be?” He looked at the dead jor. “It would have to be enormous to string up a fully-grown jor and do this much damage.”
Igrandir nodded. “Yes, enormous. As big as a man, maybe bigger. Not unheard of, certainly. Such terrors have been catalogued by adventurers for centuries.” The doctor took a deep breath. “The existence of a giant spider wouldn’t be any serious consequence, except to somebody unfortunate like this guy.” The doctor motioned for Thigpen to help him roll the body over, which he did.
“But this is troubling. Here.” The doctor used the pointer to show Thigpen the curious wounds with the odd indentions. “This fellow had been grabbed and held tightly when he was attacked. Look how deep this bruising is. The thick, auburn-colored hairs I removed are definitely from a spider, and a large one at that. But how it held this man when it bit initially is out of the ordinary for any arachnid attack I have ever seen.” The doctor set the pointer back down and held his own arms up to illustrate his point.
“Imagine, if you will, that this fellow was being embraced. Held like a lover, if you will.” The doctor bent his arms up at the elbow, and brought them in towards himself. “This would leave those marks. Exactly these marks.”
“So this guy was being embraced by a ginormous spider, like a lover?” Thigpen looked at the doctor incredulously. “Are you certain?”
Igrandir nodded his head. “Precisely.” He folded his arms over his chest. “And how that happened is an utter mystery to me.”
Thigpen sighed. He removed his kepi and scratched his head. “I’ll inform my captain. Then I suppose that I will need to see an expert on arachnids.” He put his cap back on. “Luckily I happen to know just such an authority. Thank you, doctor. Your help is greatly appreciated.”
“I’ll send a bill to your captain.” Said Igrandir. “Do you want me to send the body anyplace in particular?”
“I don’t know yet. I’ll have somebody come around and claim it. If you could just wrap it up in canvas, I’d appreciate it.” Replied Thigpen.
“Certainly.” Said the doctor. “Have a lovely day, constable.”
With that, Thigpen left the doctor’s examination room. The assistant showed him to the door. Out in the street, Thigpen paused to consider his options. He wasn’t entirely certain how he was going to phrase his report to the captain. Nor was he certain how he was going to identify the dead jor. But he did have an idea. As he began walking back to the precinct tower, he thought about how best to proceed. He began to walk a little more quickly. He was going to be quite busy the next few days.