The Needlehole Mysteries

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Post by Mirabella Sat Jan 28, 2012 11:14 pm

Oh my...

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Post by Eldorion Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:07 am

The Mystery of the Coal Scuttle

Part 6



Sgt. Herring had the good grace to look ashamed. “Is Mirabella our primary suspect now?”

“Yes, I think so. But we need to find the actual Scuttle before anything else. Find the Scuttle, and we find the culprit behind all of this.”


“Should we go search the lake, then?” said Sgt. Herring. “That's still the only place we've found incriminating evidence, even if we can't be certain of it anymore.”

“I think we'll need to go back to the Banks Estate, in any event,” said DI Eldo.

It was not a long journey back to the Estate, so the policehobbits traveled on foot rather than trying to find their commandeered pony cart (which may well have been returned to Michel Delving by its shanghaied owner).

They were scarcely halfway there when they spied a strange figure on the side of the road. It would have been quite tall, but was hunched over as if life had suddenly unleashed all its challenges and adversities upon the poor soul at once. A massive growth of hair covered most of the front side of the figure, which began to walk from the bog on one side of the road to the woods on the other.

“Perhaps this one could be of some help if he saw anything,” Sgt. Herring muttered under his breath. The two investigators halted.

“Good afternoon, citizen!” called DI Eldo in as friendly a manner as any Forumshire police officer could manage while in uniform. The figure looked up at the sight and sound of the two policehobbits.

“Greetings,” repeated DI Eldo. “We're passing through the area in the course of an investigation. Did you happen to see anything strange in this area last night? Particularly in the bog, if you happened to be there earlier.”

The figure halted and stoop up a little bit straighter. It was now apparent that the hair was in fact a beard. A luxuriant beard it would have been, were it not so dirty and unkempt. The figure began to speak in a croaking voice that seemed not to have been used in a long while.

“I don't help Sheriffs, not since you lot arrested everyone at the Occupy Hobbiton protests!” he said with surprising fierceness. “Go away. We don't want your kind here.”

DI Eldo was about to react angrily, but Sgt. Herring but a cautioning hand on his shoulder and stepped forward slightly. “I am sorry that you are aggrieved, but I am new to this country. My name is Sgt. Ringo Herring, of Skattykatzenfjord, Mr …?”

“Beard. Gandalf's Beard, they call me.”

“Well, Mr Gandalf's Beard, I'm afraid I don't know about Occupy Hobbiton, but I do know that we were sent here to investigate the disappearance of one of the members of this community. We would greatly appreciate if you could tell us if you saw anything suspicious in the bog since the crime was committed in this area.”

Gandalf's Beard seemed to struggle internally for a moment before beginning to speak grudgingly. “There were a group of people, townsfolk I think, passing through the bog last night. I could tell they didn't live in the bog by the way they talked.”

“Could you tell anything about them? Age, gender, anything?” said Sgt. Herring eagerly.

“They were all women, not that there is anything wrong with a group of women being out together at night!” said Gandalf's Beard. He was a very politically correct Hobbit and was always sensitive to the concerns of women and minorities. “I couldn't tell for sure but I think they were younger. Two of them were, anyway.”

“Did you catch any names?”

“No,” said Gandalf's Beard. He grunted. “That's all I can tell you. This is a mighty uncomfortable business, helping you boys, but I do hope you find whatever poor sap's gone and disappeared. Now if you'll excuse me…” He resumed walking across the road before melting away into the trees on the other side.

“That was abrupt,” said DI Eldo.

Sgt. Herring smiled. “In my own country of Skattykatzenfjord, we have people who go off into the wilderness and live on their own when they need to take a break from life. Of course, that's easier in a place that is mostly wilderness, but I'm not surprised that this bog attracts the same sort.”

“Hippies,” DI Eldo said disapprovingly, as he shook his head.

* * *

“I think we should search the bog rather than the lake,” said DI Eldo after a moment of thought. “What the Beard told us is consistent with the idea that Mirabella and Pretty were responsible for last night's events. The bog would be a better hiding place for the scuttle than the lake, anyway. More remote.”

“Perhaps,” said Sgt. Herring. “But what about the marks at the lakeshore? And who would the third woman be?”

“I don't know,” admitted DI Eldo. “But I'm willing to bet that once we find the Scuttle it will be easy to figure out the rest.”

With that, the two crossed the road and jumped down the slight lip into the bog. “They don't call it a bog for nothing!” complained Sgt. Herring as he stood up to his knees in the mix of mud and stagnant water.”

“Gandalf's Beard came out of the bog, so there must be a path through on more or less solid ground,” said DI Eldo, attempting to retain his official dignity when he had just been splashed up to the unmentionables. “We need to find it and follow it.”

After a few minutes of splashing and searching, the policehobbits found a slightly raised bit of earth that appeared to continue further towards the heart of the bog. As they followed the path as quietly as possible, the road seemed very far behind, the trees and grass around them seemed very tall, and all life and sound seemed to be sucked away.

“I don't like it here,” said Sgt. Herring, more because he found the silence oppressive than because he thought the sentiment worth sharing.

“Me neither,” said DI Eldo in a hushed voice. “But I have a feeling we're going to find something important in here. Try not to be conspicuous. It's possible the third conspirator is in here too.”

It is said that the universe has a keen sense of irony, but perhaps it is more likely that there are simply people out there who delight in making it appear so. Whatever the case, it was at that exact moment that a small someone clad all in black, even to the feet, swung down from a platform in the trees and knocked DI Eldo to the ground with a double-kick to the chest. They might have been a Hobbit had there been any distinguishing features visible.

“Sweet Mother of Iluvatar!” yelped Sgt. Herring.

He pulled his pocket crossbow, since guns hadn't been invented yet but police need something with a trigger in order to seem truly badass. Drawing on his years of Fjordlandian military conditioning, the Sergeant planted his feet and took quick but careful aim at the black-clad figure. He let a bolt fly.

The assailant ducked, but not fast enough to escape Fjordlandian professionalism. It was struck in the shoulder and gave a brief, high-pitched cry of pain before apparently muzzling itself. With a final stare at the policehobbits, the stranger turned and fled into the swamp.

Sgt. Herring briefly considered giving chase, but instead he turned to his stricken companion. DI Eldo was gasping for air on the ground as the wind had been knocked out of him. Sgt. Herring tore open the DI's shirt in as apparently-heterosexual a manner as possible to see if he was injured. Apart from the beginnings of some nasty bruises, however, the DI seemed fine.

“Where did … that thing go?” rasped DI Eldo.

“I think she jumped into the trees. It seems like there are ropes and platforms up there for quick and quiet movement. Look.” Sgt. Herring pointed to the tree their attacker had leapt from and the rope now dangling from it.

“You said 'she'.” DI Eldo was starting to breathe normally again. “Why?”

“Well, the sound she made when I shot her certainly sounded female,” said Sgt. Herring. He grimaced, knowing that such a comment would have earned him several months of community in service in a progressive country like Skattykatzenfjord. “Plus you said the third conspirator, who we know is a female, was probably in here just before we were attacked,” he finished hastily.

“Makes sense,” said DI Eldo slowly. We must be close to something they don't want us to find. The scuttle must be here in the bog. There's no other explanation except for pure chance, but the odds of that are preposterous.”

“Do we press on then?” asked Sgt. Herring with some apprehension.

“No.” DI Eldo lowered his voice. “They can't have been expecting us to come stumbling around their secret so quickly. That person will need to warn Mirabella and Pretty. If we can get out of here fast enough, we might be able to catch them before they have a chance to slip away again.”

“Sounds like a plan,” said Sgt. Herring. “Can you walk?”

“I have to,” said DI Eldo. He stood up and winced slightly but started to move forward. “We'll need to hurry. There isn't a second to lose.”


Last edited by Eldorion on Mon Jan 30, 2012 6:25 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Post by Eldorion Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:09 am

Thank you all for reading this far in the story! Very Happy The seventh and final part of the The Mystery of the Coal Scuttle will be posted soon. That will not, however, be the end of DI Eldo and Sgt. Herring's story. Their adventures will continue in The Mystery of Mister Figg, which will immediately follow this one.
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Post by Pettytyrant101 Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:14 am

OOOh a mystery assailant! Keep em coming Eldo- this makes up for the fact there is nothing good on tv till August (when Who returns). I love a good mystery serial! (Does mean I expect you to be writing them till August of course- and with no dip in standards!)

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Post by Mrs Figg Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:22 am

I want to know who the mysterious black clad female is? is it Tauriel? is she wearing that new style of Stig-of- the-Dump coat from Top Shop?
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Post by Orwell Mon Jan 30, 2012 12:47 am

I am deeply impressed, Eldo. I mean it. cheers

Though I fear you have cheated a little. After all, any story with GB in it is automatically improved by at least 50% - and you know it! lol!

{{One day He'll return. I just know it.. Sad }}}

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Post by Eldorion Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:32 am

Cheers, guys! Part six was the longest yet but the final is shaping up to be even longer. I want to do the mystery justice, though I hope the story isn't getting too dark and serious and losing sight of its comedic origin. The most important thing for me is to continue improving though, so I hope I won't let you guys down (though August seems an awfully long time to go). Smile

Orwell wrote:I am deeply impressed, Eldo. I mean it. cheers

Thank you very much, Orwell! That means a lot coming from you. Or should I say, someone who knows the Anonymous Author of the Wholesome Tales. Very Happy
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Post by Orwell Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:43 am

Think nothing of it. And I like the 'darker' flavour. Makes it funnier for me. I'm there taking the story quite seriously, then you say something silly (or quite 'pointed' in a fun way), and I realize I've been sucked into the story and I laugh. That's a fine ability, Eldo. Follow your muse. My gawd... Shocked you seem so growed up nowadays... I remember the days when I baffled you at times. No more it seems! Oh I'm feeling so nostalgic just now... Where did I put those tissues... Crying or Very sad

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Post by Eldorion Mon Jan 30, 2012 5:02 am

The Mystery of the Coal Scuttle

Part 7



DI Eldo lowered his voice. “They can't have been expecting us to come stumbling around their secret so quickly. That person will need to warn Mirabella and Pretty. If we can get out of here fast enough, we might be able to catch them before they have a chance to slip away again.”

“Sounds like a plan,” said Sgt. Herring. “Can you walk?”

“I have to,” said DI Eldo. He stood up and winced slightly but started to move forward. “We'll need to hurry. There isn't a second to lose.”


Dusk was falling as the wearied and muddied DI Eldo and Sgt. Herring made their way back to downtown Needlehole. The sun had slipped behind the trees lining the road as they walked as fast as they could (which wasn't terribly fast in DI Eldo's case) from the bog back to the town. Lengthy shadows covered the ground, and a distinct chill filled the air around them, swept along by the evening breeze.

“Do we check Mrs Figg's again?” said Sgt. Herring. “Mirabella and Pretty probably stayed there after we left. They did seem rather busy.”

It was a testament to DI Eldo's dedication either to his job or to revenge now that the case had become personal that he did not respond to Sgt. Herring's gibe. “I agree, they were probably still there when we were attacked, but as soon as their friend gets back all three of them are going to move. Mrs Figg's is too well-known for them now.”

“Where else could they go?”

“I have several ideas, none of which I can be entirely sure of. Unfortunately, we don't have much time to investigate. We'll have to hedge our bets and hope that someone saw them when they left Mrs Figg's. Maybe even Mrs Figg herself.”

“You really will take any excuse to go back to that place, won't you?” This time DI Eldo had an angry retort on his lips before he saw the playful grin on the Sergeant's face.

“Very funny,” he glowered. “This is urgent. It could take us weeks to find them if they have a chance to run.”

“I don't think they'll run,” said Sgt. Herring, ignoring the surprised look on his superior's face. “Think about it from their point of view. They're tabloid celebrities, they can't remain unnoticed, except maybe this third person. But it's much better for them to try to deal with us head-on, before we can spread the word about them. One of them is a Sheriff, after all. But they'll need to regroup and plan somewhere.”

“That's actually quite perceptive,” said DI Eldo with grudging respect. “But it also makes things considerably more dangerous. Are you carrying?”

“Only needed to use one bolt back in the bog, sir,” grinned Sgt. Herring.

“Good,” said DI Eldo. “How I wish we had something more convenient than crossbows.

“Give it time, sir. I hear that some wizard in Isengard is developing a newfangled explosive powder.”

* * *

The streets of Needlehole were mostly empty in the late twilight. Light poured out from many open windows and doors but the sound of Hobbits going about one of their several evening meals seemed distant as the wind picked up.

“Detective Inspector!” came a rather shrill voice. Looking around, the policehobbits saw that it came from a middle-aged Hobbit standing at the door to one of the nearby pubs. “Come quickly, I urgently need your help!”

Glancing at each other, the two officers hurried over to the door. Once they were closer, they could see from the light of the pub that the caller was none other than Odo R. Banks, Esq., who normally disdained the common, unrespectable pub crowd.

“What brings you out on the town so late at night?” asked DI Eldo with some suspicion.

“Oh, it's dreadful!” said Odo, shivering in the breeze. “Absolutely dreadful. That horrid Scotshobbit absolutely refused to leave on his own, saying he was so hungover he couldn't walk. I had to make Biffo bring him down here in a wheelbarrow, but Biffo was so hungover he could barely push the barrow. Have you seen how much alcohol that beast of a Hobbit can take before he gets drunk?”

DI Eldo fought the urge to roll his eyes and lost. “Look, Mr Banks, I'm very sorry that you're having trouble with drunks but we're on a very tight schedule so if you could just hire some of the lads here to push your wheelbarrow-”

“No, wait,” Sgt. Herring interrupted. “Are Biffo and Petty here with you, Mr Banks?”

“Yes, they're inside, drinking like fish again," whined Odo. “I can't stand it in there but I have no idea how to ever get them to leave now.”

“We'll see what we can do,” said Sgt. Herring. Turning to DI Eldo, he muttered “Biffo, at least, has to know something about what happened last night, even if he was too drunk or dumb to understand it.” The DI nodded and stepped inside after the other two.

Biffo and Petty were sitting at a table by themselves, all of the other patrons having given them a wide berth. They appeared to have made short work of most of a barrel of buckie already, and a frazzled looking barmaid was bringing what appeared to be several pounds of beer nuts.

Sgt. Herring approached the table and tapped Biffo on the shoulder cautiously. “Hello, Mr Banks, we met earlier today. I'm Sgt. Ringo Herring; do you remember me?”

“Yeff, yoo shaved Peetee frum da bed,” slurred the drunken Biffo.

“Ah, yes,” said Sgt. Herring gingerly. “I'm glad you remember. I need to ask you about last night again. Someone tried to do something very bad to Petty, and I think they might have visited you. Did anyone come by your place last night?”

“Oo triun too hurt mah fren?!” roared Biffo. “I crushfth dem!”

“Aye, who da fook is diss person?” agreed Petty.

“We're trying to find them right now,” said Sgt. Herring reassuringly. “But we need your help. Did anyone come to meet either of you last night?”

“Ah told ye, Ah cannae remember las' nigh',” said Petty in an annoyed tone. “Ah's shitefaced from doosk tae dawn.”

“Biffo,” said Sgt. Herring more urgently. “Do you know if anyone at all visited you last night aside from Petty?”

“Weel,” the Banks began. “I do thin' a cuzzin vistid, cuz shee wuz talkin' to unka Odoo.”

“Go on?”

“Mi-bella, shee n a fren. I wuz carrin' coal, all durty, but dey wannid me an' Peetee to take a big rock don too da lake. She sed dum' it in an' den...” Biffo trailed off and his ugly face changed to an expression of horror.

DI Eldo tapped his foot impatiently, but Sgt. Herring ignored him and put a comforting hand around Biffo's massive shoulders. “What is it, Biffo?”

“She wan' me too tie Peetee too da rock and fro him in too!” sobbed Bifffo. “Bu' I coodnt, soo we went to mah hut and drunk buckee.”

“Fookin' och the nelly noo!” cried the Scotshobbit. “Biffo, ya moron! Wah'd yoo even thunk a dat?”

“I dunnoo,” said Biffo, snivelling. “Mi-bellaz fren sed I had too or I'd bee a dispoin'men' to mah hol famlee!”

“Who was that friend, Biffo?” said DI Eldo, his notebook suddenly out. “A name, a description, anything!”

“Sumfin wit a 'ell',” said the still-distraught Biffo. “Ell-ee-ess, I dunnoo da res'.”

DI Eldo sighed in frustration. “Are you sure that's all you can remember, Biffo?” said Sgt. Herring, who was in truth almost as frustrated as the DI, but better at hiding it.

“Just a second!” cried Odo, who had been watching the whole exchange rather fretfully from a safe distnace. “I do believe I know exactly who Biffo is referring to. A most unrespectable Hobbit who my niece unfortunately keeps the company of. Undoubtedly sharing their perversions together,” he said with a dainty sniff that only those who have refined hypocrisy into an art form can manage.

“Who?!” demanded both policehobbits rather loudly, drawing the attention of several other patrons in the bar.

“Frankly, I'm amazed that Biffo knows any letters,” said Odo, caught up as always in his own self-importance. “But when he started to spell the name I know there could be no doubt. This mysterious friend you're looking for is Lesbo Proudfoot!”

“Who the hell names their child Lesbo?!” yelled a scandalized Sgt. Herring. “I know you Forumhobbits are different form us Fjordlandians, but for the love of all that is tolerant of social differences-”

“Yes, yes, moving on,” said DI Eldo. “Odo, just to be sure, you are referring to the same Lesbo Proudfoot who runs the The Archet Bugle, correct?”

“The one and only, I'm afraid,” said Odo with a tear in his eye. “What that horrid she-Hobbit has done to my beloved Bugle I don't like to say. It used to be so respectable, you know?”

“No, I don't know,” DI Eldo said bluntly. “Thank you for your assistance, Mr Banks. Try to keep Biffo and Petty from destroying this place.”

“But aren't you going to take care of them for me?!” wailed Odo.

“Nope.” Beckoning to Sgt. Herring, the DI walked towards the door. “Maybe if we survive I can come back and help later. I'd say call the Sheriff, but I suspect she's unavailable too.”

* * *

The door slammed behind the two Forumhobbits. “Lesbo Proudfoot?” repeated Sgt. Herring, who was still struggling to process the sheer amount of political incorrectness he had witnessed that day. “Do I even want to know if that surname is intended to be suggestive?”

“I doubt you do, given … you know, your preferences,” said DI Eldo with a smirk. “Hurry up. If Odo is right about Lesbo, then I bet we'll find our three conspirators at the offices of The Archet Bugle. It'll be closed at this hour, but Lesbo is in charge so no one will question her going there at any time. It's the perfect hiding place.

The two police officers drew their pocket crossbows and checked their ammunition as they hurried down a side-street. “That big warehouse just ahead and to the left,” whispered DI Eldo. “Those are the Bugle offices.”

“How are we getting in?” Sgt. Herring whispered back.

“There's a service entrance in the back alley that I hope no one will be watching. If we're quiet enough we should be able to make it in undetected.” Taking the lead, DI Eldo slipped from shadow to shadow into the alley. The night sky had darkened rapidly while they were in the pub, and behind the factory it was as dark as midnight. DI Eldo felt the wall as he inched along it until he came to the door. The knob wouldn't turn.

“Hold this for a second,” he hissed to Sgt. Herring, passing him his pocket crossbow. Taking the knob with both hands, DI Eldo twisted it with all his strength. It held for a second, and then with a satisfying snap the bolt broke and the door swung open. DI Eldo let go and gasped in pain, the bruises across his chest and stomach burning from his whole body tensing.

“I don't think anyone heard that,” whispered Sgt. Herring as quietly as he could. He handed the crossbow back, which the DI acknowledged with a silent nod. This way, he mouthed, pointing to a set of stairs not far inside.

Hunched over, the two climbed the stairs cautiously, listening for any creaks. Once they reached the top, DI Eldo motioned the way forward. Soon they came to an open door through which they could see firelight flickering. The fire appeared to be inside a metal barrel in a large, open room, full of printing presses and other machinery.

“I can't believe you!” yelled a voice that the policehobbits instantly recognized as Mirabella's. “You had them in the middle of the bog without a witness for miles and you just let them run off?”

“The foreign one shot me, okay?” responded an unfamiliar voice. “I didn't want to bleed to death in the middle of the bog without a single person to help for miles.”

“Girls, enough,” said a third voice. Pretty Tyrant. "All we need to do is find these two wannabe detectives and deal with them the same way we had Biffo deal with my brother. Another mysterious disappearance in Needlehole. Local Sheriff Mirabella Banks will be called in to head the investigation since the Central boys couldn't handle it, and then nobody will ever consider us as suspects again.”

There was silence for a minute. Then, “Every time I wonder if I made a mistake tossing old Odo to the curb to be with you, you just have to prove me wrong in spectacular fashion, don't you? Sweetie, you are magnificent!”

“I'm touched,” Lesbo Proudfoot said testily. “But we still have to actually find these two Central boys. How do you plan to do that?”

“Easy enough,” Pretty said smoothly. “They left in a hurry after talking to us earlier, but instead of going to Biffo's place like they should have, they ended up nearly finding the real Scuttle. That means they know we were lying, so they'll suspect us. The only place those boys have seen Mirabella or me is at Mrs Figg's. So where do you think they'll go?”

“So we just have to go back to Mrs Figg's, talk to them somewhere private inside, and then get the jump on them?” squealed Mirabella delightedly. “Ooh, I can't wait. I do hate it when my plans are messed up, especially by males.”

“You two have fun with that,” said Lesbo. “In the meantime, I will be making a real plan that doesn't involve leaving the fate of our entire operation down to the outcome of a fistfight in a brothel.”

“You think you've got something better?” asked Pretty angrily.

“Not yet, but I'm working on something,” said Lesbo in a smug voice. “You two need to stop hyperventilating. Once those policehobbits get to Mrs Figg's, which will take a while given the hit I landed, they'll have to search the whole place before realizing we're not there. You know how big it is.”

Outside in the darkness, DI Eldo turned to his companion and spoke as softly as he possibly could, barely audible over the sound of the wind outside. “We need to take them quickly. You aim for Mirabella, I'll aim for Pretty. Lesbo is already injured. After that, we subdue them and raise the alarm. It all depends on us landing a quick first strike.”

Sgt. Herring nodded grimly, his military training taking over. He raised three fingers and DI Eldo nodded back. Sgt. Herring lowered one finger and both of them lifted their weapons. Sgt. Herring lowered a second finger and they planted their feet and took deep breaths. Sgt. Herring lowered his third finger.

TO BE CONTINUED


Last edited by Eldorion on Tue Jan 31, 2012 4:28 am; edited 4 times in total
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Post by Eldorion Mon Jan 30, 2012 5:10 am

This has gotten so long that I'm pulling a Harry Potter and splitting the last part in two. I promise that part eight really will be the end though, however long it is. I hope the length does not make this boring; I'm just trying to tie up all the loose ends and character arcs in a satisfying way.
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Post by Tinuviel Mon Jan 30, 2012 5:18 am

Extremely Crabbit THAT was exploding in impatience! So good Eldo!!!!!!! Can't wait for the last bit!!!!

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Post by Orwell Mon Jan 30, 2012 6:11 am

Oooh! Can't agree more, Your Majesty. Shocked Hey you lazy bum, Eldo -- get on with it! Mad


“Just a second!” cried Odo, who had been watching the whole exchange rather fretfully from a safe distnace. “I do believe I know exactly who Biffo is referring to. A most unrespectable Hobbit who my niece unfortunately keeps the company of. Undoubtedly sharing their perversions together,” he said with a dainty sniff that only those who have refined hypocrisy into an art form can manage.

I think I might have to go into retirement and leave the Younger Generation to it... lol!

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Post by Eldorion Mon Jan 30, 2012 7:55 am

The Mystery of the Coal Scuttle

Part 8



Sgt. Herring nodded grimly, his military training taking over. He raised three fingers and DI Eldo nodded back. Sgt. Herring lowered one finger and both of them lifted their weapons. Sgt. Herring lowered a second finger and they planted their feet and took deep breaths. Sgt. Herring lowered his third finger.

Before either officer could act, there came a suddenly loud and disturbingly close voice through the doorway. “All this bickering is making me feel ill,” declared Mirabella. “I'm going outside. You two lovebirds better have something figured out by the time I get back.”

In the half-second before Mirabella passed through the doorway, DI Eldo and Sgt. Herring stared at each other with wide eyes. Sgt. Herring inclines his head towards the door and DI Eldo nodded, fighting the urge to speak.

Mirabella flounced through the doorway, not glancing in the shadows, but she paused a second later as if unsure of something. Sgt. Herring seized the opportunity and fired a precise bolt into the back of Mirabella's knee. She cried out in pain and the Sergeant leaped forward to knock her to the ground. Mirabella collapsed, stunned, and Lesbo and Pretty stared through the door at the exposed Fjordlandian in surprise.

DI Eldo, who was at this point wishing his ribs had never existed rather than hurting so bad, flung himself around the corner, stood in the middle of the doorway, and let loose a bolt at Pretty. The spasms of pain in his chest and stomach made him stagger slightly, however, and the bolt flew harmlessly over Pretty's head.

An expression of rage came over her face and she flung a heavy box full of metal type at the DI. Eldo dove to the ground and was merely showered with the type as it fell out. He hurriedly tried to reload his crossbow, but Pretty was already leaping over the machinery towards him. Then, suddenly, Pretty was hit by a bolt in the gut and collapsed behind a heavy printing press.

Turning around, DI Eldo saw a vicious looking Sgt. Herring standing just behind the doorway, his pocket crossbow firmly in hand. The Sergeant sprinted into the room towards Lesbo Proudfoot, but she was already halfway down a staircase on the far side of the warehouse. The DI managed to reload his crossbow and drag himself painfully to his feet.

Eldo staggered towards where Pretty had fallen, crossbow shaking in his hand. He fell forward against the press Pretty was behind and peered around but could not see a body. Then felt a sudden, sharp pain on the back of his head and nothing more.

* * *

Sgt. Herring leapt down the stairs four at a time and vaulted over the railing at the bottom. Lesbo Proudfoot, who had shot the DI and apparently planned all the events in Needlehole of the past 24 hours, was mere yards in front of him. He tried to reload his crossbow but had to slow down, so he ceased trying and sprinted faster.

Lesbo Proudfoot was lucky to have been shot in the shoulder, not the leg, but she was as tough a Hobbit as could be found in either event. She tore through the Bugle headquarters as if she knew them like the back of her hand (which she did), coming in short order to the main doors. They were locked, but Lesbo made a flying kick and crashed through them into the street.

At this point Sgt. Herring skidded to a halt and took several gulping breaths. Capturing all three of the conspirators had been the entire purpose of coming to the warehouse. On the other hand, he knew he had been outrun, and there were still two conspirators upstairs. And the DI, too!

Turning around, Sgt. Herring ran as fast as he could back up the stairs and into the printing room again. He looked around wildly as he ran, looking even more wildly when he could not see anyone.

“Come back to play, have you?” came a voice from the shadows – which shadow? wondered Sgt. Herring. The voice was taunting but had an cold edge: angry, yet controlled. “Put down your little toy before anyone else gets hurt. I have your friend the DI here. You don't want anything to happen to him, do you?”

Sgt. Herring stood still and breathed as deeply as he could, trying to remain calm and professional. “Where are you?” he asked, somewhat pointlessly.

“Put the weapon down and then we can talk about that,” came the reply.

Cautiously, Sgt. Herring extended the arm that held his crossbow. Then he released his grip on it and the weapon fell to the floor of the warehouse with a clatter. “Happy now?” he asked. He thought he could see the outline of a woman behind the machine that folded the newspapers.

“No. What did you do to my Mirry?”

“Mirry?” He wondered briefly if the voice was even one of the conspirators, but then his whirring mind slowed down and the thoughts clicked. “Oh, Mirabella. I just hit a pressure point in her back and she fell to the floor. She didn't hit her head hard, I saw. She'll wake up soon and be just fine.”

Where was the voice coming from? Sgt. Herring turned his head slightly and strained to listen as carefully as he could.

“If she isn't, then I'm going to do whatever happened to her to your precious DI,” Pretty continued. She was definitely behind the folding machine. But there was too much in the way for a clear shot even if he was still holding his crossbow. He had to act quickly.

“Come out where I can see you,” said Sgt. Herring, “and I'll tell you where Lesbo is.”

He heard a sharp intake of breath. “What about Lesbo?”

“Come out and I'll tell you.”

“Nice try, but no dice.” Sgt. Herring winced upon hearing his own words thrown back at him. “Try giving me a good reason not to finish off your friend right now.”

* * *

Where am I? thought DI Eldo. Then he thought: doesn't everybody think that when they wake up in a strange place? I'm not that unoriginal, am I?

There was a throbbing pain in the back of his head, as well as a slightly duller pain across his chest. As the swirling fog that seemed to fill his head began to fade, DI Eldo recognized the chest pain as something he expected to be there. But my head? he thought.

Then he heard voices. Not voices inside his head, fortunately, but voices near him. It took a few moments to recognize them, but the fog continued to clear up and DI Eldo could tell that he was listening to Pretty Tyrant and Sgt. Herring.

He squinted his eyes, barely opening them, and took in his surroundings. He was lying on his side on the floor. He could see a shadowy female figure – Pretty, he assumed – standing with her back to him. In front of Pretty was some sort of machine. More than that he could not easily discern from his position.

“Try giving me a good reason not to finish off your friend right now,” said Pretty.

Eldo opened his eyes all the way in a flash. Petty was no more than three feet in front of him. He could not see Sgt. Herring, but he could hear him saying something about not being hasty and they should really try to just talk this out. Eldo tried moving his arms and legs very slightly and found that he could, though the effort made his head hurt even more.

“Enough games,” said Pretty. “I'm going to do what I said we should do in the first place, only you boys made it so we don't even have to go find you. Thanks for that.” She turned around, then paused when she saw DI Eldo's wide-open eyes.

“Don't mention it,” the DI grunted, as he rolled forward and gave a wild haymaker at the same time, aiming for Pretty's calves. She leaped backwards but slammed into the machine with a resounding crash. Eldo could hear Sgt. Herring's rapidly approaching footsteps from the other side, but Pretty was already lifting a wicked-looking knife.

The DI felt a moment of clarity. It all ended here. His last case. Sgt. Herring could handle mop-up, but this would be his legacy. No promotion to Superintendent. No happy retirement in the countryside. Just a plaque with his name on it at a memorial.

“JAEVLA STOR SIIIIIIIIIILD!!” With a ferocious battle-cry the Fjordlandian soldier-turned-police officer leapt bodily over the folding machine and crash-landed on top of Pretty. DI Eldo rolled backwards to avoid the thrashing tangle of limbs.

“What the hell was that?” he said loudly once Sgt. Herring had stood up over the unconscious Pretty.

“Just something us Fjordlandians call upon in times of trouble. According to legend the Bloody Huge Herring is the progenitor of all Fjordlandhobbits.”

DI Eldo rolled his eyes at that and promptly passed out.

* * *

This was becoming far too regular an occurrence, DI Eldo decided, when he awoke with strange pains in most of his body and no idea of where he was. He kept his eyes closed and waited several minutes while the previous night's events gradually came back to him. Suddenly, his eyes opened and he sat bolt upright in the space of a heartbeat!

“Take it easy there,” said a friendly voice. Looking around quickly, DI Eldo saw that he was in what appeared to be a hospital bed, and the friendly voice belonged to Sgt. Herring. Giving a ragged sigh of relief, he gently sank back into his pillows. He gave the Sergeant a weak smile. “What happened last night? Did you catch Mirabella, Pretty, and Lesbo?”

“Two of the three. Not bad when it was just me, huh?” Sgt. Herring grinned back. “Lesbo got away. I didn't catch up to her before she got out of the warehouse, and at that point I knew I had to go make sure you were okay.”

“Yeah. Thanks for that.”

The two policehobbits fell into silence, although not an uncomfortable one. DI Eldo closes his eyes again but did not fall asleep. After a few minutes he spoke. “Where are we right now? And who knows about last night?”

“This is the Needlehole Hospital, apparently,” said Sgt. Herring. “But it's actually a wing of Mrs Figg's House. I guess they wanted help to be close on hand in case things ever got out of hand here.”

DI Eldo gave a quiet laugh, which was all he could manage with the bruising on his chest. “Did you ever call for backup?”

“Yeah, I did. Your old friend Superintendent Elthir came up with a squad of SWAT Hobbits, not that they had much to do except clean up after us. They have Mirabella and Pretty in custody. Don't worry about Elthir, either. I think he realized that you'd want your space, so he's already on the cart back to Scotshobbit Yard.”

That brought out a stronger smile. “Thank Eru for small blessings,” said the DI.

“We've both been given time off to recover and heal,” continued Sgt. Herring. “I thought there might be one last loose end we could tie up in that time, but that can wait until you're feeling better.” He would say no more.

* * *

Three days later, Sgt. Herring revealed the final loose end he had been referring to. “We came out here originally because of a suspected murder, right?”

“Yes, of course.”

“Obviously the victim wasn't actually dead, but we also got caught up in the case of a stolen ancestral coal scuttle.”

“I think I see where you're going with this.”

Sgt. Herring grinned. “You said that we must have almost found the scuttle when we were in the bog since Lesbo attacked us. What do you think about going back there and giving it another try?”

“I don't know,” said DI Eldo. He gingerly patted his chest. “She did a real number on me. What if she's hiding out there again?”

“I doubt it,” said Sgt. Herring. “Last report we got was that she had been spotted in the Green Hill Country fleeing east. She could be anywhere by now, but I think it's clear that she'll be giving Forumshire a wide berth for a while. There's a warrant out for her arrest and wanted posters of her in every village from here to Sarn Ford.”

“I suppose it would be worth seeing if we can solve the last mystery of this case,” said DI Eldo.

That afternoon they set out to do just that, retracing their steps up the road towards the Banks Estate until they reached the point where they had met Gandalf's Beard. The two then turned towards the bog and found the secret path again. “I'm noticing even more of those ropes and platforms this time,” said Sgt. Herring. “Lesbo had a whole network for travelling around in here. She probably never had to use this path.”

“Hurm.” DI Eldo was not feeling particularly talkative, as he was too busy scanning the surrounds for any sign of the renegade journalist. His arms were crossed protectively in front of him.

The path had many turns and forks and didn't seem to lead anywhere. Even Sgt. Herring was becoming frustrated and considering giving up when DI Eldo spoke up. “It's right over there!” he said, pointing at nothing apparent.

“Are you sure you're feeling alright?” asked Sgt. Herring in a tone of concern. “You did get hit pretty hard on the head a couple of times.”

“Not funny,” snapped DI Eldo. “Look, right there, between those two trees. It's camouflaged, but I've been paying attention since I don't want anyone sneaking up on me again.” Sgt. Herring peered at the spot indicated by the DI's fingers and soon was able to discern the outline of a hut covered in leaves, sticks, and moss.

“The path doesn't go there, though,” said Sgt. Herring. We've walked around those trees several times already. We should have gotten there by now.”

“That's because Lesbo didn't use the path. You said so yourself.” DI Eldo jumped off the stable ground into the swampy water and waded forward. “It's shallow, come on,” he said encouragingly. Soon the two were clambering up the side of a small island in the middle of the swamp and peeling off the camouflage cover from the hut.

“You first,” said Sgt. Herring. “You spotted it.”

DI Eldo pulled open the door of the hut and peered inside cautiously. It appeared empty, so he stepped inside. No one attacked him, so he relaxed a bit and looked around. The hut was very sparsely furnished, but in the corner was a large wooden chest. It was locked.

“Sergeant? I am in need of your Fjordlandian skills here.” Sgt. Herring entered and saw the chest. “Not a problem,” he said, and with a mighty kick he knocked the lock clean off.

DI Eldo opened the lid of the chest and then pulled out what was inside. It was a small, simple iron bucket, flecked with rust from age. It was empty.

“So this is the fabled coal scuttle of the Banks-Tyrant feud?” said Sgt. Herring in a tone of disbelief. “They've been fighting with each for generations over that?”

“Apparently so. Both Mirabella and Pretty understood its significance to their families. Stealing it from the Bankses and framing Petty Tyrant for the crime would effectively start a war between the two clans. They'd be free to pick up whatever was left over at the end.

Sgt. Herring snorted. “I can't believe that all the trouble we've been through was on account of this. It doesn't look fit to carry crap, much less coal.”

DI Eldo gave him a strange look. “I can't help but agree. Actually, your choice of words just now has given me an excellent idea of how to express my true feelings towards this artifact and the feud it has caused. Would you give me one moment of privacy?”

The Sergeant looked puzzled for a second, but then laughed loudly and nodded. “Of course. I'll be back on the trail when you're done.”

* * *

As DI Eldo waded back to the trail he finished re-tying his trousers and fastening his belt. “Ready to go?” he asked his companion.

“Ready if you are,” said Sgt. Herring. “You don't want to bring the scuttle back?”

“Not particularly,” DI Eldo replied lightly. “Besides, perhaps removing it from the picture will give the Banks and Tyrant clans less reason to squabble. That can only be a good thing in my book.”

The DI and the Sergeant made their way back along the path through the swamp. It was beginning to get dark again, but it was considerably warmer than it had been in several weeks. The wind was not strong and, in fact, felt quite refreshing once they had gotten back to the road.

“You know, Ringo?” said DI Eldo. “I might never understand Fjordlandians, but in all my years as a detective, you're the first partner I've actually been glad to have.”

"You know, Eldo?" said Sgt. Herring. "I might not have been a loner like you, but in all my years alive, you're the first Forumhobbit I feel like I can understand."

They walked back to Needlehole together.

FINIS


Last edited by Eldorion on Mon Jan 30, 2012 6:43 pm; edited 3 times in total
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Post by Orwell Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:16 am

Eldo wrote: They walked back to Needlehole together.

Hand in hand, I assume. Very Happy

Wonderful tale, Eldo. You should write adventure stories. Excellent pacing. Excitement. Mystery. Humour. Great feel for your characters, they were well realized and consistent. All the threads securely tied at the end. And the last bit, sooooo romantic (just joking! Very Happy ) It was a blast! Thanks for the great ride. lol!

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Post by odo banks Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:20 am

The story was good in it's own way, I guess, but your depiction of Mirablla, Biffo and me were clearly pure fantasy and barely believable! Rolling Eyes The others were spot on, of course. Very Happy As to your disgusting treatment of the Banks Family Heirloom - well, I won't tell you what I think of you - me being a respectable hobbit and all... Extremely Crabbit

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Post by Amarië Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:01 pm

That was *bleep*ing excellent, Eldo! I lack the words to describe who amazing this was. I was on the edge of my seat while trying not to laugh too hard, as I am sneak reading at work...

And during that epic shirt ripping scene I heard (after I had desperately tried to camouflaged my laugh as coughing) the mighty sound of Slash-fic writers anywhere gasping dramatically, followed by a hailstorm of keytapping as hundreds of Herring/Eldo love fics were born. Heldo. Erring. Herreldo. Eldoring... I am sure there is a community up and running on Livejournal as we speak. Possibly started by Orwell.

And then there was the battle cry... Aragorn, watch and learn you amateur!

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Post by Eldorion Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:28 pm

Orwell wrote:Wonderful tale, Eldo. You should write adventure stories. Excellent pacing. Excitement. Mystery. Humour. Great feel for your characters, they were well realized and consistent. All the threads securely tied at the end. And the last bit, sooooo romantic (just joking! Very Happy ) It was a blast! Thanks for the great ride. lol!

Thank you for all your feedback and encouragement! I had a blast writing this story but knowing that other people wanted to see more of it too made it even better. You're very welcome and I look forward to trying more. This was the first time I've actually finished a written story (short or otherwise) in years so I'm all excited. Laughing

Orwell wrote:I think I might have to go into retirement and leave the Younger Generation to it... lol!

I hope you don't retire just yet! I was largely inspired to write this by your work, especially Dr Who and the Trolls, which I notice has lapsed. Mad But again, thanks so much! Very Happy
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Post by Eldorion Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:34 pm

Amarië wrote:That was *bleep*ing excellent, Eldo! I lack the words to describe who amazing this was. I was on the edge of my seat while trying not to laugh too hard, as I am sneak reading at work...

Thank you, Amarie! Very Happy I'm glad the story was engaging enough to keep you interested from the last part until the very end. It is a bit weird going back and re-reading the first two parts now given the turn the story took. They almost seem like vignettes. I'm glad that the balance of humor and drama apparently worked in the latter parts though. I really like how they turned out and I'm glad others did too. I worried that part eight would have too much suspense and drama but I felt that was necessary for the resolution of the story and I hope that it made the payoff of the eventual jokes greater. Smile

I'm very grateful for everyone's comments and encouragement. It's good to get a sense of what works and what doesn't. Very Happy
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Post by Orwell Mon Jan 30, 2012 8:58 pm

Eldorion wrote:Thank you for all your feedback and encouragement! I had a blast writing this story but knowing that other people wanted to see more of it too made it even better. You're very welcome and I look forward to trying more. This was the first time I've actually finished a written story (short or otherwise) in years so I'm all excited. Laughing

Perhaps you've been too lazy too long, Eldo. You clearly know how to put a story together, and without the ragged inconsistency of that Anonymous Author, who I sometimes think puts down the first thing he thinks of into a post, then does frantic quick edits to try to cover up his spontaneous and slipshod method. (Not that I want to criticize him, his intentions are good - I think? Suspect

Eldorion wrote:I hope you don't retire just yet! I was largely inspired to write this by your work, especially Dr Who and the Trolls, which I notice has lapsed. Mad But again, thanks so much! Very Happy

Don't blame me for what that Anonymous Author writes, lad! {{{My goodness me, how rude!}}} Mind you, I suspect he deliberately retired from the scene to give your tale some room in the clogged Forumshire Publishing Field of late. (I also suspect he was worried you would outshine him, delicate flower that he is, really - all froth and blather, not psychologically muscly like me, no. Very Happy ) I suspect he'll soon be back. Egotists! You can never really shut them up. Rolling Eyes

Anyhow, stop your lazy ways and get writing! It's all practice. study

(And that business about the Anonymous Author 'lapsing', I wouldn't go saying things like that. He gets offended at the merest hint that people think he's lazy in any way. He doesn't think it proper that one person should tell another person he's lazy. I, of course, endorse that view, as doing so is clearly quite rude. Very Happy )

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Post by Tinuviel Tue Jan 31, 2012 1:47 am

Nod More please! (That's an order, not a request queen )

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Post by Eldorion Tue Jan 31, 2012 2:13 am

I guess I have no choice. Laughing But seriously, progress is being made on the first chapter of The Mystery of Mister Figg! I can't promise when I'll have it posted but I'll just say that I'm trying to explore the world of DI Eldo and Sgt. Herring in a little more depth this time. study
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Post by Orwell Tue Jan 31, 2012 3:31 am

The Mystery of Mister Figg

Could be sensational, methinks cheers --- and also the cause of your early death, Eldo... Shocked

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Post by Pettytyrant101 Tue Jan 31, 2012 4:19 am

Finnaly got the chance to read the two part finale! cheers Although probably best for you Eldo that Pretty has a head full of wedding right now-if she reads that and sees she lost a fight..... pale

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Post by Orwell Tue Jan 31, 2012 4:31 am

I must admit that was one of the less plausible aspects of Eldo's fiction, Petty. Very Happy

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Post by Mrs Figg Tue Jan 31, 2012 4:41 am

thin ice is being skated on, thin ice, Mr Figg? which one? there are a few to choose from. Suspect
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