The Phil Phorce is a fictional periodical featuring my favorite characters from my own writing. It comes out in episodes, once every three months or so. To find out more and to read previous episodes, please go to these two pages: About the Phils and the Phil Phorce. Please enjoy Phil Phorce, Episode 7.
“This is actually a lot of blood,” said Quirk, looking down at the large green stain of ogre blood in the late king’s bedroom. “Do people usually bleed this much?”
“Bear in mind that this was an ogre,” said Percival, inspecting the broken window. “We don’t know how much blood they could lose.”
“Hmm,” said Quirk, looking at it. “And it’s green. Is that any sort of clue?”
“Not that I know of,” said Percival.
“Oh, well,” said Quirk. “Blood probably won’t tell us much.” He wandered over to the doorway, where two parallel lines were scratched into the stone floor. “This looks interesting. It looks like the king was dragging some furniture. Perhaps blocking the door?” The hallway outside led to the throne room— a small door behind the larger throne. The way they had taken with Isaac, however, had gone around to the front of the throne room. Quirk supposed that was really the only way the prince had ever used— the other door looked more private.
“Blocking the door with what?” asked Percival. “If anything made those scratches, they would be more consistent than that. They would make a trail or something. And what would he drag, anyway? All of this furniture is wood— nothing that could make scratches like that. I looked at them already— they’re at least half an inch deep into the stone.”
“Perhaps he threw it out the window afterward,” said Quirk. “He carried it some of the way, then dropped it and dragged it for…” He looked at the lines and guessed. “…Six inches, then threw it out the window.”
“Then we would be able to see the result in the roofs and gardens beneath the window,” said Percival. “There’s nothing there.”
“Well, look who’s the pessimistic little person,” said Quirk. “Do you have any bright ideas?”
“Sure I do,” said Percival. “Go home and leave the investigation to people who know what they’re doing.”
“We know what we’re doing.” Quirk shrugged. “Sort of.”
“Quirk, this is not our world. We don’t know the difference between an ogre and a giant— if there is one— or what could have made those scratches, or what could have killed an ogre. We don’t even know how mirrors work, just that they do— how does that make sense? We’re out of our league. Let’s leave the investigation to Feiron and people who know the difference between a wolf that talks and one that doesn’t.”
Quirk traced the marks on the floor with his finger. The edges were sharp, as if the stone had risen to make way for whatever had scratched it. “You’re right,” he said at last. “We don’t really know what we’re doing. Frankly, I’d rather be in your apartment listening to Sebase and Phume argue, or at the Blanks playing with soap— I’d rather feel secure with the idea that Isaac enjoyed our company enough to stay with us. I’d rather be anywhere but here.” He sighed. “I don’t want to give up Isaac. He’s one of us, and to think that Liam was good enough for him but I’m not… I don’t want to accept that. But he’s a friend, and he asked us to be here, so I’m going to do what I can for him. And who cares if we don’t know what we’re doing? When do we ever? This is a fantasy world, or as close to fantasy as it can get. Might as well have a fantastic time.”
Percival just looked at him for a moment. “You are absolutely ridiculous sometimes.”
Before Quirk could stick his tongue out at him, a scream pierced the air, echoing through the hallway from the throne room.
“That’s the queen,” said Percival.
Quirk was the first out the door, Percival close behind. They burst out into the throne room. As he rounded the dais, Quirk saw a figure, silhouetted in the far doorway as it crouched, scratching two lines into the stone with a spike on its left hand.
They had found the assassin, but under exactly the wrong circumstances.