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    • Closed
    Tales from the Dome: The Impossible Crime
    • Dol'venet Malpia, descended from the eight-limbed Neret, a people of a world he'd never seen, had never seen any worlds outside the Dome. His egg hatched here, and here he had remained, travelling its ever shifting dimensions for all eight hundred years of his life so far. He'd seen many things, which was rather common for a Dome inhabitant; he'd travelled into the seedy realm of the Underdome, the shores of the Elcanian Ocean (which had been colored bright violet by the reflection of the sky overhead at the time), and had even stumbled upon the old desks and abandoned rooms of the old Dome Academy, which had been one of his most interesting finds. That many outsiders, all of them gathered in one place...it must have been a sight to behold.

      The elderly Neret was clicking his mandibles together as he traveled through a Dome hallway, a bit out of the way and far from the usual hustle and bustle. He was picking up scraps of paper and trash as he clicked absently to himself. The Dome was usually rather clean, almost immaculatly so, but the thing seemed almost aware of his penchant for cleaning things while he thought to himself, leaving some debris where he was travelling to give him something to do. Of course, this was a common line of thinking around the Dome regardless...everything had to come back to the Dome allowing it. Dol'venet was wise enough to realize these musings probably weren't accurate, but he liked to imagine it was the case.

      As he rounded the corner, his clicking stopped abruptly, a chill going through his innards.

      A human...or at least a humanoid...was slumped against a wall, laying sprawled, almost like they were drunk. But it was all wrong, twisted, and...

      Their head was entirely gone, with a crimson splatter covering the wall and floor.

      Dol'venet wasn't sure what was happening. He'd never left the Dome...never seen a dead body in his entire existence. But he'd heard stories, from outsiders. Like that boy with the golden hair he'd met earlier that day, with the sword and the scars.

      Somebody...somebody had been killed.

      -----------------------------------------

      Viola groaned a bit, waking up slowly and stretching. She hadn't slept very well, and as she did wake up she rolled her eyes as she saw why. Her bed had shifted into a sleeping bag in the night, for whatever reason.

      "Fine," she muttered, standing up and looking around, seeming to have been put inside some kind of campground...except it was only twenty feet across, smoke from a campfire nearby quickly starting to fill the room. "But don't expect me to be productive today, you hear?"

      After a few more moments, she swore to herself as she realized her dresser was nowhere to be found either, not knowing, of course, that it had shifted into a hollow log near the edge of the room.

      ---------------------

      Tarot Everclear was standing in line for her morning drink of whatever it was Orville the cafe owner gave out in the mornings, sighing and trying once again to guess what it must be. It wasn't coffee, she was sure of that...coffee wasn't neon orange, usually. Orville was from a world called Codespol, but she'd never found out more then that.

      As she watched the blue-skinned Orville filling more cups, the bell dinged, and she turned to see a familiar purple-haired woman in glasses hobbling into the cafe, covered entirely by a sleeping bag, hopping over and looking very, very annoyed.

      "...Bold fashion statement," Tarot said after a bit, Viola rolling her eyes slightly.

      "Dome made my room some kind of...tree room. Couldn't find any of my clothes," Viola grumbled. "On a case?"

      "Not today, no," Tarot said. "It's been a slow week...why?"

      "You're taking me to your place. I know for a fact your clothes fit me."

      Tarot just raised a brow, crossing her arms. She was dressed in a vest and slacks, like usual, but she was pretty sure she'd never seen Viola in anything other than skirts, shorts and sweater the entire time they'd known each other.

      "...I took one of your t-shirts," Viola admitted. "That house party? You know, where Orville showed up with that purple stuff that got us all wasted and got my hair stuck like thi-"

      Before she could finish, the large, almost gorilla-like form of Dol'venet, an old Neret, burst through the doors.

      "Mu...murder!" he said shakily. "So...somebody...somebody was killed!"

      Tarot stared for a moment, before immediately rushing over, leaving Viola to stare, before grumbling and hopping over as well.
    • Distracted by the formulas he was working on, Seltayr didn't notice how empty Orville's café was when he entered. He set the writing pad down on the counter and shot a rehearsed compliment to the blue-skinned fellow. "Working hard, I see, as usual. If only we could all be as industrious as you." He finished it by flashing a smile to the Codespolian, noticing only afterward that instead of working he was sitting down behind the counter, reading a worn-down paperback. The thaumatologist looked around the café to see that it was completely empty. "Where the hell is everyone? You're usually busier than this in the mornings, Orville."

      "Old Dol'venet found a body, I guess," Orville said, getting up and grabbing a couple of mugs. Seltayr hadn't been around long enough to know who Dol'venet was, but he just nodded as if he understood. "The usual for you and...what are your boss's pronouns today?"

      "Oh, he/him today I guess. And yeah, the usual." Seltayr grabbed the two mugs, one filled with orange drink for himself and the other filled with green drink, both glowing a faint radioactive neon. It had taken him a few times to get used to it, but the orange drink was surprisingly good. Seltayr sniffed the green one, still unsure what exactly it was, since he always got the orange one for the boost of energy. It smelled like freshly cut grass. "Thanks," Seltayr said, lifting one of the mugs in a gesture of departure as he exited the building. A moment later he rushed back in, held both mugs in one hand, and grabbed his writing pad from the counter with the other before leaving again.

      "Send Hyacinth my regards," Orville said as the door swung shut.

      Seltayr had been working for the Underdome surgeon for about two weeks now, basically doing the work of an intern, as he needed something to do during his extended stay and the fellow scientist had taken a keen interest in him. In that amount of time, Hyacinth(a) (or Synth, for short) hadn't done much surgery—apparently that was a once-in-a-while thing. Mostly, there had been much in the way of research, alchemy, and the preparation of herbs and potions. Synth had also been quite interested in learning about Seltayr's spellcraft, although he was unable to inspire any spells himself.

      A gentle ringing sound broke Seltayr's reverie and he reached into his pocket to pull out a small cornflower blue crystal, which was faintly glowing. "Synth?" Seltayr said.

      ===


      The surgeon pushed his way through the crowd, carefully avoiding letting his left arm touch anyone, even though it was covered with a short half-cape that was draped over his left side. Synth was a remarkable presence to those who were unfamiliar with him; he was average height and chunky in build and his dark skin was covered in darker tattoos, lighter scars, and had a patchy and uneven skin tone due to repeated instances of grafting skin from other sources.

      His voluminous and curly hair was a light mint green in color, matching his favorite drink from Orville's café, and his right eye was covered with an eyepatch. The skin around that same eye was pale in color, mostly scar tissue, and a thin scar cut through both his upper and lower lips on the left side of his face. His tongue was black in color, pointed at the tip, and about twice as long as one would normally expect. His left ear had an attached lobe and the other an unattached one.

      Synth seemed very much to have been put together from spare parts, befitting his nickname and his line of work in transplantation surgeries. His clothes were black leather and blood-red velvet, and he had various glass vials and syringes attached to his belts. He had been a resident of the Dome for an extended period of time, so many people recognized him, but he spent much of his time in the seedier parts, particularly in the black markets of the Underdome, so many people wouldn't admit to recognizing him.

      Finally, he managed to push his way to the front of the writhing, chattering crowd. Indeed, there was a body after all. It was more gruesome than Synth had expected, since people don't usually die in the Dome, with its head missing and blood splattered everywhere. It would be impossible to sort anything out with this crowd surrounding the scene though.

      Synth cleared his throat and raised his right arm into the air, looking over the crowd with his one eye and speaking out with the honeyed edge of his siren's tongue. "There's nothing more to see here, folks. It might look rough, but this person was not murdered here in the Dome, that's impossible. Go along now, so we can get this mess cleaned up, thank you."

      Finding themselves charmed by the surgeon's voice, the crowd murmured amongst themselves and began to clear out, giving Synth some space. He reached into one of his many pockets and pulled out a light blue crystal, speaking into it. "Seltayr."

      Upon hearing the keyword, the stone began to glow, and shortly a voice came through it. "Synth? Where are you?"

      "I'm in the halls, just centerside from the merchant square. Just follow the crowds; there was an incident but I managed to clear most of them out. It's quite fascinating actually, I want you to look at it with me."

      "Sure thing, boss. I've got your drink too, I'll be there soon."

      Synth pocketed the gem and then turned back towards the body. The only people still standing nearby were Dol'venet, who shared a nod of recognition with Synth, and two women. "I'm afraid I don't have your acquaintance yet. Are you from around here?"

      pronouns: it/its or squi/squir
      ask me about my LGBTA+ and nonbinary Discord servers.
    • Viola glanced over, her arms folded across her chest. Tarot had taken mercy on her and given the receptionist her vest to wear, and Viola'd managed to get a matching skirt from one of the merchants in return for her sleeping bag. She was looking over the body, drinking a familiar glowing purple drink she'd gotten from Orville's, her purple hair glowing faintly as she sipped it. Tarot was staring at the body intensely, as Dol'venet stood to the side, seemingly hoping to see if Tarot would start investigating.

      "I'm afraid I don't have your acquaintance yet. Are you from around here?"

      Viola glanced over, peering at a patchwork-looking individual standing to her side, their hair giving clear signs of having befallen the same side effect from Orville's drinks she had.

      "Me and Dol'venet are," Viola said, putting a hand out. "Viola. Tarot over there's an Outsider."

      Tarot seemed perturbed by that, glancing over.

      "I'm not...I've moved in! I have no intention of leaving. I'm not some outsider."

      Viola nodded until Tarot turned, before mouthing 'outsider' to the person who'd come up. She was a bit drunk by now, her hair glowing a bit more strongly, the mood not helped at all by the outfit she was in. The body should have probably sobered her more, but she saw worse stuff working at the Meetup Office just waiting for new clients and taking calls, so she was a bit desensitized.

      After a bit more, Tarot sighed, putting her hands on her hips for a moment and nodding.

      "Well, they definitely died here," she said, pulling out some colored candles from her satchel and putting them on the ground around the body, humming a bit to herself. As she did so, a fluttering could be heard, a raven-like creature with a single cyclopian eye, four wings with bat-like hooks, and a tail like a dog or a cat's seemed to crawl out of her shadow, climbing up her leg and perching on her shoulder, scanning over the body as the candles seemed to light themselves. "Murder's meant to be impossible here, right?"

      Dol'venent nodded, seeming concerned. Tarot began to chant quietly under her breath as VIola looked back at the person who'd come up.

      "She's going to be at this for a few more minutes, at least," Viola said, sitting down crosslegged. "So what do you do? Don't think I've seen you before, but we've got similar taste in drinks, I'spose."
    • Synth shook Viola's hand and watched as Tarot began to perform some kind of ritual over the body.

      "The man might have died here, but murder? I don't know about impossible, but I know it never happens. That said, the Dome doesn't shield one from death, necessarily. I myself have treated people who were injured on the Outside and, unfortunately, didn't make it. I've also performed services for locals that...don't always work out. Complications, you know. But accidents and violence are, as far as I know, usually prevented. So I find this scene quite...fascinating."

      Synth looked down at Viola, who was now sitting on the floor. "Doktor Hyacinth Liwinow, surgeon and planar researcher," Synth said to the woman, his German accent never heavier than when he said his full name and title. "You can call me Synth. I spend most of my time down below, so it's understandable that of all the countless people who live here we haven't met yet."

      "Ah, Synth, there you are!" a voice said from behind the surgeon. Seltayr quickly approached and Synth took his drink from him, sipping from it deeply. As he did, his hair went from pale mint to a brighter green, glowing vibrantly. Seltayr's own hair was currently glowing orange, although as an Outsider his usually faded back to its natural color after the effect wore off.

      "Thank you, boy. Meet Viola and Tarot," Synth said, pointing them out. "This is Seltayr, he's my intern at the moment. Tell me, kid, what are your thoughts on this body?"

      "Body?" Seltayr just now noticed the body, slumped on the floor in its own blood. "Was he murdered, or was he already dead when his head was removed here?"

      "Good question. Arterial spray suggests he was alive when the head was removed."

      "Oh, ouch. Then I suppose you'd want to find the head to know more about who did it."

      "I suppose you would, yes."

      pronouns: it/its or squi/squir
      ask me about my LGBTA+ and nonbinary Discord servers.
    • "Body shows signs of being homo sapien," Tarot said, the creature on her shoulder fluttering over, seeming to sniff at the blood. "But there's something weird about the blood. Might be mixed with some other kind of being...Viola, you know anyone like that from the Meetup office?"

      "There's this Miller guy," Viola said. "I know he's around...taller then the body here, though."

      "Even if the head wasn't missing?" Tarot said, raising a brow at Viola's glowing hair.

      "Yeah, even then," Viola said, standing up as Tarot sighed, pulling out a card and positioning it almost like a camera. With a snap of her fingers, a somewhat stylized image of the body appeared on the card, marked with the name The Hanged Man.


      "Huh," Tarot said. "I expected Death."

      Pocketing the card, she turned to Synth and Seltayr. She hadn't met either, but she'd gathered all the information she could really need from her look over.

      "You said you were a surgeon, right? Any experience with cadavers?" Tarot asked, snatching Viola's cup of the purple drink out of her friend's hands. "Have at it, if you want. Kannis helps a lot with noticing stuff, but she can't detect anything I'm not already generally aware of, so I might have missed something."
    • "Some, although not usually with human cadavers. I could probably take an analysis of the blood though, figure out what's strange about it." Synth crouched over the corpse and used an empty syringe to draw some blood up and place it into an empty vial. He then began to add some other chemicals to it, drop by drop, swirling the mixture together and examining the changes they made. "There's definitely something non-human mixed in there, but I'd need to take it back to my lab to figure out exactly what. What are you doing, Seltayr?"

      The thaumatologist was using a stick of charcoal to draw a complicated spell matrix on the ground, placing one of his wands into the center of the circle. "Can I see that syringe?" he asked. Curious, Synth handed it over, and Seltayr drew some more blood from the body and placed drops of it into the spell matrix. Then he went down on his hands and knees next to it and focused, the charcoal beginning to glow brightly, until the drops of blood burned to gray ash. He then picked up the wand and gave it a twirl. A small red spark flew out of the end like a firework attached to a bright yellow string, flying off in a random direction and yanking the wand towards it, leaving Seltayr holding the wand pointing straight at the body.

      "I've attuned this wand with a spell that should be able to trace the blood from this body, hopefully aiding us in finding the missing head. Uh...we'll have to be closer to the head than the body for it to work though, I'm now realizing, or it'll just point us back here."

      pronouns: it/its or squi/squir
      ask me about my LGBTA+ and nonbinary Discord servers.
    • "Well, easiest way to do that is to get the body moved somewhere secure and start walking," Tarot said, sighing and looking at the corpse. "I'll keep it in my Umbral Vault for now."

      As if on cue Tarot's shadow began to expand over the body, small creatures similar to Kannis spilling out and pulling the body into the inky darkness. After a moment, it snapped back to her normal shadow, a red cyclopian eye visible on her shadow's head for a moment before everything returned to normal.

      "Well, let's get tracking."