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Shauna never made it out of the static monster (aka snow monster) realm.

“Shameful waste of life,” spoke investigating Officer Bill Mustardgas over to fellow investigating Officer Michelle Roundup. “But also, wouldn’t you agree, a shameful waste of popcorn, nom nom nom.”

“Agreed! nom nom nom.”

—–

Tessa was nosing around the castle while waiting. “Grandpa?”

—–

“I hear that my step-cousin didn’t make it in from the snow today, Willa. When will it stop snowing? Will it be March?” *sigh*

“Pills!” exclaimed the Registered Nurse, a type of monster herself who had a whole bunch in her hand to cure any ail.

“Put those away and bring the girl to me,” she commanded, wanting to stay lucid if melancholy for the moment. “The Grand Niece”.

—–

“Stop looking over there, child. Stop touching things.”

“Oh, okay,” Tessa agreed while lowering her hand, trying to stay compliant. She knew this woman — creature — before her had valuable information about her beloved Grandpa. Was it possible that he was still alive? She had to find out.

“Look at me, girl. Look me in the eyes.” Tessa did as she asked again. “Do you know who I am? Do you know why you’re here?”

Tessa said she’d heard that she was a member of the family and that she could come to the castle to live if she wished. She was told she could also take step-cousin Shauna’s room soon, and that Shauna was going away for a while and that she might not be coming back.

“That is correct, child,” then spoke the creature before her, who had decided to take the name Daisy Mae March as a sign of hope that the Realm of Snow will end soon. “The Grandpa is upstairs,” Daisy stated, knowing what was foremost in Tessa’s mind.

Joy! Reunion with the most beloved! But then the complete downer was revealed: Grandpa was still dead and only living in Grandma’s head while she herself remained alive. Grandma? Tessa then thought, puzzled. April Mae Flowers?

“Who are you?” she demanded, eyes boring into her now.

“So much pain, Tessa. Yes, you are most definitely one of us.” Joy in return.

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Golden Jim 02

And you’re positive you’ve got all the prints from this place. Don’t want to contaminate a crime scene.”

“Oh, we’ve got them all right,” answered Officer Mustardgas, who had met him at Baumbeer’s building. “All in our database except one. Dr. Baumbeer, of course (West). Then this guy called Gill Alex from MISTY MO who lives over in another ‘Japanese tea house’ in Black Dragon (South). He’s on vacation with his, ahem, boyfriend Rock Ramby. Mind you, we get fingerprints from all strangers who come in town. Then Blue Berry Girl, who’s currently in Marwood (North), and who also hails from MISTY MO. Staying alone over there. We’re still researching the odd MISTY MO connection. Then, um, one other person we can’t figure out. She has red hair, is all we know. And a red cap. Face scars,” he furthered. “Perhaps effects of a botched surgery or something. We’re only guessing, mind you, from what Blue Berry Girl and Gill Alex reported to us. It would be perhaps logical if she was from MISTY MO as well, but BBG and GA insist they don’t know her. Admittedly, we’re scrambling. Glad to have you on board, Golden Jim. Especially with the chief being on vacation.”

Mental note, Golden Jim thinks. A lot of vacations going on here. Including his own. “And you say this was Baumbeer’s initial meeting to find True Center (of NWES)?”

“Correct.”

“Witchcraft?” Golden Jim queries. “They might have been trying to evoke something which threatened to kill them all, not just Baumbeer. Took possession of the red cap girl.”

“We like to call her the red hair girl,” requested Mustardgas.

“Of course. As you wish.” Golden Jim stopped attempting to rock on the horse and stood up, walked out to the small balcony of the building. “Who’s Guy Linden?” he then asked while looking down at the “land spirit shrine.”

—–

“So… Baumbeer was sitting in the green chair when it happened. The red haired girl sitting in the red chair just opened fire on him. Gill Alex and Blue Berry Girl in the yellow and blue chairs respectively were the witnesses.” Golden Jim had a hunch. “What if — hear me out because this is going to sound crazy — but what if Gill Alex and Blue Berry Girl — one or the other — were *also* trying to kill each other?”

—–

After not answering again, Mustardgas walked over to the table and picked up an envelope stuffed to the gills with paper.

“Then there’s this.” Mustardgas handed the golden packet to Golden Jim. “Came in the day after the chief went to Gaston. From a local woman named Alice Farrowheart. Said she went to that new gallery in town I told you about: the Red Umbrella. Said she saw something that relates to this case in the art collages there, starting with the image of a *rabbit*.”

—–

It makes sense, he thought later in his “cave” apartment on the other side of town while studying the information. Gazelle here equals *gazette*, as in the place where Alice Farrowheart first learned of the death. Half gazelle, actually. Half rabbit. That was the beginning.

—–

Back to earlier in the day at Baumbeer’s place:

“And your database covers the 4 sims of NWES, representing the 4 cardinal directions.”

“That’s right,” answered the heavily mustachioed policeman. “If this was a meeting about True Center, then the person in the red chair, the final piece of the puzzle, should have been from the East: Apple’s Orchard (Applewood).

“No possibility of broadening your search to neighboring sims is it? Say, Chapala?” Golden Jim had checked. The billboard of the girl with the red cap lies just below Apple’s Orchard. Outside of NWES, that is. This is obviously where she came from; he was sure of it now. The local police couldn’t figure out what was hanging heavily right under their noses. Soon they’d gotten a name. Lu Ellen. Lu Ellen Hutchinson.

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