Faustina walks through the streets with purpose. Her features are covered in the heavy coat, boots, and gloves of a doctor in the midst of a plague. A segmented crow’s mask made of some sort of light-colored metal covers her face in its entirety, goggles built into the eyes to obscure her features even further. Coming up to about the waist of the taller folk, she’s almost difficult to notice on the streets. Her face turns every which way, her obscured eyes flicking about as she keeps her senses sharp.
Murder is common in this town, barroom brawls, shake downs, backstabbing and assassinations, but recent murders have been different. Slowly, like a trickle, they showed up, bodies laying in the streets, their flesh marred with a seven-pointed star. It’s only been happening for the past few months, but the steady stream hasn’t stopped.
Faustina is searching for one thing: a lead. Any references to this seven-pointed star and any relations the victims had with one another. Her search takes her to underbridge, the wretched underbelly of the town, where the giant ruin of the Irespan covers the sun in its massive shadow. Children, street urchins, eking out some enjoyment in their existence play a game with a song, singing “Mumble Mumble, Scarecrow, Alone in the maize, Sleeping in the daytime, a stitched man he stays.”
The investigator approaches the kids. She brings a gloved hand up to stroke the ‘beak’ of her mask, “Hello, children. Having a bit of fun?”
The children go wide-eyed, stopping their game as they look to the stranger as they scrutinize her with their eyes, “What’choo want?” a varisian youth asked, eyes narrowed.
“Oh, I’m just doing some asking around. You kids tend to know what goes on in the streets, yes?”
They look to one another, then back to her. “Maybe, depends.”
“I have coin… or if coin is not your fancy, I can do a bit of street magic.”
“Show us” one said, the others piped in, chirping similar requests.
Faustina pulls out a deck of cards from her sleeve. She shuffles them up before fanning out a group of cards, “Go ahead. Pick one.” One of the children grabs a card and looks to her expectantly, to which she responds, “Alright. Memorize which card it is and give it back to me.” She holds her gloved hand out, “Don’t be shy, I won’t bite.”
They all take a look at it and hand it back to her. Faustina takes it. She’ll go to place it in the deck, but at the last second use a sleight of hand to flick it back into her sleeve. She then shuffles the deck multiple times, cuts it in half, and sleights her card back into the deck. She then draws it, “Is this your card?”
A few gasps and a set of applause emerge from the crowd. The head of the group nods in approval and asks, “What ya looking for?”
Faustina places the deck back into her sleeve before speaking, “Do you know about the murders that have been happening as of late? Not just any murders, but ones with special symbols carved into them?”
They get a bit quiet from that and a few scurry away. “Gonna take more than a magic trick to get me talkin’ about that sort of thing.”
Faustina harrumphs, “Naturally.” She palms out a gold coin, “How does this sound?” The kid reaches out for it. Faustina lets him grab it before responding, “I want what you know on these things. Anything strange beyond the marring of the bodies. Think of it as… a doctor’s curiosity.”
“Lots of stuff happens around here.” He says, pocketing the coin. “People in shadows, not wanting to be seen. Not even my big bro messes with them. Very secret, they are.”
“Shadowy people that are very secretive. That sounds very suspect. Have you noticed them in a higher frequency in any particular areas, little one?” Despite saying this, she’s probably their height or shorter.
He shrugs, “Round gamblin’ houses and whorehouses.”
Faustina sighs, “Mm. Not entirely helpful, but I suppose every little step counts. We never spoke about this, alright?”
“Sure thing” He says before running off to join his friends.
Underbridge was not a place for entertainment and was quite a dangerous place indeed, but along the edge where it joined with more reputable areas, sat a quaint gambling house. A simple place for simple card games and sitting outside it was a Varisian cutting away at a block of wood
Faustina approaches the Varisian and clears her throat, “Hello there! Are you a part of this establishment?”
The Varisian stops and grunts, “Yeah. Why you askin’?”
After adjusting her mask, Faustina responds, “I’m investigating a few things in this city and I have a question that I mean no ill will by: About how many of the people who play here would you say are ‘suspicious’?”
“Everyone.” He says.
Faustina laughs, “Fair enough. It’s a gambling house after all. Would you be surprised if any of them committed murder or would you pin them as more low-class criminals, the sort who might just beat a fellow for cheating?”
“All of them, I’d guess. Enough who would kill someone for asking too much.”
“You’re welcome to make all of the veiled threats you’d like. I’m investigating a rather serious case and compliance is appreciated. We wouldn’t want another body turning up for the authorities to find after all.” She rests her gloved hand in her coat, “I’m investigating the rather ghastly series of murders and, as I said, all compliance on the matter is appreciated.”
“Won’t find anyone who ’d care about authorities round these parts.” he said "Hiding their crimes is not a thing we do round there, but… there are a few of those rich types who come down to the edge here for the “night life” Anyone looking to hide something will probably be up in that side of town."
Faustina pauses, “Ah! There you go.” She removes her hand, “You already narrowed my search down quite a bit. Have a good day.” And with that, the short investigator vanishes back into the night from whence she came.