I just needed a clue to find the other brother. Something left behind. The scene of the murder turned up nothing–no traces of hair or blood were found that had any active magical connection. Undoubtedly it all belonged to Wilhelm, the victim, but I had to test it all, for Gottfried had the same hair and disposition as Wilhelm.
The doctor asked if I found a clue at the crime scene. I shook my head. The doctor hung his. It was my understanding that he was acquainted with young Wilhelm, a mentor of sorts for the lad. I asked for another look at the body. It was produced, already embalmed and snug in a coffin. Despite my preference for the body to remain untouched, the father wanted the funeral done with. A fratricide was an embarrassment for the family legacy, I suppose.
Wilhelm’s corpse was dressed in a dark suit and cravat–much different from the shirtsleeves look he sported as a prospector. The going theory was that Wilhelm fished up something special from the river, and brother fought brother over possession of the prize. A shame, if true. But I was not hired to find motive–only the criminal. Given the working theory, I had my suspicions that my employer, the uncle of the two boys, had ulterior motives regarding the desire to find the murderer.
“What did you do with Wilhelm’s clothes?” I asked the good doctor. “The ones he was wearing when he was found?”
“I gave them to his parents, of course,” the doctor replied.
Gaining access to the clothing proved difficult. The mother wouldn’t allow me to rummage through her son’s belongings, and the father turned me away promptly. I had to employ a good many tricks to find my way into their home. I found Wilhelm’s bloodied clothing next to the fireplace, where a slave girl was just beginning to stoke a flame. I spirited the clothing away before being caught.
Upon divination, I found only lost connections from the blood and the sweat on the clothing. Wilhelm’s, completely. However, looking ever closer, I found tiny crescent-shaped slivers sticking to the fabric of the shirt. Hastening back to Wilhelm’s corpse, I examined his fingers. They were stiff and blue, but his nails were smooth and unmarred. It appeared that a nervous gentleman had chewed his nails nervously over Wilhelm’s body.
I performed a tracking spell and located the original owner of the discarded fingernails. The spell led me back to the home of Wilhelm’s parents. Were they protecting their son, who murdered another son? Or was there something else going on entirely?
In truth, I cared little. I wasn’t really looking for Gottfried, murderer or no. I was looking for whatever they found in that river which would make brothers fight to the death to claim it.
Day 273’s three writing prompt categories were, “Brothers,” “A MacGuffin,” and, “Bitten fingernails.”
I remember watching a short film once about two brothers and/or business partners during the gold rush who find a bigass nugget and wind up killing each other over their greed for it, and then losing the nugget in the river again or something. I have no idea what it was called. Maybe I dreamed it.