Thursday, September 08, 2005

vignette: shadow of the higante

As he stood with his back to the edge of the balcony, slowly transforming the sadness of his past and the perfection of his intentions into the words of a poem, Picaro Marviloso did not hear the nearby flapping of cloth caught by the sea breeze, did not see the gigantic shadow that fell across his face, and was surprised by the sudden twisting of his head (to him, the crack when his neck broke was the loudest sound in the world, louder than any denial, louder than thunder).

As he was flung to the ground by the impossibly tall figure standing just beyond his balcony, the poet thought briefly of the following things: that he was dying, that regret always came late, and how there was truly nothing poetic in death, especially if it was your own.

The three people on the streets below who witnessed the shocking death of Picaro Marviloso that night would all agree that a higante - a giant - had come to Ciudad Meoira, plucked the famous dissolute poet from his balcony, twisted his head between its massive fingers then hurled the man thirty feet to the ground below. After all, what else but a giant could cast so tremendous a shadow that all three swore to seeing?

*

“I know it sounds absurd but that is what we saw,” the flustered man repeated miserably. “I know you don’t believe us.”

Veronica Bunsong-Buwan, the detective-in-charge, shook her head and finished taking the last of the witnesses’ statements. She had been summoned only minutes after the startling murder was reported and had lost no time in finding her way to the site of the crime. She had looked carefully at the remains of Picaro Marviloso and ascertained that he was dead before he struck the ground, his head cruelly twisted from back to front.

The Tiq’Barang stretched to her full height and fought off her fatigue. Like most of her race she could endure more than men, but when Tiq’Barang tire, they needed to rest longer than anyone, and Veronica had just returned from an especially long investigation at the Ispancialo garrisons in the dark Iluko region. She absentmindedly rubbed the end of her equine snout and took some time to review what she had already noted.

To the eyes of any man, Veronica Bunsong-Buwan was a creature of contrasts. She was indisputably beautiful, her cropped fur was the color of kapé mixed with cream, darkening to the purest chocolate towards her hands and hooves, but her intimidating size and scale dwarfed the tallest of men. She stood almost ten feet tall and the colorful cloak of the guardia civil did little to hide her massive shoulders, yet her eyes, a pale liquid grey, betrayed an air of either deep kindness or knowing sorrow.

She was raised in the faith of the Ispancialo and rose quietly up the ranks of the clergy. Her inquisitive mind and natural powers of observation and deduction earned her the position of ecclesiastical investigadór, responsibly handling sensitive internal matters that the Church of the Tres Hermanas preferred to remain secret, earning a reputation for solving the impossible, until that particular night when she had to make a painful choice between loyalty and truth.

The guardia civil were more than happy to catch her at the terminus of her fall from grace, and added her to their ranks with understated pride, for already she was known to possess one of the finest minds in all of Hinirang.

A mind that was perplexed by current situation that her notes did nothing to
illuminate.

Ser Miguel Lucas Jaena, a junior guardia assigned to learn from her, asked her if she agreed that it was a giant.

“There are no higantes in Ciudad, Ser Jaena,” she said while scribbling down her thoughts. “If there was a giant here, where would this higante hide? Why is it that no one saw her anywhere else?

The young man shrugged his shoulders, at a loss for words.

Veronica Bunsong-Buwan pointed to the narrow streets lined with towers and residences similar to those of Picaro Marviloso. “And just how did this higante fit into these streets without damaging any other balcony, wall or feature?”

“I don’t know,” the young guardia conceded. “Which is why I can’t wait for you to solve this mystery.”

“Before we talk of giants, we must first establish why anyone would want to kill the most beloved poet of Ciudad. There are steps to these things, you know.” Veronica smiled as Ser Jaena blushed.

"Now then," she said as she stood to her full height. “Shall we continue our investigation?”

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