Chapter 01 - The Detective Girl
It was a cold, dark afternoon in the middle of autumn. Small, irregular
drops of water fell out of the gloomy sky. It was not enough to be called rain,
but just enough to make the air around feel moist.
Walking through a narrow, abandoned alley was a young man. He seemed out of place with his fancy coat, neat pants and hat. This was not, after all, part of the city regular people liked to walk. Burglaries, rape and even murders were not uncommon in this area. Anyone with a wealthy appearance would only ask for trouble.
That this young man managed to cross this part of town without running into problems, could almost be called a miracle.
He stopped when met with the sight of an old, worn out building. The state of it was poor. Bricks were missing, a window was smashed and the door was severely damaged. One would presume such a building to be abandoned, if it wasn't for the small flickering light of a candle that burned inside.
His gaze travelled to the signboard that hung slightly tilted to the side. The painted words almost mocked the area they were in. No special names were added. It was a simple sign, bluntly showing the building's purpose. The words 'Detective Agency' in big red letters were not easy to miss.
One would question the owner's sanity to put a detective agency in a place where most crimes happen, but the young man wasn't picky. This is the place he'd been looking for, after all.
A loud bell rang as soon as the young man opened the door. The bell hardly seemed necessary; the loud creaking sound of the old door indicated an intruder well enough.
Surprisingly, the inside of the building was far cleaner than the appearance outside. There was only one large room and in it were a few pieces of furniture; a desk filled with pieces of paper, a phone and a typewriter, two chairs, a large bookcase taking up an entire wall, a coat rack and a small table that seemed to have no purpose.
There was no sign of anyone. That was strange in itself, since the door was left unlocked. In a neighborhood as this, it is very unwise to invite burglars in like that. Aside from that, he did have a scheduled appointment.
Hesitantly, the young man took a step inside. Taking off his damp coat and hat, he made the decision to wait for the owner's return. He turned around to close the door and looked in a pair of big eyes.
"Aarh!" he cried and jumped back.
A girl, that crawled out of her hiding spot observed him, staring at him with interest when his reaction was one of honest surprise. She took in the appearance of the young man; he was slightly taller than her with the same color blonde hair tied in a ponytail. Two blue eyes that stared at her as well, the shock in them just wearing off. A neat white shirt, black pants and a black waistcoat, gave the appearance of a reasonably wealthy young man. He even had a matching black tie. He was surprisingly small around the shoulder, not as broad and muscular as most other men.
When the young man recovered from the scare, he quickly analyzed the girl he just met as well. Short straight hair, a young woman with a body that didn't seem fully developed; in fact, he would give her no older than seventeen. The dress she wore was simple; a brown colored long sleeved dress. The most bizarre about the girl were her eyes. One was the a calm blue color, while the other was a bright, unnatural shade of red.
"I hope I didn't scare you," she giggled. The tone of her voice seemed to tell him the opposite.
"Why were you hiding behind the door?" he asked her.
A large smile spread its way on her face. "Was I?" she asked him instead. "Aren't you just jumping to conclusions?"
The young man's mouth slightly hung open at the counter answer and the strange girl continued. "You seem fairly sure. Of course I could have, as you say, hid myself here in case some lowlife criminal barged in. Or, I had been standing in this position when you came inside, making it a mere coincidence. Perhaps even, I had been standing here the whole time, waiting for you…" she chuckled. "There are always different answers, but which one is the truth?"
"…Isn't that your job to find out, detective?" the young man bluntly stated.
The blonde girl slightly tilted her head. "…Very keen. I like you." Walking right past him, she took a seat on the large chair behind the desk. She folded her fingers and rested her chin on top of them, leaning forward to meet his eyes. "So, what is your name and tell me a little bit about yourself."
Without hesitation, the young man answered. He had been preparing for this job interview, after all. "My full name is Levon Ellard Newman. I am a nineteen years old free-lance writer and I have written about forty articles in the two years I've been employed. I am experienced in field work; I've written crime-related articles before, working together with the police –"
"Where do you live?" she interrupted.
The young man paused for a second, not quite understanding why that was relevant. "I am originally from Cambridge, but I've found a small hotel in London where I am staying right now. It's not too far from here, actually, it's – " The rest of his sentence died away as her laughter filled the air. It was a cold, chilling laugh, filled with mockery and amusement. The blonde man didn't move and his facial expression betrayed his confusion.
When the laughter died down, the young girl locked eyes with him and with a surprisingly serious tone, said: "Dear Mr. Levon, this is the second time you've died."
She smiled at him as he stared at her in utter bewilderment. "…What?" he expressed.
The blond girl raised from her seat and walked up to him, her arms casually folded behind her back. "The first time you died was the second you stepped into this seemingly abandoned place…" In a second, she stepped behind him and in one quick movement, raised her hands together and pounded him softly on the back. Startled, the young man sharply turned around.
"Dead," she simply said. "...if I had a knife on me." She spun around and walked backwards until her frame touched the desk. "The second time you've died, was the moment you told me your name. How many people with your name live in Cambridge, do you think? You have made it boringly easy by telling me your occupation as well."
"But this is a job interview!" the young man protested. "I have to tell these things!"
The girl smiled. "What makes you think that I'm the real owner of this agency?" she softly asked. "…I could have been anyone, really." Her eyes narrowed slightly and the next words had a cold feeling to them. "Never tell anyone your real name."
The young man frowned and seemed nervous. "Then what happens if someone wants to know my name?" he asked. "Do I have to make up an alias or-"
"Len," she suddenly called. The young man tensed. "Levon Ellard Newman, L.E.N. Len. That will be your name from now on. It's casual, yet not too common and can't be traced back."
"…Alright," he agreed. "Then what do I call you, detective?"
The girl smiled mysteriously. "You can call me 'Rin'. Anyway, if you want to tag along, you shouldn't throw your curriculum on the streets. From now on, you're not even an official writer anymore. If anyone asks, you are my new assistant. Of course you'll still be penning down everything that happens."
"New assistant? What happened to your former assistant then?" he asked.
The girl twirled a lock of her hair. "She resigned."
Looking at her agency, he couldn't be surprised. "Alright," he agreed with her."Does that mean… you will hire me?" He couldn't help but sound hopeful.
The young girl paused at that moment, staring at him with a dubious look in her eyes, her finger still twirled around the lock of hair. It was as if his words had stirred a thought inside her he could only try to grasp. "…I will. For now, at least." She hopped on the desk, turning her attention to the scrambled pieces of paper. Picking up a stack, she started filing through them. "I know that you're searching for something worthy of a headline, but none of my cases are that interesting at the moment," she told him. "But don't worry, I am expecting something…" She lowered her gaze, her eyes glazing over for a second as if in thought. "…soon I think."
Her fingers brushed over the tip of something red underneath the pile of light-colored papers, something that the young man hadn't failed to notice. And as a frown formed on his face, she suddenly turned her attention back to him.
"You will hear from me then," she told him cheerfully.
With that, the conversation steered towards its end. The loudly creaking door announced his departure from the building, as the young man left it with only the promise of a reunion. That was all the detective girl could give him at the moment and that was all he left the decaying building with.
The weather had worsened and it had started to drizzle. He straightened the collar of his coat, hoping not to arrive at the hotel soaked. He had forgotten to bring an umbrella when he left it this morning and was regretting that now.
Taking his chances in the rain, he stepped onto the uneven tiles of the street. When he glanced back at the building, he was instantly met with a penetrating stare. The candlelight illuminated the appearance of the detective girl, her figure easily spotted through the broken window. And for a moment, he paused. Alone, with only the sound of rain clattering in the background, the two of them exchanged a glance.
He waved at her and she broke into a smile.
They would meet each other again.
Days started to turn into weeks. While the strange promise of the detective girl lingered, there wasn't any news from the detective agency. Plenty of crimes were still happening, spread across the newspapers. Now and then he read her name in some small case she had solved, somewhere in a tiny corner of the page. The cases she was mentioned in seemed as uninteresting as she had claimed. It went from petty theft to a missing child, who was eventually found stuck in the basement of a neighbor. The only thing that surprised him, was how fast she solved these cases. They weren't hard, heck, even the police hardly bothered themselves to work on these simple mysteries. Still, the strange detective girl solved them in a matter of hours, solving one case and moving straight to another.
When six weeks passed the young man, as of now called Len, started to grow restless. He spend hours at night worrying about the possibility that she wouldn't search contact with him again. Pondering on what he should do if she doesn't call him. She really was one peculiar girl and he couldn't tell what she was thinking.
At one night, at roughly two o'clock in the morning, his waiting was finally rewarded… when his blankets were yanked away.
Her one red eye nearly glowed in the darkness, as his widened blue eyes met hers.
"Get up," she simply commanded.
The young man desperately tried to cover himself up, as he had been sleeping in only his underwear. His cheeks flushed in embarrassment when he reached for his clothes. "Wh-what are you- how did you get in here?" he stammered, putting his blouse on.
The girl didn't give him an ounce of privacy as her sharp eyes followed his every move. Her silence was nerve-racking and the young man felt himself grow uneasy. It was as if she was looking at a criminal, the way her eyes blazed.
Her fingers brushed over his blouse and he felt a shiver run down his spine when she stepped closer. The pale moonlight shone through the opened window, lighting up the dark room. Some of her blonde hair colored gold and Len couldn't help but blush when the girl started to close the buttons. The scene was intimate, something he hadn't expected to happen. It wasn't a common thing that a man and a woman were alone in a bedroom, standing this close together. All the questions that had lingered a moment before, faded. Even her expression softened.
"You really are careless, aren't you?" the soft whisper barely reached his ears, but this time, the words weren't harsh or accusing. "Leaving the window open like that…" She looked up at him, their faces only a few inches apart. She smiled, but it was a bright smile and for a moment… he thought she was beautiful. "You really fooled me well." In less than a second, she had the object she'd been searching for.
It's silver shine was almost blinding as she held the long sharp knife in her hand. Still standing close to him, the tip of it rested on his chest.
"You weren't sleeping at all and you heard me enter this room," she stated, twirling the knife around. "Your even breaths were too close after each other. You were holding this knife with your left hand, tucked underneath the pillow and tried to hide it when you reached for your clothes."
She took a step back and held the knife in the light of the moon. "Quality," she observed, the hem was decorated and the blade was silver. "Expensive. Sharp. Were you waiting for me with this?" she mused.
"NO!" the young man loudly exclaimed. His cheeks, if possible, went redder. "I would never actually use it." His hand rested on his forehead and he exhaled loudly, before sitting down on the side of the hotel bed. "Listen…" he announced, meeting her gaze. "I always carry it with me. I've had a rough experience a while back… It's true, I did hear you come in. I thought you were a criminal. This town seems full of them. I didn't want to scare you, so I tried to hide it."
Taking his hand, she placed the knife back in it. Suddenly the grip on his wrist tightened and he winched. Her eyes seemed to light up, her stare cold and penetrating. "I want you to pay attention now," her low voice rang through the room. "I do not like secrets. Surely you can understand this, since I am a detective… And as one, I won't be lenient with lies. Be honest with me, or keep your act together. If I find anything else, my dearest Levon… I promise that I won't be this forgiving."
Widened blue eyes stared back. With that, she released him and the young man held his painful wrist. "…I'm sorry," he apologized.
She turned his back on him. "Forgiven," she huffed."The rest of your curriculum was flawless. Now, I didn't come here without reason, so put your pants on."
The young writer immediately complied; it was awkward standing around half dressed. But even when she wasn't facing him, he noticed that she was still watching him through the mirror. "This room is on the third floor…" he realized. "How did you climb through the window that quietly?"
The detective girl's gaze narrowed. This probably didn't help her already bad mood.
When he put on his shoes and started tying the laces, it was clear that she wasn't going to give him an answer. Despite of that, he wasn't willing to give up this easily. "Then what is so important that it can't even wait until tomorrow? It's the middle of the night, if you weren't aware of that."
A frustrated sigh escaped her lips. "Fine. We need to travel to Nottingham's castle before dawn. I received word that a crime will be committed during a grand ball."
Len's blue eyes widened, pausing in his actions. "Really?" he asked. That sounded interesting enough to make the papers. "I've never been to a castle before."
She shot him a dirty look. Understanding the meaning, he quickly finished his laces. The detective girl didn't waste any time and unlocked the door by moving the bolt, just as he reached for his coat and his few belongings. He had the feeling that he wouldn't be spending the following night here…