Part One: Mestari’s Carnival
Silence. Despite the usual boisterous activities of peddlers and merchants flooding the city’s markets, Trottingham Proper sat still, west of all that hustle and bustle. Barely the tapping of hooves on the cobble pavement echoed forth from this secluded section of the city of Trottingham. The clock tower located just north of this once wealthy district displayed the time, roughly a quarter-hour into the afternoon. Few could see this though, as the clouds encompassing the entire city dipped menacingly low. Just then, at half past the hour, the clock bell rung, disturbing the stillness of that early afternoon. Carnation’s ears perked.
Her eyes flicked open and pierced into the darkness. The rough wooden ceiling met her as it always did, half arced as she rested just below the roof’s northeast corner. Her eyes drifted about the unlit room. Her bed sat lengthwise next to the wall, all matted and tousled from a full night’s rest. A rarity for her considering her employer’s usual temperaments. To its left, her nightstand topped with a soft white doily held aloft a common brass lamp. A few feet further, the door to the upstairs corridor faced her, ever the vigilant guardian.
An ancient brass mirror hovered abreast the door, opposite the foot of the bed. Eternally afraid of it’s demise by falling, the aged mirror clutched dearly to it’s brackets. Sitting in the corner just beyond, a massive chestnut wardrobe dominated the wall. Proud and mighty, it stood, imposing upon the rest of the room. The jutting chestnut giant nearly blocked the small hexagonal window peering out over the street of Trotter’s Drive. This window let a dim light into the otherwise darkened room.
Carnation rolled to her stomach and stretched out her limbs. Her hooves tingled as her blood started moving through them again. She flexed her feathered wings out to their fullest, they too tingled as her heart worked to catch up. Carnation lay nestled in her blankets as her body warmed and loosened from a long night’s rest.
After a few moments, and almost dozing back to sleep, Carnation stepped forth from her covers, slowly until all four of her hooves stood firmly upon the floor. She flicked on the lamp, brightening the room considerably, and turned towards the window. Despite her rigid limbs, Carnation walked over and peered out at the desolate swirling gray sky. “If only the Weather Factory would clear out these blasted rainclouds, or in the very least let them fall. I’m tired of all this gloomy weather.” She thought to herself, clopping her way to the nightstand. She pulled on the brass knobs to open the nightstand’s topmost drawer. The lamp shown brightly upon the objects set neatly inside. A tightly folded bright green ribbon and soft blue hairbrush stared up her.
Smiling, Carnation picked the brush up with her hoof and positioned herself in front of the mirror. She scowled at the sight of her slovenly appearance. Immediately she began to smooth out her disheveled pink mane and soft pink coat. Carnation could feel the magical energies dancing through her bones, holding the brush to her hoof. Once she finished reeling out the chaos of her hair, Carnation stretched the ribbon out tight and deftly tied a neat little bow to hold her mane in check. She took a moment to admire and inspect her work before returning the hair brush to its spot in the drawer. Calmly she closed the nightstand so not to disturb the item within.
Carnation, stepped out into the short corridor of the building’s topmost floor, gently closing the door behind her. There were only a few rooms up here. Her bedroom and her employer’s own, primarily untouched, were the largest two. A washroom sat tucked into the corner adjacent to Carnation’s and finally a spare room opposite. The stairs led down the western side of the house, opposite Carnation’s bedroom.
Making her way across the non-carpeted flooring, Carnation glanced at the doorways. Slightly chipped yet still polished to shine, they blocked each threshold completely. She came upon the door to her employer’s bedroom and stopped briefly to look at it.
Trottingham Private Investigator
He had attached a craved wooden plate to his door. Sanded and polished, he had done an all together tidy job of the sign. “It’s a shame he never actually spends any time in there.” Carnation thought and continued forward.
Carnation’s limbs finally lost their rigidity as she reached the stairway and gazed down. The stairs were old and they creaked, but Carnation looked on them warmly. She stretched out her wings and took the first step off the landing. Carnation flapped each wing with each step down, easing the pressure off each hoof from the angled movement. Reaching the bottom Carnation paused and stretched her limbs one last time.
She passed down the hall to a large open room with a small dividing wall hanging through the center. The closest of the two sections held a large ovate wooden table. Carnation smiled fondly at it. There were no chairs so Carnation was easily granted access to brush her wing across the tables top as she passed. Her feathers dipped and rose to each tiny imperfection and rivet, each more familiar than the last.
Entering the latter section of the room, Carnation fanned out her wings, humming softly to herself. This section proved as a kitchen, equipped in full with a stove, cabinets, water basin and even a small pantry in the far right corner. Hanging from the ceiling into the center of the room, twelve pots and pans of various sizes swayed back an forth.
The pots clanked together as Carnation passed, tilting them with her outstretched wing. Her other smoothed itself out on the counter, flowing with it’s aged curves. Carnation’s gaze drifted about the crockery lazily but blinked with surprise when her eyes fell upon the clock ticking away just above the stove. She sighed. With her belated morning cut short by the imposing afternoon, Carnation set about the kitchen in a dutiful manner. Smoothly, Carnation’s hooves danced in and out of cupboards, fetching various items for her craft. Carnation chuckled to herself as she gazed at her line of soldiers newly formed upon the counter top. Oats headed the rank, joined by a flask of aged honey and a bottle barley. A small vial of vanilla sat nervously at the end.
Carnation fetched a medium sized pot from it’s hook and filled it with water from the basin. She set in on the stove to boiled and turned herself the archway leading into the entry room. Very little claimed this room; just a small chest and coats a upon hooks. A plain black umbrella sat poised in the corner next to the large wooden door leading outside. Carnation opened the oaken barrier and peeped out into the faint mist bearing Trotter’s Drive.
Nothing. Most tenants of this district were old copyists and clerks of the capitol. They were all busy at work whilst she and her friend slept. To her left upon the stoop, a small newspaper slumped against the house. Carnation grimaced as she delicately picked the soggy papers up and brought them inside. She set it on the table and returned to the bubbling pot of water.
Carnation added in a healthy amount of oats and the other ingredients she set out earlier. As the oatmeal simmered away, she fetched a tray from leftmost cupboard. Setting it upon the table, she began to decorate it with two ceramic bowls and a dish of dried berries from the pantry. Carnation poured the bowls full of the steaming oatmeal. Lastly she accompanied the ensemble with two spoons.
Carnation, with the tray balanced daintily atop her head, trotted her way down the steps to the musky basement. She gasped at the sight of what her employer had left for her to traverse. Books and papers, bottles and quills lay scattered all about the room, not to mention the numerous contraptions and apparatus’, many of which Carnation could not recognize. Despite the imposing gauntlet, Carnation moved steadily on. Carefully, she made her way past the mounds of clutter and refuse to the desk where the young brown-maned equine named Sluethian Gumshooves sat drooling upon his notes on his worn office desk.
Carnation warily set the tray down on a somewhat clear portion of the desk, the bowls clinking in response. “Time to wake up.” she chimed as she prepared a spot for them to dine on his mussy desk. Sluethian didn’t budge. “Time to get up!” she repeated, nudging her unconscious friend. Sluethian’s hoof flopped off the desk and dangled beside him, still fast asleep.
Carnation sighed heavily turning to face away from his limp form. “I said,” she paused, leaning forward “’time to get up!’” Carnation kicked her rear hooves back, launching the rickety chair out from underneath Sluethian. His form rolled into the unfinished cobble wall, a look of confusion splayed across his face. Carnation collected herself, tucking her hair back.
“What time is it?” Sluethian asked hastily.
“Turning about one in the afternoon,” Carnation replied, repositioning the chair. “I cannot believe I let you sleep in thi-”
“Oh no!” Sluethian cried, scrambling to his hooves. “I’ve lost too much time, valuable time! I’m on the verge of a breakthrough” he muttered as he ran about grasping at notes and tools, knocking over several of the more unstable mounds in the process.
“What are you going on about this time?” Carnation asked as she tediously watched Sluethian scramble across the room to a half-broken bookshelf mounting a large half-decayed ‘Volume of Mechanics’ upon his back.
“I’ve nearly reached the production of a blueprint of a possible solution to the plight of the non-aerially inclined of us not born with alae pinnarum protruding from our back!” He grunted under the strain of the book.
“Mechanical wings!” Sluethian cried. “I’m almost there, I just need to-”
“You need to eat!” Carnation commanded. Sluethian fell silent.
“Very well.” he replied dissently, dropping the rotting folio onto the floor causing even more stacks to topple. “Do you have today’s paper?” He asked.
“Yes, it’s there on the tray.” Carnation gave a point of her hoof towards the desk, her aggravation subsiding.
Sluethian grabbed a few berries off the tray and popped them in his mouth. “Anything to report from our depraved neighbors?” he asked as he scanned the newspaper, his eyes dotting back and forth in search of intellectual stimulus.
“Well I spoke with Marigold briefly last night, before you tore me away to that filthy basement, to avail of nothing I might add!” Carnation fussed.
“That’s odd,” Sluethian responded plainly “you and Marigold seem to get on fairly well normally.”
“I meant the basement Sluethian!” Carnation snapped.
“That’s a relief.” he replied cynically as he flipped through the pages. “I began to fear you two had a falling out.”
Carnation rolled her eyes, “Anyways, she and I talked about that carnival coming into town, what was it called… Mestari’s-”
“Mestari’s Carnival of Mystery.” Sluethian interrupted.
“Uh, yeah, how’d you know? I thought you hated carnivals.” Carnation answered perplexed.
“It’s right here.” Sluethian handed Carnation the paper. “It would seem their prized performing monkey has gone missing.”
Carnation took the paper; “A tragedy has befallen Mestari and his mysterious carnival. The performing monkey known as Apina disappeared last night. Mestari himself is extremely distraught, leaving his carnival in a state of disarray and chaos. It seems the carnival will be shut down until she is found.” she read aloud, her voice growing worried. “That’s terrible, I hope the poor monkey is okay. What do you think Sluethian? Sluethian?” Carnation looked up from the paper to find that her colleague was no longer standing in front of her.
“I think it means we, at long last, have a case to solve, though menial as it is to locate a lost pet.” he answered as he clopped up the stairs.
“Where are you going?” Carnation asked as she set the paper down and turned towards the fervent detective.
“Where do you think? I’m going to the carnival.” Sluethian put one step through the threshold at the top of the stairs. “Care to join me?” he muttered back and continued through to the front door.
Carnation raced up after him, and just as Sluethian was about to open the front door thrust her hoof in front of him. “You’re not going anywhere looking like that.” Carnation glared intently at Sluethian. He took a step back.
“As well then.” he replied.
Carnation recomposed herself and grabbed up Sluethian’s old brown trench coat, deer-stalker cap and a green scarf, to match his eyes, off the peg by the door. After outfitting him and quickly brushing down his unruly mane and forelock, she fetched her own attires from the second peg. “There.” she said, quickly donning her hefty side packs and tying a bright green bow in her hair, “Now we actually look like we live in this city’s houses and not it’s streets.
“Hurry on then!” Sluethian stated, his excitement brimming just beyond his usual repose, as the pair galloped quickly out the door, down Trotters Drive, through the murky streets of Trottingham Proper and to the sodden fairgrounds just off the city’s western-most edge. A light mist began to fall.