The Ion, the Witch, and the Murderer; Part 2

Ion handed Sabrina a cup of tea and set down the tray. "Sabrina, where did you go?"

Sabrina frowned. "I couldn't stand their arguing so I stood up and left and…" She slowly faded out.

"And cried?" Ion finished for her.

Sabrina nodded weakly. She was a grown-up witch and rarely ever cried. Could something heavy have been on her mind?

"May I ask why?" Ion asked politely.

Iota answered for her. "Honestly brother, she's just been crying. Do you have to ask questions now?"

"Stuff it, Iota," Mefira commanded. Although she did not usually take her sister's side, it was obvious that Mefira considered her the lesser of two evils. "The question was for Sabrina. Well, Sabrina?"

She nodded. "I shall tell. It's because of Psii. I miss him."

"Ah," Ion looked at her sympathetically, "I understand. Psii was my cousin. In fact, that's why I brought you here today."

"Ah hah," Mefira exclaimed, then stopped and thought for a moment. "Wait a second, why'd you bring us here?"

"Mefira please hand me the obituary," Ion demanded.

"Why?"

"Just give it to me." Mefira did so, looking quizzically at Ion throughout.

"Please allow me to read you several excerpts. 'Psii, age 54, died of magical feedback, this Wednesday evening in his attic.' Okay, let's skip a bit. 'Exact causes of Psii's death have not been concluded. Medical wizards admit that he may have been murdered at wandpoint or have been attempting to murder another.'"

"Murdered at wandpoint?" Sabrina sobbed heavily. "But that's impossible." She poured a large amount of tea down her throat. "It is impossible, isn't it?"

"That's the thing about wand-fire, it's much more versatile than the non-magic gunfire," Mefira explained matter-of-factly.

"Yes," Ion said, "although it's the same in every other respect, except it doesn't leave any trace."

"So, he was murdered?" Sabrina was appalled.

"Not necessarily, murder is merely the most probable cause," Ion explained.

"Murdered, eh?" Iota said, "It's terrible."

Ion stated mysteriously, "I don't think all three of you would agree with that statement."

"What are you implying?" Mefira asked, offended.

"If he was murdered, and I believe he was, then it must have been one of you four."

Mefira angrily retorted, "How do you know it was one of…" Her voice faded out as she realized a problem with Ion's statement. "You said 'four,' Ion, and there's only three of us."

Ion smiled, "No, there's four."

"Brother's finally gone insane," Iota sighed.

Ion shook his head. "Show yourself!" A mist began to condense next to Ion.

"My friends," Ion said, "I would like to introduce my fourth guest tonight, Nnip the Ghost."

The mist solidified into a discernable human figure and bowed merrily. It was Nnip, the light-hearted ghost. A wide grin, as always, filled his translucent face with eerie joviality. No one knew exactly why Nnip had strayed from the afterlife but the widespread community agreed that Nnip wished to be a poltergeist. He was still around, supposedly, because he had not yet adequately fulfilled his role as poltergeist. More of a prankster than a poltergeist, Nnip was not malevolent enough to fulfill his dream. He always apologized after his pranks, which were never violent or harmful, anyway. His conscience had built a wall between him and poltergeist-hood, and he was still trying to knock the brick barrier down.

"Why is Nnip here?" Sabrina questioned, a worried look on her face. After a moment of thinking, she added another inquiry. "Why are any of us here? I don't see what we have to do with Psii's death."

"Thank you Sabrina," Ion said, "you have led me to my next point. You are gathered here today to—"

"Ooh," interjected Nnip, "it's just like a wedding. I'll need tea if it's a wedding. Can I have tea?"

"You're a ghost, Nnip," Ion pointed out.

"I still like tea."

"Look," Ion said, "just sit tight and listen. You're here because you four are the only beings who could have murdered my cousin."

Mefira was skeptical. "How do you know we're the only ones?"

"I was just about to explain that." Ion started up again. "I'm sure you all remember Wednesday night, seeing as we had all gathered at the victim's house. Doesn't it seem strange that no one has mentioned that up 'til now?" An awkward silence overcame the guests. "There are four of you. I'm assuming that one of you didn't say anything because they were murderer. But it's strange that the other three would remain silent. But I've allowed myself to go off on a tangent. We are here to uncover the murderer, which is without a doubt one of you."

Ion pointed into the crowd menacingly and then continued, "There is only one way to enter the attic where Psii was murdered. That path travels from the front, back, or side doors through the living room, which we were sitting in, through the kitchen, and up the stairs to the attic. We would have seen anyone who entered. On the other hand, you four constantly left the room to fetch items from the kitchen. It would have been easy for any one of you to go up to the attic, deliver the fatal blow and return to us."

"'Been easy to deliver the fatal blow'?" Nnip remarked and shook his head. "I beg your pardon, I can't pick up a wand, much less cast a spell with it."

"Ghosts have other ways to cause that type of damage. Magical feedback can arrive in several ways, however, and being possessed by a ghost does the trick."

Nnip nodded his head knowingly. "I still didn't kill him though."

Before Ion could resume his narrative, Sabrina asked a question. "Why couldn't someone just have entered the attic magically?"

Ion explained quickly, "Psii had protection from that sort of thing. He was a suspicious sort of man and had spells install to protect his home. No sort of magical intrusion could occur and no undesired spirits could enter. And therefore, it must have been one of you."

"Okay," Iota said, "that's nice and all, but what about you, you were there too?"

"I didn't leave the room at all," Ion explained, "and would I really invite you here to expose myself? That's why I've invited you here after all—to expose the murderer."

"I guess you're right," Iota said, still glancing at his brother suspiciously.

"Now then," Ion said, "let's go through the affair for each of you. First, we'll discuss opportunity. I've already explained that each of you had the opportunity…"

"Then, why are you discussing this?" Mefira was impatient again. "I have things to do; our evening edition is due out in two hours."

"Plenty of time," Ion said, "we're discussing this in order to place the exact sequence of events. It all began when Psii asked us to come to his house. He had something important to tell us. We all arrived promptly at 6:30 and were welcomed in by Psii, still alive and well. It was raining viciously outside, so we spent the next five minutes trying to remember the drying spell; Psii wouldn't let us enter with wet feet.

"At 6:35 we were seated in the living area. Psii explained that he had to retrieve something from the attic. He said that, as what he needed to show us was elaborate, he might no come back for another half hour. He then pleaded us not to be worried and go up after him.

"We sat around for about ten minutes, chatting about irrelevant subjects when Mefira got impatient and bored. She decided to fetch us all a bite to eat from the kitchen. She set out and returned ten minutes later with chips and dip. Her excuse for taking so long was that she didn't know the setup of the kitchen. It was then around 6:55, twenty minutes after Psii had left.

"The next one to leave was Nnip. He faded out without warning at 6:57 and left the—"

"Wait a second," Nnip interjected, "how did you know I left the room when I was invisible?"

"Ghosts spew magic," Ion said, "you can always tell when a ghost is present. That's how I know that you arrived here about the same time Iota and left along with Sabrina. But that's irrelevant at the moment. What is important is an excuse for the reason you left. Why did you leave at that moment?"

Nnip replied, "Well, I was bored. So, I went outside for a quick stroll. Then I was singing. In the rain." Nnip winked and spun around merrily, flying up towards the ceiling then landing back down on the floor.

"I'll just ignore that and continue," Ion said. Nnip nodded in silent, embarrassed agreement.

"Okay then," Ion continued his narrative, "Nnip returned about five minutes later at 7:03 but stayed invisible for a while. It was at 7:05 when Nnip reappeared announcing how bored he was. Sabrina declared that she couldn't stand it anymore and went to acquire a cup of tea from the kitchen. She returned ten minutes later with her tea and it was Iota's turn to get up and leave.

"It was 7:15 when Iota left to get a glass of water, but because he spilled and had to clean it up he wasn't back until about 7:30. Then, the conversation in the room turned from discussion on when Psii would come back to nervous chatter about Psii's welfare. We all decided that since it was almost an hour since he left, we should go check on him. And that's when we found him dead."

"Wow," Iota said, "when you put it that way it really does sound like one of us murdered him."

"Exactly," Mefira said, "almost too much. You have an iron alibi, Ion. How do we know that you didn't murder him before we arrived?"

"Well you saw him alive," Ion said.

"How do we know he wasn't an illusion?"

"Look Mefira," Ion stated strongly, "I can't do illusions. You do remember that time I tried."

Mefira chuckled loudly. She did remember apparently. Ion had wanted to leave the office during work time and had created, or attempted to, and illusion of himself. The illusion had before long grown many holes and turned plaid. Mefira had seen right through it.

"I guess you're right," she admitted merrily.

"Then, I shall continue once more," Ion said, "with motive. The thing about method is that none of you seem to have one.