I. A Busy Day at the Station

Inspector Lumpkin paced his office waiting for a knock on his door. He used his already-soaked handkerchief to wipe more sweat from his reddened brow and looked back with regret at how out of shape he'd gotten. There's no reason he should be working up a sweat by pacing; it was practically dripping from his thick, black mustache.

To say things had been hectic around the station lately was quite an understatement. For years the worst crime that Bermshire had faced had been nothing more than pick-pocketing and then two days ago a murder takes place and the whole town broke into a frenzy. People want answers, the chief wants answers, the reporters want answers, The Lincoln Hotel manager wants his business back; everyone wanted something.

Unfortunately, Lumpkin had nothing to provide.

Knock, knock, knock.

Lumpkin turned to his door and saw through the glass window with great relief that Inspector McCallum was at his door. "Come in, come in," Lumpkin waved to the younger man.

Lumpkin and McCallum were total opposites: Lumpkin was a large man, both tall and wide, with a gleaming bald scalp and drooping mustache in his early fifties (he told people mid-forties); whereas McCallum was a young, lean man with a handsome, clean-shaven face and head full of brown hair. Lumpkin was usually messy and unkempt while McCallum was always prim and proper. And McCallum preferred to spend his free time with his nose in a good book while Lumpkin liked to sit in his recliner listening to the radio.

However different these two were, though, they were similar in one aspect: they were great at their jobs.

"What have you found out?" Lumpkin asked. McCallum had spent the day examining The Lincoln Hotel and the surrounding buildings looking for any sign of where the arrow that had killed Lars Ungbar as he sat in the hotel lobby had been fired from.

McCallum sunk into a thick-cushioned chair with a sigh. "I didn't find anything."

Lumpkin was taken aback; McCallum always found something. "What do you mean? You have to have found something."

"I'm sorry, but I didn't. I searched everything; every building, alley, rooftop, street…everything. I didn't find anything."

Lumpkin sighed and sat down behind his desk. "This is not good. This is not good at all."

"Not at all," McCallum agreed.

"Do we know where Lars even came from? Why he was here in Bermshire?"

"Lars was a businessman from New Yorkland. Not sure why he was here in town, but my guess is he was here to meet someone. Gus Tacker, the manager of The Lincoln Hotel, says Lars checked into the hotel two days before the shooting and never left the building."

"Never left his room for two days?"

"He left his room, but not the building. Every morning he would sit in the lobby all day. He'd eat all his meals at that table."

"Like he was waiting for someone."

"Not just anyone, it would seem."

"What do you mean?" Lumpkin's chair groaned in protest as the large man leaned back.

"The black rose on the body; according to Gus he wore it everyday."

"A black rose?" Lumpkin stroked his mustache in thought. "That's the insignia of the Grim Rose."

"Precisely."

"But the Grim Rose is no more. Not after Xander Shores. Surely he must have known."

"Unless he lived under a rock for the past two weeks." The news of what had happened to the Order of the Grim Rose had quickly spread throughout the kingdom. There wasn't a person alive who hadn't heard of their defeat.

Lumpkin shot upright in his chair as a thought occurred to him. "You don't think there could be a survivor, do you?"

"Impossible," McCallum said. "They were all accounted for."

Lumpkin sank back in defeat. "That's true. I still think it sounds like something that would be worth looking into."

"I agree. It would appear that this is going to be a two-part investigation."

Lumpkin stroke his mustache and nodded his head. "Finding the killer and finding out who Mr. Ungbar was supposed to be meeting."