Oh, good. You’re awake. Congratulations. You have been appointed the witch detective. No, sorry. It doesn’t matter that you don’t want to be the witch detective. There must be one, the old one is dead, and it has fallen on you to take up the work.
Like all witch detectives, your first task is to investigate the death of your predecessor. Why, yes, I suppose you could call the police and report that you’ve kidnapped. If you can get a signal. This spot in the woods is a dead zone. Do you even have a phone? And perhaps they’d believe you. Perhaps not. Wouldn’t you at least like to take a look around first?
Of course, you could refuse to investigate. But the change is upon you. The door to the cottage sits half open. I could take you away, but you would be back again. Maybe this evening. Maybe in a year. Maybe only in your dreams. But a mystery does not exist without someone who wants to solve it. And here we have a mystery. It will work on you until you cannot bear to leave it undetected.
What can I tell you? We found him just like this. The front door was slightly ajar. The curtains were open and light streamed in through the dirty panes as well as it could. The whole downstairs is open, just as you see, the kitchen and the fireplace to your right, this seating area as you come in, the stair case curving up to the landing, where you’ll find two bedrooms and a bathroom, and under the landing—go ahead, shine your flashlight back there—there’s a desk and a series of bookshelves.
Your predecessor is there, by the back door, his feet near the door, which was found also slightly ajar, his head pointed toward the couch. It appears to us that his attacker was waiting at the back door with the knife that you’ll see sticking out of his back and, when an opportunity presented itself, pushed open the door, stabbed the detective, and fled out the back. We have detained two people we found in the back yard, a gardener and his grandson. They claim they saw no one flee the scene. If that is true, then it makes them our most likely suspects, does it not?
Oh, me? Right. Excellent. Are you sure you haven’t previously done detective work? You have no reason to believe me, since we have just met, but no, if my men and I were going to kill the witch detective, we would confess immediately, because our actions would be justified. No, no, you have nothing to worry about. You seem like a lovely person. I’m merely saying that we are your check and balance. If we needed to kill the witch detective, there’d be no secret of it.
In the upstairs bedroom at the end of the landing, you’ll find the detective’s wife. She claims she slept through the attack and awoke to find him like this. She contacted us immediately. And we began searching for you.
The man outside the cabin is a local anthropologist. He had been working on a case with the detective. Shall we start with him?
Okay, excuse us, everyone. Dr. Nar? Dr. Nar? Will you speak with the witch detective, please?
What Louis Nar told you:
The Detective was helping me track down a witch doctor. I mean, sure, it sounds ridiculous, but why shouldn’t a witch detective be able to find a witch doctor? We were supposed to meet this afternoon to go over his findings, but when I knocked, no one answered. I waiting a few minutes and was just about to leave when I heard a scream. I entered the house and found the detective’s wife standing over him.
It’s not unusual to not know what to make of a witness’s statement at first. Let us go talk to the wife, shall we? Marguerite, dear? Do you think you can speak with the detective?
What Marguerite, the previous Witch Detective’s wife, told you:
I was asleep right here on this bed when I heard a knocking on the front door. I didn’t know we were expecting anyone, so I stayed here, thinking my husband would answer the door. The knock came again and this time I did get up, figuring that maybe my husband had gone out back and so there wasn’t anybody but me to answer the door. I went out on the landing and was just about to start down the steps when I saw my poor darling lying dead. I screamed and ran down to him, but it was too late.
Excuse us just a moment, Marguerite. Oh, yes, I see what you’re saying. You would have to be leaning quite far over the railing to see the body below, as close as it is to the back door.
Yes, let’s go talk to the two men in the back garden. People, we need to get this body out of the way so that we can get out the back door! Let’s move this thing! Oh, yes, you’re right. Not a thing. It used to be a person.
All right, here is Tamuka Santos and his grandson, Anesu. Mr. Santos is your predecessor’s gardener. His grandson can act as your translator, if you have questions for him.
What Anesu Santos said to you:
Detective, do you know what the difference between a witch doctor, a medicine man, and a shaman is? If you want to be a successful witch detective, it would be in your interest to learn. It’s sloppy to look at the actions of a medieval English witch doctor, an Ojibwa Midew, a Tungusic shaman, or a N’anga such as my grandfather and conclude they are the same things. It’s insulting. We tried many times to explain this to your predecessor, but he lacked any curiosity. He wanted to detect only exactly what he had been asked to detect.
No, we had never had any complaints about the previous detective. But, perhaps, this is unsurprising. Few know we exist, so who would know to complain to us?
All right. Here is the fly agaric you will need to solve the case.
Don’t be silly. Of course it’s dangerous. It is a poison toadstool. But you are a witch detective and you simply must do both parts of your job equally well in order to do the job at all. Eat this, sit here on the couch, and then go over into the spirit realm and see what you can see.
What You Learned from the Fly Agaric:
The moon is a coward, most of the time. It slips into the sky often unnoticed until it is out of reach and, even then, it keeps a star nearby. Always a star nearby.
A daisy is just a small earth-anchored sun.
What insults a young man amuses an old one.
The detective’s killer gained from his death.
Have you solved it? Well, then, very good. Why don’t you get washed up and we’ll go grab some dinner and discuss your new position in more depth.