by Livvia Faith
CASE TRANSFER FORM
Date: 18th of Amadys, 72 Eo.A.W
To: Detective Otavina Silvano.
From: Tiofillo de la Tierjo of Unida Dua.
RE: In light of La Reinosta’s recent civil corruption issues, we ask that you, Detective Silvano, oversee the Rega de la Muertorum case. A summary of the most recent notes is as follows:
MISSING PERSONS FILE SUMMARIES
ARCIEL KAPISTRAN – 34 – Paralegal at the Angenant Firm.
Arciel Kapistran went missing on the second of this month. He worked as a paralegal for Camilia Angenant at the Angenant Clocktower in the Torrello district. His sister, Eugenia, informed investigators that he often “slipped into the night” and returned home exhausted in the time that led up to his disappearance.
- PHYS. DESCRIPTION: Approx. 177.8cm to 180.3cm with short-cut, blond coils, and a stocky, but well-maintained build. Note (1): According to both Eugenia and Camilia, Arciel has a slight gap between his two frontmost teeth.
- EUGENIA’S TESTIMONY: “Do you hear wails when you wander the city at night?” he asked. I didn’t give – no, couldn’t give – an answer. I saw it as one of the many odd, foregin questions from his constant sleep deprivation. He said he heard them. Every night as he reached the edge of Torrello, he heard them. These… wails. He claimed they’re the origin story of those spirits that help the dead cross the veil, that they thrive in the canals beneath the city. I won’t lie and say I know what it means, nor that I believe him, for I don’t know whether or not I do.
- CAMILIA’S TESTIMONY: Sí, Señore Kapistran acted odd before his disappearance. As far as I could tell, he didn’t sleep much and, when he did, he did so via passing out in his office. A true shame, for I miss his work ethic and haven’t found anyone else worthy of the position.
FEINIA ENDRADA – 23 – Endrada Bookshop Clerk.
Feinia disappeared on the fourth of Cairus, two months before Señore Kapistran. Her father, Eliseo, suspects her long-term fiancé of abuse, and claims that she recurrently departed after nightfall to escape from him.
- PHYS. DESCRIPTION: Approx. 157.5cm with shoulder-length dark brown hair, light brown skin, and a thin build. Note (2): Eliseo states [Feinia] had a set of three moles on the cheek beside her left ear.
- ELISEO’S TESTIMONY: Something about Feinia’s fiancé doesn’t rub me the right way. She acted differently ever since they started dating, and especially now that they’re engaged. Or… were, I guess. I don’t know what happened to her, but I don’t doubt that Ismalio boy played a role in it.
VILERIO LEYVA – Mid-Twenties – Heladero?
The few who knew Vilerio Leyva spoke of a storyteller who often sold ice cream from a bike and cart. Children knew more of him, but the most information investigators received told of how he spun stories inspired by old folktales and myths, always with a smile spread across his face. As such, no official statements currently exist in regards to his disappearance, and investigators can neither confirm nor deny his status as an ice cream vendor. In fact, they can hardly confirm his very existence beyond a few rumors. He disappeared five months prior to Feinia.
- PHYS. DESCRIPTION: Tall, though approx. height varies as most who’ve seen [Vilerio] are younger. Mid-length black curls and tanned skin with notable dark circles beneath both eyes. They describe [Vilerio] as a young man, perhaps in his mid-twenties.
Unida Supervisor Signature: Tiofillo de la Tierjo.
* * *
DETECTIVE OTAVINA SILVANO’S JOURNAL
Date: 19th of Amadys, 72 EoA.W.
Yesterday evening, I received the Rega de la Muertorum files that Kapetan De la Tierjo faxed to my office and looked over them. Though already off work, I organized them how I saw best fit and devised a few theories:
(i.) Vilerio Leyva doesn’t exist. What then, is he?
A conman clever enough to devise a pseudonym, that’s what. Despite various claims that he exists, I’ve found no prior or current records that contain his name, nor any record of his birth, nor any of his death. As I said: He. Isn’t. Real. Not by the name ‘Vilerio Leyva’, anyhow.
(ii). How does “Vilerio Levya” correlate to Kapistran and Endrada’s disappearances?
Note how he vanished prior to them, as if he led them to their unknown destination. Unida Dua named this case “Rega de la Muertorum”, after the cultural land of the dead, as referenced in issues 17-23 of the El Nochra graphic novels, then later in 31-33. As a matter of fact, issues thirty-one-two-and-three reference it as a city hidden in canals beneath La Reinosta, which brings us to our final point.
(iii). Either Arciel Kapistran’s driven himself mad with chronic sleep deprivation or, when he told his sister of hidden canals, he spoke the truth. Not only do the El Nochra graphic novels (which I mention since they’re more widely known) reference the prospect, but historical documents do as well. Take, for example, the Muertor Vocarum, a codex that details how the first Xonatepl immigrants to La Reinosta welded the two cultures. It depicts the veil between life and death as a canal system: one that a sugar-skull ferryman guides you through as his gondola sheds flower petals that prove either one’s innocence or their guilt.
I, therefore, source this codex, associated legends, and the retellings found in issues of the El Nochra series as what influenced Señore Kapistran’s claims. Thus, I beg the question: how much is real, and how connected is it to these missing persons?
Date: 20th of Amadys, 72 EoA.W.
A chill encompassed the city as the sun set, which reminded me of the cold that, like a wary criminal, stalks our harvest season. Like a wary criminal, it seeks vulnerable prey and, like a wary criminal, pounces the moment opportunity presents itself. In other words, I forgot my coat, and the fiend that is late Amadys’ breezes pounced. Alas, a coat’s the least of my worries, and I could care less about the cold. It did give me the rare excuse to try my hand at prose.
After nightfall, I traveled ‘neath the light of stained-glass lamps ever-present beside La Reinostan roads, which offered a dreary light and a warmth as I journeyed on. A light drizzle accompanied a haze as well as clouds that concealed my atypical work companions: the moon and stars. And yet, despite the darkness, I found my lead.
I followed the sunlamps to the poorer district that encompasses Torrello. The few steam-coaches brave enough to traverse the night struggled with their desired routes between the light rain and uneven stones. Albethey less than few in number, any fellow travelers kept to themselves, desperate to either find shelter for the night or make their way to a better-kept vicinage. Other than the lamps, struggling coaches, and frantic wanderers, I thought myself desolate. And then I heard it.
The sort shared between two secret lovers, as giggles accompanied by the utterance of what ifs and if onlys.
When they noticed me, they ran: red frills swayed as their feet – bare – sloshed in rain-puddles. Both donned wide-brimmed hats that hid their faces, but the young woman wore her dark, shoulder-length hair in a ribbon-threaded braid. I couldn’t catch them. Who’d expect me to? I’m a disgraced veteran with a limp, and they’re two young lovers desperate to “get away before someone working for [her] father hears [them]” (unidentified woman, 20th of Amadys).
They noticed me, and that drove them away. It won’t happen again tomorrow night, at least not with such haste that I can’t follow.
Date: 25th of Amadys, 72 EoA.W.
“If I lead, you follow.”
He offered his hand, which I took beneath the lace-lined ruffles of his striped shirt. A peculiar man, that one: sugar-skull paint covered the top half of his face, paint that no doubt enhanced his dark circles even if he cleaned it off. We arrived at his gondola: a narrow boat with chrysanthemums, marigolds, gladiolas, and other flowers I couldn’t recognize carved into it.
Now, how did I, a private detective, find myself in canals lost to time?
It started with the lovers.
I trailed after them as they danced, though it took two days or so to escape their radar. Hand in hand, they made their way to an old tenement in the outskirts’ abandoned sector, where they whispered sweet nothings to each other. They exchanged a quick glance, scanned the area, and descended from a ledge behind the building. From there, they hopped down onto the eaves of similar tenements built into the coastal cliff-face and, from there, to the ground. Given my permanent injury to the leg, I couldn’t follow suit, and instead took the stairs.
Blues, reds, yellows, and purples alike spread across the street in an immaturely wettened paint sort of way. The walls themselves bore the same colors, which explained the unbearable acrylic scent that conjoined with a natural petrichor. Murals – some detailed, and others not so much.
NOTE (i): Some paintings appeared drier than others, which makes me wonder: how long did they endure, and why didn’t we receive reports? Well… I’d guess we did, but whoever investigated it found no issue and dropped the case. I’ll ask when I return to my office.
Over the following days, I staked out the area and learned their mannerisms. Tried to, at least. “Keep your head low”, “If you must travel the city, do so only after dusk matures into twilight”, etcetera, etcetera. With those in mind, I bought way into the entrance: the bottom floor of an apartment that these strange, skeletal-faced folk fronted as a VIP lounge. Clever, yes, but suspicious nonetheless. They ran it well, at least, and the bouncers worked decent shifts. Made it all the more difficult to get in.
NOTE (ii): The man who granted me entry bore an eerie resemblance to Señore Arciel Kapistran’s physical description: under one-eighty-three centimeters tall with thick, blond hair cut short. Little more built than average and wore a suit without the shoulderpads as the seams already fit his build. As unfortunate as it is, I didn’t catch his name.
Nonetheless, I gathered my information and disguised myself as a soul bound for “Rega de la Muertorum”, the mythical land of the dead. A town – not dead, but very much alive – hidden beneath the city in these vibrant canals. I’ll write more when I’ve the chance.
* * *
SEVASTINO’S INTERROGATION OF DETECTIVE SILVANO
Audio log dated Amadys 27th found in the canal system.
[Throughout the recording, the sound of boots on cobblestone can be heard. Audible speaker identified as Sevastino Fuentes, the ferryman.]
“Two days ago, a curious woman approached my gondola. A woman with a nose broken at the bridge. Not a recent break, mind you, but a permanent one. Leaves the mind curiouser and curiouser, doesn’t it? In any case, she requested my services. Not to anywhere in specific, which made her all the more… fascinating. She knew, however, that she didn’t fit in. No living, breathing person does in Rega de la Muertorum, after all. Thus, our detective persisted as a lost soul and traveled on, through our precious watery borough.
“She journaled for the duration of our voyage, oh so enveloped in her own ink and own words. Sound familiar, Otavina Silvano? Sí, mi amica, I know your name. Panic not. If anything, let your tensions ease. Roll your shoulders back, mi amica, for I know the job’s stressful. And, of course, Señore Ismalio and Señora Endrada bound you to the wall, which I doubt helps… oh, it assuredly doesn’t. They wanted to dunk you in the canals and let you sink, let the water strip off your skin and forsake your skeletal remains in a grave bound for nowhere. They tried, but I stopped them. They plan the same fate for her father.
“Sí, sí, I agree, Detective. Their mentality isn’t secure at all. But I, a storyteller at heart, think it makes for quite the interesting tale, hm? As would yours. I’d record your legacy and let it live on, for who doesn’t want their tale told? A warning for those who cross early into the afterlife? Oh, you don’t? That’s new. Then again, not often I meet a disgruntled detective who works hand-me-down cases. They gave up. You didn’t. Why?
“Mmm. Spite, a powerful motivator. Prove them wrong, say you’re more than a partial alcoholic with a gambling issue. Common thing for – sí, I did say Señora Endrada, and, sí, I mean Feinia. You pay attention after all. Useful for someone in your career path, isn’t it?
“Ah, sí, her father told you he suspected Señore Ismalio of something? Of course he did. He never liked that man. Never, I tell you. But love? Strong as spite. Makes people… el stupido.
“Enough questions, though. We thrive under cover of night, long after working hours, and into the morning’s first light. You joined us, the half-dead, as your investigation went on, and I’d say it’s only fair we make that final. We don’t want your flesh weathered off, do we?”
“Perfecto, mi amica! Perfecto. Now, let me finish my tale.
“Two days ago, a curious woman approached my gondola. The same woman took no offense when I noted the permanent break to her nose, for she requested my services, and I provided such. She learned our ways, but didn’t fit in, for no living, breathing person does in Rega de la Muertorum. I learned her ways, how she presented herself so debonair, so uptight but, in reality, lived a rough and vulgar life with no friends other than her palisade of cases and the occasional alcohol binge.
“Oh, hush, Detective, you know it’s true. Your life isn’t the worst. It’s rigid, but not scandalous, nor raunchy. I’d refuse to narrate your tale if so. That aside, I say it’s time we discuss your new life, hm? Who are you now that you’ve crossed the border?”
* * *
DETECTIVE OTAVINA SILVANO’S JOURNAL
Date: 28th of Amadys, 72 EoA.W.
Vilerio Leyva, Sevastino Fuentes… one in the same. He offered me a new life in Rega de la Muertorum, where I no longer need to live as some detective with a record of partial alcoholism and a dishonorable discharge. It’s both a tempting offer, and an opportunity that awaits my seizure. If I use it to my advantage, I could very well earn back my place in the navy or, at the least, clear my name. I mean, for goodness’ sake, that bastard at the entry lounge matched Arciel’s description, and the full suit only further convinced me that he worked in legal.
Then there’s the matter of Feinia Endrada. A murderer waiting to strike, and for a patricide, nonetheless. It’s no wonder her father suspected that fiancé of something sinister, though he overlooked her true nature as well. Oh, I can’t fathom the thought of drowning in these canals. Has me shudder even thinking about it. That and the thought of my corpse decaying somewhere unknownst to anyone other than me and the wench who threw me in.
Fuentes offered me a legacy. I lied when I told him I didn’t care for one. If I work for them, for the “half-dead”, I earn a reputation. I decline and I become another missing person added to the tally.
Another name forsaken by time.