"She really was a beauty, such a shame."
"Yeah, she was the talk among the upper class, so much so they named her, La Muse."
The two men continued to inspect the young woman, her discarded items and the alley way she had been found in. The murder appeared to have been random, without purpose. The woman's purse still contained money, her jewelry and chastity were still intact. It was like the culprit's motive was simply to kill her.
"I can't see why, from what we know she didn't have any feuds, and was generally liked among men of all classes."
"A woman perhaps, in a fit of jealousy?"
"Women often prefer poison, and I can't imagine one killing her, let alone leaving her jewels. Send the body to Doctor Fried, perhaps he can find out more from the autopsy."
A third older man approached the scene, the collar of his coat turned up against the cold wind cutting through the alley.
"Gentlemen." He said in a grim tone looking over the scene. The two men stopped moving about, saluted him and waited for him to speak again. The elder man bent down and inspected the woman. After a few moments he stood up and gave orders in a tone that brokered no argument.
"You have three days to find out who did this and why."
The two men looked at each other then back at the elder man in disbelief.
"Chief is there a reason for the rush?"
The men looked at each other again, more confused now than they were on why someone wanted the young woman dead.
"Sir she was a Reither, there-"
"Her grand-mother was Montemelini, once a Montemelini always a Montemelini."
"Chief this isn't Italy and we aren't Italians, why should we rush our investigation to placate them."
"Because gentlemen, someone is purging the Montemelini family, and they are like a wounded animal backed into a corner. I do not wish to be another obstacle in their path. Besides the Governor is at his wits end waiting for their letter, would you rather him breathing down our necks."
"Then find out what happened quickly."
The chief walked out of the alley and looked around the street, more people were moving about now, it wouldn't be long before the entire town knew of the murder. A gust of wind from the alley whipped his coat violently about him, he turned back to look at the body, this would be another irksome case.
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Elsewhere, another young woman walked into a grand foyer swatting at the dust on her riding breeches.
"There you are Antonia."
"Father and I are going to the police office, be sure to have breakfast. I believe Amelia should be visiting you soon, are you prepared to welcome her?"
Antonia nodded as she watched her father and grand-father leave. When the carriage drove off, Antonia made her way to her room. The curtains to the balcony were flapping about violently, when she stepped into the room the wind calmed and the curtains settled. It was then that Antonia noticed it. On her desk, laying unshaken by the wind, petals opened to their fullest, a freshly cut rose.
Antonia set the rose aside, she retrieved a pen, ink and paper from the shelf and sat down at her desk, scribbling away. After a few lines she blew the ink dry, folded the paper into a neat little square and dropped it in a coin pouch.
Antonia arose and made her way down to the dining hall, the rest of the family were already seated eating breakfast. When she sat down, a footman approached her with the water bowl, before washing her hands she handed him the pouch.
"Miguel, I need you to purchase a few sweet buns from the baker on Magione street."
"You certainly have acquired a taste for that baker's sweets Antonia." The young man sitting opposite her smirked at her over the top of glass.
"Maria and her staff have their hands full attending to the rest of you, her sweets have lost their luster."
"Come now Antonia, the Castello is big enough for all of us. I wonder is it the sweets you seek or perhaps something else at the bakery."
"Marco was your father, here you are the day after his murder, drinking wine at breakfast. You are not mourning your father like the grieving son you ought to be, one might suspect you are happy to be free of him."
The young man looked around the room at the others staring, his left eye twitched nervously, slamming his glass on the table he pointed a shaky finger at Antonia. "You!"
"I do not meddle in your affairs Cerbone don't meddle in mine."
Cerbone unable to stand the staring and whispers, stormed out of the dining hall, Antonia followed right after, seeking the solace of her room.
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The detectives had been working on the murder of the young Ms. Reither for two days, they were tired and the stress mounted as the day wore on. They had found no witnesses, none of Ms. Reither's associates or otherwise provided much insight to her death or final hours. At their wits end, a letter and messenger arrived at the police office. The messenger was a lanky somber man of very few words. The letter was an inquiry signed and stamped by Frediano Montemelini with an accompanying letter from the governor. They were out of time.
The letter from the governor indicated that they were to provide the messenger, Lotario, with all information on the investigation and to follow his instructions to bring the case to an expedient close. Lotario was given all details of the case. When he inquired if the officers had inspected the logs of ships leaving port the day of the murder. It dawned on the detectives that the murder may have been initiated from Italy.
The officers spent the rest of the day inquiring at the shipping houses and port. They were successful, a record from a merchant's vessel. One passenger had accompanied the ship from Italy, the man returned to Italy via the same vessel, which left port the morning Ms. Reither was murdered. Lotario ordered the detectives to close their case when they had found the record and left as quickly as he had arrived.
The detectives confused by the man's actions, continued their investigation. They found the office of the merchant vessel and upon inquiry realized as Lotario had, the vessel belonged to the Montemelinis.
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Lotario returned to Italy and tracked the passenger down. It had not taken him long, as the man frequented the bars near the port. When Lotario found him, the man was blind drunk, in his delirious state he was boasting to a lamp post about the money he had made. Lotario gathered two other men, together they took the man away to a back room and waited for him to sober up.
When the man came to, he was tied to a chair in a dark room, the sound of waves could be heard from outside. Inside the room rats squeaked and scurried on the straw covered floor. The door opened, Lotario entered with a candelabra, a shadow slipped into the room behind him and stayed back against the wall.
"Who hired you to kill Amelia Reither?"
The man looked at Lotario, his lips and throat were parched.
"I...I...don't know what you're talking about." He sputtered.
A bucket of brine was thrown at him from the right side of the room. It was then the man felt the cuts on his arms, thighs, chest and back. He screamed in agony.
"Who hired you to kill Amelia Reither?"
After he confessed a blade stabbed him through the throat. The shadow against the wall stirred, a hand tapped Lotario's shoulder.
"Well done, go give your report."
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Cerbone ran through the wet streets, he was out of breath, his foot slid in the mud and skated on the cobblestones. The ones pursing him were a close on his heels, he rounded a corner another turn and he'd be at Raul's. A plank from the shadow's struck him across the forehead, the blow sent him rolling into a dead end. Cerbone pushed himself up from the mud, and sat facing his opponents, they stopped at the entrance. A smaller figure approached him as the others dispersed.
"Antonia!" He spat her name.
"You were the one who killed Amelia!"
"Yes, but as far as everyone is concerned you were the one who killed her. I am justified in my revenge and no one will question the outcome."
"Why?! You are a Montemelini!"
"Your father and uncle Marco killed my mother, father and grand-father did nothing. Her life was forfeit because she was not born Montemelini. They would rather protect her killers than seek justice. How is anything in this family right?!"
A pair of arms restrained Cerbone as Antonia got closer, one of her lackey's had been hiding in the dark.
"Worry not cousin, I will cleanse the family and rebuild us stronger. Your death will give me much leeway to act."
Antonia stabbed her cousin in the throat and stared at his limp body as the blood pooled and ran in rivulets between the stone.ns126.96.36.199da2