Chapter 7: A Murder Mystery
“Like I said, my name is Goombella. May I ask your reason for coming to an old, run-down place like Rogueport?” the little Goomba asked her new acquaintances.
“Well, we didn’t really have much of a choice…” Toad explained.
“Shut up,” Toadette whispered to him. “We must be inside the book somehow. It would be best not to let her know that she is living inside a book. She might think we’re crazy.”
“Whatcha whispering about?” Goombella suddenly appeared between the two Toads.
“Um… Nothing,” Toadette said. “Would you mind showing us around?”
“Or maybe a way out of this dump?” Toadette elbowed Toad in the gut.
“Ow!” Toad wrapped his arms around his stomach.
“Of course!” Goombella said happily, not paying any attention to Toad. “Downtown is just up these steps.”
The duo followed Goombella up the stairs from the port to downtown Rogueport. It still wasn’t very pleasant. There was a well in the center of the town. To the left and right, there were two passageways to the next parts of town. There was a hotel, too.
“Well, if we don’t have a way out, we could always stay in the hotel,” Toad told Toadette.
“Nonsense,” Goombella interrupted, “you can stay with me. Professor Frankly would be happy to have a couple of guests. Besides, that hotel has been abandoned for ages.”
“Oh, well it looks in good condition to me…” Toad said out loud, but to himself.
“It was about 20 years ago,” Goombella began.
“Does she ever stop talking?” Toad whispered to Toadette.
“This hotel was run by an old Toad named Toadsworth. Nice guy. Anyway-“
“Woah, woah, woah, “Toadette interrupted. “You said an old Toad named Toadsworth?”
“Yes, I did,” Goombella said, raising an eyebrow. “Why do you ask?”
Toad and Toadette looked at each other. “Never mind, continue,” Toadette finally told her.
“Anyway, Toadsworth was a nice old man,” she continued. “Unfortunately, the hotel was robbed. Toadsworth was killed that night.”
Toad and Toadette looked at each other in horror.
“It’s just a rumor, though. It’s been floating around Rogueport for who knows how long,” Goombella finished.
“Well, it can’t be the same Toadsworth that we’re thinking of, then,” Toad said to Toadette.
“It looks like it’s going to rain soon,” Goombella said, looking at the sky, “Maybe we should head over to my place.”
Goombella beckoned Toad and Toadette to follow her through the passageway on the right of downtown Rogueport. The house was only about ten yards away from the end of the passageway, so the walk wasn’t really long. Goombella opened the door. “Professor, I’m home! I brought company!”
“Oh, Goombella, nice that you’re back,” said Professor Frankly. He was an old little Goomba. He had strange glasses and his hair was white and curly. He was almost fully bald. “Hello, who might you be?”
“This is Toad and Toadette,” Goombella explained. “They’re friends of mine I met at the dock.”
“Oh, well, any friends of Goombella are friends of mine,” Professor Frankly stated happily.
“This is Professor Frankly,” Goombella told Toad and Toadette. “He’s my teacher. We’ve been working together to try to solve the mystery of that old hotel I told you about.”
“Nice to meet you too,” Toadette said.
“Try to make yourselves at home,” Frankly said, stepping off the chair and disappearing behind his desk. He reappeared around the corner. “As you can see, this place isn’t very spacey.”
Toad and Toadette looked around, just realizing how small the room actually was. The walls were covered with bookshelves and books were scattered across the floor. Documents and papers were also everywhere. In fact, Professor Frankly was standing on top of a large pile of documents. “Well, now that you’re here, you are welcome to help Goombella and I solve this mystery.”
“What exactly do you know already?” Toadette asked the professor.
“Well, we know so far, that Toadsworth was not present in the hotel when the robbery was taking place. He was next door, at his house. Strange thing is, he was nowhere to be found after the robbery,” he explained.
“So you think Toadsworth was taken as a hostage?” Toad asked.
“Indeed,” he assured, “but what we don’t know is if Toadsworth is actually dead. The only lead we have is traces of blood in the hotel.”
“But Toadsworth was next door during the crime, I thought,” Toadette remembered.
“Yes, but the blood test shows that the blood belonged to none other than Toadsworth himself,” Goombella told her. “That means Toadsworth must have entered the hotel while the crime was taking place.”
“So he must have been hurt and taken as a hostage, or was killed and hidden very well,” Professor Frankly finished.
“But our only question is why he was taken hostage. I mean… there has to be a good reason. The thieves must have been expecting someone to come try to save him,” Goombella added.
“This is all so confusing,” Toad stated bluntly. “I just don’t understand any of it.”
“Please, Toad, it’s not that hard,” Toadette said, crossing her arms. “If Toadsworth was missing after the crime, Toadsworth could be the one who committed it.”
Goombella and Professor Frankly stared at her.
“What?” Toadette asked, shrugging.
“Why would Toadsworth want to steal his own money?” Goombella asked matter-of-factly.
“Well, you never told me exactly what was stolen,” she said, glaring at Goombella.
“Oh… right. Maybe we should investigate the hotel again, Professor?” the female Goomba asked her teacher.
“Well, we have more than two heads now, so I guess it would be nice to do so,” the professor replied, jumping off the stack of documents and heading for the door.
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea…” Toad said, looking out the window. While their extended discussion was going on, none of them had noticed the bad weather outside. The lightning was horrible and the thunder was extremely loud. It’s a wonder that they hadn’t noticed it.
“I’ll grab my coat,” Professor Frankly said, strolling over to the coat rack.
“Me too,” Goombella seconded. “I have two extra for you, Toad and Toadette.”
“You’re crazy,” Toad said, backing away from the door and the windows. “I’m not going out in weather like that.”
“What? Why?” Goombella sounded let down.
“Oh, right,” Toadette said, grabbing a coat from Goombella. “Toad is afraid of weather.”
“Suit yourself,” Goombella told him. “Stay here… alone…”
“That’s not going to work on me. Sorry,” Toad stubbornly told her.
“Stop dillydallying. Let’s go!” Professor Frankly was impatiently waiting at the door.
“Fine. Let’s go, Toadette,” Goombella said, putting her coat on and following Professor Frankly out the door. Toadette rolled her eyes and followed. Toad stayed put. As soon as the door closed, the thunder rumbled and lightning flashed brightly through the opaque windows.
“I knew I should have gone,” Toad told himself, shivering in the corner.
To Be Continued...
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