About a servant whose master had been found dead.
|All the flowers in the master's garden had blossomed.
Hundreds of different colours, the flower petals dipped slightly as bees and beetles eagerly paid these vibrant ladies a long and meaningful visit.
The thick layers of pollen on the bugs legs would make the tranquil estate ever more grandiose the years to come.
Nigel, in his usual top tier woven silk servant attire, adorned with the jade pendant gifted to him by the master himself made his presence known as he gives half-hearted nods to the other bowing maids and handymen.
He checked the intricate foreign timepiece he had bought with his three years savings---fifty silver pieces.
It's ten o'clock already.
He hastily approached the master's courtyard and signalled to an awaiting maid.
"Has the master risen yet?"
The maid bowed, then in a slightly trembling voice replied: "The master had not yet awoken, Mr Lee."
Yes, Mr Lee. Nigel used to be nameless, but his master had given him his dignity and a reason to stay alive.
He reached out a hand to feel the porcelain washbasin.
He gestured for the steel pot and filled the basin with steaming water until he is satisfied with the temperature.
"Keep the basin at this heat, this is what the master prefers."
"Ye...yes, Me Lee"
With a gesture, Nigel beckoned a guard to his side.
"Everything normal last night? No trespassers?"
"None, nothing to report."
After making yet another round around the yard of the master, Nigel strolled to the shade provided by a century-old willow then he began to walk back and forth.
He wanted to take out the foreign book he had snatched from a silver-headed ruffian at the gambling den last night and read some of the passages written in delicate handwriting.
He wanted to know more about this alchemy stuff, the symbols and runes intrigued him a great deal.
But alas, his master is the only one that matters now.
He sneaks a glance at the master's yard every time he checks his timepiece, which is about every minute or so.
It is quite rare that the master would give up his normal morning routine of archery and recite passages, but he had been with a pair of twins last night.
Nigel writes in his journal with a self-made pencil. He notes down the details of the morning, the servant who had caused a scene will be spanked, a roof tile had fallen off from...
A roof tile?
His face twisted as he rushed towards the master's chamber, he pushed aside the wide-eyed maids and controlled his frantic breathing as he gently knocked on the rich mahogany door.
"Master, it's Nigel, have you woken yet?"
His knocking becomes increasingly rapid, at last, he yelled, "Master! Master!" As he slammed his shoulder into the frame and broke down the door.
His master lies perfectly still in a heap of tangled arms and legs. His face is chalk white.
Nigel rushed forward, with a shaking hand he felt for a pulse, there is none.
Cold sweat dripped down his face.
He digs out a whistle and blew in rhythm, soon the whole estate come alive with boots stomping the ground and clash of steel as well the loud echos of the emergency bell.
Nigel turned and snatches up a maid by the neck, his hold nearly cracked her neck.
He pinned her to a pillar, "Did you against the master?"
He bellowed, "Did you?"
When the officials arrived, a few heads were already hanging on poles. A few splotches of dark red blood tainted the perfect white tiles.
The lead official's noses turned upwards as he passed rows and row of kneeling servants, a few had already fainted.
Nigel knelt down long before the men clad in chain mails reached the master's estate.
"Peasant Nigel greets general Jung."
The officer paid Nigel no mind. He waved for his men to surround the yard, then he kicked Nigel to his side and used his steel soles pinned Nigel to the ground.
"Listen, I have no intention to be tangled in this mess, maybe you are all going to be hanged."
Nigel crawled back to his feet and clumsily followed the officer.
Jung toured the yard first, he checked the walls especially carefully while doctors and a forensic expert went in to check on the bodies.
"No footsteps, no mud prints." Jung murmured as he circled around a low hanging tree.
Then he jumped on top of the high walls that made up the yard in a single leap.
All the while Nigel bowed his head and followed.
Jung jumped back down after checking the perimeter, he gives Nigel another kick and offered a compliment. "You protected the scene well, peasant. Maybe I can give you a cleaner and swifter death."
"His lordship the Duke of southern islets has arrived!"
A herald yelled at the top of his lungs, then a few more names and titles were called out.
Jung pointed at Nigel as he hastens to meet the fat cats in their top hats.
Nigel was instantly pinned to the ground by two beefy men, they bind his wrists with a length of rope that is woven from silk strings and metal chains.
A tear drifted down Nigel's cheek, now he just has to pray that his recently adopted sister will not also be incriminated.
Fifteen years in the master's estate, Nigel thought as he tried to focus on the cracks on the roof of the damp interrogation chamber.
Something warm is leaving his body, but he knew he will not be allowed to die until the hotshots had come up with a plan to tackle this 'Hot Mess'.
He tried to swallow, but his dried-up throat only made him want to gag. A rich metallic taste filled his desert-like mouth.
He focused his vision on a particular crack that looked like a dragonfly.
One that remembered the time that he saved the drugged master from drowning, him battling against the tangled lotus flowers and lily pads. Trying to keep the master's head above water.
Not a single servant came to aid him or the master.
It's as if the gigantic estate had suddenly become empty and deaf.
Nigel's ears ringed as he counted the seconds in his head.
His end is near.