Apart from family pictures, what was left to search through was a mess. Mementos, old documents, and knickknacks were piled into crates with no rhyme or reason. The new owner could have been humane and categorized the inventory by material at least. Instead Theodore was forced to sift through miscellaneous boxes of broken tea kettles, tax documents, ragged old clothes, and novelty kitchen appliances.
What was he even hoping to find? Everything of value had already been sold off. It wasn’t like Theodore was going to find a signed confession of wrongdoing. His father’s mind would remain a mystery.
He pushed aside another box and a painting clattered onto the floor. He sat it up again, as if it mattered, and paused at the face. A woman. Her posture was proper, hands folded, and no trace of a smile. It was the picture of his mother that his father had painted. A long tear ran down the middle of the canvas now. He remembered hating this portrait. Mother looked so scary, her eyes fierce and intelligent. He wondered how much he took after her.
Theodore never knew his mother. She died from birth complications. Lance always spoke of how wonderful she had been. It made him feel like he should have been the one who died instead.
He pulled the torn vellum from its frame and folded it gently. It seemed wrong to leave it here. Turning back, he continued searching through the junk. He found himself setting aside letters. Things his father had written to his mother and vice versa. Nothing that looked useful, but left him curious. He stuffed what he collected into an old leather potion bag, but cautioned himself not to go overboard. It was a long walk home without any money.
There was an old oak desk in the corner. It was ugly, and not quite level. Lance was a man of many talents, but wood working was not one of them. He must’ve been proud of it, because Theodore remembered his father using it every day. The drawers were empty, except one which was locked. The wood was scratched, like someone had tried and failed to pry it open. A rotating number lock kept it closed.
Theodore ventured a few guesses at what the combination might be. He tried the important dates he could remember. The day his father had become Hero Champion, his mother’s birthday, their marriage anniversary. To his surprise, the lock popped and the drawer slid open when he tried his own birth date.
Inside he found a quart of now aged scotch and a journal bound in drake leather. Theodore’s heart raced. This might be what he was looking for. He set the lantern down on the desk, and pulled the book open to find the pages filled with yellowed investigation notes. He flipped toward the end, and stopped on a detailed sketch of a familiar looking raven. It was one of the last entries. Theodore read on.
Had another run in with this so called ‘Whisper.’ No record in creature archives. I thought I’d killed her already, but this bird was identical. Dealing with a powerful fey. A shapeshifter. I’m certain she’s behind the kidnapped nobles, maybe even the missing ambassadors from last year, but I need evidence before I take this to the King. If my suspicions are right, I have to be careful who I tell.
The last page left Theodore hanging.
Had another argument with Theo. Mother’s mercy, I wish I knew how to talk to him. He has everything it takes to be one of the best, but he won’t listen to me. Devil damn me. He’s probably right. I bet I’m the problem. I wish Margaretta were still here. She’d set me right. She was always smarter than me.
I secured one of Whisper’s feathers. Can’t identify its aura, it’s incomplete. It’s enough to for a tracking spell, though. Took some precautions with father’s sword, just in case. Plan to get in, grab some evidence, and get out.
Reminder: Look into university applications for Theo on return. Mom is going to haunt me, but maybe it’s time. He’s all I have left.