Life has proceeded in a reasonable direction from there, with nothing too exciting to note.
Sherlock Holmes has proved to be a interesting living companion, if nothing else. He keeps odd hours, retiring to his room long after I have closed my eyes to sleep, and being up and out of the house before I can open them again. He vanishes for stretches of time – sometimes hours, sometimes days – and often returns looking as if he has been dumped into the Drakon River. Sometimes he will return from these excursions chipper and bouncing up and down. Other times, he will seat himself in a corner with his knees curled up to his chest and his eyes glazed over.
Other than the first night, he has kept the sounds of his work as quiet as he can. This suits me well, as I am still not able to bear loud noises or sudden flashes of light. Even still, though, his work is of an unusual nature. A week ago, I awakened to the sounds of a blunt object beating against skin and muscle. Alarmed, I jumped up from the bed and rushed out into the main room of our living arrangements, prepared to engage the intruder.
Instead of an intruder, I found Holmes, a whip in his hand and a corpse sprawled out on the table before him. He was beating the corpse mercilessly with the whip. I cried out, and the elf spun on his heel, waving the whip in the air.
"No closer, Watson!" He said, raising a hand. "It is difficult to control where the whip goes."
I stopped just short of the table. "Holmes, what in the Maker's name are you doing? Where did you get that?" I indicated the body on the table.
He looked where I was pointing and shrugged his shoulders. "The Denerim City Guard, of course. They have this habit of burning the corpses of their condemned. Wasteful practice. So much information to be gathered! Knowledge to be gained!"
"Have you no decency? That's a person, Holmes!"
"It was an elf, actually." Holmes pointed downwards at the ears. "I knew him. Liked to cut purses near the Vhenadahl. Still, he isn't a person anymore, just a sack of water and meat."
I opened my mouth to protest again. "But-"
"What if this experiment can help to clear innocent names? The Guard is incompetent at best and spectacularly stupid at worst. Surely you've observed this. They make no attempt to gather information or construct a case. They simply arrest whoever they think is guilty, and there are no means to prove any of their theories." Holmes lifted one of the arms of the corpse and regarded it with sharp eyes. "We aren't living in the days of the Tevinter Imperium, Watson. We have progressed as a society since then, and it is time that our responses to crime catch up."
"If you say so, Holmes." I said, and turned back to my room, tired and defeated. As I closed the door, I heard a great and triumphant whoop from the room behind me. Shaking my head as I went, I returned to my bed and attempted to sleep.
After that night, I made it a habit to watch Holmes closely. Part of it was motivated from a concern about his activities and if they would pose some sort of risk to my person, as I am in no present condition to defend myself well. However, a good majority of my interest sprung from a curiosity about the elf with whom I shared a living space. His comings and goings, his mannerisms and patterns of speech, his views and his reactions, all of these things are a strange and puzzling mystery after spending my entire life in the Circle of Magi.
Over the course of several days, I engaged Holmes in conversation repeatedly and observed what I could of him and his possessions. As I worked my way through the mystery, I made notes of what I discovered, which I have reproduced here.
- Appears to have little to know knowledge of politics. Knows the names of the King, Queen, and Teyrn Loghain, but beyond that, knows nothing of the noble's names.
- Has a great knowledge of plants, herbs, leaves, and the usages of them in poultices and poisons.
- Some limited knowledge of slight of hand. Stole a knife back from me after I had confiscated it without me noticing, but this is not a difficult feat.
- Limited knowledge of geography outside of Ferelden, primarily Orlais and the Free Marches. Knows nothing of the Anderfels. Refuses to speak about Seheron beyond stating that he has been.
- Great knowledge of small knives and their usage, especially when thrown at great velocity at the wall. Claims to have some limited knowledge of a bow and arrow.
What is amazing about Holmes is not the vast number of things he does know, but how ignorant he can be of the simplest of matters. He did not, for example, know that the moon is what causes the tides to rise and fall. When I informed him of this fact, he snorted and leaned back in his chair.
"What a spectacularly useless piece of knowledge." was his response.
"But Holmes, every child with year's education knows that."
Holmes' response was to shake his head and sigh heavily. "That is the problem with education. Children have their heads crammed full of knowledge that they will never need to use. I thank you for that useless bit of knowledge, Watson, but now I must do my best to forget it."
"Yes, Watson. You see, the mind is very much like a warehouse. No matter how you arrange the boxes inside of it, you will only ever be able to fit a certain amount. The fool, that is to say most people in Thedas, will cram everything he can in there. In doing so, even if he were to cram a great amount of possessions into his mental warehouse, he would be unable to find anything amongst the clutter and useless junk. I believe, therefore, in only keep things in my mental warehouse that are important to myself or to my work, and keeping them organized in such a way that I can find anything that I require."
"But it's the moon!" I cried.
"Would it matter to me if the tides were caused by the moon, or by sun, or by birds flapping their wings in Antiva? It makes no difference and I don't care any more about it." With that, Holmes took to his violin with great enthusiasm and ignored all of my queries for the rest of the evening.
One of the greater mysteries that Sherlock Holmes presented to me was of his social habits. He was not a man who seemed to keep many friends or close companions. Most of his interactions were with either myself or with Mrs. Hudson, who I discovered was the owner of the building in which both Sherlock Holmes and I (and no one else) were renting rooms. Beyond us two, he did not seem to speak leisurely to anyone.
He did, however, have a great many guests. They come at all hours and in all shapes, all of them looking for Holmes. Thus far into my stay at Baker Street, Sherlock Holmes has been visited by everyone from beggars to shopkeepers to Chantry priests. I would retire to my room to read when these guests came around, for it seemed they did not wish to be have the reasons for their visit made known to anyone who was not my living companion. I respected their privacy, though I must confess to curiosity at their comings and goings.
Several times, as I was re-entering the main room, I could hear Holmes seeing his guest out the door below. His farewells to them offered me some clue into the reason for their visits, although at the time, I could not place those clues together.
"He's left the city with his mistress to live amongst the Dalish." He was saying to one particularly distraught-sounding woman. "Do not worry, though. He will likely return within the fortnight, and you may keep him or kick him as you wish."
As he was escorting a Chantry priest to the door, I heard Holmes telling her "You may find it at the bottom of the well. I would have retrieved it myself, but you shall need a team of at least two men. I recommend finding your strongest and your nimblest parishioners and swearing them to secrecy."
The most I caught of any of these visits was an argument between Holmes and a very angry-sounding woman at the bottom of the stairs. She was shouting something at him that I could not comprehend, and Holmes' cold voice was slicing through her rage like a knife.
"I have told you where your uncle is. If you need further assistance, I suggest hiring a bounty hunter or waiting until I am able to leave the city. I told you I would deduce his location for you, no more."
"But you can't just leave him up there!" The woman protested.
"I told you, I cannot leave the city at the moment. If I were available, perhaps, I could travel north to seek him out and bring him home, but-"
The woman's angry voice rose above his. "This is because of the shem you're hiding for the templars, isn't it? Just leave him at the Chantry and let them deal with him. Don't you have any loyalty to your own people, Sherlock?"
There was long moment of silence before Holmes replied. Even from the top of the stairs, I could hear the ice in his voice. "I do not decide who does and does not get included in 'my people' based solely upon the shape of their ears. Good day and good luck, Shianni." There was the sound of a door slamming. Holmes ascended the stairs, looking distant and tired. Before I could inquire what was bothering him, he locked himself in his room and I did not see him for the next two days.
Some weeks after this confrontation, Holmes and I were sitting in the main room when I at last asked him about his mysterious visitors. He offered a wry smile and cocked his head to one side. "What do you think, Watson?"
I was taken by surprise, and thought for several moments about it before speaking. "I think they pay you to... find things for them?"
Holmes closed the book he had been reading and set it on the table. "They do pay me and it is to find things, in a way. I am a detective, Watson."
"A detective?" I asked. "I have never heard of such a thing."
Holmes laughed. "That is because I invented the job. If a crime is committed or a mystery presents itself, then it is the way of the City Guard to simply arrest whoever they believe responsible or to do nothing at all. I believe that through the use of proper deductive logic, most of these mysteries could be easily solved without resorting to barbaric tactics."
"Does the City Guard know about this?"
"They are some of my most consistent clients. I have a friend in the guard, you see." He turned and peered out the window, down at the street below. "And speaking of the good Sergeant, I daresay this is a message from him."
Mere moments later, there was a knocking at the door downstairs. Mrs. Hudson's voice drifted up from below, along with the voice of a man I could not identify. Presently, there came a knock at the door to our shared room. Holmes called for our visitor to enter, and I rose to retreat to my room. Holmes, however, held out a hand to stop me.
"Stay a moment, Watson. Since you expressed an interest in my work, I should like you to hear what our guest has to say."
The man who entered was dressed in the uniform of the Denerim City Guard. He was tall and had a squashed face, as if it had been shoved violently and repeatedly against a wall. When he saw me, he stared in my direction until Holmes clapped his hands. "Well? Go on, then. I am listening."
"I was told by Sergeant Kylon to deliver this message only to you, elf."
"Well, I am the one here now, not Sergeant Kylon, and I am saying to deliver it to the both of us." Holmes tapped his fingers beneath his chin and stared at the Guard with an emotionless expression.
Our visitor did not argue the point. "There has been a murder. A templar, by the looks of it, in a warehouse in the Market District."
I saw Holmes' lips twitch upwards curiously. "Has there? Why does Sergeant Kylon need me? Why not simply arrest the nearest mage and be done with it?" There was a note of bitter sarcasm in his voice. I could detect it, but I suspect that our visitor did not, for he answered the question with a straight answer.
"Because there's this... thing. At the scene of the murder."
"What thing?" Holmes asked, his eyes narrowing.
The guard looked confused. "Begging your pardon, but I don't think you would believe me if I told you."
"You would be quite surprised what I would and would not believe." said Holmes, rising from his chair. "Go and tell Sergeant Kylon that I will be along shortly to examine the crime scene. He can wait until I arrive, I trust?"
"Yes." The guard took a step towards the door and then bolted from the room without another word.
Holmes waited until the door slammed below us before he threw back his head and roared with laughter. "The City Guard is either inept or cowards, and often times both. The exception seems to be Sergeant Kylon. It is good that he is the one to summon me. He is the smartest of the Guard – that is, however, not saying a terrific amount about his intelligence. He is, at the very least, smart enough to keep me on retainer, and not to attack people who are more heavily armored than him." As he was saying this, Holmes drew on a long black coat and placed several of his instruments in the pockets. When he was finished, he looked back over at me and frowned. "Are you coming, Watson?"
"I did not know you wanted me to join you." I said, looking up from my chair.
"If you had nothing else to do. This sounds to be an interesting case, and on interesting cases, I find I work best when I have someone to bounce my ideas off of. Most people have this irritating habit of speaking whatever comes to mind, no matter its importance. If anything, you have the great gift of silence – a rare gift in these times."
I stood and took hold of my staff, which had been resting on the back of my chair. "Very well, Holmes. I would be happy to accompany you."
"Then there is no time to waste!" He cried, and vanished out the door. With a shake of my head, I followed him out the doorway, down the staircase, and into the night. I will recount the events which took place immediately after in a later writing, for they are long and will take some time to explain fully.