(Outfit inspired by one of the scientist’s outfits in Miitopia!)
All in all, Ashwyn was glad she hadn’t opted for the high heels. She had never been great at running in heels, let alone walking at all in them. For most people, whether it would be easy to give chase wasn’t a factor in choosing their outfit, but most people weren’t going to a formal ball to collar a criminal, either.
His name was Marid Veladim, and the ball was being held in his honor. In the right circles, Veladim was known as a humble philanthropist - he had more money than he could comfortably spend in several lifetimes, but he lived in a modest home and donated healthily to schools, shelters, and churches throughout the town. In the wrong circles, Veladim was the big man in a group that abducted people and sold them into bondage. He wasn’t picky - anyone, from young to elderly, had a price tag branded on the back of their neck in his eyes.
For too long, Veladim had covered his tracks, but only one week ago, he’d made one single careless error. Finally armed with something, Ashwyn set about getting near to him.
The band blossomed into life, filling the ballroom with music. Veladim was a bachelor and crossed the dance floor on his own, twirling a guest here, kissing a hand there. He stopped at Ashwyn, who stood out, ironically, by staying to one side and not dancing.
“A lovely evening, wouldn’t you say?” Veladim asked, his leathery face crinkled into a smile. “I must admit, your name escapes me. I would recall inviting someone like… you, I’m sure.”
Ashwyn crossed her arms and looked out over the ballroom, keeping Veladim in her peripheral. “I’m not here for the party. I’ve got an, ah, ulterior motive.”
“I see.” Veladim tapped the side of his nose, and Ashwyn held out two fingers near her hip. The whole exchange had been an elaborate password, and Veladim had reacted exactly as Ashwyn had expected. “Then, what say we continue this conversation somewhere a little more private?”
Slipping away from the ballroom undetected, Veladim led Ashwyn through a winding maze of hallways and antechambers, finally ending up at a staircase, leading down into the depths of his mansion. He held one withered hand out towards the open door. “After you.”
Ashwyn frowned. She didn’t like it, but she didn’t know when there’d be another chance to get near him. With a deep breath, she began descending the stairs.
The door slammed shut behind her, as she’d expected. “My dear,” Veladim purred, “you are either foolish or foolhardy, though I suppose it could be both. To think that I wouldn’t recognize the famed detective Ashwyn Vincent. I must admit you clean up nicely, though.” He placed a hand on her shoulder. She carefully didn’t move. “I daresay you’ll fetch a nice price. People like you… well, I’ll call it a niche market, but one that has its enthusiasts. Now come along, or else I’ll have to put you under, and neither of us wants that.”
The urge to kick him in the shins, to tear that knobbly hand right off of his wrist, bubbled up in Ashwyn’s mind, but she forced it down. She had to play meek, at least for now. She needed to see where he was keeping his victims.
She almost regretted that decision, later on. The sights Ashwyn saw in that basement would reappear in her dreams for many a night after. But it made it really satisfying for her when she shook him loose, chased him through the catacombs, tackled him to the ground, and kicked him in the ribs over and over until he begged for mercy. The high heels would have just gotten in the way.