The Brief, Short History of Webster and Ralph

She was one of the most beautiful and dangerous women in 1913 New York City. Webster had been warned about her, but that didn't put him off the case. Instead, it drew him deeper into the mystery. Dames were always Webster's weakness, and he freely admitted such to the bartender while sipping whiskey alone at the bar. Yet, in the end, Webster always proved himself to be stronger than any spell they wove over him.

"My husband disappeared four months ago.
No one had heard from him since.
He left behind his bird and it talks incessantly."

"A parrot?"

"No. A raven."

Webster had certainly never met a talking raven, and according to his scholarly studies, no such thing really existed. The case aroused his deepest curiosities, and he was ready to charge forward with all his resources.

"I must meet this raven."

She led Webster to her home via taxi. Her home across town was a well appointed manor, letting Webster know that she either came from money or had married into it. This made her husband's disappearance more interesting. He would not have run out on such a plush lifestyle. The man had either met with an accident or foul play.

The bird in question was perched on a wooden stand inside a large metal cage in the middle of the sitting room. Webster examined it and found it to indeed be a raven. After all, his knowledge of avians was unsurpassed by any of the era. The bird said nothing. It just stared at Webster with menacing dark eyes, and in his mind Webster could hear its anguished screams of "free me... free Ralph."

"Your raven wants to go free."

"No. He cannot."

Webster said no more and asked to examine the house. He found little of interest and bade the lady permission to depart. He found himself at the library brushing up on his study of witchcraft and the black arts. Having learned that the woman's missing husband's name was Ralph, the bird's telepathic speech indicated to him that either the bird knew where to find Ralph or that he was himself Ralph. Webster needed more information before demanding possession of the bird.

Able to consume huge amounts of information in short periods of time, Webster reached his conclusions within twenty minutes after digesting a hundred volumes of text on witchcraft, spells and the nature of birds. There was no known history of telepathic birds, so Webster's logical mind decided that Ralph was indeed the raven. His study of magic spells convinced him such a thing was far more possible than a bird communicating telepathically.

Webster returned to the mansion and demanded possession of the bird "for further study." His client's reluctance convinced him something was wrong with the scenario. She said the bird belonged to her husband and hinted that she did not like the bird very much. Why then would she be so insistent on it not leaving her home?

Webster took the raven back to his office and called in many necromancers and spellcasters. None of their spells produced any change in the bird and eventually, after many years, the bird died. To this day, in Webster's mind, he hears the telepathic message the raven spoke to him for years before his death.

"Free me... free Ralph."

"Is your name Ralph?"

"Sometimes."

The case was never solved. It has haunted Webster to this day. The raven was stuffed and mounted by Webster's friend Omar the Taxidermist and remains on his mantle. He still stares at it for hours, having gone mad with frustration over the mystery he never solved.


Source: Secret parchment diaries of Omar the Taxidermist
and "Dames My Father Has Known" by Webster's illegitimate son Chino Merriam.


Further information and reading on the subject is available at Webster and the case of the Zookeeper which alludes to this case. Will anyone ever know the true story? Webster isn't talking and we have only the legends to go by. The truth may never be known.