8BIT Critical Role!

BigBoard

New items in my Etsy shop!

As some of you might know, I am a HUGE fan of anything to do with tabletop RPG’s and especially the amazing webshow Critical Role (if you haven’t watched it yet, please do! For their 100th episode I wanted to make something cool, so I made a big D20 board with the member of Vox Machina on it in mini hama fuse beads. This got such an overwhelming response and questions where people could buy them, that I couldn’t not put them up.

So I now have the big D20 board with all members, the small D20 boards with the members of your choice, pendants and magnets available!

Click on the pictures or follow this link.

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VMPendants

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Keep an eye on the website, more designs and products coming soon!

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Fiction Friday: Of Wolf and Man (pt. 3)

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Police Badge through Frontpagemag

Here we are again, with part 3 of the story! If you’re thinking ‘huh, what story?’ please start here! It’s a bit shorter this time, I had some time off of work and took a week to recharge my batteries and do as little as possible. It was wonderful and very much needed. Now, onto the story!

 

“Tell me you have something for me, Kravitz,” I called out as we walked into the Violent Crimes and Homicide division of the SCPD, finally sipping my well-deserved coffee. The precinct of the Sweetlake City Police Department was located in the heart of the city. Just outside the shopping district and next to the Firehouse, our division looked out on the shoppers swarming around like ants on one side, the Cinnabon sign right across from the station a constant temptation. The other side looked out on a tiny bit of green landscaping bordering the Firehouse’s yard where, if we were lucky, the firefighters would be running drills and walking around shirtless.Don’t judge.

Deputy Malik Kravitz walked towards us, a thin file in his hand. A curl of fresh ink peeked out from under his collar, the black soft against his dark skin.

“New tattoo?” I asked when he got close enough. Kravitz was a hundred percent human, like me, but he was one of those people who wanted to be more. A lot of humans stuck to just two or three small ones, magical tattoos for a touch of luck, healing a little bit faster, being able to activate a few of the devices that required magic to work. Kravitz wasn’t happy with just two or three though, he really wanted to find out the limits of his bought magic. In the two years that he’d been assigned to our department, this was his fifth tattoo. That I knew of.

“You’re going to run out of space if you keep going.”

“That’s the plan, I have to do something if I want to keep up with people like Flowergirl over here.” He said with no small amount of snark, jerking his head towards Violet. Violet just rolled her eyes as she always did at his nickname. “One day, T.J.” Kravitz continued, “one day you’re going to get over your fear of needles and I’ll take you to Dean’s. Don’t worry, I’ll hold your hand the entire time,” he said with a wink.

I wasn’t afraid of needles, I just didn’t feel the need to have magic forced under my skin just so some things could become more convenient. I liked being just human. Kravitz knew this, but we’d been bantering back and forth about it ever since he joined our division. He was all easy smiles and good-natured sarcasm. It was why we all worked so well together. “In your sad and lonely dreams, Kravitz,” I said, grinning.

He placed the hand holding the file over his heart. “You wound me.”

“You’ll live. Now, tell me what you found.”

He held up the file again. “Donald Koppenhaver, human, age 52, moved to Sweetlake City three years ago from Greensboro, North Carolina. Works for the DMV, no immediate family in the area. He has a mother in a retirement home in Florida. Local police have been contacted, they’ll notify her.”

I held out my hand. “Any priors?” Kravitz handed the file over and I flipped it open, staring at the picture of Koppenhaver for a moment. He didn’t look like anything special, his face a bit too smug and his smile a bit too wide, but that was it. An unassuming man wearing a white button-down, what was left of his hair combed back, a thick gold chain resting over his shirt.

“No priors,” Kravitz confirmed as I turned the page to his non-existent record. “I put a call into the Greensboro PD, they’ll get back to me if they find anything of note. Doctor Strong, however, did find something interesting.” He reached over to turn another page.

It was a close up photo of Koppenhaver’s ruined chest. It had been washed clean, the wound still a gruesome cavern that I didn’t want to look at too long. But that wasn’t the interesting thing Kravitz was talking about. “Is that a burn scar?” I asked him, tracing the edges of the wound where a webbing of scar tissue radiated outwards.

“Indeed it is, and these,” he reached out and tapped the two smoother bits of the scar, both ovals, “are fingers.”

“Somebody burned a handprint into our murder victim?” Violet asked as she walked over, looking over my shoulder to the file.

Kravitz nodded. “Doctor Strong says it’s older, about three years.”

“Hell, first burned, then mauled, this is one unlucky bastard.” I flicked the photo against my hand. “Do we know what did it, Fire Mage, Ifrit?”

“No idea,” Kravitz answered, reaching over to grab another file from his desk, “Donald never even went to a hospital to get treated. There were no charges filed.”

I frowned, it was never good when someone didn’t step forward in assault cases. It meant that either they were ashamed, or they were hiding something.

“So I did a little digging,” Kravitz continued, “and found this.” He handed me the new file.

There was a booking picture of a teenage girl, her fiery red hair falling in waves past her round face. She looked younger than her file said she was, but there was a defiant gleam in her eyes as she glared up at me. “Bryni Hugh,” I read aloud.

Violet walked past me to her desk, typing in the name and pulling up personal information.

“Also known as Pyra,” Kravitz said. “Fire mage, 23, she works as a performer at Unveiled, the club in the industrial district. She has two priors, one for arson when she was a teen, which isn’t that unusual for a fire mage coming into her powers. The second, however, is for assault. Apparently, our little fire mage is a bit – forceful when it comes down to shooting down unwelcome advances.”

I flipped the page over to her record. “She gave a guy a similar burn mark because he was hitting on her.”

“And he’s not the only one,” Violet said from where she sat, “a Christopher Harris was brought into the hospital eighteen months ago with a similar burn, but he refused to press charges.”

“So we have a girl who likes to hurt men that come on a little too strong. Maybe that’s what happened with Koppenhaver last night?” I asked Violet. “Or she could just be out seeking revenge for whatever he did to her.”

“She’s performing tonight.” Violet pointed to the website of Unveiled she had open on her screen, the name Pyra written in dancing flames across the top. “We should definitely go and ask her some questions.”

“You should,” Kravitz said, sounding impossibly smug, “did I mention her brother’s a werewolf?”

Whimsical Girl

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Last Saturday me and my mum went to an amazing workshop where we would try and make a mixed media painting with a ‘Whimsical Girl’. The workshop was led by the awesome Miranda van den Bosch {seriously, check out her website and Facebook page!} and was held at Doe@ding {a.k.a. one of the best craft-shops in the Netherlands}.

It was such an amazing and fun-filled day. I learned a lot from Miranda about portrait drawing and shadowing, which was exactly why I wanted to follow this workshop. I also got to work with materials I’d never worked with before, like the Distress Crayons. All in all, it was a fun mother-and-daughter-day and I walked out of there with a new addiction… Expect more of these paintings really soon! But first, some W.I.P. pictures:

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General sketch and added tissue paper to the background
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Filled in the background with Distress Crayons and Gesso
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Finished her face! Now all she needs is hair and eyebrows….

Fiction Friday: Of Wolf and Man (pt. 2)

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Wolf Teeth by ViLebedeva on Deviantart

Are you ready for part 2? If you’re thinking right now: what is that crazy girl talking about now? Well, I started writing a longer story this time {over 4500 words now!} that I’ll be sharing with you {and writing… shh…} in segments. So last week I posted part 1, here is part 2!

 

It’s always difficult to see one of the big black bags being zipped up. There is something final about it, more so than seeing the blood on the street or the open, unseeing eyes of the victim. The soft sound of the zipper drives home, more than anything else, that we were too late, that this person could no longer be saved.

I looked away as they loaded the body of Donald Koppenhaver onto the stretcher and into the ambulance.

“I’m taking him back to the lab. I’ll do a full tox screen and see if I can find out anything more about our wolves,” the ME said as she sidled up beside me, still taking notes on her clipboard. “I’ll let you know as soon as I find something.”

I nodded, “Thanks, Layla.”

She clipped her pen on the board and nudged me in the side with it. “Keep an eye on our girl, yeah?” She nodded towards where Violet was standing, still sipping her sugary drink.

“I always do,” I promised.

Layla winked at me and walked towards the ambulance. Not for the first time I thought about how well Layla and Violet seemed to fit. Layla’s quiet confidence seemed to calm Violet down a bit, while Violet’s enthusiasm and bubbly personality always seemed to make the frown lines of the always-shielding empath a little softer. They both loved the same music and going out to dance. I once caught them in a pretty heated discussion which Captain was better, Kirk or Picard. They were good together. Maybe when this was all over it was time for some serious matchmaking.

First, we had a case to solve. I walked over to Grey and beckoned Feldt over from where he was still standing by the yellow tape. “The killers are definitely ‘wolf,” I started as both of the werewolves stood in front of me, “any of you recognise the scent?”

Feldt shook his head.

“I don’t know them,” Grey said, his blue eyes taking in the ‘scene. “There is something weird about it.” He took a moment to collect his thoughts. Grey hadn’t been a werewolf for very long yet, I knew, being bitten by a Feral just a few years ago when he was still living in Germany. It sometimes took a moment for him to translate the wolf’s instinct to human language. “They smell like their related, but not. With family, you smell of your own person first, the scents that make up who you are. The scent of family is mixed in there, but subtle, like a perfume. But this -.” He drifted off and scented the air again. “They smell of family first, with only a few individual scents that compliment each other, but don’t overlap. Like two sides of the same coin.”

“And you’ve never encountered that before?” I prompted when he stopped speaking.

“No. He’s right,” Feldt said, “it’s weird.”

I thought back for a moment. “Could it be another witch/wolf combo, like the one in Chicago last year?” A witch had gone more crazy than usual and had charmed a werewolf into being her familiar. They went on a killing spree, cutting out hearts and consuming them to gain more power. It took weeks before they were finally stopped.

“There is no scent of magic,” Grey started as if he knew what I was thinking, “and they are definitely both ‘wolf.”

Weird. There was something off about this case. The emotions, the human and werewolf team that killed Koppenhaver, nothing added up. “Alright,” I told the two ‘wolves, “you know the drill when we’re sure we have a ‘wolf killer. Contact your Alpha’s, describe the scents, ask them if they know who might have done this, if someone has been acting strange lately, yada yada. Maybe we’ll catch a break and they’ll have some more information.”

Grey raised an eyebrow and Feldt snorted, turning it into a cough. Yeah, I didn’t believe me either.

“Harewood forest is a block away.” Grey gestured towards the end of the street. “They might have run there and hid. Ian and I will check it out.”

“Okay, we’ll go back to the precinct and see what Kravitz has for us.” I turned to Feldt. “Call your Alpha first, then try to keep the riff-raff from doing something stupid, alright?” I gestured towards the yellow line that was already gathering quite a crowd, despite the early hour and the quiet neighbourhood. Feldt nodded and hurried off.

Bent was a small neighbourhood on the edge of the city of Sweetlake City. With Benthome Lake on their left and the rest almost surrounded by Harewood Forest, they were pretty cut off from the rest of the city, almost a small village on their own. Bent was mostly one main road with free-standing houses lining the street. They had their own elementary school and a small centre with locally-owned shops and a bar. Bent was one of those neighbourhoods where everybody knew everybody, and a crime like this was sure to leave people scared.

It didn’t help that Bent was the neighbourhood with the most Believers of Sweetlake City. Even though it was small, the main road held no less that three churches. Two of those were known for preaching that ‘the Creatures’, as they loved to call the non-humans, who now outnumbered us humans two to one, were a ‘plague sent from God as punishment for our sins’. Luckily it wasn’t a popular opinion, and most Believers accepted the races that we a hundred years ago thought only belonged in fairy tales, as just another of God’s Children. But small communities like Bent, that were partially isolated, tended to draw together the humans that were set in their ways and their beliefs. They weren’t outright specist, always friendly and ready to lend a helping hand, but non-humans who moved to Bent never settled there long. Which was why it was also home to most of the Hunters that resided in Sweetlake City, I though as I spotted one of my least favourite people standing by the yellow tape line.

William Carver was in his forties, ex-military, and looked like he could take on a ‘wolf with his bare hands. And he had, while still stationed in Russia for the Winter Wars. He was bald, hiding his cold blue eyes behind a pair of sunglasses even though it really wasn’t that bright. He was also decked out in full combat gear, as if looking for a fight.

“What are you doing here, Carver?” I asked as I made my way over to him.

He shrugged. “One of my guys is on the neighbourhood watch, said they found a body this morning, pretty torn up. Sounds like ‘wolf.”

I looked over to where one of the deputies was interviewing a guy dressed in the same combat gear as Carver was. Acid and apples, so much for hoping the Hunters wouldn’t get involved.

When the Veil fell about a hundred years ago and the world was flooded with magic and refugees from another realm, humanity at first didn’t take it very well. All around the world, countries closed their borders, needing time to adjust to a host of different species and the Awakening of once human mages coming into power. Wars broke out over land and religion, rights and magical properties. Protests over the treatment of these new species and of the humans that were now outnumbered and desperately tried to cling to what they had.

After the chaos settled and people found their place in this new world, new laws were made, factions were formed. The Humans Uniting against Numinous Threats, or Hunters for short were one of these new factions, a group of humans trained to hunt and kill these new species, but only if they were found ‘uncontainable and dangerous to mankind’. Starting out as a paramilitary group in the ‘thirties, their political lobby saw them absorbed into law enforcement under the name HPA, the Human Protection Agency. But the name Hunters, and their close-mindedness stuck. I’d really hoped I could keep them out of this one.

“And why are you talking to my witnesses?” I asked.

“He texted me, I didn’t contact him,” Carver said like it wasn’t a huge breach of protocol.

I gritted my teeth, Hunters always got on my nerves with their superiority complex and barely concealed hatred, but Carver somehow always managed to get under my skin within seconds.

“It’s not your case, Carver.” I turned to walk away from him.

“Not yet, but you better hope no more bodies show up. And otherwise, call me, and we’ll handle it.”

I faced him again, crossing my arms over my chest. “Like you handled the Lito case last month?” I asked, voice dripping with sarcasm.

Carver shrugged again. “That was unfortunate, but it was a clean shooting. He came right at Korinek, ready to tear his throat out.”

“He was a seventeen-year-old boy and probably scared out of his mind!”

“Like I said: unfortunate. But sometimes these beasts are so far gone there’s nothing you can do to save them.”

I didn’t miss the glare he send to Feldt when he said that. I wanted to punch him. My hands were already clenched into fists, but I couldn’t, not without maybe losing my case. Which would mean that Carver was one step closer to getting it. No way in the nine hells. “Keep yourself and your guard dogs away from this case, Carver.” I all but growled at him.

He smiled at me, the bastard. “For now,” he agreed almost pleasantly, “but trust me, an attack this vicious, more bodies are gonna show up before the week is out. You’ve got a Feral on your hands and you know as well as I do there is only one way of dealing with those.”

I did know. Once a werewolf went Feral there was nothing that could save them. But I also knew there was more to this case than a simple Feral ‘wolf. I just needed to figure out what the hell was going on. And do it before the Hunters could swoop in with their special brand of justice and kill two more werewolves.

 

So that’s it for this week, but hang on, this story is far from over! See you next week for part 3!

Fiction Friday: Of Wolf and Man (pt. 1)

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Photo by Scott Olson, Getty Images

It’s Friday already? Time flies when you’re having {a much needed and well deserved} vacation. Last week I talked about writing a larger story, and I’m still working on it! It’s becoming more of a monster than I thought {introduction and first scene and I’m over 2500 words. Gasp!} so I decided to post it in pieces. So without further ado, welcome to the first part of ‘Of Wolf and Man, a Sweetlake mystery’…

The mage took off down the dark alley. Apparently the meaning of the term ‘freeze’ was lost to this guy. Then again, I guess that if you’re a homicidal maniac who killed four people with dark magic you’re not going to be intimidated by a puny human cop. That’s alright, he wouldn’t be the first Dark Sorcerer™ I’d put behind bars.

I gave chase, following his fluttering deep-purple robes through the meandrous alleyways. He veered off to the right and I followed, barely able to throw myself backwards when a nasty looking spell exploded into a shower of purple sparks on the wall opposite of me, right where I’d been a moment before. It sizzled and popped as a portion of the wall was eaten away. The guy didn’t even look back, just kept running. Alright then.

“This is Harper, I’ve got eyes on the suspect,” I spoke into my enchanted headset. “He’s heading towards Greenstreet. Be careful, he’s slinging spells.”

“Understood,” Detective Grey’s gruff voice answered.

“You be careful too, T.J.” My partner Violet warned.

I grinned even though they couldn’t see it. “Aren’t I always?” The answering huff of laughter could have been from any of them, really. The mage made a hard right into a different alley and I pulled my gun as I picked up speed.

“Last chance, Deoradhan,” I yelled as I caught sight of him again, long robes flapping dramatically. “Stop, or I’ll be forced to open fire.” Instead of stopping he flung another spell at me. It went wide and sent a dumpster flying. I aimed at a wall on his left and released a warning shot.

Deoradhan ducked and flinched, but kept running.

Fine, the hard way then. The next shot I aimed for his legs, hoping to take him down. The bullet ricocheted off of an invisible forcefield around the mage and embedded itself into the brick wall. Acid and apples, the bastard was shielding. I could keep firing, hoping to wear him out by forcing him to expend his magic, but who knew where the bullets would ricochet to. No, I’d have better luck tackling him to bring him down physically. Usually when mages shield for high-velocity projectiles they can’t withstand the slow-moving mass of a humanoid body barreling through. Besides, between the shield and the spells, he was losing energy already. He was slowing down.

Holstering my gun, I sped up, making sure I was almost on him before I reached towards his collar. I’d hoped to drag him down, or at least introduce his face to a wall, but he ducked out of the way just before I could grab him. My hand tingled from where it had reached through his shields. We rounded another corner, the mage staggering as he took the corner too wide. I took a sprint and jumped the guy, working him towards the ground. We hit the floor with a thud, forcing the air out of his lungs. I sat up on his legs and grabbed his left wrist, reaching for my ‘cuffs with my right. “Myrrdin Deoradhan, you’re under arrest for the murders of Jane Porter, Sage Wintergreen, Drayce Andvari and Eirlys Deoradhan,” I clicked the first ‘cuff around his wrist, “you have the right –“

I didn’t get any further. He reached for something around his neck. I made a desperate grab for his arm but was too slow. A wall of force slammed into my chest and sent me flying through the dark alley. My breath was punched out of me and my head hit the ground. Hard. Everything went dark and blurry for a moment.

When I snapped back to reality Deoradhan was standing over me, wand raised and aimed at my head. He looked intimidating against the dark sky, his robed form backlit by the streetlights. My heart skipped a beat as I realised that this was it, I wasn’t going to make it out of this one. He never said a word, just grinned like the psycho he was and channelled his magic through the wand, the tip glowing a sickish green hue. The wand was too close to my face, I couldn’t duck out of the way and I knew that as soon as I moved, he’d let the spell fly that would undoubtedly melt my face off.

I refused to beg.

In fact, I refused to speak at all. This was a maniac that murdered four people, one of them his own mother. He cocked his eyebrow at me, as if daring me to say anything. I glared up at him, pressing my lips into a thin line. Nothing I said or did was going to stop him. We stared at each other for a long moment. His grin widened and he shrugged with one shoulder as if to say that it didn’t matter to him if I talked or not. That killing me didn’t matter to him.

I got ready to move, whether to try and sweep his feet out from under him when he was distracted or whether to at least try and roll out of the way, I didn’t know. But I wouldn’t just lay down and die. He opened his mouth to start to spell and I started rising up to do something when a dark form jumped Deoradhan, dragging him away from me.

There was a sickening crack of bone breaking followed by a cut off human scream, probably Deoradhan. I got to my feet, the world swaying underneath me for a moment, and looked over to see Deoradhan on his back on the ground, a huge grey wolf sitting on his chest, teeth at his throat.

The mage was begging now, “No, no, no, please don’t let that thing bite me. I don’t wanna die!” He cut off with a choked sound, the wolf, well, werewolf really, putting a bit more pressure, but not biting down.

I staggered over to the pair and dropped to my knees beside them. “Like I said,” I started, yanking off his amulets when the ‘wolf moved out of my way. He sat back on his haunches on the mage’s chest, his tail thumping twice. “Myrddin Deoradhan, you’re under arrest.”

The rest of the arrest went smoothly. The ‘wolf moved out of the way and helped me roll Deoradhan over to his stomach. I cuffed him and took some time removing anything that looked remotely magical to me. I staggered over to the wall and sat back to wait until the other officers arrived. The ‘wolf climbed on the mage’s back again and sat back down, growling low in his throat every time he so much as twitched.

“Hey,” I told the ‘wolf, otherwise known as Detective Wilder Grey, “thanks for the save.”

He thumped his tail twice again, tongue lolling out of his mouth. It still looked weird, this huge, dangerous creature behaving like your average neighbourhood dog. Especially when they were just as intelligent in their wolf form as they were when human. Grey got up, still standing on our perp, and nosed the side of my head, whining softly.

I ran my hand through my hair, wincing as I touched the spot where I hit it on the street. My fingers were covered in blood when I pulled them back. “I’m fine, don’t worry about it,” I lied, everything was still swaying and I wasn’t sure I could stand up again.

The ‘wolf looked at me, unimpressed.

“I’ll get it checked out,” I told him, knowing he could hear the ambulance sirens in the distance.

Grey huffed out a breath as if to say ‘you’d better’, but sat back down.

I rested my hand on his shoulder for a moment, fingers clenching in his fur. Together we turned our heads towards the sound heavy footfalls approaching. Back-up had arrived.

***

The deputy standing by the yellow tape looked a little green, which was never a good sign near a crime scene, especially since the deputy in question is a werewolf. I was already regretting getting up this morning. “Morning, Feldt,” I greeted him, showing him my badge.

He looked it over for a moment before lifting the yellow tape and gesturing me through. “Morning, ma’am.”

I ducked under it and walked onto the crime scene, stifling another yawn. The showdown with Deoradhan and the following medical attention meant I hadn’t gotten home until around four in the morning. After that, my brother had woken me every two hours, at the doctor’s request of course, to check for a concussion. My poor head wasn’t concussed, but it wasn’t happy either, a splitting headache sitting just behind my eyes. So yeah, this morning was already off to a great start even before I got the call that a mauled body had been found in the Bent neighbourhood.

A man lay in the middle of the street in a large pool of blood, presumably his own. Dressed in slacks and a dress shirt that was once white, but was now soaked through with crimson. Spray tan and too much gold jewellery, I noted. Balding and what might have a been a bit of a pudge if his guts weren’t currently outside of his body. Most of his torso looked like it had been worked over with a meat grinder, which usually meant one thing: the killer was not human.

“You look like crap, Harper,” Detective Ian Andrews greeted me from where he was standing a few feet from the victim. He sipped from a Styrofoam cup which smelled like delicious, heavenly coffee.

Dammit, I should have stopped for coffee. “Not all of us can look like a spry 50 year old after chasing down a spree killer through dark alleys at three in the morning,” I told him, grinning.

“The secret is yoga and caffeine. Lots and lots of caffeine.” He took another sip. “How are you holding up?” he asked, resting his hand on my arm for a moment.

“I’m fine.”

He raised an eyebrow.

“A bit shaken up,” I admitted, “but I’ll be fine. Your partner got to me in time.”

“It’s never easy looking down a barrel of a gun, or in this case, the tip of a wand. We’ve all been there. But you’re still here, that’s what’s important.”

I clapped him on the shoulder. “So, what have we got?”

He accepted my not-so-subtle change of subject and dug his notepad out of his pocket. “According to the ID and wallet our killer so helpfully left behind, victim’s name is Donald Koppenhaver, 52 years old. Kravitz is working on his background back at the precinct.”

I nodded and walked closer to the body, being mindful of where I put my feet. “Do we know what did all this – ?”

“Carnage?” My partner, Violet Bluebell, said from where she sat crouched next to the medical examiner. She was dressed in a dark pink suit today, the purple silk shirt the same colour as the tips of her short curls. Most human professionals wouldn’t be caught dead wearing an outfit like that, but somehow pixies always seem to pull it off flawlessly. Violet once told me the colours remind them of the flower-petal clothes pixies wears in their small form.

The medical examiner was gently pushing the vic’s chin back, exposing the ragged bite marks to his throat. “We think werewolf,” Layla Strong said as she carefully pulled a pluck of grey, bloodied hair away from the neck wound and put it in an evidence bag.

“Definitely werewolf.” Wilder Grey stated from right behind me. I jumped and glared at him, he gave me a shit eating grin in return. Freaking annoying stealthy werewolves. “I can smell it all over the alley. You alright?” he asked me.

“Yeah, thanks. And, you know, thanks again for – saving my life.”

He looked me over, concerned, and nodded.

“The fur is werewolf,” Violet said, “but we also found a long, grey hair and wounds that are consistent with a knife.” She gestured towards the mess that used to be his stomach.

“So either the werewolf shifted halfway through the attack, or we have two attackers,” I finished for her. “But why would he shift? If he already had a knife why not finish it this way? And if he could shift why not attack him as a wolf?” I turned to Detective Grey, “Would a werewolf and a human work together like this, normally?”

He shook his head. “No. We get pretty territorial over our kills. Unless they were both ‘wolves, but then they’d both be in the same shape.”

“Hmm. Anything stand out in particular?” I asked, “Any scent of shift-inhibitors or other drugs?”

“Nothing I can sniff out. A lot of people passed through here, but I don’t get anything out of the ordinary.”

“Alright.” I turned toward Violet where she was still crouched next to the ME. “What are we dealing with, emotionally?” I asked her.

“Desperation,” the pixie, the empath and the werewolf answered simultaneously. Yeah, that wasn’t creepy at all.

“But there’s also -” Violet paused for a moment, as if searching for the right word.

“Aggression,” Layla chimed in.

“Yeah,” Violet agreed, “like, the thrill of the hunt.” She made it sound like a question. “I don’t know, something feels weird about this.” She pushed her aqua and purple curls out of her face with her wrist. “I think I have enough for a reconstruction, though.”

She closed her eyes for a moment, holding her hands cupped towards each other. A tiny flicker of golden light appeared between her hands, blinking in and out of existence a few times before becoming a small ball of energy. The ball grew, the golden light reflecting warmly on her dark skin. She kept going, her face scrunched up in concentration, until it had about the size of a soccer ball. Then she threw her hands up, the energy flying into the air and bursting apart in a shower of golden dust.

Beside me, Grey sneezed. Werewolves always reacted weirdly to magic, especially the pixie kind.

The dust floated down, most of it disappearing before it could hit the ground. The rest seemed to cling to three invisible shapes, forming a wolf and two humanoid figures. The heavier-set man, meant to be Koppenhaver, started running, the wolf and the lithe form of the other human giving chase. Koppenhaver stopped and turned around, his hands help up in front of him. It looked like he was begging for his life. The smaller human jumped forward, grabbing him by the throat and slicing into his stomach. Koppenhaver fell to his knees, the wolf now going for his throat. The wolf rode him down to the floor, head thrashing as it tore off pieces of flesh. The lithe human stepped in again, slashing wildly into the prone form of Koppenhaver. It was brutal to watch, even acted out in sparkly glitter. Koppenhaver twitched one last time, then turned to dust once again, the other two shapes floating away on the wind.

Violet let out a sigh and listed sideways, the ME just able to catch her before she hit the ground.

“Violet!” I rushed over to her. She was still conscious, but she’d overtaxed herself. She’d had gotten just as much sleep as I had, but she’d been practising magic to boot. A glamour to calm Deoradhan down, a spell like this one to track my wild chase after him, anything to catch the guy. We were the same that way.

I turned towards one of the deputies standing around. “We need something sweet, fast.” A moment later a bottle of honeyed elderflower lemonade was pressed into my hand. I helped Violet take a few sips and gave her a couple of moments to steady again. Sugar helped, but she would be tapped out for the rest of the day. “You alright?” I asked her when she could sit up on her own again.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Sorry about that.” She smiled and turned away, running her hand through her hair.

I grimaced at the streak of red blood now running through the turquoise. “Sweetie, gloves.”

She looked at her hand for a moment. “Ah toadstools, this is just not my day.”

Slinging my arm around her shoulder I squeezed her for a moment. “Don’t worry, you did good. We now have a place to start.” Even though the reconstructions weren’t foolproof, magic couldn’t show exactly what had happened, but pixies could feel the emotions and the atmosphere of a place and cast an illusion of what most probably had happened. It wasn’t a smoking gun, but it was a start.

“There is something still off, though. Something I’m missing.” Violet’s hand clenched in her lap in frustration.

“We’ll figure it out. We’ll catch these guys.” And we’d better do it quick, I thought, because if these guys were as aggressive as Violet had shown, there would be more bodies before the week was out.

To be continued…. So tune in next week for part 2! Are you excited yet? {I am!}

Pastel Mermaid Card

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I just love these clean cards with lots of coloured splashes! I’ve made a neon piñata and a different mermaid card like this before and it’s quickly becoming my go-to stamping method. {My friend Nikki is now calling it the ‘Marjolijn method’, enough said, right?} So when I decided I wanted to do more with my own stamps, I figured that making a splash card like this would work perfectly with my mermaid stamp.

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I used my trusty JoyCrafts Grunge set for the splashes and stamped those directly onto the white cardstock. Then I printed my mermaid and coloured it with Letraset Brushmarkers. I added some highlights with white Posca pen and added a beautiful shimmer with Nuvo Aqua Shimmer Glitter Gloss that I am absolutely in love with. Just look at the sparkles! The sentiment is a combination of Lawn Fawn Year Seven and HEMA letter stamps. The pastels really fit the softness of the mermaid and I just love how this card turned out.

You can find the lovely mermaid as a digital stamp in my Etsy shop, or click on the picture below!

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Fiction Friday: Human Curiosity

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Crystal Caves by JoshEiten on Deviantart

Welcome back! It’s Friday which means it’s storytime! {Yay!} This week’s story is a bit shorter that you’re used to, but I have a good reason for that, I promise. I’ve been working on a longer story {with lots of worldbuilding and plotting, oh my!} which I’m hoping to finish this week. I’m aiming for at least 5000 words, but it will probably be longer.

That said, I didn’t want to leave you guys without a story this week, so I wrote a short, dialogue only, story. It’s a continuation of Human Care, although you don’t necessarily need to read that one first. I saw this prompt on Pinterest and could immediately picture Kel’Jar and Keira having this conversation. As my husband said: That universe only exists to make Keira’s life difficult, doesn’t it? Why yes, yes it does. So enjoy and hopefully next week I’ll have something big for you!

 

“Why? Why didn’t I stay on the ship? I could have just said to the Captain ‘Dammit, Jim, I’m an engineer, not a redshirt!’ But, no! He asked so of course I – “

“Your shirt seems to be more of an Earth-forest green in hue, and the Captain’s name is Crydrask, not Jim.”

“I know, Kel’Jar, it’s a human saying – sort of. Point is, I should be back on the ship, surrounded by my beautiful machines and gizmos but instead I’m on this cold, dark planet, walking into this cold, dark, fakakta cave where we’ll get eaten by the no doubt charming wildlife. All because they found some energy signature in said, cold, dark, fakakta cave that might maybe, perhaps, possibly be electronic. How is this my life?”

“Human-Keira, I would like to join you in acknowledging the difficulties of your life.”

“Wow, you are the worst at this comfort thing. But thanks for trying, I guess.”

“XTO-371 was labelled ‘safe’ before we were sent down. There are no signs of dangerous indigenous species, airborne toxins or other biological hazards. You are simply experiencing a nervous reaction due to the fact that this is your first exploring mission. You will be, as you say, fine.”

“Much better. See, you’re getting the hang of this human-interaction thing! Now, does your scanner say how much further we need to go before we reach this energy – Oh God! Something just brushed my leg!”

“That was most probably an Agnasi, they are similar to your Earth-spider.”

“Spiders don’t usually reach up to my knee, Kel’Jar!”

“True, I meant in the way that they have more limbs than most species. Ten in the case of the Agnasi, but –“

“Not really helping.”

“—they have a really friendly demeanour.”

“Oh God, the creepy alien spiders are going to eat us alive and we’re all gonna diiiieeeee. We should never have walked in here. I wanna go hoooome.”

“Why are you singing?”

“It’s a human fear response. It happens sometimes.”

“Studies on human behaviour denote three human responses to fear: fight, flight and freeze. Singing is not mentioned.”

“Well, no. It’s more like we’re trying not to give in to the fight-or-flight thing by singing. I guess.”

“Fascinating.”

“Yeah, we’re astonishing creatures. Oh, hey! I found the thingamabob. Could you give me some more light? Thanks. Cool, it seems to be giving off sound on a supersonic frequency. I wonder why?”

“Perhaps it is a distress signal.”

“Could be, but we haven’t found any other technology, or a spaceship. Ooh, I found the button that turns it off, let’s see what happens.”

“Are you certain that is wise?”

“Too late. Alright, nothing flashy happened, nothing exploded, no sudden death. Which is good. Blinking lights, which might be less good. Wait. Do you hear that, what is that?”

“It would appear we have angered the Agnasi by turning off the device. I would advise you to run!”

“I thought you said they have a ‘friendly demeanour’!”

“I was incorrect. Caelestis, this is Lieutenant Kel’Jar requesting immediate extraction from this location. We are being pursued, I repeat, we are being pursued.”

“Nothing will happen, he says, you’ll be fine, he says!”

“It was a statement made taking only the parameters currently available to me in consideration.”

“Hahaha! Did you see that one hit the rocks? I totally got it!”

“Is laughing another human not-fear response?”

“Yeah, but how about we run now and study human physiology later, okay?”

“They seem to be gaining on us.”

“I swear, Kel’Jar, if I get eaten I will haunt you for– Oof!”

“Welcome back aboard, Lieutenant, Keira. Were you able to figure out the energy signature?”

“It would seem, Captain, that the device emitted a high-frequency sound, which kept the local Agnasi population docile. When Human-Keira shut down the device, they turned hostile.”

“I see.”

“Yeah – I guess I’m not really cut out for the adventuring thing. Sorry, Captain, guess I shouldn’t have pushed the glowy button.”

“Human curiosity. Something we could use on our next mission. So, get some rest and wash up. We’ll arrive at EXO-31 in 23 standard hours.”

“When you say human curiosity?”

“Yes, Keira, that means you too.”

“But we almost got eaten by not-spiders and it was my fault!”

“And you survived, this time.”

Oy Gevalt.

“Who knows, you might start to like this adventuring thing.”