Fiction Friday: Of Wolf and Man (pt. 4)

Fire-Juggling
Fire Juggling by Ent-Reps

And we’re back to our regular scheduled story! If you have no idea what I’m talking about… I wanted to write a bit of a longer story, since most of my stories had been around 1000 to max. 2000 words, so I wanted to challenge myself. Which turned into this thing, currently 8435 words and counting! I kept wondering this week why it seemed to take so long, it felt like the scene kept stretching I wondered why. Well, because this week I wrote over 2700 words…. woops… So if you haven’t started reading yet, start here!

This week we’re visiting the magical nightclub called Unveiled and we’ll find out some things about our victim… {dun dun dunnnn} Mostly though, it was an excuse for me to write about fire performing and beautiful music {and I regret nothing!} So enjoy, and make sure to check out the notes below the story a little more in-depth knowledge on what inspired part 4!

 

The club was not a lot to look at from the outside. A concrete cube in the middle of the industrial district with ‘Unveiled’ above the door in a fancy cursive script with gold backlighting. Bolts of sheer fabric hung on both sides next to the entrance. If not for the warm light spilling out of the door and the huge looking guys standing next to it, you might have never known it was a club. And a pricey one at that.

Unveiled was one of those places that claimed to give you a glance of what life had been like beyond the veil. Decadent, exotic foods and sensual shows pulled in crowds of both humans and non-humans every night. The humans coming to see the magic and power of the supernatural, the non-humans coming to see what their ancestors may have lived like or, for those who lived beyond a hundred years, to reminisce on years gone by. I had the feeling that this was nothing like life used to be Beyond the Veil, unless you were nobility of course, but it didn’t seem to matter. Unveiled had a waiting list of two weeks.

Luckily a flash of a badge was enough for the bouncers to wave us through.

“Good evening and welcome to Unveiled, do you have a reservation?” A slim woman with soft pink hair greeted us from behind her hostess podium. The hair was a dead giveaway that she was a Fae of some kind. The floral colour usually meaning pixie. It made sense, having someone who could gauge the emotions of others and influence them if needed right at the entrance. No doubt it stopped a lot of trouble before it even started.

I held my badge up for her to see. I gestured to Violet standing next to me, badge also in hand. “Detectives Bluebell and Harper, SCPD. We need to speak to Pyra.”

The Maitre ‘D looked unruffled as she inspected our badges. “One moment please,” she said when she was satisfied. She touched an elegant looking brooch and turned away, speaking a few words too soft for me to hear. After a moment she turned back. “Pyra is about to take the stage, you will be able to talk to her after her performance. I am to show you a table, the manager will be with you in a moment. If you would follow me.” She gestured us further inside and showed us to a table in the middle of the club.

The interior was warm and inviting. The same sheer fabric that was outside lined the walls, the gold shimmering slightly in the candlelight. At the end of the club sat the stage, the sides lined with lush green climbing vines like curtains. Round tables and chairs of a light wood stood facing the stage, the crystal candleholders filled with moss green candles scattered rainbows on the floor. Water was tinkling somewhere to my right, a fountain in the middle of a nightclub.

A skylight covered most of the ceiling, the night sky shining through it tinged purple. There were constellations I recognized from reading about the Veil in high school. Unveiled apparently had a spelled ceiling that showed the sky on the other side of the Veil. It really as almost like stepping into another world with all its golds and greens and twisted woods. The entire scene was beautiful and now, standing here, I finally understood the appeal.

We sat down at our table and a moment later a waitress, wearing a dress that looked like it was made from real leaves, put down two pink and sparkly drinks.

“Oh we don’t –“ I started.

“It’s just lemonade, Detective. On the house,” A man in a gold suit said as he approached our table.

His smooth, coffee-coloured skin almost seemed to glow against the soft shimmer of the gold fabric. Long, red-blond hair fell over his shoulders, almost to his waist, his pointed ears sticking out of the thick strands. His smile was wide and warm, if a little bit smug. He was gorgeous and he knew it. “Good evening,” he greeted, offering a small bow, “my name is Setahl Dahirae, I am the owner of this establishment. How may I be of assistance?”

We both took out our badges again, holding them up for the Fae to see. Detectives Harper and Bluebell,” I repeated, “we need to speak to one of your performers, Pyra.”

“I see. And what is it that you think Bryni has done?”

“It is part of an ongoing investigation, I can’t comment on that,” I told him.

His smile grew. “You are both homicide detectives, are you not?” He gestured towards where our badges were a moment ago. “Surely I have a right to know if one of my employees committed such a crime?”

I got the feeling he wasn’t really an asshole, not like other hot-shot business owners trying to find out information about an open case. There was a hint of worry in his amber eyes. Whether that was because our suspect was his friend or because it endangered his club I didn’t know. There was something else too, a mischievous twinkle that made me think he was trying to get a rise out of me.

I gave him my sweetest smile. “No, you don’t.”

He clutched at his heart dramatically. “You wound me, my lady! I am only trying to protect my family and my livelihood.”

“I’m sure your livelihood will survive,” I said, rolling my eyes.

“If there is something we feel you should know, we will tell you, mister Dahirae,” Violet assured him, sending a glare my way. “You’re club is beautiful.”

He beamed at her words. “Thank you, thank you. Please, enjoy your stay and know that you are always welcome at Unveiled.” He gestured towards the drinks. “I hope you find them as appealing as this conversation has been. Have a good evening.” With a small bow, he backed away from our table and made his way back over to the bar.

Violet picked up her fizzy drink and took a sip. “It’s delicious.” She said happily.

I was a little more cautious, sniffing it first. It indeed did not smell like alcohol, it smelled fruity and sweet. “It’s pink,” I complained, it just made Violet grin wider.

“It’s not going to bite you. Just try it.”

I took a small sip. It tasted good but holy hydrangea that stuff was sweet.

Violet burst out laughing next to me, no doubt reading my face. “It reminds me of the soup my gran used to make.”

“You ate this stuff for soup?” I asked, incredulous, which just set Violet off again. I was suddenly glad we always ordered in when we ate together, I’m not sure I could stomach Pixie cuisine.

“So,” Violet said innocently when she stopped giggling, “the manager is pretty cute.”

“Last time I checked you only like women.” Maybe if I feigned ignorance, this conversation wouldn’t go where I was afraid it would go.

She nudged my shoulder. “Not for me, for you. He was totally flirting with you.”

Aaaaand here we go.

She gave me a disappointed look. “Did you really have to be so rude?”

“You know you sound like my mother when you say that.”

“Your mother is a wise woman.” She saluted me with her pink sugary monstrosity and took another sip. “You could do a whole lot worse you know.” She looked behind us towards the bar. “A lot worse.”

I rolled my eyes at her. “Not interested. How could a mage make herself smell like a ‘wolf?”

“You’re not subtle.” She scolded.

“I’m not trying to be subtle, now answer the question.”

“With magic?” she asked, looking towards the still empty stage.

I shook my head. “The ‘wolves would have smelled that. It would have to be some other way, like packbonds gone wrong, wearing each other’s clothes, dousing yourself in ‘wolf blood –.”

Violet looked up at that one. I held up my hands. “Just random ideas.” I defended.

“Your random ideas worry me sometimes. Although, it wouldn’t be the weirdest thing we’ve seen. Hell, not even the weirdest thing we’ve seen this year.”

I thought of Drayce Andvari’s mummified corpse. His wide open eyes and shock-white hair and tried not to shiver.

The lights dimmed, signalling that the show was about to begin. The evening crowd hushed as a man walked onto the stage. He was wearing a simple dark brown tank top and linen pants, a short fiery red vest stopping just short of his waist. Brown curly hair fell in loose waves to his shoulders, softening his sharp features.

As he sat down on the chair on the left side of the podium, he set an instrument that looked like something between a violin and a cello against his shoulder. First he plucked a few strings and tapped against the wood to set a simple beat, repeating it with a small machine at his feet. Then he set his bow to string. A beautiful and haunting melody started, the sound not something I’d heard from a cello before. I could see this being played around a fire, a pipe with wild dagga flower going from hand to hand. People slowly twirling and dancing in the clearing nearby, caravans standing in a loose circle around them.

A young woman walked slowly onto the stage. Her braided hair started with a deep black at the roots and went from red to a bright orange at the tip, it looked like fire, which was, I assumed, the entire point. She wore a jagged black skirt that reached just below her thigh, leaving her long legs and feet bare. Her short top was decorated with delicate embroidery and beading which shimmered in the candle light. A collection of thin gold and bronze chains wrapped around her like a harness, swaying gently as she moved.

Slowly she spread her arms wide, revealing fans made from metal wire. Without warning the tips burst into flame causing the crowd, me included, to gasp at the sudden flare of brightness. I’d never even seen her lips move.

Mages needed conduits for their magic for it to work. Usually, this was a combination of symbols, herbs and words all dedicated to the same purpose. For a Fire mage to work magic without speaking was, to put it lightly, impressive. It also raised my doubts if Pyra was the woman we were looking for. If she was attuned to her element, this capable with her magic, there was no way that she wouldn’t have just put Koppenhaver on fire if she wanted him dead. Unless of course not using fire at all was an attempt to put us on the wrong track, but I doubted it.

Her body curved and bowed to the music, the fire casting a warm light on her pale skin. The movements were sensual and mesmerizing, set off with a tiny rush of adrenaline every time her fire flared. Her hips and her fire seemed to sway in the same tempo, the ghostly melody of the cello falling and rising with the flames.

Nobody seemed unaffected and for the next half hour we watched as she danced, some sort of fusion between belly dance and ballet, and used her magic to make flames dance with her. Hoops, fans, a staff, all were used and all were set alight without a single word. At the height of the performance, two huge fiery wings spread out behind her, casting her slight frame in a stark silhouette against the golden light.

I’d seen mages perform before, but never had I seen someone use their talents like this before, like art. Pyra seemed to be made of fire, the flames an extension of herself, like the man’s music was an extension of himself. Harmony. No wonder they were one of the most popular acts at Unveiled, it was truly a sight to behold.

As the show drew to a close she spread her arms wide and bowed deep, the crowd, including us, standing up to give them a standing ovation. They stood next to each other for a moment, revelling in the applause before bowing one last time and making their way off stage.

Before we could decide whether to sit back down for a moment or to go to the dressing room immediately the waitress from before stood by our table.

“Detectives, if you would follow me?”

She led us through a series of hallways into a brightly lit room. Racks with clothes lined one wall, mirrors with lights lined the other. Both Bryni and what I now saw had to be her brother were both here, still in their performance outfits. They both looked up as we entered, seeming curious but annoyed that we interrupted their downtime. They looked alike, in the stark lights of the changing room. They had the same cheekbones, the same facial structure, but Bryni’s feminine curves softened the sharpness that seemed to run in this family.

Again, Violet and I pulled out our badges, flipping them open and holding them up. “Detectives Bluebell and Harper, SCPD Violent Crimes and Homicide division. Are you Bryni Hugh?” I asked her as she started pulling on a soft looking silk robe.

“I’m Bryni, this is my brother Fintan. What can we help you with, Detectives?” She seemed apprehensive, but in the way most people react when you have two homicide detectives wanting to ask you some questions.

I really didn’t think this was the pair we were looking for, but maybe they could tell us a little more about our victim. “Does the name Donald Koppenhaver mean anything to either of you?”

The siblings looked at each other, but no sign of recognition crossed their faces. “No.” They answered in unison. “Should it?” Bryni asked.

“You’ve had a run-in with him before,” Violet started as she pulled out a picture, “left him with quite a scar.”

Bryni took the picture from Violet’s hand, her face hardening as she recognized Koppenhaver’s face. “Look, I don’t know what he’s telling you, but the creep totally had it coming.” She waved the picture around in an irritated wave of her arm.

“He came on to you?” I asked.

“Came on to me? Is that what he said?” she let out a humourless laugh, “that asshole fucking assaulted me!”

Fintan took this moment to rip the photo from her hands and study it, letting out a low growl. “It’s true,” he started, “they guy was lucky I wasn’t here that day or I would have ripped his throat out.”

“Well, that’s exactly what happened to him last night,” I said, checking their faces for any kind of reaction. There was shock and a hint of relief, but no guilt and no pride. Emotions that you might expect from people capable of such a vicious murder.

“And you think we had anything to do with it?” Bryni paused for a moment. “Look, I’m not sad he’s no longer out there, the guy was a total douchebag. Three years ago he tried to force himself onto one of the other performers, a Siren named Claire Hidgins. She reported it, three days later he corners her by her car, next thing we know, she drops all charges. I swear, he did something to her. She left the state to be away from that guy. When he tried to do something to me a few weeks later, I fought him off.” There was a hint of pride in her eyes, but mostly she just looked young and vulnerable. “Setahl tossed him to the street and he’s never been back since.”

“Setahl and Claire can confirm this?” I asked, writing Claire’s name down so Kravitz could look into it later. I waited for her nod to continue. “And where were you both last night between midnight and two?”

“Look the guy may have deserved it, but we’re no killers,” Fintan spoke up, “Besides, we were here performing ‘til eleven and after that we stayed to work on our new act. We went home around three o’clock. Setahl stayed to listen, you can ask him.”

We were going to ask him about Koppenhaver anyway, but I didn’t think we needed to check the alibi. The siblings weren’t our killers. From the way Violet was looking at me she didn’t think so either. We just lost our two suspects but if Koppenhaver really was the kind of man Bryni and Fintan believed he was, a whole new pool of suspect just opened up.

So there you have it, part 4 of our monster story! I started watching Grimm recently {still haven’t decided if I like it or not…} and in the first season there is a character who is also a fire juggler. I absolutely loved the way she moved and the idea of a supernatural creature with an affinity to fire to be a performer like this. Thus Pyra was born.

I was listening to one of my favourite artists, Adam Hurst while writing part 3 of this story. While listening I thought, this would be perfect to do a slow belly dance/fire fan performance to. It just fit too well. I already knew I needed Fintan to be there, so congrats Finny, you get a cello! If you’re not familiar with Adam’s music I do suggest you check it out, he’s amazing. I reckoned the numbers Fintan played would be Ritual as his first song {since this is also the first song I ever heard of him, and instantly fell in love with the haunting melody}, and Hidden Door for Pyra’s first dance. I love it!

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

police-badge
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?”

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

wolf_teeth_by_vilebedeva-d5g2dsz
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!}

Flash Fiction: Aftermath

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Lady Wolf by the wonderful Shannon Maer

There was a scene that I’ve had in my head for a long time, but I never quite knew how to start. So when I came across the writing prompt from Sarah Selecky I was very excited! It gave me the opportunity of writing out the scene without the immediate need to turn it into a full story. So here you go, a scene that takes place directly after a tragedy. Let me know what you think!

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I woke up slowly, the heartbeat under my ear a comforting rhythm. The chest I was laying on was solid, rising and falling with his every breath. Strong arms circled me, holding me close. For a moment I snuggled closer into its warmth. That’s when the pain started. There was no sound except for a harsh ringing. My entire body felt like it was on fire, which, now that I remembered what happened, could actually be true. I lifted myself off of my saviour with a pained whimper. I wasn’t on fire, which was a good thing. There was a piece of rebar sticking out of my right thigh, which was a bad thing. Going by how it felt, the bones in that leg were fractured and blood was pouring out of the wound in frightening speed. Now was not the time to freak out, I chastised myself, trying to calm my panicked breathing. Gently I lifted my left leg over the piece the of rebar, rolling onto my back. Now I could finally sit up. The man next to me was still out cold, but I needed to stop my own bleeding before I could check on him. He healed, I didn’t.

Closing my eyes I tried to calm down, deep breaths in and out, willing my body to stop shaking. A rather tough feat when you’re experiencing shock, a voice in my head said. It sounded like my brother. A laugh bubbled up in my throat, but I pushed it down, knowing that if I started laughing I wouldn’t be able to stop. Focus, I told myself again, grabbing the piece of rebar with my left hand. Pushing down the shock and the pain I began chanting the healing spell. I waited until I felt my right hand pulsing with magic, the air around it crackling with energy. It wasn’t the elegant magic I was used to, too filled with terror and pain, but it would at least make sure I wouldn’t die out here, laying in the middle of the street. With one smooth move I yanked the rebar free, pressing my other hand onto the wound and setting the magic free. I screamed as it tore through me like fire, knitting skin and bone back together again.

Still panting through the pain, but certain that I wouldn’t bleed out, I turned my attention back to the man next to me. He looked almost peaceful, laying on his back like he was asleep. He was still breathing and I’d heard his heart beating steadily earlier, so he wasn’t that hurt, just knocked out. He’d also saved my life. I gripped him by the shoulders and started shaking him.

“Hey! Wake up!” No response. “Come on, Wolfman, nap time is over!” Still nothing. I braced myself, knowing he wouldn’t be happy being woken up like this, but he left me no choice. I slapped him across the face with all that I had. “Sam, wake up!” His green eyes flew open and flashed gold as I got out of his way. He sprang up, unnaturally fast and changed. The sound of ripping fabric, bones realigning themselves and suddenly I was face to face with a huge snarling wolf. “You’re okay.” I told him, holding my hands up to show that I was unarmed. “You were unconscious, but you’re alright.” The wolf seemed to calm down at those words. His golden eyes looked me up and down for a moment, no doubt taking in the blood soaking my jeans. He whined low in his throat. “I was hurt, but I’m better now. We need to get out of here, however, I think we both don’t want to be stuck here with the police asking questions we can’t answer.” The wolf bobbed his head up and down in answer. “Alright, your car was around the corner that way, correct?” I asked, gesturing to the west. Another nod. “Then let’s go. Do you know anywhere safe where we can hide, lick our wounds and prepare for the next step?” An enthusiastic whoof and tail-wagging this time. I grinned at him. Slowly I got to my feet, keeping my weight off of my right leg as I straightened. As soon as I tried to take a step however, it buckled under me, almost sending me face first into the rubble. Strong arms gripped me again, keeping me on my feet. Sam was holding me up, in his human form this time.

“Are you sure you’re not hurt?” He asked, helping me step over a big piece of building.
“I tried a healing spell. It patched me up for the moment, but I was too panicked to focus. I’ll need rest and do one when I’m not fearing for my life.” I confessed, gritting my teeth and taking a few steps on my own. Sam stayed close, which I was grateful for.
“We’re not far now. I’m taking you to my family, we’ll be safe there. At least for now.”
I looked into his green eyes, “Are you sure you want to involve your family in this? They already tried to kill us for getting too close.”
A muscle in his jaw clenched in anger. “Which is why my family would want in. Besides, seeing what they can do, we need more manpower.”
I couldn’t argue with that. We’d been taken by surprise and almost hadn’t lived through their attack. Up until now it had just been Sam and me, but if we were to defeat the evil bastards that did this, we needed more people. “Alright.” I told Sam as he opened the door to his black Chevy Camaro and helped me in. Pain shot up my leg from the muscles that weren’t healed properly and I hissed in a breath through my teeth. “I’ll be fine.” I reassured a very worried looking Sam. He nodded and walked to the driver’s side, climbing in and letting his car roar to life. My phone buzzed with an incoming message.
Why are you limping? EV
Spying on me again, brother? TJV
I typed back as we sped down the road towards the edge of the city.
No need, little sister, you are on every news broadcast. AV
Indeed, fleeing the scene with a naked man. Mother will be so proud. EV
“Shit.” I breathed, really not needing my brothers or, heaven forbid, my mother to get involved. But it looked like I had no choice on this one.
“What is it?” Sam asked, his eyes never leaving the road.
“There is news footage of us.”
Sam snarled. “They’ll recognize us.”
“Yes. But I’ll make it go away.” I answered as I typed in a number and pressed my phone to my ear.
“TJ, are you hurt?” My brother answered on the first ring.
“Not at the moment. I’ll need some rest and another healing spell. I’ll be fine.”
“Alright, what do you need?” Augustus asked, his voice all business.
“Get the footage off the air.”
“Done.” He answered, then seemed to pause for a moment. “Is mister Weston still with you?” He asked.
“Yes, we’re heading towards his family. They’re safe.”
“Yes, I read that in the files. Mister Weston, I know you can hear me. Take care of my little sister or this Brotherhood will be the least of your worries. Is that understood?”
I looked apologetically towards Sam, but he simply nodded. “He understands.” I answered Augustus.
“Good. Security teams have been dispatched to your next location along with a healer. They will meet you there. I’ve got Emerson on research, we should arrive with new information around eight. See you then, sister. Be safe.”
“You too.” I answered and ringed off. Relief fought with rage. We were still alive despite the Brotherhood’s efforts, but they harmed a lot of innocent people today. They needed to be stopped, whatever the cost. And now, with our people pulling together, we finally stood a chance.
“We’ll get them.” I said into the quiet interior of the car.
“I know.” Sam answered, the same rage in his eyes. I gripped his hand where it rested on the gear shift for a moment and squeezed. We were safe. At least for the moment.