The Case of the Culled Criminals: part Eight

Previous part

They arrived to a similar sight as their last encounter with the Goryou. Everyone around them was frozen in place. A shadowy swarm was consuming a young man with a drawn gun.

“How do we ceremoniously honour this thing?” Hilde whispered.

“Watch and follow along,” Bianca instructed. “Let’s make it count.” She hurried forward, wanting to get started before the Goryou escaped again. “We have seen your great deeds,” she called out. “We have seen your nobility in pursuing justice. We have seen you in your great battle for justice.” She chanted the words rhythmically. The goryou seemed to be responding.

“We have seen you improve this area,” Hilde joined in. “We have seen your great effort. We praise your valiant battle.”

“But you have done enough,” Bianca came in. “The time has come to rest after your long struggle. The time has come to be at peace, Haufman Richard…”

She was about to add more but the goryou let out a shriek and vanished, returning the time around them to normal.

“I’m guessing we had the wrong person,” Hilde stated. “Or was that supposed to happen?”

“Nope,” Bianca confirmed. “It responded to ‘Haufman’ but it didn’t like being called ‘Richard’.”

“But there was only one Haufman on our list,” Hilde said. She scratched her chin. “Would it respond badly if the good doctor preferred a nickname or something?”

“Only if he really hated his given name,” Bianca said. “Which could be the case, I suppose.”

“Then we’ll have to check with some people who knew him,” Hilde said. “And hope we can get to the bottom of this quickly.”

*****

The next morning, Hilde and Bianca went out in search of Doctor Haufman’s nickname only to hit a major snag. Everyone they talked to referred to him as either “Richard” or “Doctor Haufman.” When asked about nick names, there was no response.

“Looks like we were barking up the wrong tree,” Hilde muttered. “Maybe it was one of the other two after all.”

“If it was, the goryou would’ve gotten mad and taken off as soon as we used the name ‘Haufman’,” Bianca stated. “But it responded well to that part. Maybe if we called it ‘Doctor’ but that wouldn’t explain why he hated the name everyone used for him.”

“Unless we do have it wrong,” Hilde muttered. Bianca looked like she was about to protest. Hilde held up a hand. “I’m not saying it was one of the other two. I’m suggesting that there may have been an unreported death.”

“Maybe,” Bianca said. “Haufman is a pretty common family name. But if it was unreported, how will we find out who it was? I can’t really scry for someone if I don’t actually know who I’m looking for.”

“No need,” Hilde said. “We’re going to pay Isaac Haufman’s flat a little visit.”

*****

Hilde and Bianca flew up to Isaac’s window on Bianca’s broom and let themselves in. “I thought he was a punk,” Bianca stated. “So, why would the goryou consider him noble?”

“Good, noble people can still fall into a bad lifestyle,” Hilde said. “It’s possible that was the case for Isaac but his true character shined through in the end.”

The flat seemed to be out of use. A mouldy half bagel had been left on the table with a couple bites taken out of it. There were papers slid under the door.

“Looks like he has three days to pay the rent or they’re tossing his things out and changing the locks,” Bianca said. “Course, if you’re right that won’t matter.”

Hilde looked over the photographs of Isaac with his friends. “Which one do you suppose is Isaac?” Bianca asked.

“This one,” Hilde pointed. He was a tall, muscular kid with a thin goatee. “He shows up in the most of these photos, including ones that look like selfies.”

“Want me to scry for him and confirm whether or not he’s gone?” Bianca asked.

“I have a better idea,” Hilde said. “Scry for this guy.” She pointed to a smaller, almost ferretish man who appeared in a lot of the pictures. “My guess is that’s a close friend of Isaac’s and he’ll know what happened. We just have to get him to confide in us.”

*****

They found the ferret in a run down pub. He was drinking by himself in a corner table.

Hilde sat down. He looked up at her, surprised.

“That seat is… umm… do you want me to leave?”

Hilde smiled, he clearly wasn’t used to talking with women. “I’d actually prefer you stayed. You see, I have a question I would dearly love you to answer. I’m Hildegard, you are?”

“Clarence, but everyone calls me Weasel. You really have a question for me?” he pointed at himself “Really?”

Hilde nodded. “You see, I was wondering just what happened to Isaac Haufman and I think you know.”

He turned pale and looked about ready to bolt.

“Stay!” Bianca cried out in a commanding voice. He immediately froze, unable to move.

“I’ll cut to the chase,” Hilde said. “I’m not a cop. But I do need you to answer that question. You might not believe it, but lives do depend on it. Plus, my associate is impossible to lie to. So, let’s do this the easy way. Tell me what happened.”

“I… I…,” he stammered, sweat marring his forehead. “I wasn’t even there… it wasn’t my fault… I…”

“Shh,” Hilde said. “Like I said, I’m not a cop and I’m not blaming you. So, tell me what you heard.”

“All right, all right,” he agreed. “But no one can know I talked. Except you two, of course.”

“Agreed,” Hilde said. “Go on.”

Weasel cleared his throat and steeled himself for the story he was about to tell.

Advertisements
Posted in Original fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Last Draconian 94: Preparing for A Final Journey

First Chapter

Previous Chapter

Michael Ryufan

I felt a throbbing sensation in the back of my skull. It was not pleasant neither was it painful.

I was filled with memories that both were and were not mine. It was disorienting, being able to remember two differing events from the exact same instant. It was not the same as my racial memories. They were more… muted. These were extremely vivid.

It took me a moment to realise that my brow was being wiped with cool water. I opened my eyes. Aiko was looking down at me. She noticed my eyes open and smiled. There was uncertainty in the expression.

“Thank you, Aiko,” I stated. “But I do have an inquiry.”

“Go ahead,” she said. She seemed more at ease.

“Why is my head in your lap?”

“I thought it would be a comfortable spot for you while Illy went to get a cleric,” Aiko answered. “You looked rough after you merged with… well, yourself.”

“It is a strange sensation,” I stated. “My mind is filled with vivid memories of the past few weeks. I am one place and I am another. I am working alongside you and Illyana while I am also beside Lynai, Tynan, Callie & Gabriel.”

“Are you still… you?” Aiko asked.

I took her hand gently in order to comfort her. “I am as you always knew me. I am just stronger and calmer. I am… whole.”

She seemed satisfied. It was not long before Illyana returned with a cleric in tow. “Michael, are you okay?” Her voice was filled with concern.

“I am disoriented,” I admitted. “But I am certain that I will quickly overcome it.”

“Let me just have a look at you,” the cleric said. She was trying her utmost to appear professional but was clearly uncomfortable with me. She examined me carefully, eventually removing me from Aiko’s lap in order to get a better look.

Her examination was thorough. She steadily pushed healing magic into me as she worked.

“You appear to be in excellent condition,” she said, seemingly satisfied. “I’d say your condition is an acute exhaustion.”

“So, he’ll be fine after some rest?” Illyana asked.

The cleric nodded. “I may not be an expert on draconians, but I’d wager good coin on it.”

“All right,” Tynan lumbered over. “I’ll carry him somewhere comfortable then.”

“And I’ll prepare some herbs to help him sleep,” Gabriel stated.

*****

Lynai Elfblood

We spent nearly a fortnight looking after Michael. For a while, he didn’t seem to be improving. He was listless and barely mobile and we were very concerned.

Then he started moving more and more. He was starting to seem like the same man I’d met in the Great forest, almost. I say almost because he’d seemed a little cold back then. Now, he was more in touch with his emotional side. It was a nice change.

Aiko stayed close to him throughout his recovery. She had it bad. I couldn’t help but wonder if he felt the same way. He was kind to her, certainly, but showed no signs of being interested in her romantically.

Tynan and Gabriel stuck around even though Callie and I told them they could go at any time. Tynan would just mutter something about “smelling coins.”

“So, what are we going to do?” Callie asked.

“About what?”

She nudged me. “Let’s not play at ignorance. What are we going to do now that you’re free, the war is over and your friend is in a good spot?”

I thought about it. Truthfully, I was cherishing my quiet time in Wicadia with Callie. But I also knew, somewhere deep inside, where it was going to lead. “Callie, his people were wiped out,” I explained. “That’s a crime that has to…”

“Shhh,” Callie put a finger to my lips. “I know. You want to help him get justice. But have you thought about doing it another way? Sadow is a citizen of Strecner. My family is nobility in Strecner. If we push for an investigation into him…”

“You won’t find anything,” we both turned. Neither of us had noticed Gabriel behind us. “His kind always keep their dirt buried too deeply to uncover readily.”

“But with Michael as a witness…” Callie began.

“One unknown draconian against a revered Magi,” Gabriel interrupted. “We both know how that’ll go.”

“Well, we already beat one Magi,” I pointed out. “Maybe we can beat just one more.” I wanted to make them feel better, but I was full of doubts. Larick had let me beat him. I was certain of that much. Sadow wouldn’t be so accommodating.

Posted in Original fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Case of the Culled Criminals: part Seven

Previous part

Bianca and Hilde made a stop at a nice restaurant while waiting for nightfall. They both felt prepared for their confrontation with the Goryou and they wanted a quiet moment to themselves.

“Hey, Hilde, why did you say yes?” Bianca asked.

“What do you mean?” Hilde queried.

Bianca took a sip of her drink. “Well, we barely knew each other and you’re a pretty serious person. So, why did you say yes when I, you know, made advancements on you?”

Hilde thought for a moment. “Truthfully, I almost did. I thought you were just toying with me and that you were probably like that with all girls. But then I noticed something.”

“And what was that exactly?” Bianca asked.

“Your pain when you thought I was saying no,” Hilde stated. “That made me realise you weren’t playing around. That you were actually interested and, truthfully, I was very attracted to you.”

“Well, I knew that much,” Bianca said. “I just didn’t know that I was so obvious.”

“You did try to put up an aloof front,” Hilde said. “But, hate to break it to you, Dear, you are not good at concealing your emotions.”

“I guess I’ll have to figure out a spell for that,” Bianca stated. “Then again, it did help me land you so maybe it’s okay.” They held hands and just gazed at each other for a moment.

“You know,” Bianca said. “It’s interesting that we’re both the first girlfriend we’ve properly introduced to our families. My sisters were really surprised and your dad didn’t even know you were gay.”

“Maybe not,” Hilde said. “But he did know my first girlfriend really well. He kind of thought she was just a close friend though.”

“Oh?” Bianca asked. “What was she like?”

“You don’t need to be jealous,” Hilde said. “I dated her in High School. We broke up about ten years ago.”

“Sorry,” Bianca said. “I really shouldn’t be jealous. You’re right. But I am curious about what things were like for you back then. I’ll bet you were the perfect student. Always at the top of your class.”

“I’m pretty sure I’ve told you this before,” Hilde said. “But I was actually a terrible student. I used to ditch classes to play at the arcade. My girlfriend and I would miss so many classes that our teachers used to call us delinquents. I didn’t start taking things seriously until I learned the criteria for a career path in law enforcement.”

“That story does sound familiar,” Bianca confessed. “It is hard to imagine you, of all people, as a bad girl though.”

“I wasn’t bad, I just didn’t care about school,” Hilde said. “It’s totally different.”

The pair paid their bill and left the restaurant.

“It’s about time,” Bianca said. “You know we’re going to have to watch the Goryou kill again, right?”

“I remember the criteria for calming it,” Hilde said. She thought for a moment. “Can’t you use magic to make it look like it killed someone?”

Bianca shook her head. “It’s a nice idea, but not one that’ll work on a magic creature. At least we know it’ll attack a criminal.”

“Maybe so,” Hilde muttered, adjusting her newsie cap. “But even criminals deserve the chance to redeem themselves and reintegrate into society.”

*****

The pair returned to the warehouse district. The sun was just setting. This was their chance to soothe the Goryou and send it home, before it could kill anyone else. All they had to do was find its, hopefully last, victim.

They didn’t have long to wait. They heard a scream ring out in the night and hurried towards it.

Posted in Writing, Original fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Princess & Nieve

Once upon a time in a far off kingdom there lived a great duchess. The duchess was well loved in the court and her daughter, Nieve, was a beloved playmate of the princess, Blanca. The duchess was loved and trusted by the royal family and all those in court. She was said to give the best advice and trusted with secrets that were kept from most. However, she had a dark secret.

The duchess had, in her position, a wicked relic. A magic mirror that could answer any question. The duchess used its dark power as a tool to manipulate the royal family, surreptitiously destroy her enemies by discovering their darkest secrets and making sure they spread. All to keep her position as the favourite. Often she would unveil her mirror and ask:

“Mirror Mirror on the wall

Answer now my heart’s call

Of all those in noble splendour

Who do the Royals most treasure?”

The mirror would swirl. A twisted visage would appear and it would answer

“None in court is closer to the throne

Than you, Milady, thanks to what you’ve sown.”

The duchess would smile and laugh, covering her mirror and continuing on her path.

One afternoon, Nieve, Blanca and the young baron Marrón were sitting together. Blanca had found something most interesting.

“It’s a magic Dwarven gem that lets you connect your minds when you’re both asleep,” she explained.

“Whatever would you want to use that for?” Marrón wondered.

“It might be nice to share a dream with someone you love,” Nieve said. “Will you…,” she pause, unable to complete her thought.

“Are you going to use it to connect with your suitors?” Marrón asked, unable to pick up on the atmosphere.

“Ughh, don’t remind me,” Blanca scoffed. “I don’t know what to do. I’m supposed to pick someone to marry within the week.”

Nieve put a hand on her shoulder. “It’s okay. I’m sure they won’t be all bad. I just wish…” she shook her head. “Never mind, it’s nothing.”

“So, who are you going to use it with if not a suitor?” Marrón asked.

“I’ll find a use for it,” Blanca said. “But it can only be used once so I have to be careful.”

“I look forward to hearing about it,” Marrón  stated. “Pardon me, Ladies, I have to be going home. Father will be waiting.”

He took his leave, allowing the childhood friends a chance to be alone. Nieve squeezed Blanca’s hand. “I don’t want you to go off to some other kingdom with some strange Prince,” she confessed.

“I don’t want to go either,” Blanca stated. “But it’s what I’m supposed to do, as a princess.” She returned Nieve’s squeeze. “We’ll both have to have courage, I guess.”

That night, the duchess noticed Nieve’s tears but said nothing. After all, whatever was bothering her daughter had nothing to do with her.

She sent Nieve to bed after supper and went into her room to uncover her great mirror.

“Mirror Mirror on the wall

Answer now my heart’s call

Of all those in noble splendour

Who do the Royals most treasure?”

The mirror swirled. A twisted visage appeared and it answered

“Milady fair though you are adored

The number one position is no longer your reward

Nieve is now closer to the throne by far

than, I’m sorry to say, you are.”

The duchess was furious. Her position usurped by that brat? She was so furious she bit her finger until it bled and sincerely wished her own daughter dead.

She didn’t know what to do. There wasn’t anything about Nieve that Princess Blanca didn’t know. Nothing to use against her. That’s when the duchess had a twisted thought. She had some rare, dried Morpheus vine that she could use in a most diabolical concoction.

A simple potion carrying a curse. To make the one who consumed it slumber until awakened by true love’s kiss. She knew Nieve didn’t have either a boyfriend nor any suitors. She had been waiting until the Princess’s marriage to find one for her. As such, she was confident the girl would sleep forever.

She retrieved the vines and went to work. Boiling a cauldron to make her brew. She spent all night making a small vial which she added to a simple apple tart.

She took the tart to her daughter’s room.

“Nieve, dear,” she spoke as sweetly as she could. “I noticed you were upset last night so I baked one of your favourite tarts, it’s apple.” She handed the poisoned pastry to her daughter with glee.

“Oh, thank you, Mother,” Nieve said. “It’s just… About Blanca and…”

“Dear, eat your tart before it gets cold,” the duchess beseeched “We can talk after.”

Nieve obeyed and took a big bite. The effect was almost instant. The remaining half of the pasty fell to the floor.

The duchess looked on in triumph. She carefully cleaned the remains of the tart. Calmly left Nieve’s room and shouted for her servants to call a physician.

The physician arrived quickly, doing everything she could think of, but nothing she knew of could wake the girl.

Soon, word of Nieve’s condition had spread throughout the kingdom. She was taken to the palace where the best physicians in the land could watch over her. The king and queen themselves came to offer the duchess their condolences. They vowed to find whoever was responsible and punish them. The duchess, clever as she was, blamed a duke that had been rising in favour.

That night, Blanca went to see Nieve. She looked even paler than usual. Blanca grasped her friend’s hand. Then, she got an idea. Her Dwarven gem. Maybe if she used it, she could find out what had happened.

She settled down beside Nieve and forced herself to sleep. The gem shined softly in her hands and their minds connected.

“Nieve!” she ran to her friend’s dream form. “What happened? Why can’t you wake?”

“I should have known,” Nieve muttered. “She was too nice. She’s never nice.”

“Listen,” Blanca said. “I need to know what happened. Maybe I can fix it. Hurry, before I wake up.”

Nieve looked at her. “My mother gave me a tart. I… I think she put Morpheus vice in it.” Tears streamed from her dream image. “I can’t wake up.”

“Isn’t there anything that can be done?” Blanca asked. “Please, tell me.”

Nieve took a deep breath. “Supposedly, true love’s kiss can break the curse. But it has to be romantic love and I don’t have anybody who…”

Blanca hugged her tightly. “There is one person. Nieve, I promise I’ll…”

Blanca was awoken with a start. Her mother was shaking her.

“Honey, I know you’re worried but you can’t sleep here,” she chided.

“I had to I…” Blanca held up the gem.

“That’s the one that lets you connect with someone’s mind when you’re both sleeping, wasn’t it?” Marrón asked. Blanca noticed him behind her mother for the first time.

“The young Baron wanted to see Nieve,” her mother explained. “He’s been worried sick. Now, what’s all this about connecting?”

“I saw Nieve in her mind,” Blanca explained. “She said her mother poisoned her with Morpheus vine.”

“The duchess would never,” her mother protested.

“She would!” Blanca declared. “I don’t know why, but she did.”

“And what else did Nieve say?” Marrón asked.

“She said we can wake her if someone who truly loves her, romantically, gives her a kiss,” Blanca said.

“Then allow me,” Marrón stated. “I will wake the beauteous maiden.”

“No, you won’t,” Blanca stated. “I know you. Your feelings for her are purely based  on her looks. It wouldn’t be true love’s kiss.”

“If not Baron Marrón then who else do we have?” the queen asked.

“There’s only one person, I’m sure of that,” Blanca said. “Mother, I’m sorry.” She knelt down beside Nieve and gently kissed her lips.

The effect was immediate. Nieve’s arms wrapped around Blanca and she returned the kiss.

“I never… I’d hoped but I didn’t think…” Nieve stammered.

“I have,” Blanca said, gently stroking her cheek “for a long time.” Blanca helped Nieve up and looked back at her mother. “Mother I…” she began.

“I’ve suspected,” the queen interrupted “for quite some time.” She smiled at the pair. “You should have told us sooner. More than anything else, your father and I want you to be happy.”

The king arrived at that time. “Nieve, you gave us quite a fright! I’m so glad you’re all right.” He turned to Blanca. “Better wash up, Dear. The Princes will be here soon.”

“Father, I’m sorry but please send them back,” Blanca said. “I’ve decided who I’m going to marry.”

The king looked around the room, trying to figure out the situation.

“Well, you are a noble,” he said, patting Marrón on the back. “Congratulations, Son.”

“Dad, not him,” Blanca said. Her eyes drifting to Nieve.

“Oh, then welcome, Daughter!” the king declared, hugging Nieve. “You’re already practically a part of the family. We can make it official.”

The duchess arrived at the court that evening, discovering with shock that her daughter had awoken. More shocked still to learn that she had been discovered. She was banished from the kingdom in disgrace. Her property seized and her mirror smashed.

Some say she took her own life, unable to cope. Others say she found a new kingdom and started again. Yet others claim she was accosted by bandits and quickly took control of them, becoming a ruthless queen of brigands.

Nieve wed princess Blanca and became a princess in her own right. Adored and welcomed by all of the royal family. They lived long, interesting and generally quite happy lives. Strengthened by a bond between them that could never be broken and sustained by their love for one another.

Posted in Original fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Last Draconian 93: Reunified

First Chapter

Previous Chapter

Illyana Fensen

“So, now that we are agreed, how do we recombine?” Michael asked.

“It is clearly not enough to simply desire it,” Michael agreed.

“I think I’m going to have to push you two together with magic,” I answered. “Maybe a variant of an artificial chimera creation spell would do it.”

“I do not like the sound of ‘maybe’,” Michael complained.

“I do not either, but Illyana is doing her best in an unusual situation and I will trust her,” Michael stated.

It was so weird hearing him talk and respond to himself.

“Well, it is a strange situation,” I pointed out. “Unprecedented even. But the fact is that you need to become one being to be whole. And this is the only thing I can think of that may allow it.”

“The youngster has good instincts when it comes to magic,” Professor Mord said, tapping his staff against the ground. “And she is quite correct. You aren’t going to become one just by wishing for it and there isn’t an exact spell for this situation.”

“We can keep them safe, right?” Lynai asked.

Professor Mord’s tapping grew louder. “That is the concern, isn’t it? I don’t know if we can guarantee safety 100%.”

“What we can do,” I added. “Is have clerics standing by, monitoring his condition. We can also do the joining slowly so that we can pull it back if something goes wrong.”

“I wouldn’t advise that,” Callie said. “If there’s any chance of making these two one again, it’s going to be forcing them together hard and fast.”

“She has a point,” Professor Mord conceded. “It’s a difficult situation, but his best chance of being whole is to do it quickly. If you take it slowly, not only will it be more painful but there’s a greater chance of him rejecting himself.”

“Thank you, for considering my safety so highly,” Michael said. “But it is more important that the spell succeeds.”

“You can’t seriously think it’s wise to risk yourself on this,” Lynai protested. Truth be told, I wanted to join her. But I knew the Professor was correct. It wasn’t the safe method, but it did have the best chance of success.

“If I must take a risk to become whole then so be it,” Michael stated. “I will not accomplish my goal at half my strength.”

“Then let me and Professor Mord prepare,” I said. “We’ll do the spell in three hours. Michael, I suggest you steel yourself. This is definitely going to hurt.”

*****

Lynai Elfblood

The time was approaching. I was worried but I couldn’t argue with knowledgeable mages.

I saw Aiko sitting by herself. She was staring up at the sky with a blank look on her face.

“Worried about the spell going wrong?” I asked.

“No, I trust Illy,” she said. “What I’m worried about is more…. personal.”

“Oh?” I studied her. She definitely seemed bothered, skittish almost.

“It’s just… I only ever knew one Michael,” she said. “Only fell for one Michael. I guess I’m scared that he’ll reconnect with his other half and grow cold to me. I don’t want to lose what I have with him but I also don’t want him to suffer.”

Her eyes were tearing up a little. I put a reassuring arm around her. “Don’t worry. The Michael you love will definitely still be there.” I nodded towards the main building. “Come on, let’s go watch the casting.”

Inside there was a magic strengthening circle with candles surrounding it. The two Michaels were standing in the middle. Illyana and Bastion took their positions.

There were some robed clerics to each side, ready to move in if they were needed.

“Are you ready?” Illyana asked.

Both Michaels turned towards her. “I am prepared.” They spoke in unison.

The spell was like a rainbow coloured mist spreading over them. They started convulsing even as they were pulled together.

It quickly became hard to watch. They started… flowing together. There was the sound of bones clanging together as their skin started fusing.

Their faces were both showing agony but they didn’t cry out. For a moment, there were two heads half-merged into a grotesque form. Then there was one. The whole process had only taken a couple minutes, but it was going to be burned into my mind forever.

Steam was rising from Michaels body. He wasn’t moving.

Next Chapter

Posted in Original fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Case of the Culled Criminals part Six

Previous Chapter

Hilde returned to her office and was going over the pictures she’d taken. After all, there was always the chance she’d put the pieces together in a more substantial way and the better she knew her pieces, the more likely that became.

She looked up once Bianca and Sakura returned.

“Find anything?” she asked.

“No hints in his papers or anything,” Bianca said. “But we did snag his tablet.” She waved it in front of Hilde. “Impressed?”

Hilde accepted it. “Probably shouldn’t have taken it. Someone’s liable to notice.”

“I doubt it,” Bianca stated. “It was just sitting in a box of his old personal effects waiting to be claimed. If Isaac hadn’t gotten it already, he’s probably not going to today.”

“Isaac?” Hilde asked.

“That’s who it was being held for,” Bianca stated. “An Isaac Haufman.”

“That must be the Doctor’s son,” Hilde said. “I found a letter in his house mentioning him and his connection to the Warehouse district. Bianca, can you look for some information on Isaac while I disable the security on the tablet?”

“Sure thing,” Bianca said.

“What about me?” Sakura asked.

Bianca and Hilde looked at each other. Hilde briefly wondered how useful Sakura would be in getting past a computer’s security.

“Can you play the melody of ‘And I love her‘?” Bianca asked. “I would like to serenade Hilde.”

“Leave it to me!” Sakura declared. Hilde suppressed a loud sigh.

“So, even fairies know the Beatles?” Hilde asked.

“Who doesn’t?” Bianca countered.

Sakura started playing the tune on a little harp that had amazingly clear sound and surprisingly high volume. Bianca started singing along with it.

Hilde made an effort to let the song fade into background noise while she went to work. Knowing if she paused to listen closely she wouldn’t actually get anything done.

She finished getting the password reset at about the time Bianca was singing the second “Bright are the Stars that shine…”

She went right to rooting through the files. She did notice when Bianca finished singing and applauded.

A couple minutes passed in silence. “Looks like Isaac is living near the Warehouse district,” Bianca informed her. “He has a part time job moving freight.”

“So do a lot of the people in that area,” Hilde said. “Any evidence of shady dealings?”

“Very much so,” Bianca said. “Kid bought a brand new car right before his dad’s death. Paid the deposit in cash. His flat is also in a more up-scale complex.”

“Which means that either daddy was financing him or he’s been getting his euros through less than legal means,” Hilde said. “And it wasn’t his dad.”

“You’ve found something as well, I take it,” Bianca observed.

Hilde nodded. “Doctor Haufman kept thorough bank records. There’s only one unexplained withdraw and it’s only a couple hundred, not nearly enough for a fancy flat or a car.”

“Can we trace where the money did go?” Bianca asked.

“I can find the ATM he took it out of,” Hilde said. “If he spent it in that area, we should be able to narrow it down, at least. His journal is more interesting to me right now, though.”

“Does it say something noble and heroic?” Bianca asked.

“Kind of,” Hilde answered. “To summarise it, he says that he’s going to go down to the Warehouse district and rescue his son. If the police won’t help him, he’ll go alone.”

“And the entry is shortly before his body was found,” Bianca surmised.

“Very shortly,” Hilde answered. “I think what happened was along the lines of this: His son fell in with a bad crowd, quite likely selling drugs on the side. Doctor Haufman found out and reported his son to the police, hoping to get him off of the streets and somewhere he could get help. The police couldn’t find the evidence they needed to arrest Isaac and advised the Doc to hold tight because they’d keep watch over the situation. The Doc gets increasingly worried and starts to feel helpless. He decides it’s time to take things into his own hands. He withdraws a couple hundred, either hoping to buy his way out with his son or to get something that will help him. He has an altercation either with his son himself or with the friends his son’s made. And he ends up dead in a ditch.”

“The Goryou witnesses his last stand and decides he’s a noble soul who died for his son,” Bianca added. “It would make sense.”

Hilde nodded. “I think we have a pretty solid theory.”

“So, we just have to go back, find and soothe the thing,” Bianca said. “That’s when I send it back home.”

Posted in Original fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Last Draconian 92: Persuading Michael

First Chapter

Previous Chapter

Lynai Elfblood

I had to admit, Illyana was pretty amazing. She had a knack for magic that went beyond just being an omni-mage, I think.

“So, how do we fix it?” I asked, curious as to what she’d come up with.

“Simple,” Illyana stated. “We need both of Michael’s halves to become at peace with one another and acknowledge their need for each other.”

“And that will be hard why exactly?” Tynan wondered.

“Because there’s a reason he was torn apart,” Callie jumped in. “And that’s going to have to be addressed.”

“Pretty much,” Illyana said. “I also imagine that it’s going to hurt for him to merge back together. But I know him, he can handle that part.”

“So, you two need to talk,” Aiko said. “Should the rest of us go?”

“Actually,” Illyana began “I recommend the side of Michael who traveled with us speak with Miss Elfblood and her companions about their side of Michael. While we talk with that side about the one who fought with us in the arena. If we can shed some light on what made each side valuable, maybe we can help nudge him towards peace with himself.”

“They have been pretty much arguing or otherwise fighting since we brought them together,” I agreed. “So, I would say that just throwing them together isn’t the way to go.”

“I am a grown draconian,” Michael interrupted. “I am capable of resolving the situation.”

“In that case, Illyana stated. “Why are you not already back in one piece? What is it about your other half that bothers you?”

“There is not anything,” Michael answered, pointedly looking away from the other Michael as he did.

“Michael, don’t be pedantic,” Illyana said. “Whether it bothers you or you find it distasteful or whatever other phrase you might want to use. There’s something about your other half that makes you prefer staying separate. What is it?”

There was a moment of silence as the two Michaels glared at each other.

“Michael, we can’t help you fix the problem if you aren’t open with us,” Illyana pressed.

Michael sighed. “Very well. I find such overt emotions counter-productive.”

“I have never been accused of being overly emotional,” the other Michael countered. “In any case, it is healthier to show a degree of emotion than it is to wholly deny it.”

“Looks like we all have work to do,” Callie whispered.

“That difference in thinking is exactly why we need to talk to your parts separately,” Illyana said. She grabbed Michael by the hand. “Aiko, come on.”

“Oh, okay,” Aiko said. She seemed reluctant to leave. She kept turning towards the other Michael. She ran back hugged him and whispered something before following Illlyana.

“Okay, I won’t lie to you,” Callie said. “Your other half can be cold and insensitive.”

“Which is why he needs you,” I added.

“I have noticed that,” Other Michael stated.

“But you’re wondering why you need him,” Callie observed. “And the answer to that is simple. You’ll be stronger together.”

“It’s more than that,” Tynan said. “From what I’ve seen of you, our Michael is better about keeping collected.”

“That is true,”I agreed.

“I am perfectly capable of staying collected,” Other Michael argued.

“Michael, you’re starting to get heated now,” I pointed out. “You were a lot calmer when we were in the great forest. As you are now, I don’t know if you could have escaped the dungeon. At least not as quickly.”

“I can’t deny, that other side of you is very quick thinking,” Callie conceded.

*****

Illyana Fensen

“So, what are you going to tell me about myself?” Michael queried. “Perhaps that showing more emotion makes me more fun at parties?”

“Oh, dry up!” Aiko snapped.

“Aiko, calm down, please,” I said. “Michael, I know you don’t care about something like that. But I do know you care about avenging your people and beating Sadow. So, I’ll point out something far more basic. The other half of you is better at making allies.”

“Nonsense,” Michael countered. “He had the two of you. I had four allies with me.”

“Because of the situation you were in,” I pointed out. “And let me ask, how far would they go for your sake? Far enough to risk their own lives when they have no reason to? No, I didn’t get that impression. That’s why you wanted them to owe you a favour, isn’t it?”

He was silent.

“That’s the strength of being in touch with your emotional side,” I stated. “Because the other you made actual friends. Loyal friends. If he asked Aiko to risk her life for no other reason than he needed her, she’d do it.”

“In a heartbeat,” Aiko agreed.

“You must have had some problems with your group,” I pressed. “Times you said the wrong thing and they got mad at you.”

“Perhaps a few such occasions occurred,” he admitted.

“That’s why you need that side of you,” I said. “To connect with others and, perhaps more importantly, to give you the strength you need to defeat Sadow.”

“You’re supposed to be the rational side,” Aiko chimed in. “Isn’t the best course of action to use every advantage you have? Isn’t that the rational thing to do?”

“You two are making a persuasive case,” Michael stated. “Perhaps I should appreciate that facet of myself.”

Next Chapter

Posted in Original fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Case of the Culled Criminals part Five

Previous Chapter

Bianca rode her broom home and went directly to Beatrix.

“You need to do what?” Beatrix asked.

“Find a way to subdue a spirit and send it home,” Bianca said. “It’s called a Goryou.”

“I wonder how it got here,” Beatrix mused.

“Hilde thinks it came with the tengu she fought while we were all at the gathering,” Bianca said. “But isn’t the important thing figuring out how to get rid of it?”

“Perhaps,” Beatrix said. “Or, perhaps it’s important we figure out why creatures are crossing from Japan to Deutschland. We aren’t talking about people who just wander here and there for vacations, business and whatnot. Spirits are notoriously stubborn about staying put.”

“I know that much,” Bianca stated. “But right now it’s here and we have to deal with it.”

“In that case, my suggestion is that you calm it normally and then open a portal to some remote spot in Japan. Somewhere rural, or maybe Fuji. In either case, the spirit should go right through. Especially if it hitched a ride accidentally.”

“It sure would be nice to not have to fight it,” Bianca said. “I’ll give it a shot.”

*****

Bianca returned to Hilde’s office, parking her broom on the roof. Hilde was hunched over her computer, Sakura flying around behind her.

“Find anything?” Bianca asked.

“Just possibilities,” Hilde stated. “There were three deaths in the area close to the time when the Goryou appeared. Hans Feldman, an accountant who got caught in a violent mugging and was shot. Christina Harper, a student who caught a stray bullet during a gang skirmish. Richard Haufman, a doctor who was found dead with a bullet to the temple. Police suspect he was killed for refusing to cooperate with one of the gangs or as the victim of a paid hit.”

“None of those sound like really noble deaths,” Bianca muttered.

“Trust me, I noticed,” Bianca said. “But Doctor Haufman’s has the most unknown elements to it. So, I’d like to visit his old office and his home. Maybe we can find something that sheds new light on it. Of course, we also have to consider the possibilities that Miss Harper or Mister Feldman did something heroic that wasn’t in the police report.”

“But we’re checking Haufman first,” Bianca said. “Because he seems the most likely.”

“Pretty much,” Hilde said.

“Then I’ll take Sakura and check his old office,” Bianca said. “After all, it would be touch to say we’re trying to find a spirit’s motives for killing a bunch of people in the Warehouse district.”

“I do know how to talk my way into an area I shouldn’t be,” Hilde stated. “But I suppose you two can get in more easily. So, I’ll leave it to you this time.”

*****

Doctor Haufman’s home was empty when Hilde arrived the next morning. There was no car around or any sign that it had been lived in for a while.

Hilde approached the door, looking around to check if anyone was around. Fortunately for her, it was early in the day and most people were at work. She deftly picked the lock, went inside and closed the door behind her.

It looked like it hadn’t been entered in a while. A thin layer of dust covered everything. It was also starting to smell musty.

Hilde went to work searching the house systematically. The kitchen had a bowl of rotting fruit on the table, an appointment book and the usual appliances, utensils and such. Hilde checked the book. Nothing that would explain his murder.

She continued her search, finding nothing relevant to the case. Inside his study, she found a picture of him with a young man. A son, perhaps. She looked through his desk. A document from law enforcement.

Doctor Haufman

While we appreciate your concern and respect the delicacy of the situation, we can’t pick up your son without any evidence. As a legal adult, he is entitled to make friends of whoever he wishes. We understand that the Warehouse district isn’t the safest place, but it’s up to him to decide where he spends his time. If we do find proof of involvement with gang activity, we’ll arrest him and encourage him to call you. 

“Can’t be a coincidence,” Hilde muttered. “At the very least, it has to have something to do with his murder.”

She took some quick pictures and headed out. She couldn’t risk being in there for too long.

Posted in Original fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Last Draconian 91: The Magic in the Blades

First Chapter

Previous Chapter

Lynai Elfblood

The two Michaels faced each other. This time they didn’t show any interest in drawing their weapons or fighting. It seemed that Illyana had convinced them it was unwise to fight each other.

They were quickly exchanging information about what they’d been up to. Aiko kept close to her Michael. She seemed very protective of him.

“Never thought I’d see a situation like this,” Callie said. “When do you suppose they separated?”

I thought for a moment. “Well, they both seem to know me and remember their fight with Sadow. Maybe it happened after we fell in that hole.”

“That seems to be accurate,” Michael said. “He does not recognise Callie, Tynan or Gabriel. He recalls waking in the cavern, crawling out and making his way to Illyana. The Academy proceeded to treat his wounds. I, in contrast, was carried to Callie’s estate for treatment.”

“Our memories diverge at the point where we grabbed our swords,” the other Michael added. “It is highly probably that the blades themselves are somehow responsible for our current dilemma.”

“Well, if you two know that much you should have no problem fixing it, right?” Callie asked.

“You can have one of those divining spells used on the swords to figure out exactly what their magic is,” I added.

“It is unlikely to be that simple,” the other Michael stated. “It was my observation when I first noticed these blades, that they were likely forged by Hephaestus.”

“Which means that the magic instilled into them may not be readily replicable by ordinary humans,” Michael chimed in.

“Michael, don’t be so negative,” Illyana said. “We’ll figure it out.”

“We could always leave them as two,” Aiko suggested. “I can think of quite a few things they could do.” Her cheeks flushed and her tail wagged.

“Your companion is vulgar,” Michael stated, looking at his other self. “I am surprised you tolerate her.”

Aiko seemed shocked by his reaction. She looked almost like she was going to cry.

“She is speaking in jest,” the other Michael explained. “It is an attempt to lighten the mood.”

“Michael!” Aiko ran over and hugged him. He gently pat her head.

“I was not aware it needed lightened,” Michael said.

Looking at them arguing made me realise something. The other Michael had a lot more empathy. Our Michael seemed to take things more seriously and came across as more unapproachable.

“Well, one of them has human emotions,” Callie whispered. “Why couldn’t we get that one?”

“Shush, he’ll hear you,” I whispered back. Truthfully, I was grateful for his help. But I also wasn’t going to say she was wrong.

*****

Illyana Fensen

My work began in earnest as soon as we returned to Wicadia. Professor Mord, Aiko, Lynai, Callie, Tynan, Gabriel and both Michaels systematically went through every book on magic we had in the Academy library.

I locked myself in my mum’s office and used a reading spell to go through all the books that weren’t open to the public. I put a silence spell around the office itself to prevent the sounds of the books being read from escaping. Drake helpfully watched the door for me so I always knew when someone was coming to interrupt me.

It all proved to be in vain. There wasn’t any mention of any kind of spell that could fully duplicate a person. There were illusory doubles and spells for copying something on a temporary basis. Spells that could last twenty four hours at most.

The next step was checking the swords themselves.

The divination spell was easy enough. “I’m detecting conditional strength-enhancing magic as well as enchantments to increase the sharpness and lightness of the blades. The Phoebian Blade has built in magic that allows it to fire off great bolts of Void-fueled power. The Helion Blade Blade has built in magic that allows it to surround its wielder in an Aether barrier.” I reported.

“What are the conditions for the strength enhancing magic?” Michael asked.

“The Phoebian Blade and Helion Blade have slightly different conditions,” I answered. “The Phoebian Blade requires a high degree of empathy. The Helion Blade requires a high degree of rationality.”

“Why would that cause our separation?” Michael asked.

“I don’t know,” I answered. “Theoretically, you should be able to have both.”

“This is not helping,” Michael stated.

“She is doing her utmost,” Michael countered. “It is not her fault. Besides, we have not found any clues either.”

Professor Mord chuckled aloud. “Sounds like you’re at war with yourself.”

“Maybe that’s the answer,” I muttered.

“What is?” Aiko asked.

“If someone tried to use both blades, someone who was used to burying his emotions in favour of rationality, what do you suppose would happen?” The more I thought about it, the more certain I was that I’d hit upon the solution.

“I get what you’re saying,” Callie said. “The buried, more emotionally in touch part manifested itself as a separate but connected version.”

“I don’t really get it,” Aiko said.

“I’m really lost too,” Tynan reassured her.

“I think I understand,” Lynai said. “He couldn’t use both swords as he was and the magic Hephaestus put into the swords somehow decided the way to fix it was to take those two different aspects of his personality and turn them into different people. Is that basically what it is?”

“Right,” I confirmed. “But because they are the same person, just different parts, they are connected to each other. When one gets seriously hurt, so does the other.”

“Wouldn’t that make both of them weaker?” Callie wondered.

“I have not felt as strong,” Michael admitted.

“I can confirm that,” Michael agreed.

“The weakening effect has probably been offset somewhat by the strengthening magic of the blades,” I stated.

“So, how do we get them to reform into one person?” Aiko asked.

“I may know a way,” I said. “But it won’t be easy, for either of them.”

Next Chapter

Posted in Original fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Case of the Culled Criminals: Part Four

Previous Part

Hilde had woken up, dressed and eaten by the time she heard a knock on her flat’s window. Bianca was floating there on a broom. “Climb on and hold tight,” she said.

“I take it this library is some kind of magical thing,” Hilde said.

Bianca nodded. “It’s in a pocket dimension like that one the mass murdering witch had set up when we first met. Except this one is totally stable. The Council set it up about seven centuries ago as a safe haven for witches to research all things magical. Over time, other magical creatures were allowed in, under certain circumstances.”

“Will you get in trouble for taking an ordinary human?” Hilde asked.

“If I would, I wouldn’t take you,” Bianca said. “We can’t take humans who don’t know anything of magic or humans who are enemies of witches. You’re fine.”

Hilde climbed on the broom behind Bianca.

Bianca waited for her to be secure before ascending into the sky. She started chanting. Hilde wasn’t sure what language it was exactly, maybe Latin. A portal opened in the air in front of them and Bianca flew into it.

Instantly, they were in front of a giant castle that seemed to be floating on a rainbow coloured cloud. Bianca flew directly inside through one of the large, upper windows. The room they were in looked like an entrance parlour, lined with racks for brooms.

Bianca chose an empty spot and gently placed her broom in it and the pair went inside, past a pair of heavy, carved doors that slid open with a single gesture from Bianca.

Inside, the walls were lined with books. They were on the upper level with stairs leading down to other levels with more books.

“How do you find anything here?” Hilde queried. She had noticed a distinct lack of labeling on the books or shelves.

“Oh, that’s easy,” Bianca said. She pulled a crystal ball from her pocket. “Crystal eye, grant me insight. Show me a tome about creatures that control insect swarms.”

The ball glowed, floated out of her hand and started moving. They followed it. They didn’t have to go down the stairs or even that far. It took them to a book about mummies.

“Guess I should’ve been more specific,” Bianca muttered. “That thing wasn’t a mummy.” She put her hand over the ball. “Though you were accurate, this is not what I seek. Find me a creature shadowy and small that controls swarms of insects and freezes time for its victims and other non-magic creatures around, leaving only a small window to even see it.”

She took her hand off of the orb again. This time it led them down three flights of stairs before finally stopping in front of a book.

Bianca examined it. “Goryou? I’m probably pronouncing that wrong.”

“Sounds Japanese,” Hilde observed.

“Might be,” Bianca said. She flipped through the book. “It looks like a Goryou was once believed to be a vengeful ghost, but it was later discovered that they’re actually a type of air spirit. When they see someone they consider a noble soul die unjustly and in pain, they take on his or her pain as well as their last few memories and seek revenge against those who caused it. Or against people who resemble them in a significant way.”

“So, this spirit saw a noble person die horrifically because of some thug in the Warehouse district and now it’s murdering every person it sees around there who seems to be up to no good.”

“Looks like it,” Bianca said. “We could just leave it. You can reassure the client that she’s safe since she isn’t a violent criminal and let it keep going all vigilante on them.”

“I don’t think so,” Hilde said. “This isn’t just about Demetria. There could be kids in that area who just took a wrong turn and need a chance to redeem themselves. Besides, the violence is causing trouble between different factions and we could be looking at a full gang war if they get more paranoid and start blaming each other. How do we stop this thing?”

“According to the book, the only reliable way to stop it is to find out who it’s taking vengeance for and ceremoniously honour that person while praising the spirit for a job well done in their name. I could also try to seal it, but it’s going to break free eventually and go back to doing exactly what it’s doing.”

“I guess we have to find out what noble person died in the warehouse district recently,” Hilde said.

“One thing bothers me,” Bianca said. “These things are supposed to live in Japan, so how did one get here?”

Hilde thought for a moment. “Maybe when that tengu and wheel thing I fought came over, they brought this spirit with them.”

“It is possible,” Bianca said. “I’ll take you home. You can try to figure out who the Goryou is seeking vengeance for and I’ll try to figure out a way to get it home once it’s calmed.”

“All right,” Hilde agreed. “We’ll meet at my office tonight.”

Posted in Original fiction, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment