Hilde found Bianca kneeling down near some head stones. She appeared to be studying something intently.
“Find something?” Hilde asked.
“Take a look yourself,” Bianca invited her. The witch rose and stood to the side.
Hilde wasn’t sure what she was supposed to be looking for exactly, but she welcomed the challenge. No way Bianca would ask her to look if it was something she wouldn’t be able to see.
It took her a moment, but she was pretty sure she saw it.
“Is that a magical symbol of some kind etched into the stone?”
“Yup,” Bianca answered.
“Given the size of it, it would have to have been carved with a pin or something else very small,” Hilde continued. “So, we’re looking at a brownie?”
“You pick this stuff up quickly,” Bianca noted. “That’s exactly right. The symbol is a basic one. Think of it as a vow made on the part of the caster. It’s a promise of revenge.”
Hilde looked up at the carved head stone. Franz Porter. “Our client’s dear husband,” she said. “So, how do we find out what he did? Just talk to the brownies?”
“We can give it a shot,” Bianca stated. “But they like to speak in riddles. So, be prepared for that.”
Hilde adjusted her cap. “I’m quite good at riddles. And it’s better to have some clue, even a cryptic one, than nothing to go on.”
“Then I’ll get you your meeting,” Bianca said. She grabbed some potions from her bag and carefully poured them on the ground around the stones, spreading them in a specific way with her finger.
She then used a reddish potion to mark both herself and Hilde. “So we aren’t sensed,” she explained.
They went to wait with the Watch.
“Find anything?” Siegfried asked.
“Possibly,” Hilde said. “We’ll have to confirm it tonight.”
Siegfried turned to Bianca. “You must be the partner. How long have you been a detective?”
“Not long,” Bianca answered. “I just fell into it so I could help my Babe!” She put her arms around Hilde.
“Oh um…” Siegfried glanced at his grandmother.
“Oh for heaven’s sake, Sieg,” she sounded annoyed. “I know what lesbians are. I’ve been around much longer than you, you know. When I was a young girl, I had a cheerful friend named Gertrude. She was the nicest person but so many people got really upset when she got herself a girlfriend. I wish I could remember the girl’s name. They weren’t as accepting back then, you know. She kept getting told she was ill. I’m glad you girls don’t have to go through that. Or, not as much at least.”
“So, what happened to her?” Hilde asked.
“She and her lady friend ran the to the Netherlands,” the old lady answered. “They were more accepting up there. I used to write to her, but we drifted apart after some time. I wonder how she’s doing now…”
Hilde and Bianca made some small talk with the group while waiting for night fall. Finally, it was time. They sat with the group. A part of the group sat facing the graveyard, some went inside and patrolled while others stood guard at the gate.
Bianca beckoned Hilde to follow her towards the marked grave.
It was about three in the morning when Hilde smelled lemons. The group patrolling turned in an almost robotic way and stepped out of the graveyard. The group facing the inside turned in unison to look towards the street.
That’s when it came out. Unlike Sakura, the Brownie wasn’t that humanoid. It had thick, reddish fur covering its body, one large foot and its face looked to be made up of three eyes and a fanged mouth.
It hopped towards the stone and tapped the mark. The corpses floated through the ground immediately and began moving. Hilde glanced towards the Watch. They were still facing the street. Most likely some magic hypnosis.
The Brownie chuckled and was about to vanish when Bianca’s sigil activated. The Brownie was startled and hopped around, seemingly looking for the source.
“We have some questions for you,” Bianca said. She stood still, making no move to approach. Hilde followed her lead.
“Slinger of spells and brewer of potions,” The Brownie spoke in a harsh, wispy voice. It glanced at Hilde. “Inexplicable Defender of humans. One question only, will I allow. Should either approach closer, break through and vanish I will.”
“Okay, fine,” Bianca said. “Why do you toy with this man’s body and those around him?”
“Simple enough,” the Brownie stated. “His stolen success was well abetted. Without his accomplice, quite impossible. But betrayal was all he knew. Now, in death, the price he pays. A slight for a slight.”
The Brownie quickly dove into the ground, shattering Bianca’s makeshift sigil on its second attempt.
“The Watch will be coming back to their senses,” Bianca hissed.
“Over here!” Hilde called, thinking quickly. “Someone got past us!”
“Now, we just have to figure out what kind of payment she was talking about,” Bianca whispered.
“She?” Hilde asked. She wasn’t sure how Bianca could tell.