DISCLAIMER – This story features images of violence, adult language, and some adult situations.
The following story is Copyright © 2015 Padraig O’C. Copying this story without permission from the author is strictly prohibited.
Abomination, half-breed, freak. Words she had heard before. Hatred pure and simple. No other way to put it. At times when growing up the young woman had wondered what it was like to deal with racism. When her family first moved out to Anian Island from the city years before she had underwent some harassment and bullying. But over time that became a series of friendships, and relationships that were eased over time. No that was not racism, that was xenophobia, the reaction of breaking into cliques that already existed. Being already a weird girl, with a weird after school teacher many had just ignored her. She had still found friendships.
It was not until she first started going to school across Hales Passage on the ferry every morning that she truly started to encounter problems. Sure, before there had always been a tension in her family between her cousins who were fully Fae spirits, and then the rest who were human. But, that tension was never ont he level she encountered when first appear in middle school. Her memories of back then were fuzzy, and bits and pieces were missing. What she did remember was the hatred, the pure unadulterated hatred.
First it had appeared on the bus, and not at first. Slowly when she had walked on a few of the students had seen her skin, and her hair, and slightly assumed she was native american, or like others she was hispanic. That had drawn an interesting interaction from students at here school. When they learned she was in fact only a part Skuallup things did not seem to matter too much. It was only as she grew older that dislike became more pronounced. At first it was barely anything to think of. Small barbs, passive aggressive notations, and words that had no meaning. But slowly things codified into a deep dislike of the girl, and to this day Nyla could not fathom why.
Sure she had theories, and as she parked her bike just outside her apartment she could list them off the top of her head. First there was just pure racism, the fact she was biracial with a native mother, and a white father did not help situations. There was a fact that to many native peoples she had somehow given up her heritage. A strange thing enforced by some of the more bullish members of her bus when growing up. Another friend of hers from middle school had even been called white devil, when he was of Cree descent. Her eyes lingered on the edge of door to the inside of her apartment building.
Then there were the conservative euro-centric Americans that made up the town of Ferndale. Well not all of them were that type, some were liberals too. But, there was just something off about that town. Truth was it was a nice little city, it just had some real arseholes living there. It was where she first them. Words that she would never forget for the rest of her life. How can a word, a sound hold so much fucking damn meaning!
Abomination had been one she heard when she was younger. One usually tossed out by angry Fae, who in general were a prideful bunch of prigs to begin with. But it was when someone figured out who her parents were that they started lobbying words like “Pinto”. Or calling her telling her to learn English, or pretend she was an illegal immigrant. Some of her friends were Hispanic so the fact that she was often just tossed in with all the supposed job stealing Mexicans some of the people ranted about was just insulting. Another kid who moved from the Midwest has called her a plains nigger.
All of it helped her understand how hate could be easily and sanitized into little darts of shame, of pain in a singular burst of sound. How it could all then be hidden by people using less overt means such as attacking her looks, or talking about how she wasn’t really girly. It was during that period dthat she had nearly shaved all her hair, and instead had taken to dressing in dark colors to mute herself. It wasn’t until near the end of High School when her sister was dating her first major boyfriend. It was also in the middle of her general misery. Then Gerry had come along and asked her out, after talking a lot and showing her some ‘good R&B’ Nyla had taken on a whole new drive. She dressed differently, and even acted differently.
Everything changed when she found out that Warren Colson was going to forbid her to be with his son. Her reaction had been to shrink away, and then afterward she had nearly lit the man on fire in rage. After calling her a freak a bit more she ran off and headed back to the Island, and then refused to speak to Gerry ever since until recently. It was not until the past few years that she discovered how twisted up inside she really was. Nyla had never felt right alone with being half-fae, she had also fought what gender she should have been. It was only her family’s understanding support that found her some tranquility. That, and a lot of free booze from Jack on the worse of the nights.
Now it was all ripped open again. All those memories she did not -want- in her head. How bloody wonderful. Time to bring on the shame game, and let the angsty whiney teen wannabe sulk. I am not the damn girl from a two bit vampire romance novel! She brushed aside her tears, and her sorrow while then walking through her doorway. The door closed behind her with a slam as she sat down on the couch in her living room. Nyla new she did not have time to fall back upon old habits, and take a painful jaunt down memory lane. This was not the time.
Gerald had mentioned the tree as sacred, and a reason why many of his people were dissatisfied with the county. Her eyes closed as she dashed into the recesses of her mind, and tried to pull together what she knew. The medicine tree at the founding of Bellingham was to cement a treaty, and one was on Anian Island to cement the seasons. Perhaps the two were connected. She knew that the Fae could wield powerful magics in agreements, and she knew that such magics could alter aspects of climate, wildlife and much more. Perhaps the Fae had wanted to extend the bounty of the land to the new settlers. She could then see how this created a point of contention between the newly arrived European, African, and Asian Fae, versus the Native Fae who dwelt in the area. Such meetings usually were resolved with deals or with bloodshed.
But why undo all of that? Why was the Alchemist going to all this work just to undo something? There was more. She sat back as she chastised herself. You always let your emotions make you impulsive Ny, you need to get a better grip on yourself. Already you know that Stalkerist is out there likely building another golem, or summoning another monsters to track you down. That revelation caused her to sweat just a tad. The protections on her building were quite resolute, and firm, but they had their limitations. If the Alchemist was following her that seriously they would likely have heard the conversation between her and Gerald, and would likely figure she was getting closer to what they were after.
She blinked as she sat upon the couch and ran through what she knew of local legend. There were a multitude of people in the area who spoke a variety of languages. The Haida up north, the Kwaka people found farther in, and there was also the other Salish tribes along the rivers found south of Bellingham, and north of Seattle. What was she missing!? The Alchemist had to be after something of use? The tree idea she knew of was western Salish near the Flathead lands, and from the Bitter Root valley. Why was one all the way out here?
Her eyes blinked as she sat up and blinked. The Fae, they were the ones who must have brought the tree this way when they first colonized the continent thousands of years ago. Raven himself might have brought it, and it explained why it was sacred, but out of place. Only the Fae could work such great magic, and it made sense that the ideology of sacred trees would be passed along by the very folk that used them in treaties. She then ran her pulled out her phone and read through her shorthand notes on the case.
The ritual was obviously a high incantation of some kind. She drifted over the pictures she had taken, and then she noticed a splash of blood from the victim upon the central words, and then a mark scrawled in blood. How had she missed it. She stared at it in the faint pixels and she noticed what it was, it was a mutation of the High Kings mark, but this one looked like a tree. Then she noticed one final important thing, there was a fine powder or strange ash looking mixture in the blood. It was redder than before.
Without even thinking she pulled out her phone and called Jack’s number. The call seemed to ebb, and the dial tone droned on for vital seconds. It was almost there. How had she missed the strange dust or whatever was mixed in with the blood.
“Aye?” came the drawling voice on the other end.
“Jack, did you get a translation on the word in the center ring?”
“No, not yet.” She then blinked and quickly wrote out an inquisitive text:
Nyla: Mateo, I’m sorry to bug you, but did you find ochre at the scene?
The Brazilian born cop was going to bust her hard again for asking about details, but she would find a way to repay him. Especially since they had a recent history, one mostly dealing with an errant spirit who had threatened the man’s home for a while, until Nyla excorcised it.
“Why you asking?” Jack inquired after no answered.
“There’s blood, so it must be blood magic of course. But whatever is in the circle ring is redder than blood, its almost like ochre.
Mateo: Dammit Ny I can’t break details, but I can say it is -not- ochre. Its a metal.
Red, metal, shit.
“Okay you know what it is?”
“Shit, Jack its a metal, its rust! I’m pretty sure that is Iron dust in the blood.” She then blinked as she then realized why the rest of the rhymes had made no sense. The final word was Iron, and she was pretty sure what the unstranslated word was since the element itself was present.
Mateo: Why are you asking about the metal.
She quickly responded to Mateo’s inquiry.
Nyla: Seriously bad juju.
“I know what the poem is, its by Kipling –
Crowns are for the valiant – sceptres for the bold!
Thrones and power for might men who dare to take hold!
‘Nay’ said the baron, kneeling in his hall.
‘But Iron – cold iron – is master of them al’
Iron out of Calvary is master of them all!”
The words held deep meaning, she ran it through as Jack then opined, “The bloody sneak is aiming to force a contract with Cold Iron, like the one in the old world. Dammit. If he gets that then.”
“If he gets that then he or she can break the contract of the Medicine Tree.” Nyla finished.
“Worse, Cold Iron in Altear can kill Fae just by presence rather than just burn. They’ll be able to hold Fae without even trying ward us away with just nails in their walls. They’ll give whoever they serve a powerful upperhand in the entente of the Courts.” Jack was now on full ramble mode the worry, and excitement of the discovery mixing in his tone as his voice raised in volume.
That still only left them with struggling to figure out who the assailant was, and why mister Daniels had been his target. She had been hoping to avoid it, but it was time to speak to the family. Gerald’s interview was done which would keep Joseph Erickson happy for a day or two at least. The man was filled with bias, but he would still do his best to let the reporter she handed the interview off to to write the story well. In fact she could write it, but she had a feeling that Erickson was going to prevent her from doing so.
“Jack after this crap you are paying me a retainer, or you get your Fae connections to get me some damn money.” She said under her breath.
“I heard that, and yes I’ll be speaking to the Courts about it.” Came an unexpected reply. Shit. Me and my Sierdin mouth! Nyla took a breath as she thought about what she was going to do next. She needed a means to get to Daniel’s wife, and ask her the necessary questions to press a widow with. By the gods, she felt so horrible even doing so.
“Jack I gotta go, I have to figure out how to dig up information from the wife of a dead man,” the man did not respond, and simply gave a grunt in response. Her eyes closed and let her mind run a bit. This is going to be a dismal, fun, wonderful day.
Next Part: Chapter 17
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