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.
A flurry of activity occurred within the first few hours after she spoke to Jack. She had perhaps half the day left, if not less, and no real time to dilly dally. So within a few moments she changed, into something far more official looking. A decent shirt, with a jacket over it along with a clean set of business trousers. Then she selected a pair of normal sneakers, and was soon out the door. The widow of Richard Daniels, Melissa, was likely at work for the day, or at home watching their children. The brutal death of her husband had shaken the woman, who worked as a local doctor in Saint Joseph’s hospital. The fact that Nyla could not remember is if the woman was a clinical physician, or was in the trauma center.
Likely she was not in the center at th emoment with the death of her husband. Nyla would have to capitalize on locating the woman quickly so that she could somehow sneak the necessary information from Melissa Daniels. Something she hated to do. It was sickening to reap from the mourning and grieving of the recently dead, especially in the case of violent homicide. But it needed, no -had- to be done. No other way could provide her with the necessary information. Richard’s father had passed away, and his mother moved back to the South years ago. Most information on the Daniels family was either scarce, or simply nonexistence. For a supposedly prominent individual and a pillar of the community Richard Daniels had a near nonexistent history, Not at all strange, but still a bit weird.
The Daniels’ home was still a crime scene, so the mother and children had moved to a local apartment near Fairhaven where the family now rented a condo. Nyla made the journey into town on her bike, and made sure to stow the vehicle just out of sight of the house. She was completely unsure if the woman was there and even as she spied the house for the first time Nyla could only confirm that Melissa Daniels was not at all available. The young woman then pullled out her bike, and headed to a small local cafe to get some lunch. While waiting for her food a few minutes later she used her phone to locate the office number for her quarry and made a quick innocuous call.
“Doctor Daniels office, can I take a message?” was the reply on the other end. Nyla rolled her eyes as she coated her voice in sugar. Just before she spoke Nyla touched her throat and streamed a line of magic into her throat. Using an old trickster contract she picked up from Jack to then make her voice more charismatic.
“Hello this is Tamsin Colson,” she said using a poorly created alias to attempt to get her foot in the door. “and I was hoping to speak to Doctor Daniels today about possibly becoming a patient.”
“Doctor Daniels is not in today she left only a few minutes ago to pick up her children from school.” Well that explained where the woman was, and when she might return. It was a bit informal, but she was doing her best to be subtle.
“Oh, alright I’ll back some other time, can you leave her a message that I called?” Nyla then asked as she asked the waitress at the cafe for a bag for her food. She needed to get back to her bike, and return to sadly stalking the widow of Richard Daniels. For various reasons she felt dirty doing this part of her case, but it had to be done. If she could she would use what magic, and skill she could to alleviate any stress, or emotional harm her work was about to do. Damn sierding Alchemist, I’m going to rip their throat out.
Her anger rose and she could feel the coming of the edge, but this was not the edge of magic. This was the Léthas Fé again, more was reaching deep along her spine as her emotions were slowly becoming more powerful. It made only sense with her reaction to what she had awakened from memory earlier that day. The Fury would be with her for a while, and it would not go quietly like some lonely kitten, more like a raccous lion demanding territory. No, she needed to reign her feeligns in, if she was to do this right.
It took her a few minutes, perhaps ten, to make the walk back to where she had stashed her motorcycle. The old Indian was still sitting there, a small piece of string tied with a small etched piece of metal hung from the handbar. A token, or charm, a small bit of metal transcribed with ogham in Elder Tongue that acted as a portable ward to prevent thieves from stealing it. All it really did is redirect action in some warped weird way as Fae items did, and redirected would-be thieves towards other objects, or away from the bike itself. She sat upon the back and rested agains it. With the kickstand down it was quite solid, and hard to knock over. She finished off her lunch as she watched the house from just around the corner. Anyone viewing the road just on the block itself would barely notice her tucked behind a parked car.
Nyla possed not an idea of what Melissa Daniels’ car was, not its make, nor its model. In a way she only had a notion of what the woman physically looked like. The Daniels home was barred to the press, and most of the information on the murder had been kept under a tight lid by powerful forces on City, and County Council’s. If her boss found out she was there, she would likely lose her job at the Tribune. Not a total loss, though she really -did- need the money.
She would need an in, a means of getting the woman to talk to her. Nyla did not usually expected the best in people, and was often considered by many to be a cynic, and almost nihilistic at times. Yet, that feeling went flyiung out the window when it came to certain situations. Finding the person who killed the woman’s husband was one of them. There was nothing like a good dose of vengeance, and a touch of serious justice to get people talking. That was only if Nyla could again, get her foot in the door.
There was not a bit of wind that day, and it was quite clear. A good day for a drive, and by now she was starting to wonder if perhaps the woman had stopped on her way home. Fairhaven itself was a beautiful historic sight filled with a plethora of shops, and businesses to scour. She checked her phone,and noted that she had been waiting for about twenty minutes. Nyla decided then to hunker down just a bit when she heard the sound of an incoming car coming along the block. She rose up and slowly walked farther up the road away from the Daniels condo. After a few minutes she turned around and spied the dark skinned woman leading two small children toward the door, a boy and a girl.
Quietly, and quickly Nyla started to walk in the door’s direction in a casual manner, acting a bit like a resident out on a walk. If she was lucky, -if-, she might be able to fool the woman for a second. Melissa Daniels paid no attention to Nyla as she juggled the children, a bag of groceries, and a duffle when opening the door.
The woman then heard a voice, Nyla asking, “Melissa Daniels?”
Melissa Daniels was a woman in her mid thirties, and her hair was long, and held back in a tight bun at the base of her neck. Her body was thin, and svelte betraying years of cardio, and yoga. She had a regal air about her, and when Nyla drew closer she noticed the woman’s aqualine features, showing her eastern Indian heritage. Daniels was in fact slightly taller than Nyla, and struck an imposing figure as she turned to face the intruder. Nyla’s reaction was to offer a congenial smile to remain in offensive, and unimposing.
It made Nyla wonder, Richard Daniels supposedly had a teenaged daughter, where was she at the moment? Perhaps Melissa was his second wife? The question was quickly banished to back of her mind however.
“How can I help you miss?” Melissa did not respond at first, and only asked after her children were inside. The woman then locked the door before waiting for punkish girl’s introduction.
“Nyla,” she replied, “Nyla Clarkson. I’m with the Whatcom Tribune.”
Automatically Melissa’s stance changed from indifference, to one of outright defense. She took a set forward, while cocking her body with her right hand firmly on the knob of the door.
“I have nothing to say to the Tribune after it endorsed Fillmore,” she replied. Not out of the question. Fillmore is a horse’s ass so I can see why she’s already wanting to flay me.
“I’m here off the record, and honestly Misses Daniels I am not here for my Editor-in-Chief,” she opined carefully, “I am doing an independent investigation on your husbands murder. And I want to bring the culprit to justice.”
Might as well lay it all out. There was no reason for this woman to even believe, or take what Nyla had to say seriously, most people did not. When the realm of Faerie came up and bit you on the ass, you rarely acknowledge the supernatural was behind it. Nope its always UFOs, and swamp gas. Nyla was determined to get what she needed, but that would only occur if she could get a few choice facts from the already defensive Melissa Daniels.
“Independent investigation, why?” Melissa hissed.
“Because whoever attacked your husband wanted him for a very – very specific reason. I just need to ask a few questions about his parentage,” Nyla tried to push a bit. She could already feel that her presence in the area was starting to play out its welcome. Not from Melissa, but possibly from her stalker. Great questions under fire.
“I know only a few things about Rich’s family. His father was a reserved old man, and his mother stopped talking to him after he married a foreigner after divorcing a local gal,” the under tone in the last few words were riddled with hurt. So mama didn’t like outsiders. As Melissa spoke she revealed her upbringing in bits and pieces. Not outright information, but through a series of inferences Nyla was able to possibly astutely deduce the woman’s origins. Foreigner, and yet her accent seemed clipped, and had a strange almost controlled flow to the vowels. It was far too formal. Possibly British? I swear it seems that all weird instances of Great Britain seemed to come my way.
“What was his mother’s maiden name, there’s no record of it in the town archives?” Nyla asked. Hopefully just this one tidbit would make some sense. There was an inkling, she just needed the pieces to fit together.
“From what I garnered about Richard’s mother she was the daughter of a former slave on an old plantation in the deep south. I remember Rich saying her name was either Dougal, or Dugan,” the woman replied.
“Was it Douglas?” Nyla asked.
“That might be it,” the woman said. Douglas was far from a coincidence. Old slave owning family down in the south often gave their names to their slaves. Then she had one final question.
“Did you ever meet his grandmother?” she asked.
“No, the woman died before we were married. Rich did say that she was a haunted woman, and never married. She only ever had Rich’s mother Magdeline,” Melissa said before adding, “That should be enough my kids are hungry. Do not come back here!”
SLAM! Sound compacted the area as the thick artisan door of the condo slammed shut. Anger embodied in a single movement combining sound, and impact. It was all Melissa needed to do to send a evident imperative command to Nyla, or anyone. ‘Back off.‘
The imperative statement was all that Nyla needed and she retreated around the corner, across the street to her bike. The answer to the situation was seeming quite straightforward. It was a tad little weird that she had not followed that path of reasoning earlier. It would make sense, but there was no way earlier to really connect Daniels to the name of Douglas. Hell, if she never happened upon the picture of James Douglas she would have never found about the medicine tree so directly. What is their next move?
She had the information she needed for now. Almost good enough. Her life was still on a knife’s edge as she fought back a tide of emotion that roiled underneath the surface of her consciouness. She would for a time rest, and reassert herself as she finished what was left of the food she left in a hurry upon the arrival of Melissa Daniels. With more clues to the ever growing puzzle of the Alchemist she knew a few major facts. First, the Alchemist was using blood magic, obviously, a violent, and dangerous form of incantation that allowed the user to circumvent rules of the universe at great cost. Next she knew the person intended or appeared intended to strike a bargain with Cold Iron, a feat nearly impossible for a mortal. Yet, the Alchemist showed no sign of being Fae, nor a Changeling.
“Who are you?” she mouthed while leaning against the side of her upright old Indian motorcle. Her hands splayed out across the black painted side, and the logo of the Native American Chief. She was lost in thought when her arm started to burn again. A deep panging feel that ran across her skin like a rough piece of sand paper.
“Where are you?” she asked aloud as her eyes scanned the area around her. Nyla was tempted to summon Odin’s Eye to reveal all that was hidden, but it would drain her further than already. Lack of sleep, and being hounded, plus her job was starting to add up. The Fury was only getting worse, and he rmagic felt like it was seeping out of her body a little at a time. Her quarry was far to smart to remain in the open. This time she growled as she thrust her sight into the Shadow, and was met with a smiling hooded face right in front of her.
Her opponent, was a woman, she could tell that much. The Alchemist was slightly shorter than her, and was clothed in a pair of jeans, dark brown buckled hiking boots, and a black hood with the upper part of her face shrouded. Her skin was pale white, and her lips were thin and bloodless. The figure slowly lifted her hand to display a message for Nyla in cleanly written blocky marker.
“YOU KNOW I WILL WIN, AND THEN WE SHALL REALLY MEET.”
Nyla wanted to scream. She held herself together as those lips smirked, and opened as if to scoff to reveal a set of neat white teeth. She eyed the hands of the woman and noted the twirling vine like marks on her skin. Brands. The woman was an adept, a mundane mortal who struck a bargain with a Fae to gain magic. That might explain her adversary’s level of physical deterioration.
“Oh…sierd you.” She mouthed at the air, and she could tell with the closing of the woman’s lips that the Alchemist could see her. This could also be a proxy.
“IF YOU ARE THINKING I AM NOT YOUR ENEMY. THEN YOU CAN THANK ME FOR THE SHADOW-MAN, AND THE THING THAT’S COMING NEXT!.” The next message she assumed was meant to frighten her. Whatever, this woman intended Nyla could take it. Foolish adepts playing parlour tricks were not a real threat right? Jack had always told me they never got too dangerous otherwise the Fae took care of them. Then again, it would not be the first time of many – many – many times Jack was lying to her. Oh shit. Nyla could only begin to consider what the woman meant. Whoever the deranged individual was they had to have a Fae benefactor, a puppeteer behind the moppet.
“You must be going half-mad by now if you are peering at me, and I can see your brands. The briars are growing more evident. How much longer before the madness takes you?” she sneered. Just enough to provoke the woman. Her opponent responded by simply scoffing again, before pointing behind her. Nyla whipped her head around, and saw nothing in either the Shadow or the Mundane world. Green eyes blinked when she faced back to where the woman had been, and her adversary was gone. However, her arm was still burning. Something, or someone intent on causing her harm was nearby.
THUD! The sound was loud, and no visible object, or animal behind it. Nor any people nearby. The steets of the block were deserted, everyone was inside. MOre thuds were heard as whatever it was picking it self up. Sierd, the golem! Before it could grasp her she jumped on her bike and shoved her helmet on. Just as she nlooked in her review mirror she saw the creature leapt towards her. Its body looking far more robust than before. Nyla quickly gunned the throttle and pulled away as the thing gave chase in the Shadow. She knew that it could move faster in the realm of spirits, so that meant losing it. Yet, as she wove her way out of the residential area near Fairhaven she was sure it was still on her. Just for a moment she tried to rest when she ducked just in time as a large arm attempted to grasp her.
The creature had found her. This time as the monster chased after her, it gave no interest in remotely making small talk, or hurling threats at Nyla, it was intent on either capturing or bludgeoning her to death. Fear slowly started to creep farther into her chest, as she swerved around a corner and headed toward downtown. She was unsure if the thing was still after her, but it likely would try to make a grab for her. Which made her wonder suddenly. Why is trying to grab me? Nyla feared the things ghostly grasp in the Shadow. Only a few creatures could really be a danger in the Shadow, and -only- if they were. Wait.
She turned around as something clutched her shoulder, and then suddenly she was flying from her bike and hidding the ground hard. Pain brush in her shoulder as the clanging of metal, and screech as it hit the ground. Dammit. Her arm was hurting, and felt dislocated. Whatever, she could barely put two and two together. There was a thump as a large force shuddered beside her as she rolled away. As a crack appeared in the area nearby. Her thoughts started to organize as she realized it was near the end of the day, and she was on the sidewalk, as the Golem was somehow impacting the area around her. How is it doing that? Her head was ringing as she reached up and realized that she might have a concussion.
Bad, this is bad.
She was hurt, and not sure how to proceed. The situation became even worse as another THUD was heard and the sound of cracking cement. The thing was either missing on purpose, or its aim was worse than a drunken space slug. The Golem was intent on simply smooshing her into tiny bits. She had no way of attacking the thing itself, or could she? Idiot’s quick logic would easily say that if it can hit you, then you can hit it right? Oh well why not try, no one here to see shit and get me in trouble. She clenched her hand into a fist that slowly started to become hotter, and hoter. Her skin was not going to cook with the magical nature of the flame, but she knew she had to remained focused.
Calling upon a contract can very from person to person, to experience the rush of magic was indescriable to most. To some it was addictive in nature with a rush of pleasure, and desire rolled into one. For others to grasp the power of magic in one’s hand was to feel their internal fears come alive. Magic was like that, a fickle, dangerous energy pulled from a person’s connection to fate. Mentally the young woman called upon the contract of fire, and light her hand subtly and carefully. Her eyes rimmed with her Shadow sight as she saw the creature pull back and mean to attack her. She then thought about it again. She could use her reflection.
That made more sense than attempting to break the through the vale that stood between the Shadow, and the mundane. Her eyes lingered as she rolled from the thing while draining herself further to the edge. This time she near the scraped reflective surface of her bike. Shit it’ll have to do! She touched the side with its now scraped paint and stared at what little reflection she could see. That would have to do. Her energy surged as she touched it and mumble a small prayer. She would need all the help she could get in what she was about to do.
Her reflection shuddered, and began to move. It slowly start to be overcome in violet flickering light as the contact overtook it. She then willed the reflection, her Shadow self, to lunge at the Golem. The creature was hit by the flaming shadow figure and was soon pushed away. Nyla could feel her strength being sapped. Her attack was just enough as the Golem pushed back and took a step toward her nearly prone form. It was not giving up. It meant to kill her that much was evident. The creatures blocky features were formed into a visage of glaring intent, and it pulled back its meaty fist to drive one more crush blow toward her rib cage. Fuck.
This was more than bad, this was dire. Her flaming attack leaped onto the things back and began to claw at its face. The Golem seemed to be groaning as she slowly stood up and gritted her teet, newly sharpened from undergoing the oncoming edge of Soulburn. Her eyes gained their reflective nature as she could feel pain assaulting her hands. Dammit. Sierding brat is going to pay. She tried to focus as suddenly she felt a strange tranquility strike her. Her right hand pushed up her body from the asphalt. Her assailant suddenly fell back as her shadow form punched a flaming fist into its face. She then watched as it tumbled back and she receded what energy she had left to give.
“Time to get away.” She said as she pulled her bike up and started it. Barely able to ride, she was more than close to collapsing. Nyla had to get out of there though. Her arm was bust, and even her shoulder. What was she going to do? She pulled out her phone and started to use her good hand to flick through the contacts. The screen was blurring already as she could feel her head throbbing. Going over the edge. Focus was splitting her vision as she dialed the number for Jack and whispered his name as he came online.
“You there kiddo?” the voice rang out as she croaked out a groan.
“Jack, the Golem thing it got me, I’m hurt bad,” she mumble. Not bad as others, but still bad. The thing was no where to be seen as she heard a thump off in the distance. Was it coming back? She looked around as there was no sign of the Golem or her shadowy minion. Where had they gone? They had just disappeared abruptly without explanation. That was more than queer, that was outright eerie. First the woman had simply appeared watching her, and then the Golem had attacked. Now it was gone. What in the name of the god-kings was going on?
“LASS?!” she heard loudly over the phone as she found herself starting to drift on the edge of consciousness. She could feel the warming embrace of darkness testing her, demanding her to give in.
“Its…night Jacky.” Her voice was trailing off as she could barely keep her attention in one place. The embrace was calling to her. The pain was getting far worse. Or was it? A viscous, and encompassing feeling overtook her. It slid up along her skin like she was falling into the Shadow. How much longer could she hold on? The questions piling up in her mind were coming so numerous she barely kept pace with where her body was shutting down. It had to be a concussion. Very not good. She could keep repeating that notion to herself, but it was not going to change it.
“Where are you?” she was able to hear that question. Just enough. But the voice was already getting muddled. Her eyes were fogging over as she could barely
“I’m somewhere in Fairhaven or I think downtown. I’m along maybe near an overpass,” her words faded as she felt darkness take her.
Next Part: Chapter 18
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