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.
Bellingham, Washington. A town formed from four others in the past. It was not really a town, but a small city with its own vibrant University, Coastal Washington University, and a well established cultural back drop. Why Nyla continued to live in the city itself she could not fathom. Her parents lived out on one of the local islands just off the coast. A place close enough to the local reservation where her mother could argue with local relatives. Her sibling, along with her fiance lived in town, and was a constant source of Nyla getting some free food, and drinks.
Her ride into town was a small motorcycle she had earned from years of waiting tables, and working in a local deli. A small old refurbished piece that she had found in storage owned by her grandfather on her father’s side, Brian Clarkson. Nyla slowed as she entered the primary city limits, her eyes slowly becoming overwhelmed by images from the Shadow. Nyla like a few select members in her family was able to see the lines that blurred the realms of Earth. The Shadow was the nether that split the land of the mortals, from the lands of the dead, and the more powerful spirits that existed throughout the universe.
As she came along Marine Drive road on the edge of town she stopped as she noticed a series of small blurring black figures dashing across the street. They were shaped like small children with vaguely shadowy bodies, and eerie burning ember eyes. One even stopped to glance over its shoulder at her before returning along with the rest of the pack. Nyla glared at the creatures as a line of black film-like energy twisted around her eyes. The creatures were likely Mara, a nightmare spirit that clung to the darker aspects of life. Many had come from eastern europe with slavic settlers and had slowly spread throughout the region. Related to the more powerful Fae known as Moroi, the Mara were a weak gobling known for causing mischief in the Shadow towards mortals.
“Nothing to worry too much about,” she muttered. A pack of Mara was barely anything of rote, however she knew something else was not right. In the past few months her senses had picked up several attempts by a presence to break into her home. The amount of wards, and carved warnings in the apartment had kept it at bay. But still, darkness was coming. She hated to feel like a stereotypical fantasy damsel, but she had the feeling that the little pond was about to get a bigger fish to eat up the smaller ones.
Richard Daniels death being just another ill-omen. Not unlike a case a while back in the disappearance of two fraternl twins down in Skagit County. But now her focus had to be on finding out more on the Daniels murder. Zipping deeper into town she passed her family’s old Church, St. Thomas First Anglican, a place she had not visited in a while. Then it was past the old train station directly into downtown where she would find her contact.
Bellingham proper was built beside a series of marinas, and a large harbor that sat on the southern curving lip of Bellingham bay itself. Downtown was situated on the opposite northern slope of the surrounding hills. As she drove past the marina’s she took one of the outward roads directly toward downtown, and then zagged onto a street straight past a line of shops. Today the young investigator was avoiding her boss over in the Tribune while searching for one of her local friends. Friends being a word she used loosely for the various contacts Jack had heaped upon her once she came of age years ago.
“Where are ye Finn,” the woman intoned when she pulled her bike up to a parking meter to then drop a few coins into it. Her contact for this particular case would be one Fionn Mahoney, a local member of a group of Selkies that lived farther north and plied their trade as fisherman. Finn had settled away from his family, and worked as a freelance bartender to whoever would take him. This position and his perchance for being an easy person to talk to often had him acting as her ear to the ground in local occult goings ons.
This time the woman found him in a small rinky dink bar near the top of the hill leading up toward the university campus. The door was open, but the sign outside promptly declared close. The young lad inside had a shock of red hair, a face of freckles and light brown eyes. He was perhaps a foot taller than her standing out at about six feet ten inches, and was a giant of a man. One reason he made such a good bartender, height did intimidate people trying to pull knives when they wanted a free pint.
Today was a normal day in Bellingham in the coming of late fall into winter, and that meant rain in abundance. So when she walked into the bar which was labled the “Down and Up”, she quickly set aside her leather jacket on a barstool beside the one she took.
“We ain’t open yet,’ the man said as he then turned to see the half shaved head of his compatriot. Finn’s reaction to Nyla’s sudden appearance was a widening of his brown eyes, and a quick setting aside of the mug he was cleaning. Dressed in a waist coast along with neat brown pants, and a white undershirt. He was attired more aptly for a man from the turn of the century, than the modern age.
“You are now,” she said acting as tough as she could. For some reason whenenever she ran into Finn, Nyla always had the feeling that they were reenacting some badly written Noir film, or even a Saloon scene from the time when her ancestors were being shot by his.
“Sod it, what do you want now Ny?” the man said obviously annoyed that his friend was simply barging in on his early cleaning shift.
“I want some information,” she asked plainly..
“Ye aren’t even paying me for this, all ye do is show up and demand information. What did yer sister want another pair of gauges that were made with pixie dust?” Finn answered sarcastically. Nyla coughed at that and chuckled, her younger sibling still did not believe the fact her new earrings had been made by the wee folk.
“No this is about the Daniels murder from last night, Jack showed up in my apartmenet today and nearly set fire to my place pushing me to find out what’s going on,” the reporter retorted. Her coffee maker would still likely be singing Italian alternative when she returned. Some sort of twisted joke the old cockney Trickster had played for her moaning after he made coffee. Not my fault his is strong enough to wake the dead, literally. Memories still from that episode in the cemetry when Jack had tried to out do a local kid in a brew off still gave her nightmares.
“Oh that,” Finn mumble. He sighed as he turned around and closed the door. The large frame of his body moving quit nimbly around the bar itself, and the assortment of kicked over chairs, and stools. Soon the door was locked, and they were alone as the man did the usual pouring of shots, then took a deep breath.
“I remember last night that I had a few in here going on and on about the campaign that Daniels was waging against Fillmore.” He started not long after taking two shots of hard whiskey. Fillmore was Daniels’ opponent from the rival party while a third candidate, Patel, was an independent pushing for zoning reform.
“Daniels is big with the mortals,” he said speaking to her like she was Fae like him. Nyla shrugged and gave a nod. She was only Fae-Blooded, or more bluntly, a Changeling. A mortal with Fae connections, and Fae blood. Whose usage of magic would not drive her insane like the men and women who made deals for magic.
“So he was a what then?” she inquired as she nursed a slow sip on the whiskey herself. It had a hard kick to it as she savored the burning flavor that rushed down her mouth through to her throat.
“Mortal,” the man responded with a relaxed expression.
“That’s not remotely helpful,” said in exasperation. Mortals dealt with Fae on a limited basis. Only adepts could wield magic, and even then those mortals who struck deals often went insane soon afterward. It was why the Fae-Bloodlines were so well kept, and watched. Even when Changelings such as herself were considered dirt to most of the Fae Gentry.
“Seems I have to sneak onto the crime scene,” the girl said. If she did not remotely resolve her task from Jack he would likely hound her all day for it.
“Good luck, I here the man had Elder Tongue ogham marked above his head. My cousin Carley said that rumors are already springing up that its some new outfit from down south,” the selkie added. Finn was not one for the politics of the Fae world, in fact for most Fae he was one of the most human acting she knew. Even Jack was still off in that strange non-human uncanny way. No matter how well a human-skin Fae wore, they were never truly human.
“Go raibh maith agat,” she muttered for the drink, and turned. Using Gaelic was a skill she preferred to keep personal, especially since it was one of the four languages she spoke. Finn gave a smile for the courtesy and simply put, “Whiskey’s on the House.”
With a nod from her bartending friend the young woman walked outside. The small bar was now fully looking closed as the other local shops were already bustling and filled with business. Even on the darker days the fine dining culture of bellingham still brought in locals of all ranks and backgrounds. Nyla rubbed the shaved part of her head while biting her lip. The fact that her ill-feelings had been growing for a some time now, plus word of a new faction rearing its head in the Fae or even the mortal world was not good.
Not good at all.
Next Part: Chapter 3
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