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 day passed, and the night lingered on. An old saying decries that no rest is gifted to the wicked, and mayhap there was good reason for such a saying. The Fae keep the proverb, “Rest is for the man without sin,” close to their hearts. Perhaps it was a notion that one bears sin as a black mark upon their soul, or maybe sin was just some mumbo-jumbo to explain away strain on the mind. No matter, Nyla was feeling it. Even a cold beer after having your body beaten down would not remove all the scars. It was only a momentary reprieve.
After she was taken from the party, and then slowly, and carefully deposited by Jack back in her apartment. It was there after a long talk, and being covered in a variety of strange eerie, and foul smelling poultices that the young woman relented to sleep. Sleep that came heavily and pulled at her eyes, dragging her down into a layer of reality that was only granted to those that arose on old doldrum winds, and carried her away. Nightmares met her, and it was nightmares that kept her. Nyla would say that even if she warded her room for years, the terror always descended only to be enhanced by her encounter with one Radovan Knezevic.
The Yule Party while relieving her stress, was only a tipping point in a problem which grew itself out from years of strain, and deeply hidden thoughts. So perhaps it was that very reason that Nyla after being bandanged up and tucked into bed found herself in another fit of horror. Phantasms came creeping from the recesses of her childhood, and then sang with fantastical visions of the beautifully mad. A danse macabre she would carry with herself forevermore. Life is never boring for me, were the musings she had on the tip of her tongue when she awoke the morning after.
Nyla would clean up in the shower, and then pad shakily into her living room. Soon coffee (freshly irished to her heart’s content) was cool in a mug in her hands while she sat in front of the television. Browsing as she thought through the most recent of events. Slowly her body awoke as the alcohol simmered and relaxed her. Then her body was able to gain a bit of rest. Of course as soon as she started to take a moment for herself, a sensation of curiosity suddeny struck her. There is no rest for the man without sin, so what was going on? Dammit. Her restlessness grew and grew until finally she relented and grabbed her cell phone from the coffee table.
Her body languidly slung itself along the couch as a blank tangled itself around her body. Quietly she held the silly smartphone up to her gaze, and started to parse through it. A few swipes of her fingers led her to the notifications and she saw the voice message. The note on it said it was from Mateo so she quietly did her best to sigh and then turn it on. Her phone service allowed to identify the message, and even listen to it without calling her message box. Turning it on the Brazilian’s voice rang out in her small room:
“‘Oi Gatinha, how are you doing?” his words were lightly accented as he then continued in a more serious tone, “We got a suspect in the killings finally. Lil’ bird told me you took her down at a party last night? Course you know I’ll need to speak to you since I just made detective.”
Mateo was a detective now? That was truly recent. Her eyes widened just in the slightest as the new knowledge registered in her tired mind. She listened to a bit more as he rambled on and gave her some insider information. Good, she did not have to push through Jennifer again. Not going to bring her in with the Storm Court involved. Already the cops had conducted a more thorough study into Bozena Knezevic. The police had been sitting on quite a bit of information on the woman it seemed, and had even linked the killings to her father. Even with that, the lack of direct evidence had left the prosecutor waiting for a more iron clad subject. That, and the lack of being able to track down the woman.
Now Bozena was back in custody. From what Mateo related in a quick choppy manner there was more than enough evidence to put one Bozena Knezevic away for several years. The county prosecutor was pushing for the maixmum in the case. A fact which likely drew the attenion of her boss and as if on queue her phone rang. Speak of the Devil. Nyla quickly answered the phone and almost immediately began a lecture on how she should have submitted information about the party she was at. Her boss knew only a bit about her background, but as he said himself, “I always knew you were holding out Clarkson!”
Nyls exact words in response were, “I was out with family, Mister Erickson, and it was off the record.”
He then started into a tirade about how she was suppose to be reporting back such informationt to him. Still healing from the fighting the night before her reply was to simply listen. There was nothign else she could really do at this point. Once Erickson was done Nyla she hung up with him ordering her to get to work on the next expose on the ongoing (already droning onward) negotiations between the County and the Tribal Council. At this point she was starting to feel like Erickson was running out of ideas. The man was avoiding making her a full time researcher or even bumping her up to full reporter even if she did have a journalistic education.
Nyla sighed and put the phone aside and started wondering about a project she had kept to herself in the past. An idea for a website that had clung about her computer in lone files exiled whenever Jack or her boss gave her a case. With the capture of the Alchemist though, she realized that there was a new spring of free time now on her hands. Of course her hands were now damaged so it would be hard for her to do any actual work on the site. She could contact her ‘allies’ (maybe she could call them friends) at the Society to help her out. They did owe her a few favors, and she could likely get their interest with a few of the cases she was considering writing about.
An investigative website where she could post her own articles and works. She had been sitting on the idea for more than a few years since she had written a blog back during college. Really, the truth was she wanted to be a writer, or at least a reporter. Someone that got byline at least, some credit. Instead she was the gopher for the Tribune, and barely paid enough to live off of. If she kept getting cases from Jack she could surely at least get a retainer from the Fae Courts, or perhaps get a Private Investigator’s License, then at least she could legally start charging people for sending her all over the place. That might make it a bit easier for her to skate arouthe law when necessary.
The more she thought about the idea of getting a PI license appealed to her. She could easily set of a small side business, and then legitimately start doing work that could help some people. Especially with the growing troubles of the past year. Missing children, the Alchemist, and then the Siren before. All her biggest cases really by far out of what mostly amounted to her running around and mediating basic Fae property problems, or minor out of control magics. That was all changing with the three major cases she had participated in. With her name growing among the Fae she could already tell Jack had plans for the future. That had her now wondering what she wanted to do. Especially in the aftermath of Bozena Knezevic.
From what Nyla knew from just a few moments of listening to Mateo’s message that Bozena was likely to end up charged with her father’s actions. Dammit. Usually in this world that the Fae called Agaera, there were costs for the innocent as well as the guilty. A factoid that made it hard for Nyla to sleep, and for her to remain focused. It was only the day after, but she knew that her actions had practically doomed a young woman to a life in prison. No it was her father. Pushing the ideas of her website, and license for PI aside she wondered what to do about Bozena, or perhaps what to do about everyone else involved in the craziness.
That’s when she realized her meandering thoughts had eatened an hour of her time. How had she covered so many random topics in so little time? Nyla stood and shuffled over to the window that looked over the street near her building. It was once again dreary, dank, and grey outside; typical weather for the northwest. Her eyes lingered upon the coastline that was only perhaps half a mile away. The Salish Sea licked the edges of the Bay of Bellingham and then around the Tsalem peninsula. Within under a month the city had lost a great man, and others were slowly being exposed. A young woman was put away for crimes she did not commit, and yet there was nothing she could do.
She leaned against the window to feel its cool surface. Then a thunk was heard within her kitchen. A familiar sound as she quickly dashed into her bedroom to get dressed. Hobbling sounds were then soon heard while she tossed on a black band tee, along with a black skirt she simply found.
“Allo lass,” Jack said while he nonchalantly was found leaning against the fridge while waiting for the coffee pot to produce its precious black fuel.
“Allo Jackie boy,” came her reply. Jack gave her a once over and a noticeable expression of concern molded itself upon his face. The aging Fae was doing his best to understand the strange yet almost identicle emotions that were shared by Fae and mortals. Trouble being that Fae emotions were often twice to three times as ‘felt’ compared to that of mortalkind.
“Ye still look like sket, but that poultice did seem ta help ye clean up a bit,” he said to her after the small coffee pot chirped and he poured a mug for her and himself. Nyla seeing the hot elixir quickly took it and gently snuck and opened her fridge (after glaring at Jack to move in which he did) to retrieve a small portion heavy cream to soften the coffee’s bitter taste.
“Aye,” she replied in a mocking stress of his accent. Which in turned ended up making her sound like a half-drunk Scotsman. Jack laughed hard while taking a sip. Then he set his mug aside.
“Ye did good lass, and ye almost got yerself kilt. I think yer parents want ye ta back off this crud,” he told her. A way out? He was offering her a way out? What in the world is going on? She stared at him for a few moments. Jumbled thoughts from earlier danced before her eyes, but several doors suddenly closed to her. The truth was she liked helping people. Sure it did come with a lot of danger, but it was much more satisfying than the sket that Erickson was having her do.
“I refuse to stop,” she gave her reply while nursing what was left of her white coffee (also known as coffee overflowing with cream). So out of focus was her mind at that moment that she stopped, set the mug down on the counter, and proceeded to give herself a few light bonks on the side of her head.
“Whats wrong witcha?” Jack slurred.
“I just can’t think straight since that psycho nearly caved my head in,” she hissed. Great I’m ableist and right. She then waited for Jack to come to reality and the man just simply stood there while sipping his coffee.
“Just as bull-headed as bot’ yer grand-das,” she was told. Her eyes lit up a bit of the mention of her grandfathers. The young investagor took a few moments to get herself another cup of coffee. She could feel herself waking up further as she finally thought about it a bit more and decided to just blurt out her ideas to Jack.
“I wish to get a PI license, and also start that website I’ve told you about,” she croaked. It was hard for her to maintain her voice especially after the damage from the previous nights run-in with Promi the Golem.
“The website you still don’t know will have on it at all?” he asked. Of course he was trying to make a point. That point being roughly that she needed to get her sket together. Nyla had for a better part of the year moaned, groaned, and complained about being sutck where she was. He was offering her an out of a fairly dangerous life, and instead she was spouting off the dream of creating an obscure website and getting a Private Investigator’s license. To most sane people (if one were being sarcastic) working with paranormal creatures that could barely empathize with you was not a good decision for long-term employment. Jack being one of those entities was giving her the option to cut and run, Nyla wanted the opposite.
Come to think of it was she even sure of what the content of her site was going to be? Kind of. Earlier she had considered working with the Society of Shadows, as she thought about it she was still slightly unsure. She wanted to be a reporter, and to unearth the dark secrets that were plaguing the underbelly of Whatcom County, and Washington State at large. So much information was being cast aside in her work for the Tribune, that now she was sure that Erickson was playing a third path in the debates of the political forces of the County itself.
Then there were the Fae. They would not take lightly to any idea of their existence (even if she hid it under conspiracy) being revealed in some manner. So that leveled what she could aim for. No she would need to think of it more, but investigative journalism was where she was wanting to go. First though, she would need funds to some degree.
“Hello you still there?” she snapped out of little moment of contemplation to see Jack staring at her while nursing perhaps could be his third cup of coffee.
“I want to do some investigative reporting,” was her reply.
“There, some direction,” he stated simply before continuing, “Fine – fine set a goal. But no more cases from me for at least a month so you can heal. Yer mam nearly kilt me since I let you fight the Alchemist, and that Golem.”
There were a decent number of angry phone calls on her cell alone she realized, most from either her sister, or her mother. Nyla thought of it again as she set aside her mug and sighed. A new period was opening up in her life, one that would likely change who she was for years to come. Completely frightening to her in many ways. Nyla disliked changed, but at the same time she had become use to it.
“That is good to know,” she mumbled. Her mind still wishing to wander out on its own.
“You will need more training soon,” he told her while seguing into a new subject without pretense. Correction, he did have pretense – her consistency in pushing herself to Soulburn.
“Hooray,” she cheered sarcastically. Yup, a period in her life was ending. Time for the new one to begin.
“Of course that is after a short bit of rest and relaxation,” he conferred to her. That was, surprising.
“No new cases for a bit then? How long?” she sputtered out a series of questions. Usually Jack would appear to give her cases whenever it suited him, there had really never been an end to them. Once she did research while in bed with a broken leg a month after she graduated because Jack request it. Her mentor had of course conduct himself more carefully since she was hired by the Tribune, though he still passed her cases (which she made considerable money from, plus respect from the Fae community).
“For the rest of December and until after new years eve when your family will be going on their trip,” he answered. The man set aside his mug and then tipped his signature top hat to the right of his head with a flick of his hand.
“I could use the rest,” she mused before turning to look out the window that was opposite the door, and the kitchen. Another grey day that appeared to be breaking with sun through the clouds. A bit of relaxation with her family did not sound so bad. Then again, there was her boss demanding work.
“What should I do about the Tribune?” she asked.
“You are away for family holidays. I believe you have some time off comig up soon,” Jack replied.
“Erickson usually ignores that and expects me to produce results early in the year as we’re near the national elections, and upcoming elections for the county seats the year after next,” she told him.
“You are in the hospital, I’ll drop a few nightmares on him and stir up some crap for his friends to keep him off your case for a bit,” he smiled. That was rare. Jack rarely meddled with mortals on such a level and assisted her in such a manner. She was a bit shocked and at that point her eyes widened just a tad. Damn, Jack is going out of his way on this. Perhaps life was finally going to ease up for a while. Even if it were only a few days, rest would do her well. Especially with the injuries she needed time to heal.
“Fine I’ll rest,” she relented, and then sent a text to her boss letting him know she was recovering from a mugging. He would likely find out about the arrest of Richard Daniels’ killer soon too and demand information on the arrest. She sighed and wondered if she should just send him what she had, or give him the short version to stiff the bastard. Though her boss might even fire her for taking ‘sick leave’ he had threatened it a few times to the other staff. The Tribune mattered most, but luckily she had no deadlines coming up.
That left only one thing, her worries for the fate of Bozena Knezevic. She took the two mugs and set them in her sink as Jack appeared to be ready to leave. He ceased and glanced up from tinkering with his cane and gave her a shallow look of inquiry. Nyla wondered what she could do. The arraignment was likely set by now, and there was likely little that could be done for the poor woman. Jack did not say a word, and instead resolved to just wait and listen.
“You can’t save em all lass,” was all he said to her, and she already knew that well. Nyla had become aware of that little fact and thus only a sinless woman, man or other could sleep well. Slowly, she rubbed her brow as it knit, and she let out a frustrated sigh. Gods I need a break. But a break would only sooth the worries, and would not get rid of it. Damn, I am morose. Her mind found itself at ease as she bit her lip and stared at Jack while he placed the mugs in the sink to wash.
“I know Jack, but you know what,” she bit her lip gently to hold back a smirk, “I think I’ll try to at least save a few.”
Surely the sinless man could sleep, but one could work away their sin through just deeds, right? A truly noble notion. Nyla was not usually one for nobility in gneral, but after the last case she could see any other reason to have higher aspirations. Hope flickered in her eyes as she began to think more toward the future. Of how to perhaps save Bozena, and find out more of what had gone on. A lingering sense of inquiry remained wit her as Jack returned her smile. He could tell when someone was taking up a ‘lost cause’, but he respected it. If there was something Fae could understand in it was causes.
“Good on ye lass, it’ll help ye keep focused, an’ not get dragged down,” he said while turn to start walking toward her door. Usually the Trickster simply disappeared into the Shadow to walk away, so using the door was rarity. He even gave her a tip of his top hat before pushign the door open and promptly vanishing into thin air leaving her utterly alone with herself, and her thoughts. She lingered a bit on the feeling of helping people, and then loomed back toward the idea of the website.
Screw this. She flopped down onto her couch and stretched out like a cat. Her gaze fixated on the window, and then she breath to feel pain in her chest. Perhaps the next few nights she could sleep better. For a reasons he did not quite understand she was sure she would not at all. Then an idea slipped into her mind, and that smirk she shared with Jack earlier returned.
“Now that is an idea.” She murmured before closing her eyes to rest.
Next Part: Epilogue
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