May the wings of the dragons protect me! Detective Malinha Salib says a silent prayer as she sits with Lucia Vasa, the victim’s wife. In the hours leading up to now, she now knew that the victim was a great man. Her watching the sobbing of Lucia was only making things worse. Surely she would lose her bet with Detective Borjas.
Lucia Vasa was a slender woman who aged as most women only dream of doing so. After three children, she still maintained her figure and her natural hair color. This is an impressive feat for anyone, especially so for a Human. Her auburn hair was tied in a neat bun, and her perfect makeup now in ruins by the tears that spout from Malinha giving her the news of her husband’s death.
Miguel Vasa was an active member of the community, volunteered in youth centers, invested in first-time businesses, and any other noble thing you could think of. Bringing the news to his friends was hard. Nearly all of them had cried. The only ones strong enough to hold it in were too macho to let her see it. Now, she was here talking with Mrs. Visa, having a conversation that she never thought she would have with any married woman.
“I told him to be careful,” she says, taking heavy sobs and breathing. “He always told me he would, and he always seemed to be. I don’t know why this happened.”
“There is always a risk with anything, especially this.” Malinha tries to console her.
“I know, but it made him so happy. It made me so happy,” Lucia says and notices Malinha’s demeanor change. “I know it’s hard for you to understand how a wife would be okay with this.” Malinha glances around at the happy little home, taking note of all the family pictures and happy couple photos on the wall. The neatness and pride that could be seen in the living room surrounded by the victim’s things. Ancient Elvish wooden sculptures, masks, weaponry, and paintings adorned the space while Lucia clinched tight to an Elvish tapestry.
“It’s not for me to judge.” Malinha finally answers.
“But I know you are. You can’t understand what it does for a relationship to be honest with each other and talk about everything no matter what it is,” Lucia says, not bothering to dry her tears.
“I can see the value in that,” Malinha says, reading Mrs. Vasa’s reaction and showing a little more comfort.
“They always love to say that a happy wife yields a happy life. But no one seems to think that having a happy husband will make the wife happy as well,” Lucia says, and Malinha comforts her as best she can, but this was never her best trait. She listens as the wife reveals secrets to an open relationship that gave her much pleasure. Many had never dawned on Malinha as she had never had a relationship.
The twenty-six-year-old detective has yet to know the joys and pains of companionship. The reason for this was not that she was not beautiful, but just her own resentment. Her parents have been nagging her for years to settle down and get married, but she always waved it off, saying that she was too busy with work. That only worked part of the time. Sometimes her parents would get sneaky and set her up on blind dates. However, they were always unaware of her trump card, Raphael Borjas.
Whenever faced with a new young suitor that her parents threw at her at the last minute, her best friend would always swoop in and save her from her responsibilities. The daring young rogue has a whole bag full of tricks to keep the would-be men in her life away from her, from bribery to blackmail. He was truly formidable when it came to keeping her single.
Malinha had to admit, the lessons that Lucia was telling her seems to be valuable information. Giving her husband permission to lie with another woman alleviated her from his foul temper when he had a bad day at the office. Having that outlet gave him a way to work off stress before coming home. Especially since the woman they decided on together had a particular skill set that Lucia was not comfortable with, forget even skilled. And that was the other thing.
Lucia had her own skills that the other woman couldn’t match either. That made her feel more powerful. Knowing that her husband desired her, but only used the other woman as a means of stress relief. Being able to outperform a professional gave her a strong sense of pride and made her feel like a Goddess. It also made her wary of losing her touch. The competition was healthy for her, and as a woman in her late thirties, that was something to applaud.
“I thank you for your wisdom,” Malinha says, taking the hand of Lucia.
“I hope you find the happiness that I found with Miguel with your husband one day,” she says, finally breaking out a smile.
“Whenever that day happens, I will let you know,” Malinha says, returning the smile. While making a connection with Lucia, Malinha feels a spirit tap her on the shoulder. The chill of the spirit’s appendage sends shivers as it always does, and Malinha just giggles. This was the answer to why she couldn’t feel the victim’s presence at that scene of the crime. She feels the need to explain as she sees the look of confusion displayed on Lucia’s face.
“How much do you know about Witches?” Malinha asks.
“Very little. I know they work with Spirit Magic, but that’s about all,” Lucia replies.
“Yes, we work with Spirit Magic, but we can also talk to spirits,” Malinha explains, and Lucia follows along. “At the scene of the crime, I was looking for Miguel’s spirit, but I couldn’t find it. I thought that the suspect had passed him along, but I feel his spirit here with you,” the words light up Lucia’s face.
“He came home,” Lucia says. The overjoyed look on her face made Malinha’s heart flutter.
“Would you like to talk to him?” Malinha asks. Lucia can’t even get the words out, but her head nods answers with much enthusiasm. Malinha stands up and reaches in her blazer pocket. She pulls out her small kit of Witch tools and grabs a vial of magic-infused salt. She walks to the kitchen and asks Lucia to grab something personal that belonged to her husband that she was okay with losing. Lucia takes one of the small wooden Elvish figures and joins her.
Malinha pours a ring of salt around her and then steps out of the circle. Instructing Lucia to place the figure in the circle, she pulls out her phone and checks her list of spells given to her by her professor. Though she has been doing this for years, it always put her at ease to check Professor Audrey’s notes before. Spirits were scary if not handled properly, but the professor was the thing of nightmares that still haunted her. Malinha shakes her head, trying to forget the memory of her final exams in the woods with her professor, locking her phone and putting it away. She equips herself with her wand and asks Lucia is she ready.
After Lucia confirms. She releases her magic, and the spirit of Miguel Vasa appears over the wooden figurine that was now engulfed in a blue flame.
“You have until this figurine burns out. I will wait in the other room. I’ll get my questions from him later,” Malinha says, then leaves Lucia to talk to her husband.
“By the bloody Queen, I knew these people were all imbeciles, but now it’s only going to get worse,” Aksel Erzinclioglu says. Aksel was a Drow and the head of security at Los Mitichas First National. He was a younger guy, around mid-twenties like Raphael. Their height was the only other thing they shared. Aksel sported a well-groomed beard, slick backed red hair, red eyes, and violet skin.
Aksel mostly posed as a manager to fool would-be crooks, a tactic that Detective Raphael Borjas was all too familiar with. Aksel spared no detail on his feelings for his coworkers and how his life would get worse without as he called him.
“The rod that kept these sniveling children in line,” Aksel says, furiously puffing away at a hand-rolled cigarette.
“No kidding? Huh? So nobody wanted the guy bumped off?” Raphael asks.
“Bumped off? Excuse me, either my comprehension of the human language is horrible, or you are living right out of those old noir movies,” Aksel returns.
“Listen here, mister, no one disrespects the greats,” Raphael says, laying the accent on thicker.
“On the contrary, I love those movies, Just feel daft that I can’t do a decent accent to save my life,” Aksel shakes his head. “But to answer your question, no. Though I don’t have much hope in the intelligence department for anyone on our team, none of them would want to snuff out the old fellow. Though he was tough, he was fair. An honorable gent and an exceptional leader. Part of my job is keeping my ear to the ground. Though a few people pissed and moaned about when he pushed them to do better, no one wanted anyone else in his position,” Aksel informed, then flicks his cigarette butt in the ashtray on the top of the trash can.
“So no one is up for a promotion after this?” Raphael says, scratching his head from the stress of losing his bet with Mal.
“By the Queen, no! We are seeking help from another District Manager to help out with his duties until we can hire another,” Aksel says, feeling at his cigarette pouch, thinking of taking another.
“So no one benefits from Mr. Vasa’s death?”
“Only would-be criminals that can take advantage in the chaos of no leadership, but that’s what I’m here for,” Aksel says, beating back his itch for another smoke and signaling for Raphael to follow. Walking into the grand lobby of, oh, look how rich we are, the pair make their way back to Raphael’s office. Both men’s head on swivels, but each looking for different things. While Aksel was doing his job, checking for any signs of foul behavior, Raphael was checking the employees.
It was not looking good for him—every one of them wearing black to mourn their boss. The man must have had a significant impact on them to come together on such short notice. Miguel hadn’t been dead for more than twelve hours, and already they had got the word out and more impressively actually showed their respect. The two men walk through all the dread until they finally get to their destination.
After taking a seat across from Aksel, Raphael starts back up.
“If you had to guess, what do you think happened?”
“Are you asking the manager or the rogue?”
“Let’s just do both to cover all the bases,” Raphael replies.
“As the manager, I couldn’t possibly fathom anyone attacking him for personal gain. As the rogue, however, I will say that his vices finally caught up with him. My job is to keep an eye on everyone who works here, which means checking their background and habits outside of here. The last thing we need is someone’s sultry reputation ruining our brand’s good name,” Aksel informs, his eyes getting shaper.
“If that’s the case and you know how the boss lives his nightlife, then why not blow the whistle?”
“Because he had it well under control. He only saw one woman, not random women. His wife was well aware of the entire thing. And to top this all off, it wasn’t very frequent. He was only allowed to do it under particular stressful situations, which, as I’ve mentioned, he was great at keeping those under check.”
“So what triggered this one?”
“Losing a big client.”
“Got a name, or you can’t spill the beans on that.”
“It will be public knowledge soon enough. It was a big law firm, Maalouf and Gray.”
“Any reason they were pulling out? Could they have been up to this?”
“I doubt it, but it was a conflict of interest. Elliot Gray, one of the partners, banks here and didn’t want the public to think they were doing us any favors. But they were a large contributor.”
“I’ll have to stop by and see if I can pick up on anything,” Raphael says, grabbing a card from Aksel’s desk. He gives him a node Aksel gets up to walk him out. Raphael was hoping as he walked out that Malinha hadn’t picked up on anything. He hated dress shopping.
Cassandra knocks on the door three times and waits for the door to open. Body wrapped tightly in a black satin dress that was all the rage. Choosing to stick to clothing that was super common, she never wanted to stand out. Wearing a red wig and huge and fashionable sunglasses, She had every bit of confidence that no one would be able to make her out if she was caught on camera. Not that the police could check anyway, there were stringent privacy laws. Ones she knew well enough to fight cases on.
The Club Owner opens the door, and his surprise is overcome by his hunger.
“You’re not Rachel,” He says, licking his lips.
“No,” Cassandra responds, pushing him into the room. Using all her seduction skills, she forces him to the wall and kisses his neck. “But you’ll find me far more enjoyable.” The club owner grows low and watches over her hungrily as she strips him out of his blazer and walks him over to the couch. They kiss, and The Club Owner caresses Cassandra. She is a master at controlling her repulsion, only thinking of the right time to strike. Allowing herself to be pulled and embraced in intimate ways. She sits him on the couch and straddles his waist.
“I’m paying a lot of money for you to just rush,” The Club Owner says, but Cassandra just places her arms over his shoulders and leans forward, putting her chest in his face as she kisses at his ear.
“Trust me, I’m going to take my time with you,” She says, magic already morphing her body. Starting with her teeth, her spider form’s fangs come out, and she bites down into his neck. The Club Owner grabs at her waist to push her off but finds that her body is much heavier than before. As the magic stretches out and the legs of her transformation spring free, she is careful when she wraps her legs around him. She would hate to leave punctures on the couch.
The Club Owner tries to fight back, kicking and screaming, but his screams are muffled by her big body. The venom is now released into his body, and the heart is starting to fight as well. Cassandra holds on, waiting for his dying breath to escape his useless body, then she transforms back.
Going over her dress, she makes sure that nothing is out of place. She checks the couch and makes sure that none of her other spider’s form is on the couch.
She chose this form for many reasons. It didn’t have many spines, it’s poison was near unstoppable once release, and it was the very essence of fear in the Underdark. She couldn’t pick a favorite, but she could smile a job well done. Licking her lips at her meal, She leaned in to whisper in The Club Owner’s ear.
“You’re wife and child are better without you,” she says, then returns back to her posture. She takes a moment to compose herself, then she’s out the door. Positively humming with satisfaction.