Borjas watches as Salib takes another sip of liquid sugar covered in whipped sugar and labeled as coffee. His disgust is palpable while taking the last sip of his coffee out of his favorite mug. Salib just rolls her eyes at him and continues to show pure glee as she sips her coffee shop bliss.
“You know those things will kill you?” Borjas throws out while going over the files.
“Out of all the things that I encounter on the job, I’m sure this ranks pretty low on things that will kill me. Far beneath your driving.” She rebuts.
“Oh, quit all that. I have a perfect driving record.”
“Only because you are an officer.”
“Name one time I’ve ever been in an accident,” He says, crossing his arms and leaning back in his chair.
“Last year, while chasing down the Northside butcher.” Borjas wags his finger
“Wasn’t me. You rode with detective Storms. I went ahead of you because you had to check on your dad.” Salib runs through her memories, and sure enough, she realizes that he’s right. Scanning the vast contents of her memories, she is pulling blanks for anything related to driving problems with him other than faster than her liking.
“Give it time. I’m sure it will happen.”
“Not a chance. My finesse is high enough that my senses are much sharper than most.”
“You do know that out of all recorded data of registered people with battle skills, finesse users rank the highest in accidents.”
“How did I know that you would bring that up?” He says, giving her an eye. “You know as well as I do, that’s because they are most likely to commit crimes, and usually those accidents are when running from law enforcement.” He pulls out his phone and starts typing. “Now, if you’d do some actual research, you’d find that if you disregard those accidents that occur with law enforcement, they actually rank lower. Only higher than monks, as they have so few of them even drive. And of the top, casters, and what school of magic does that say rank the highest?” He says, sliding his phone over to her. She pushes it back to him.
“That’s not fair. Most spirit casters are out-of-touch nature lovers that have no idea how to operate a toaster, let alone a car.”
“Remind me again. What did you get on your driving test?”
“Don’t we have work we could be doing?” Borjas chuckles at her response and goes back to the files.
“Look at this,” Salib says, sliding a file over to Borjas. “Cassandra has a mother who is from the Underdark. A high-ranking officer. She resigned from the Underdark Army with an honorable discharge and got married to a banker. According to some data I found, it looks like they are separated now.”
“Do we have anything on why?”
“He’s a banker, not some celebrity. No one cares why their marriage is falling apart.”
“I would make a bet that he stepped out of their vows to invest in the escort business. But the last time, I bet you I nearly had a heart attack from the stress.”
“And you know that I would be right this time.”
“I mean, seems pretty obvious, but the leg work still has to be done,” Borjas says, grabbing his coat. Salib pouts a bit.
“I was just getting comfortable,” she says, taking a sip and catching her coat when Borjas tosses it to her.
“The faster we catch her, the sooner you can go back to sipping on frappes and scrolling social media.”
“I feel slighted,” she says, still sipping away.
“I’m a rogue, remember? I saw you check your Snippetz.” Salib avoids eye contact and tries to slyly put her phone in her coat pocket. Borjas just giggles and holds the door for her. On their way out of the precinct, Borjas holds his keys out to her.
“Want to drive?” He says, able to keep a straight face. If her stare could kill, she would be well on her way to booking.
“Very funny.” She says dryly.
Borjas whistles when walking up to the house big enough to be a castle. Doing a quick scope of the place gives him a bad feeling. It’s a large property without a gate or any type of security. Not a single camera or even one person was anywhere to be found. Sure she was in a pretty safe part of town, but Borjas knows for a fact that some of these houses have were targeted in the past. Any skilled rogue could get in and out of here before anyone knew anything, not to mention, the house had to be empty at some time. All it would take is one person casing the place, and they could rob her blind.
The owner, Helen Roberts, had to know that. So why is this place completely empty? Borjas grabs his service weapon and taps his partner. She looks at him confused and unholsters hers as well.
“Why are we arming ourselves?”
“Geez, do you really not see a problem with how empty this place is?”
“I sense no danger at all. Besides, the woman is a hundred and eighty years old. She probably doesn’t see a reason in all of that.”
“She is also a retired Drow General,” Borjas says, still scouting over the place. “Hey, put my mind at ease and give it a scan.” Salib rolls her eyes and taps into her magic.
“No astral footprints. There is only one person in the house.”
“Can you get a read on how strong they are?”
“The person is extremely healthy. I can say that. But Drow and Elves are known to be in their prime until the last five or so years of their lives.”
“And you still think we don’t have a reason to be on edge?”
“Drows that come to the surface are usually far milder than the ones that stay in the Underdark.” Borjas isn’t buying it. His instincts have him on high alert.
The garden that leads them to the main entrance is full of life and vibrant colors—adding charm to the modern house that hides behind an older theme charm. They ease their way through the gallery of fountains, statues, and benches that are sure to make for a lovely evening stroll. Hopefully, that’s all this is.
The door with faux ancient charm still has the exact dimensions as its predecessor. They knock on the heavy door, and the wide planks open up. A quick trap check, and Borjas can only notice that it is mechanical means that opened the door. Pointing it out to Salib, then spits out.
“Still think nothing is up?”
“Adding a little modernness to your home is not a crime, Ralph.”
“Could you prep a spell? Just to be on the safe side.” He encourages. Salib sighs and makes the hand motions, and preps a small ball of spirit magic.
“Come on, you big chicken.” She says and enters the house.
Borjas announces their presence, and he hears an older voice call back.
“Just a moment, I am not decent. I wasn’t expecting visitors.” A tender voice calls downstairs.
“Take your time Mrs. Roberts.”
“Please, call me Helen. I shan’t be long, dears. Please, help yourself to some tea. The kettle is nearly hot.” Borjas and Salib walk past the dining area and see a grand island with baked goods and cups. Near the island, a stove had a kettle on and tea bags to the side. “Forgive me for not making it proper. What a horrible host I’ve become.”
Salib gives out a loud ‘ugh’ and cancels her spell. “This will do just fine. Thank you.” She says, rolling her eyes at Borjas.
“I’m telling you, Mal, somethings not right here.” He rushes over to the goods and gives them a once over. No holes, no signs of poison, and the tea bags were sealed and a well-known brand. Salib grabs a scone with cream and jam. She bumps Borjas out of the way, finding a lovely pink and flowery teacup with a saucer. Picking a bag, Salib rips the seal, tossing it and the paper in the trash, and tossing the tea bag in the cup. Once the kettle’s hiss starts, she pours nice and slow filling her cup. Taking a bite of the scone, she squeals a little bit.
“Ralph, these are really good.” she all but moans.
“I think I’ll pass.”
“Ralph, you have to try one. If they are poison or we are about to die, you have to try one first.”
“That good, huh?”
“If she comes out and kills me right now, I would die happy,” Salib says, sporting a little smile after licking some of the filling off the sides of the scone.
“Try the raspberry one, dear. They are my favorite.” The elderly voice comes out just on the other side of the kitchen. Fitted in Drow spider-silk armor, the Gray armor hugs her very visual curves and highlights her very toned muscles. Her silver hair tied back in a bun and her face the very essence of beauty. She looks like she could be Cassandra’s sister, but her voice gives it away. Soft red eyes look them over as she goes over to the fridge and pulls out a carton of milk. She joins them on the other end of the island, and when Borjas goes to lift his weapon, she holds a hand up to him. “Detective, you can save that for later. It’s been so long since I’ve had company, I wouldn’t dare.” She grabs a scone herself and urges him towards the raspberry once more after she secures her own. Putting his weapon away, he takes one and takes a bite.
The buttery flavor explodes on his tongue, and the contrast of sweet hits after. Borjas can nearly believe his senses and takes another bite.
“You made these?” He says, unable to hide the delight in his voice.”
“I’m a bit rusty, but I managed what I could.”
“If this is you rusty, I would love to see what you could do in practice.”
“I told you!” Salib says, going for her second.
“I’m delighted you like them.” The smile takes up her face, and for the moment, her beauty hides her danger.
“I hate to be a bad guest, but do you have any coffee?” Mrs. Roberts makes a face of disappointment.
“You humans and your coffee, have you ever tried Drow tea?” Salib shakes no for him. “What a pity. You must try it, Detective. The prepared tea bags don’t quite do it justice, but it’s a sight better than your coffee.”
“Make me a believer,” Borjas says, walking over to the kettle.
Mrs. Roberts takes delight in making him tea and adding the ‘proper’ amount of milk and sugar to it. They return to the island, and Borjas is happy to admit that he was wrong about two things so far.
“Wow, this is some good stuff here.”
“I’ve been trying to get you to drink Drow tea for years, and you do it for her? You should just make her your best friend.” Salib fusses.
“I mean, she at least cooks for me, and she’s not bad to look at for an older gal.”
“Stop it, Detective.” She says. Borjas can’t believe that he saw her blush. “Had I known you were coming sooner, I would have cooked for you proper.”
“So you just wake up and make scones every day?” Salib says, wiping the crumbs from her face.
“Not every day, dear. I’ve only recently been in the mood.”
“Have anything to do with your daughter?” Borjas says, feeling like he’s ruining an otherwise fantastic morning.
“Yes, Detective. Cassandra has made me feel less lonely and got me back to some of my old self.” She takes another sip of her tea. “Before she came back home, I just sat around the house like a miserable old prude.”
“How long has she been back home?” Borjas says, reading the label on the tea.
“About three months now. She had to wait for her lease to be up on her apartment.”
“Got it,” He takes another sip to wash down the scone. “I would like to search the house if I could. I don’t have a warrant, but I could go get one.”
“And I can’t let you do that, Detective.”
“You’re daughter is a suspect in a murder case,” Salib chimes in. Mrs. Roberts holds her hand up to Salib.
“You are a sweet child, and I don’t doubt that you are loved very much by your mother. Would she let someone come after you? Right or wrong?”
“My mother strongly believes in the legal system. If I were to do something wrong, she would let me be punished.” Salib talks as if she was talking to her Teta.
“What if you were innocent? Would she stand by and allow such?” A frown starts to form on her lovely face.
“She’s not being accused of anything yet. That’s why we are searching. But I have to say. It’s not looking good for her not showing up for work the day after the news airs.” Borjas inserts.
“Please, Detective. We all know how it looks when a Drow is accused of something violent. What are the statistics on violence cases for Drow in Human cities?”
“Not great,” Borjas admits. “I know you have no reason to trust us, but I assure you we only want the truth.”
“And I only want to protect my daughter.” Mrs. Robers says, finishing the last of her tea. She takes all the cups and puts them in the sink. After this, she goes back to the stairs, dons her helmet, and then grabs a round shield and an arming sword. Could you please go to the front lawn? I would hate to get blood in the house.”
“Sure thing, let me just grab one of these teas, just in case I come out of this alive.”
“Oh please, dear. Take as many as you like.”
After filling his pocket with a few, Borjas lead Salib and Mrs. Roberts to the front lawn. Making it out to the closest bench, he turns and faces Mrs. Roberts and checks her stance.
“So is this why you don’t have any security?” He looks at her form and knows this will be a tough fight.
“More or less,” she says, her body emitting a blue aura. Borjas says a silent prayer and thinks, ‘of course she’s a defense type.’ Using finesse to quicken his actions, he pulls his service weapon and fires off a few shots. The bullets hit her, and it doesn’t stop her from charging right for him. By the luck of the old Gods, he dodges the sword strike but can’t do anything about the backhand shield bash. Tumbling backward, he lets out a yell, and Salib cast a spirit bolt at Mrs. Roberts. She wasn’t ready for Mrs. Roberts to use her shield to volley it back at her. Taking the full force of the bolt sends her to her backside as well. Borjas watches as Mrs. Roberts leaps at him. Dodge rolling out of the way, he decides to play keep away until he can get a shot.
Salib gets to her feet and enchants her firearm. Taking a few shots, she manages to knick her with one. Going to a knee after the hit, She turns and lifts her shield, sending a shock wave of force, knocking Salib on her back once more.
“Mal, she’s a retired general. Standing still is not advised.”
“Noted,” Salib says, just in time to see Borjas get kicked into a statue. His crash into it breaks off a piece.
“I rather liked that one. Could you possibly try not to get hit into it again?”
“I’m trying not to get hit at all. You are stronger than I thought you were going to be, and trust me, I didn’t think this would be a walk in the park.” He groans.
“You mustn’t try to butter me up, Detective.” Her voice is far too pleasant for the current situation.
“Please, call me Raphael. We are far past the pleasantries at this point.” Borjas says, out of breath and aching from the attack.
“Are you sure I can’t convince you to drop this foolishness and come back inside? I’ve grown to like you quite a lot.” She smiles at him. If he weren’t so terrified of her power, he would be enjoying this more.
“I would, but the job, you know?”
“Understood, Raphael. Please, if you’re going to fight me, show me a good time at least.”
“I can try,” Borjas says.
Cassandra counts her keys again. There are still six of them like the last ten times she counted. She spins the keyring on her finger while looking over at the small house’s door. Nestled perfectly between two large trees, it is hidden in plain sight. This tiny little home was the lair of a great evil in her past life. And every time she had to go to it, she always regretted it—every single time.
With the police on to her, she had few options. Knowing that she didn’t leave any evidence, she could gamble with giving them the burden of proof, but she couldn’t chance them having some cleric on call to zone of truth her. That and Cassandra know that she is a terrible liar.
Giving up on holding this off any longer, she exits her car and walks casually to the door. She raps at the door and looks right at the security camera. It opens in seconds. Like it always does. Hit with the pungent odor of depravity, shame, weed, and lavender, she tries hard to focus on the last. It had been one of the few things that kept her sane when she had to come here, maybe because it was the last thing she did before escaping this pit of despair.
Though the home has proper furniture and a coat rack, Cassandra refuses to set anything of hers down. She doesn’t want to show any signs of comfortability. Cassandra hated this place, almost as much as she hated the owner.
Making her way into the living room, there she was. Sitting on her long black couch, Cassandra’s ex was waiting on her.
Alienor Delacroix’s smoky green eyes lock on Cassandra, then her tongue glides over her fangs. The wingless Vampire had a healthy appetite for Cassandra, one that Cassandra feared. Ali’s tatted hands push through her short pine hair while another girl kisses over her other tatted parts wearing nothing but a skirt. The girl rubbed over Ali’s body, moving to the beat of their chilled vibes while riding whatever high they were on. Her hands are gliding over Ali’s perfectly athletic body and worshiping that lovely bronze skin.
Cassandra screams to herself to stop it. She couldn’t let herself get caught in the allure of Ali, not again. Ali’s eyes flash pink, and the magic begins to swirl, the mark of a master of the school of charm magic. Cassandra came prepared for it. Cassandra’s necklace was a powerful charm ward. She had needed to muster the strength to leave Ali the last time. It was a great tool, but it didn’t work on Ali’s natural charm.
“I see you still have your trinket.” Her words like the tides pulling Cassandra in.
“I see you still have your toys,” Cassandra says, staying strong. For now.
“Have a seat Ma Petite Chou.” She pats the seat next to her.
“I’m fine standing.”
“You don’t want to be next to me? N’est-ce pas?”
“I’m just really in a hurry,” Cassandra says, channeling magic. Ready to fight her off if she has to.
“Nonsense, Ma Petite Chou,” Ali says, getting up and walking over. Cassandra turns to go back to the door, just to realize that Ali summoned a wall there. Not one for her tricks, she pushes it, only to find that it’s real. “My illusions have become more powerful since the last time you were here.” She says, closing the distance on Cassandra. Cassandra changes to her spider form and uses her front two legs to push Ali back. Making sure to show her fangs, Cassandra raises her front to spider legs in a warning. Laughing off the push, Ali just licks her lips at her.
“You’re not going to attack me. You need me. Just like you always do.” Ali says, walking up to her. Coming down with great force, Cassandra pins Ali to the floor. And terror shocks her to her core when the body vanishes before her. She feels the force of arcane magic pushing her across the room. When she hits the wall, she feels small rings wrap around her body. Quickly changing back to her Drow form, she slips through the loops. She lands sitting on the couch but can’t move once there. Her body is paralyzed, and when Ali comes into view, she knows why. The eyes glow orange, and she knows that she is stuck.
“Your spider form may be more dangerous, but you are still as vulnerable to my magic as before.”
“Please, Ali, just help me, and this won’t be necessary.” Cassandra still struggles. Ali signals to the other girl, and Cassandra is filled with freight. “Please, Ali, you don’t want to do this!”
“I think I do, Ma Petite Chou.” Ali walks over to the couch and straddles Cassandra. Cassandra can’t feel her kissing her neck, but just knowing she is doing it and what she is planning sends her into full panic mode. Cassandra tries with all her might, but she knows that soon those fangs will sink into her neck, and if she does that, she will be in worst trouble than if the police find her.
“The police are tracking me, and my phone is here!” That gets Ali to stop.
“Where is your phone?” She says, kissing Cassandra’s lips.
“I won’t tell you.”
“Fine, I’ll just use illusions to keep you hidden.”
“One of the detectives is a shaman. She can sense my astral force.”
“Now you’re just lying to me,” another kiss, then she moves to the other side of her neck.
“I’m not,” Cassandra feels tears start to flow. “Detective Malinha Salib, look her up.” Ali beckons her phone to her and does the unlock and a few taps. When the detective’s picture reaches her phone, she reads the quick bio and spits out a curse. “If you drug me, I won’t be able to think straight. Please Ali, if you do this for me, I will give myself to you willingly.”
“You’ll come back to me?” Her lips curl into a nightmarish grin.
“No. Just sex. Once.”
“I would rather us both rot in prison before that.” Ali curses again.
“No, in a hotel of my choosing. No magic, no drugs.”
“Then that’s no fun.”
“Kiss me and tell me that again.” Ali does as she asks, but Cassandra lets herself slip into her desire for her for just a short while. The toxicity of her kiss is just as electric as she remembers. The taste of her is just as satisfying as she remembers. She’s able to slip out of the spell and able to move, but she can’t fight her when she’s this close. Her hands find their way to Ali’s side, and she fights hard not to dig her nails into her soft skin. She nearly caves harder when she feels Ali’s hand glide up her throat.
In a moment of pure survival instincts, she changes to a bat and darts across the room. Switching back to her Drow form, she puts her hand to her throat and looks over at Ali. Ali’s movements are hypnotic at this point, and all the images of her past encounters with her flash to the front of her mind. She fights it off and says.
“Do we have a deal?” Cassandra says, trying hard to keep herself under control. Ali picks up a small vape pen takes and takes a hit. After letting out a small puff, she gleams that toxic smile of hers.
“Mais oui, Ma Petite Chou. What do you need me to do?”