A new chapter for my serial, Gryphon. Enjoy. Clink on the links below if you need to catch up on the previous posts.
Gryphon slept late, the sun had long set by the time she was up and ready to head back out. Messages covered her inbox and desk, people checking in and leaving progress notes on different projects. Most were simply lists of people they had spoken to about the murders.
She glanced at the large map that had been added to one wall with a sigh. Grabbing up the notes she started marking where each fae lived on the map, green dots marking each informant. The deceased were already marked with red dots for the body dump and blue for where they had lived.
There was no pattern that she could see. Each body had been left in a different area from where the fae lived. No one had admitted to seeing anything suspicious in any of the locations before the bodies were discovered. Pulling on her coat with a sigh Gryphon headed out, she needed to speak with John and Sparrow.
The Lantern was thankfully sparsely populated even if it was only just a bit after ten o’clock. Meg was chatting with the customers as she waitress, waving cheerfully at Gryphon when she saw her by the door. She made her way to the bar and gave a tired grin at Sparrow when he silently dropped off a scotch in front of her before going back to pouring pints.
“Something we can help with, Gryphon?” Sparrow asked softly once Meg left with a tray full of foaming pints.
“I was hoping to catch John. It’s to do with a case he’s working.”
“He’s normally a late comer. He’ll be here in another hour or so if you want to wait.”
“Sure. Think I could get a water to go with this?”
“Coming up. Looks like it’s been a rough few days, if you don’t mind me saying.”
“Just frustrating more than anything.” She said with a smile, “Have you heard about the Farris Clan?”
“The change in heirs? Aye, that’s all over. Most of the clan wasn’t happy but the Clan Head ordered compliance.”
“It stands to mess with the balance in the Counsel.”
“The Counsel’s never been balanced.” Sparrow said with a snort, “They’re willing to ignore the vices of each other maybe, but never balanced. They fight with each other more than they deal with any real issues. There’s been no real change in our ways or laws in centuries as you well know.”
“None of us can help our instincts or what our inclination is.”
“That doesn’t mean we have to embrace that nature or flaunt how it breaks both human and fae laws. We’re more than our natures.”
“I don’t disagree, Sparrow, I’m just tired of seeing those around me punished for being themselves. If a half blood embraces it’s human nature it is shunned by the fae and tormented by the humans for being different. If they embrace their fae nature they are treated like low class citizens by the fae for having human blood.”
“No one like someone who is different, Gryphon. It’s the nature of both human and fae.”
“But it makes no sense.” She said slapping the counter in frustration. “Look at how many kinds of fae there are, how many times we’ve interbreed over the centuries. No one kind is better than the other.”
“Not unless you are talking in terms of power, then there are distinct lines in the sand.”
“It depends what you count as power.”
“If you two are going to sit here and talk politics I need a drink.” Meg said dropping into a seat next to Gryphon.
“What? Are you only able to debate while drunk?” Sparrow asked giving her a look.
“I’m Irish, the only time you’re allowed to debate politics, religion, or sex is while drunk.” Meg said with a grin, “But seriously, you two are way too serious tonight. Three shots, on me, Sparrow.”
“It’s your paycheck, girly.” He said with a sigh, pouring out three shots of whiskey.
“So, how are you defining power?” Gryphon asked, tapping her shot glass against Meg’s before she downed the liquid smoothly.
“That depends if you’re asking about political power or personal power.” Sparrow said, tossing back his own shot before pouring himself a stein of mead.
“Or magic.” Meg put in, gesturing for a refill.
“Magic is universal.” Sparrow said, shaking his head. “Even you have a wee dram, lass. The only difference there is how much magic your blood allows you to hold. Those with fae blood are just able to hold more.”
“It’s true.” Gryphon said with a smile, “It’s thought to be why humans and fae can interbreed.”
“So, I could do magic?” the human asked with a delighted laugh.
“With enough practice and study, possibly.” Sparrow said giving her a stern look. “The humans I knew who managed it lived with the fae, studying our arts for most of their lives before they managed anything beyond the simplest of spells.”
“Oh, so no instant water to wine or luck spells?”
“Sorry, no. Even the fae are mostly stuck with the spells our kind is best at. It takes a lot of practice to cast something that’s not part of your in born talent.”
“Well, gryphons are known for wind and fire magic so those are very easy for me to learn and cast. It takes less effort.”
“So it would take a lot of effort to cast something based on… like water?”
“What did you mean when you asked him to define power though? I thought magic was a fae’s power.”
“There are different kinds of power.” Gryphon said with a frown, thinking about someone willing to upset the natural balance just to increase their own power, going against every law the fae held true.
“Nope, you cannot stop there. Refills, boss man. You have to explain that.”
“Well, take humans. On the scale for magic they are nonexistent in general but on political power and capital some can still play the field in both the fae world and the human. Natural charisma and sound business strategies can be just as effective as a glamor or mood altering spell.”
“With the bonus of having less potential issues if someone realizes you’ve magic-ed them.” Sparrow put in with a laugh, “Think about your great human leaders, Meg. Most of them have accomplished amazing things, all without a lick of magic.”
“But a fae can be powerful with magic alone, right?”
“Again it depends on how you define power. If by power you mean having every other fae too terrified to stop him then our histories are full of such people. Ones who used their magical might to make those around them slaves to their whims.” Sparrow said starting to top off drinks.
“But the fae aren’t allowed to do that anymore.” Meg pointed out tossing back her shot and holding out the glass for a refill.
“Not to humans, no. There are, however still very few who are willing to challenge what happens in a clan household.”
“You mean like Gryphon’s clan.” Meg sighed, slumping against the bar. “So if the Council decides to leave things as they are?”
“I go back to the care of my clan and no one I know will have the power to remove me, no matter how I’m treated. As long as they don’t outright kill me they can do as they like.” Gryphon said softly.
“I’m sorry but that’s ridiculous. If humans are protected from harm, why aren’t the fae?” Meg demanded.
“Clan on clan violence has been outlawed for centuries.” Sparrow pointed out, pouring out another shot for Gryphon and frowning when she slid it in front of Meg. “If one or more clans protest the actions of another a duel can be called but they’re generally to the death with the victor deciding the issue. The most powerful magically often wins.”
“So if we challenged the clan and lost?”
“Well, for one thing, we as a group are not a clan so we would not be able to challenge anyone. Only Lysander has a clan high enough ranking in our group to issue a challenge and that’s only if he could get the support of his Clan head. If he did and lost she would stay with the gryphon clan until someone else managed to win the challenge.”
“And most will not challenge a second time.” Gryphon pointed out, tossing back the last of her drink.
“Well, this is a sorry bunch.” John said, tugging off his tie and tucking it into his jacket. “Who died?”
“No one yet.” Gryphon said firmly, “I need to talk to you.”
“About the case?”
“If you could. You as well, Sparrow, if you have a moment?”
“Of course, come around back.” Sparrow said drying his hands on a spare towel. “Meg, will you mind the bar a moment?”
“Sure, the token human isn’t needed.” She said with a sigh but got up and grabbed a tray to start busing the remaining customers.
John raised an eyebrow but followed behind Gryphon around behind the bar and down the stairs into Sparrow’s office. She flopped onto the couch set to one side while Sparrow moved behind his desk. John closed the door behind him and leaned against the wall where he would hear anyone approaching.
“You have more information about the hidden fae?”
“Yes, and more questions.” Gryphon said with a sigh, “Sparrow, have you heard any rumors about an unbalance in the flows of natural magic in the area?”
“Well, yes. A few friends have inquired if I’d heard of anything happening that would be large enough to drain the natural magic from an area or to cause it to be repelled. I hadn’t and told them as much.”
“I don’t think the murders of the hidden fae are random. I think it’s a ritual and so far, an unbalanced one at that.” Gryphon said with a sigh, “If the pattern holds the next to die will have to be inclined to a different element then earth.”
“All the hidden fae killed were earth based races. Damn.” John snarled, the sound rumbling weirdly in his human form.
“The worst part is I don’t think the invocation is using race or the number of deaths to bind the spell. I think it’s using magical power. It took the death of five minor fae to shift the balance so that we would notice it. If they catch someone with more power it could unbalance the entire paradigm.”
“If the balance shifts too much spells will start to break down. Glamors will fail, bindings crumble. The fae world could be revealed to the world in a matter of hours.” She stretched, setting the silver box on Sparrow’s desk and curling back up in her chair.
“I take it the box factors in somehow?” Sparrow asked, picking it up and examining it for a moment.
“It probably holds the key to everything but of course, it’s locked.” She said with a huff. “I was at the market yesterday and meet with some old friends. They noticed the balance shifting and not in a good way. The darkness is growing.”
“Are you sure?”
“You can’t feel the way the shadows are lengthening? The nights grow longer when they should be shortening this time of year.” She asked, hands arching around her as she talked. “The time at the market lengthened and I almost didn’t manage to leave in time. I’d only spent maybe two hours inside yet the entire night was gone when I left.”
“The doorways haven’t shifted time that severely since the last elf wars.” Sparrow said softly, setting the box down.
“I’ve started mapping the locations of each death and where the attacks were thought to happen but I can’t see a pattern yet. Tatha has her entire network searching for information and my half-blood friends are looking where the full blooded might not go.”
“I alerted the packs when the files first hit the station but I’ll make sure they are keeping watch.” John said moving to stand closer to the fireplace. “They won’t join in fully unless one of their own is attacked but they will keep their noses to the ground and let me know if anything changes on their end.”
“The were are always more willing to accept those of mixed blood. Would they be willing to shelter people if we need it?”
“Yes, but not anything long term. A fortnight at best.”
“I can do some research on rituals that might match what we are seeing.” Sparrow said, watching the other two. “I know that stubborn look on the both of you. Don’t do anything stupid trying to draw this maniac out. Both of you are powerful enough that if you were used in the ritual it could tip the balance that much faster.”
“I can’t just stand by and watch our people get killed. John snapped, pushing off the wall and starting to pace. “Hell, I’m a cop for a reason, Sparrow.”
“If this person is dabbling in what I think they are then they have nothing left to lose. They will fight to the death and will take anyone around them down with them just because they can.” Gryphon said, watching the flames flickering behind John’s pacing form.
“Or an unbinding or resurrection of spirit who uses death magic.”
“Death magic’s been forbidden as long as any of us alive can remember. It has to be something else.”
“If you have nothing left to lose, what’s your soul when added to the balance?” Gryphon said.
“They will be the spirit’s puppet, their minds and souls completely consumed by the beast!” John snapped, teeth bared.
“True darkness always hungers.” Sparrow said, his voice soft as he watched his friend pace, growling softly.
“And light burns just as easily as darkness freezes. Dead is still dead. I don’t plan to rush into any battles, Sparrow. I wanted to ask if I can send victims through the gate if needed.” Gryphon said, watching the anger playing over the were’s form.
“Of course, though I sincerely hope that you will not be close enough to need to.”
“You and me both.” She said with a sigh, “But I’ve learned to plan for the worst.”
“What else can we do?” John asked, stopping with his back to the fire.
“Hope for the best and pray to the old gods that the balance holds. I think by the end of this we are going to need their blessings.”