When Ol’ Jenny came to town
They threw stones and tore her gown
“Charlatan!” the townsfolk cried
When the crops withered and died
Preacher claimed a witch she be;
They hung her at the crossroad tree
Cursed ’em with her final breath
And now their lands know only death.
“Obfuscate!” she yelled, throwing her hand up in a stop gesture.
A chuckle followed her from the dark as she staggered away.
“Oh, Little Witch, you won’t be rid of me that easily.” His thrown knife ended the sentence, and her cry of pain pulled a smile from him.
“It really looks like–”
“I said no.”
Someone had tried to keep the zombie horse’s mouth shut by impaling it with a machete, making it look like…
“It’s not a unicorn .”
“No, it’s clearly a zombicorn.”
“I almost hate that enough to kill you.”
“Did you check the house for latent spells?”
“Do I look like an amateur to you?”
“I’m not sure you want me to answer that question.”
Ashton scowled, but responded; “Yes, I checked. Happy?”
“Not particularly. Three dead, and a missing warlock? I’ve had better days.”
“What’s he done now?”
“Disinterred corpses, and relieved them of their personal effects.”
“And body parts. Best of both worlds, really. Jewelry to pawn, and parts to the black magic folks.”
“You’re sick, Darby.”
“No, just practical.”
“Should he be doing that?” Ashton asked, leery of the yipping man.
“Well, he is a werewolf,” Darby said hesitantly.
“What do we do, Mr. Expert?”
“Have you got a collar and leash?”
“Don’t try to rope me into your kinks, Darby.”
“Staking a vampire does not obviate the removal of the head.”
“How informative,” Ashton said. He pulled out the hacksaw, then gave it to Darby. “Being a liaison doesn’t obviate your duty to make sure the vamp is dead,” Ashton explained with a grin at Darby’s grimace.
“Usurpers!” the caged pixie shrieked as Ashton put him in the back of their car.
“Will he do this all the way to the station?”
“Probably. He’s on the fae drug he’s been dealing.”
“Oh, he’s in for a rough night.”
Darby displayed the sigil on the bottom of the swing. “They’re reaping or feeding on the kinetic energy created by the children.”
“That’s why they’re tired?”
“Yes, and it urges them to keep swinging.”
“For how long?”
“With no one to stop them? Until they pass out.”
“Darby, get this thing off me,” the creature said. The satori sat on Ashton’s tensed shoulder.
“It’s just inquisitive , no need for hysterics. The Japanese liaison will be here soon.”
Then the satori growled at Darby.
“Couldn’t agree more,” Ashton said.
“Quite the lively bunch,” Ashton said.
“Yes, but mostly harmless,” Darby reassured him.
“There are good and bad nixie.” He gestured to the otters playing in the park pond. “These nixie chose to be around humans, but wild nixie warrant far more caution.”
Ashton’s body and mind were languorous, and the only thing that mattered was her.
Darby shouted for a medic, and did his best to drag Ashton along with him.
“I’d rather like to visit her again.”
“Not if I can help it,” Darby muttered. “Damnable sirens.”
“The murder weapon is a fancy dagger?”
“It’s an athame; a ritualistic dagger used by certain practitioners of magic.”
“Right, so a fancy dagger.”
Darby sighed. The opaline quality of the gem in the hilt shimmered. “Anyway, I think they’re using it to trap souls.”
Ashton eyed the #fibrous material of the noose from which the homemade doll hung. It was too fine for normal rope.
“What is that?”
“The victim’s hair.”
“How’d they get enough for a noose?”
“The victim recently donated their hair. A good deed turned bad by voodoo.”
The man waved his arms with a flourish, grandly pronouncing words of utter gibberish.
“I believe this is one of yours,” Darby said, eyes avoiding the man’s stark form.
“Not a wizard or sorcerer, then?”
“Tough break for him when he finds out.”
“Their bites are like a drug–destroying the vampire won’t kill the yearning.”
The man was in cuffs in the back of a police vehicle.
“Guess he thought it didn’t hurt to try,” Ashton said.
“He could have died.”
“Maybe he’d rather be dead than live with that need.”
“Kelpies are usually found in the riparian zone of a river or body of water.”
“You should have gotten me a pocket dictionary for Christmas instead of a tie. English please, Pointdexter.”
Darby pinched the bridge of his nose. “On the shore.”
“See? Was that so hard?”
“He’s muddled on his account of the incident.”
“Fae mischief, or embarrassment?”
“Both. Would you want to admit to relations with a goblin you thought was a daoine sídhe, because she illegally used glamour?”
“Exactly. I’ll contact Fae relations.”
“Having decomposed, the skeleton’s bones are articulated with necromantic magic, allowing it to move.”
“Great,” Ashton said, reloading his weapon. “How do I kill it, Professor?”
The sharp report of his shot rang through the air.
“If I die, I’m haunting you.”
“Can I tempt you with some jasmine for your garden? To attract love to your door?” With a coy smile she ran a finger down Darby’s chest.
Ashton snickered as Darby let out a strangled; “No,” then backed away. “We’re here to ask about wood nymphs.”
She sighed. “Pity.”
“The ichthyocentaurs combine the most frustrating traits of its parts: obstinance, pride, and vanity.”
“They sound like real winners.”
“Well, they certainly think so, and they’re starting trouble with the local seafolk.”
“Of course they are,” Ashton grumbled.
“What’s this rigmarole about vamp murders?” the Captain barked.
“You make it sound like they’re the murderers.”
“Not this time,” Ashton said, before Darby went into a diatribe.
“Then find who’s re-killing ’em before a fang freak cries to the press.”
The cacophony from the cages was deafening.
“When our guy found a magical way to fuse animals, his first idea was this?” Ashton yelled, and pointed to the screeching, flapping creature.
“Maybe he likes Wizard of Oz?”
“Well, we’re definitely not in Kansas, Dorothy.”
“Why did you let that happen?” Darby gingerly touched his nose.
“Is it my job to step in front of the punch when you shoot off at the mouth?”
“I beg your-”
“You asked the witch if she was, ‘a lady of the night’.”
“You’re lucky all she did was punch you.”
“Do you know what amazes me?” Darby asked.
“Will you leave off?”
“Every time I tell you not to touch something, you never listen.”
“It was a doorknob. Not some magic doodad.”
“A doorknob to a trap room.”
“You going to complain, or help me look for a way out?”
“What’s the range on this heart-stopping spell?” Ashton asked.
“It depends on many factors.”
“So you don’t know?”
“I would know, if I had all the necessary information.”
“Should I update my will?”
“Only if you plan on subjecting the spellcaster to your presence.”
“Vampires and weres wax and wane as adversaries throughout history,” Darby informed Ashton.
“Isn’t that some kind of urban legend made up by Hollywood?”
“Not exactly, but greatly exaggerated, to be sure.”
“No one is immune to war, I suppose.”
“People rarely are.”
“How could you let that roam free?” Ashton asked, pointing to the wolpertinger in the cage.
“It wasn’t harming anyone.”
“Except the local livestock, and your neighbor’s cat,” Darby observed.
“Serves her right. Mrs. Davies has always been too nosy for her own good.”
“Tremendous job on that werewolf kerfuffle, you two!” the captain said.
“Thank you, sir.”
Once the captain was gone, Darby whispered; “We didn’t do anything, just mediated.”
“Take praise where you can, Darby. Especially from the captain, and especially with you.”
“Do you not have any #extra salt on you?”
“I left my condiments in my other jacket,” Ashton scathingly replied.
“Leave it to you to not pack basic supplies on a witch investigation,” Darby scolded.
“I thought we were here to interview her, not cook her a meal.”
“Her cheeks were #rosy! She’s a vamp!”
“She’s not a vampire; that was make-up for her funeral,” Darby said.
The patrol car took the man away, and Ashton shook his head. “Good thing stakes don’t kill a vamp, or we’d have more twice-dead corpses than we could handle.”