Chapter 18: Case Closed

Charms and Things, Glimmerbrook

CALEB

Lilith’s lecture was still fresh in his mind after a week. Some of it he agreed with—he was being a shitty partner and a bad friend to Akira—and some of it he did not. Caleb didn’t have a track record of getting “over-involved,” and he certainly didn’t exhibit blatant signs of “codependency,” whatever that meant. He knew what she was hinting at—that Caleb fought his father that night at the theater, and it opened up a gulf between them so vast that 180 years wasn’t enough to cross it. But that’s where Lilith was wrong. He was defending his mother because no one else would. And as for his father? Their feud was Vladislaus’s fault.

“Darrel, Darrel, Darrel, you are bullshitting us, and we don’t appreciate it,” Akira said, holding the shop owner at sword point. 

“I’m not! I’m an upstanding member of the Glimmerbrook community and—” 

“You’re five years behind on your taxes,” Caleb tsked.

“That’s because I don’t want to slaughter a goat!” he cried, “It’s barbaric!”

Darrel Charm was genuinely full of shit. Witches had long elected to submit the magical overrun from their rituals instead of simoleons for taxes. The Charm family pushed for the legislation and yet, never paid it.

“You know as well as we do that there are vegetarian options,” Akira growled. 

The sound Darrel made was indignant, but he quickly changed his tune when Akira tightened the hand wrapped around his throat. “What’s the deal with the teeth?” the fae demanded.

“Mostly fakes,” he croaked. “Matilda sells me the real thing, but I swear, I only give them to spellcasters skilled enough to know they need the real thing. And they always come from pack members who earned a punishment.”

It was barbaric but not illegal. Still, Caleb wanted to break Darrel’s neck. The glint in Akira’s eye said he was thinking the same thing, but somehow, the fae found the wherewithal to maneuver his sword away from the spellcaster’s neck and let him struggle to his feet.

“And what about him?” Caleb held up a photo of Johnny Zest, “Did he come in?”

“Y-yes. With a red-headed woman. They were shopping, buying ingredients and potions and….and…”

“Out with it! The Sages ain’t concerned about me running through witches who are behind on their taxes,” Akira threatened.

“He was nasty,” Darrel blinked rapidly, his hands twitching. “First, he asked to buy teeth, and then he threatened to kill me if I didn’t buy my next batch from him instead of Matilda. The woman kept saying they shouldn’t do this because their boss wouldn’t like it.”

Caleb’s eyes flashed. “Who is this boss?”

“I don’t know!” the spellcaster paled, “The woman was really upset, but Johnny calmed her down.”

“How?”

“H-he just said he would handle him, give him something shiny and expensive to shut him up.” Darrel glanced around nervously, “They took the teeth and left.”

The lie was obvious. Akira gave the spellcaster an unkind smile. “We’ll need a list of everything they ever purchased from your store.”

“Is that really necessary?”

Caleb flashed his fangs and the spellcaster yelped.

“I mean of course it is, I’ll get you that list right away.” He rushed to the register and whispered an incantation. It fizzled and popped before spitting out a ledger. The spellcaster opened it, tore out a few pages, and handed them over. “It was all standard supplies. I just try to protect my customers’ privacy, that’s all.”

Caleb glanced at the list. It appeared to be exactly what Darrel said—eyes of newt, frogs legs, channeling crystals, a substantial amount of Focus No. 9 potion. “What’s this for?” Caleb asked, “Studying?”

“Witches use it to improve the focus of those around them, get everyone on the same page,” Darrel sniffed.

Caleb stuffed the pages in his pocket and followed Akira to the door who hefted his sword in one hand.

“Darrel, I hope for the sake of your balls you didn’t forget to tell us something, because if we have to come back, I’m cutting them off.”

They were just through the door when Darrel grabbed Caleb’s arm and pressed a bag into his palm. “I-I made a mistake. Johnny let me examine the teeth and then I switched them when he wasn’t looking. He knew the basics, probably enough to be dangerous to a pack of wolves without magic. But he wasn’t advanced enough to know they were fakes.”

He and Akira shared a look:

Case closed.

The Magic Realm

CALEB

Caleb could do everything the mortal world required: drive, wear modern clothing, use a cell phone—but he liked the feel of the supernatural world. 

He liked using magic portals for travel.

He liked bartering with the ghostly attendants on Caster’s Alley.

But mostly, Caleb liked working a case the good old-fashioned way with a friend. Even better when that case was solved.

“I’m sorry about earlier,” he said as the bartender refilled their drinks, “I have been an asshole. I just got caught up because I want this relationship to work.”

“What was that?” Akira cupped his ear.

Caleb tossed him a dirty look. “You heard me, asshole. I got caught up in my relationship. I know it’s a slippery slope, so I’ve been stressed about it.”

Akira’s booming laugh echoed throughout the bar. A few co-workers turned their heads, but the fae quickly shushed them. Turning back to Caleb, he lowered his voice. “A slippery slope to what?” 

“How many times has my father been married?”

Akira snorted. “You are not your father. Is that what this Bella thing is about? You want a relationship with her?”

“I’m in a relationship with her,” Caleb corrected. “I think. Mostly. It’s complicated; she’s going through a divorce.” He covered his embarrassment by taking a drink. 

“That sounds extremely ‘maybe baby’ for someone who needs their partner to commit to a complete species overhaul. Have you talked about turning Bella into a vampire? Does she want that? What’s your plan?”

Caleb didn’t have a plan. He had a feeling, which was just as good. “Bella is right for me, and we haven’t talked about all of that yet. This is new, and anyway, what would you know about it?”

“A lot.” A look of melancholy passed over Akira’s face. “Believe me.”

They’d been friends for close to a century, but there was still a lot about Akira that Caleb didn’t know. The fae seemed open and easygoing, but when it came to his past, he was as tight-lipped and slippery as a vampire. 

“One case, down, but there really are more questions than answers.” Caleb tried and failed to be nonchalant, “Who killed Johnny and who killed Eliza? Those cases matter even if they Sages don’t care. Bella is still trying to pin down a solid lead.”

“Oh, your little cop girlfriend didn’t tell you?” Akira looked amused as he took a sip of his drink. “Eliza was working with some two-bit criminal named Salim Benali and his girlfriend, Alice Martin.”

“I know about Salim,” Caleb scowled, the back of his neck feeling hot. “Bella is running down some information on him, but she hasn’t been able to talk to him yet.”

“Sure. Well somehow, between playing vampire fantasy with you and not getting a chance to talk to Salim, someone updated the case file with notes about how Salim and Alice were working a heist while Salim and Eliza were having an affair. The heist failed. Salim sold out Alice for a reduced sentence. She did some time, but the military got involved, freed her, and sealed the records.”

Caleb grimaced and slid his glass over to the bartender for an instant refill. The plasma was warm, probably fresh, and helped the bitter taste of his continued embarrassment go down. “So the heist and the werewolf murders are connected, but how? If Johnny killed the werewolves, who killed him and Eliza?”

“Are you seriously worried about a mortal and murderer?”

“I’m worried about Bella. And you can call me stupid, but since our case is solved I want to do what you said.” He held his friend’s gaze. “I like her. A lot. And she has so much on her plate. She can investigate this case, but not like a supernatural. We can go places she can’t, use methods she doesn’t have. We have knowledge that she doesn’t because she’s not part of this world.”

Akira sighed. “Fine. I have an idea of where we can go for help. And in the meantime, I will lend you my intellect.”

“Don’t be too generous, I wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself,” Caleb teased, laughing when Akira playfully shoved him.

“Maybe it was Nina,” he suggested, “Johnny turned her into a wolf and you know how that whole fated mates thing works. She was moon-eyed for Johnny, he was moon-eyed for someone else.”

“Maybe. Or the vampire who hired them is eliminating them now that the job is done. Johnny brought back those fake teeth, I don’t doubt the boss was pissed.” 

“So Salim and Alice are next on his list? Or are they dead too?”

Caleb wasn’t sure, but it would be easy enough to find out. He and Akira continued to drink and bandy around theories until their conversation became more laughter and inside jokes than anything else. 

“I like your haircut,” his friend slurred as they stumbled down the steps toward the portal. 

Caleb giggled and pressed a hand to his forehead, “I needed a change. I was being stupid, so I tried to cut off all the stupid parts.”

“You missed your head,” Akira snickered, and for some reason, it made Caleb laugh so hard he nearly choked.

“I love you,” he wheezed as Akira hoisted him up. 

“You’re so dumb,” the fae chuckled, “I love you too.”

    1 comment
  • Snow ~
    December 11, 2022

    I do love how you’ve blended the game’s mooncaster lore in so well hhhhh…I also love Caleb’s almost teenage looking sulk pose on the sofa XD And Operation Eternal Flame. I love how well the ‘official’ lore is going to blend in with yours hhhhnnnngggg. That is so fae, just staying out of it and seeing who wins if anyone : P I shouldn’t have laughed when Oberon said he was lonely, but I just… ‘Please, no-one wants to talk about my kinks anymore! Not since the MOON left me! FUCK YOU MOON! *middle finger to the night sky*’ That lute pose, is that one based on El Dorado by any chance? XD AH we get a cool video whilst Caleb is forced to sit through lutesong XD

    I love the personification of the moon so much oh my goshhhh < 3 I love this backstory and also I love seeing the Old Gods again! AND MORGYN IN GOTHIC ENBY BATTLE MODE I AM IN LOVE!!! Vitriol Trilogy Morgyn would be so jealous of this Morgyn, this is the Untamed Dragon vibe Vitriol!Morgyn could only dream of. I love this video so much and I love that that's how they were reborn as werewolves.

    Caleb's dark form spooked me, I didn't expect it at all (IDK if we've seen it before) but I love it. His 'stay calm' shell is slowly breaking off and I'm all for it. Go feral son! Go feral indeed! I wonder what fae blood tastes like? Honey? Candyfloss? : D The first shot of Caleb, and the second one of him looking down on Oberon the close up are both SO FUCKING COOL OH MY GOSH. I love seeing Caleb revel in his dark form so much. There really is nothing better than just going 'fuck it' and going feral I bet. 'I do not need two juvenile idiots measuring their cocks in my living room' I laughed so much at this because I thought the same thing XD

    i also love the shot of Lilith leaning on the windowsill threatening Akira. I'm laughing at Akira telling Caleb to hold back earlier and ready to run his sword through Darrel at the shop. Also laughed at Akira telling him he missed his head when cutting off stupid parts. XD The fake tooth switcharound was interesting, esp considering I spent ages wondering what kind of value the teeth had only to find they weren't real anyway.

    I love that raising chickens was Titania's breakup hobby. Nooo these are my emotional support chickens! Also I want to go to the Fae world. I don't even care if they make me dance until my legs snap. < 3 I already love Titania, 'fuck around find out' plus 'smoochable' vibe. The machinima was interesting, will be fun to see what terrible influences Caleb and Titania are on each other!

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