CW: Strong language, adult situations, violence, gore.
Caleb’s Apartment, Glimmerbrook
The pillow hit Caleb in the back of the head with the precision one would expect from a fae marksman.
“Playtime is over,” Akira called out, “Time to do some actual work.”
Grumbling, Caleb sat up. His various hook-ups with Bella meant he wasn’t even getting the small amount of sleep his body required. “You’re being an asshole. I have been working.”
“You’ve been having mediocre sex,” Akira corrected, “I have been working. Your mom’s suggestion gave me some ideas, so now that I’ve put in some effort, and your mom has put in some effort, it’s time for you to get off your lazy vampire ass and do a little something too.”
“Fuck off, Akira. I’ve been doing plenty!” Caleb shot to his feet and crossed to his bureau, grabbing a shirt, “And I can’t imagine that sitting here reviewing theories you developed with the help of my mother—who, I might add, is a suspect—will help.”
“A) Your mom is not a real suspect, and B) I’m sick of my partner leaving me in the lurch. You know who is reporting to the Sages? Me. You know who’s fielding phone calls from angry wolf packs? Me. So why don’t you shape up and act like the past ninety-seven years have earned me at least a little loyalty.”
“Fine,” Caleb knew his friend was right, even if he wasn’t quite ready to admit it. He flopped onto the couch like a petulant child. “I’ll humor you.”
As Akira dragged the easel pad from its hiding place behind the shelving unit, Caleb laughed. The last time they’d used it was to rank his Yarney collection in order of stupidity—Akira’s scale, not Caleb’s.
“As you can see,” his partner pointed to a poorly drawn sketch at the top of the page, “Red Yarney still ranks 15 out of 10.”
“Red Yarney is the most expensive of the Yarnies and is out of stock everywhere, so show some respect,” Caleb replied with mock severity. He’d ordered the dolls after a drunken night and meant to send them back but then he stumbled upon a fan forum chocked full of sims waxing poetic about the craftwork. From that moment on, he was hooked.
“So we got one crime and I, for one, would like to solve it before the holidays,” Akira began.
“How do you figure that? Johnny Zest and Eliza Pancakes are also dead!”
“Those are not our cases,” Akira flipped over a fresh sheet and began scribbling. “Our case is these werewolves and the only relation to your mortal girlfriend’s victims is that I’m pretty sure one of them did it.”
Caleb sat straight up. “But what about the unnamed vampire? And the ritual site?” He was fast running out of reasons to investigate that didn’t have to do with Bella. “You said you agreed with my mother!”
“Real talk, bro? The Sages are going to disembowel you if you don’t get this wrapped up soon. So let’s do that, and then you can go play ‘private eye vampire’ with Bella when we’re done. Now,” he cleared his throat as if beginning a presentation, “My pick for the werewolf murders is our spellcaster/werewolf, Johnny Zest. Supernatural hybrids usually have undependable powers, but hear me out. Back in the day, a group of spellcasters used the moon’s energy to give themselves a wolf’s nature. Anyone descended from them would be a werewolf and have a stable command of magic. Hence, your ritual site.”
“You think Johnny is a mooncaster?” Caleb perked up. If he had to wrap up this case before helping Bella, at least he could do it quickly. “How does that work? Was he strong enough to hurt the other werewolves?”
“That’s the extent of my knowledge leading up to Operation Eternal Flame.”
“Wait,” Caleb narrowed his eyes, “You’re older than my parents. You seriously don’t know more about mooncasters and Operation Eternal Flame?”
“I don’t like your tone when you mention my age, and also, no. The fae sat that one out. Honestly, we were hoping everyone involved might just kill each other. If we want to know more, we’re gonna have to ask someone with more…intimate knowledge of the situation.”
Pepper’s Pub, Britechester
“No,” Caleb stopped inside the door and folded his arms, chin jutting downward. “You are not serious. This is the source with the intimate knowledge?”
Akira followed his gaze to the green-haired fae currently toasting himself at the bar. “I told you Oberon had an affair with the Moon. It was a major sticking point in the divorce settlement with Titania. Earth-bound broads are one thing, goddesses and magical personifications are completely different.”
Caleb swatted the air, grumbling, as he and Akira approached. He was sure Oberon had an affair with a woman named “Moon,” but he had serious doubts about the veracity of Akira’s claim that it was the actual moon. Like werewolves, the fae worshipped the Old Gods. They believed in the Fates and a series of invisible threads connecting multiple universes. Along with that came the idea that concepts, ideas, and, yes, even magic could be personified. It was absolutely nuts, but Caleb didn’t dare insult it. He was an asshole, but not that big of an asshole.
“Brother!” Oberon beamed, throwing his arms open wide. “You came to check out my show!”
He leaned in for a hug, but Akira stopped him. “Relax. We are not brothers. You and Titania are divorced, and the only reason I’m not killing you is that garnishing your wealth is a line item in the royal budget.”
If that phased Oberon, he didn’t show it. “We’re brothers of the heart,” he concluded confidently. “I don’t go on for another four hours. Students show up to start drinking around 11 pm, and I’m best with a crowd already well into their cups.”
Caleb rolled his eyes. He hadn’t been a fan of Oberon when he was King of the Fae and now that he was relieved of duty, Caleb was even less impressed. What sort of ancient being voluntarily spent their life on a college campus? Lilith was a professor, true, but she wasn’t hanging around for the collegiate nightlife.
“Oberon, I’m gonna tell you right now, that’s not a testament to your talent.” Akira gave his former brother-in-law a long suffering look, “And also, is the income I need to tell the lawyers about?”
The fae’s eyes glowed with pleasure at the mention of his talent, but his expression was confused. “Do you mean to suggest the University should be paying me? My agent says it’s common for the artists to pay the venue early in their career.”
“And how much are you paying them?”
Oberon blinked. “Not much, a mere 25,000 simoleons a show.”
“Oberon,” Akira sighed. “You don’t pay—”
“If we could leave behind this riveting discussion of Oberon’s finances just for a moment,” Caleb interrupted. “We are here for a reason.”
“Oh, right, you want to learn about mooncasters?” the green-haired fae clapped his hands.
“Yes,” Caleb bit out. “We have a suspect who we believe is a mooncaster. We need to know if that’s possible and, if so, what he’s capable of.”
Oberon led them to a table. “Obviously, the heartache is still with me after I chose to break up rather than have Titania puncture my lungs. The Moon was a demanding creature; it was the best sex I ever had, and I learned a lot.
“A lot about mooncasters?”
“No,” Oberon rubbed his chin, “Well, I mean, yes. What I’m saying is that the Moon helped me see what I was capable of, sexually speaking. I have an enormous appetite. I like to be held, and it really sets me over the edge to be gently spanked after—”
Akira put a quelling hand on Caleb’s arm. “Oberon, focus. No one is here about your kinks. Either give us the information, or we are leaving.”
Oberon leaned forward, eyebrows drawn in. “Please. Don’t leave. No one talks to me anymore, and it’s kind of lonely.”
This news was music to Caleb’s ears. The Magical Press covered Titania’s divorce with a breathlessness usually reserved for mortals tracking celebrities. Oberon had given an interview to anyone who asked and some who didn’t. It was mortifying for the Queen of the Fae, the sort of cruel, selfish thing men did when they wanted to punish a woman.
Caleb was familiar with the tactic.
It was his mother’s theatrical debut the night his father went berserk. The Magical Press speculated whether his family staged the tragedy to prevent her from failing onstage.
She never got over it.
“My apologies, really,” Oberon continued, “You wanted to know where Mooncasters come from, right?” He ran on stage and picked up his mandolin. “I have a song for that.”
He began plucking a few notes. “The story of the Mooncasters in three acts! Lyrics and composition by myself, of course.”
“Do you honestly expect me to sit through this performance and not rip out his spleen?” Caleb growled.
For reasons he could not understand, Akira gave him the same sigh he gave to Oberon earlier. “Yes, I expect you to question a source without tearing out their organs.”
Songs: “Soldier, Poet, King” by The Oh Hellos and “Mouth” by Bush