1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Fiction Changes in the Dark

Discussion in 'Fluff and Stories' started by thedarkfourth, Mar 28, 2016.

  1. thedarkfourth
    Kroxigor

    thedarkfourth Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    254
    Likes Received:
    854
    Trophy Points:
    93
    It was just another shift at the temple until some old kroxigor stumbled in. Damn brute didn’t even know how to talk, just kept pointing his mace towards the city. Never seen a kroxigor look like that - eight feet of crimson scales shaking like a leaf. Didn’t know kroxigors could even be spooked.

    Leaning against a crumbled mural, I took another sip of ixti concentrate and watched as it tried to explain itself to the guardians. More frantic than I’ve ever seen a lesser spawning. Normally I’d ignore a case like this but I needed something to take my mind off Crystal. I swigged the rest of the cup and ambled towards the krox.

    “Evening gents,” I said to the temple guardians whose halberds were blocking the creature’s entrance. “What’ve we got here?”

    “No idea, priestective,” replied Toa-nee, the rookie on the right. “Guy just ran straight up the infinite staircase and keeps pointing back down. You want him? He’s all yours.”

    I looked up at kroxigor and patted him on the knee. “It’s OK, buddy,” I said, trying to sound sympathetic. Gods I hate playing mother, but in a city without parents sometimes it’s the only way. Seemed to calm the krox at least. I grimaced and continued: “let’s take a walk big guy, whaddya say?”

    ***

    Rain pelted our scales as we rode my beat-up old palanquin through the night streets. Lit by the dull glow of the lamps and magical auras of a city full of insomniac reptiles, the steady droplets seemed to shimmer in the dark, outlining the dingy alleys and collapsing masonry of the residential quarter. I avoid this hood like the pestilens. All these godsdamn lizards trudging through their miserable lives, same thing day after day, somehow believing it means anything.

    The big krox stiffened as we rounded a corner and came to the street he was so desperate to show me. I followed his gaze, and then I saw it. The body.

    Skink must’ve been same age as my spawn-brothers in the acolytes chambers, no more than a few months old. Its chest had been eviscerated by something big and sharp. Lots of things big and sharp. Poor kid hadn’t died quickly, either. He’d had time to drag himself up against a house and slump down with his chin on his neck, his pale crest drooping pathetically.

    I’ve seen a lot of awful shit in this city, but I’m not going to lie: I turned away from the scene and vomited into a nearby flowerpot before I made myself an arcane vassal and called it in.

    ***

    In minutes, the street was swarming with temple guard. I stared from the sidelines as they drew pictures of every angle, took samples from the body and eventually carted it off to the morgue. So that’s how a life ends for just another city skink. Dumped in a body bag and taken out of sight. Was there anyone who’d even remember the kid?

    My thoughts were interrupted by an unwelcome sound.

    “This ain’t a barfight or a beast sacrifice,” came the whining voice. “What’s an old Ghur like you doing at a murder scene like this?”

    Pows’ki. Bleeding Heavens priests were insufferable at the best of times. But this guy had a particular knack for getting on my nerves.

    “I’m working the case, Azyr. More than you’ve ever done. What say you get off my patch and we both enjoy the rest of our evenings?”

    “Oh my dear old bestial chum,” he returned as I ground my teeth. “You know how little desire I have for proximity to you, but sadly my hands are tied - I was sent from on high, like a vision from the Old Ones.”

    “More like a plague of clan rats,” I muttered, staring sullenly as Pows’ki paced past me and ducked under the cordon. Why’d I give a damn? I should let him have the stinking case, it would save me a lot of hassle. But then I remembered the dead kid. The sadness in his bowed head. Something had to be done.

    ***

    High Captain Jymmo’sullin jumped and dropped the plaque he was reading as I barged furiously into his temple chambers.

    “Priestective Mer-fi, you’ve come about the possible reptilicide I assume. And here was me thinking you’d be grateful if I took it off your hands.”

    “I need the case, Jym,” I stated. “I called it in, I get dibs.”

    “I didn’t think you’d feel so strongly, Mer-fi.”

    “Sir, we haven’t had a murder in this diocese for...well we’ve never had one. We’re the first, the perfect species, we don’t just kill each other. If something’s gone wrong with the great plan in my city, I want to be the one to find out what.” A load of theological garbage, we both knew it. But the High Captain had always had a soft spot for me. Ghurs stick together.

    “I sent Pows’ki because the boss is trying to get better Azyr representation on high-profile cases.” He paused as I snorted derisively. “But you’re right, it’s your case if you want it so bad.”

    “Appreciate it, boss,” I conceded.

    “But be careful, priestective. If this is really a murder, a lot of feathers are about to get ruffled. Important, symbolic, feathers, if you catch my meaning.”

    “I understand, sir. By the way, I like the way you’ve redecorated in here. Had some help from the missus did we?”

    “Thank you, priestective, you’ve got a keen eye on you, that’s what makes you a good priest. Yes Kar-ol helped out,” he smiled, referring to the big razordon spikes that were holding up several large tapestries to the walls of the sanctum office.

    I grinned. “She’s done a great job. And I like the new outfit as well, how it comes down past your claws. You really look like a high priest who’s going places.”

    ***

    I sailed through the glossy lights of the un-sleeping city once again, this time fully aware of the horror that awaited me. A telepathic call came in - Ma’rco on dispatch.

    “Officer?” I answered.

    “We’ve got autopsy for you - cause of death was having heart torn out… by a cold one.”

    “Chotec,” I swore. “A cold one?”

    “Bite marks match. A creature with teeth that fit the description was apprehended a few minutes ago, with blood and blue skink scales in its mouth. Owned by the temple of Caxautn on Charnel Street.”

    “Right. Thank you Ma’rco, I’m on my way there now.”

    I left skid marks on the flagstones as I spun the palanquin into an alley without slowing.

    ***

    “Father Lan’tom. I’m sorry I haven’t been to a sacrifice recently. It’s good to see you.”

    “Mer-fi. How long since your last hunt?”

    I stared at the old Caxautn priest. For a moment I thought he was really displeased, but then he broke into a huge grin and gave me a hug. We began to stroll through the temple, relishing the baying of the various predators in their cages.

    “I wish it could have been in better circumstances, father.”

    “Indeed. A terrible business. Just as we’re gearing up for the big hunt. You know the kid used to come to sacrifices here? A good little believer, just like you were at that age. We’re having a service for him tomorrow.” His face fell. “And I bet you can guess what offering we’ll be sending to Caxautn.”

    “The cold one. Can I see it?”

    “I’d advise against it for now. You can see it at the ceremony tomorrow.”

    “Father, how did one of your beasts come to murder an innocent skink of the faith?”

    “I’m troubled, Mer-fi. More troubled that I’ve ever been. Something happened to the temple guardians on the night it happened. They all vanished from their posts, waking up in various parts of the city with no memories of what had happened. And you know they’re incapable of deceit.”

    “Did anything else happen here that night?”

    “That’s the strange thing - no. This cold one, her name’s Daisy, she and the guards were the only things missing. Nothing else was out of place. Now Daisy, she’s always been a little wild, but she’s never hurt a death fly. I just can’t understand what would make her…”

    The priest looked away. I put a claw on his shoulder.

    “I understand, father. And I’ll get to the bottom of it, you can trust me on that.”

    ***

    Gods. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, that’s what Crystal would tell me if she could. Truth is I had no idea if I could get to the bottom of this. I was in deep, that was all I knew. Never seen anything like it in all my years on the ecclesiastical force.

    I pounded the streets, fists clenched in the pockets of my trench vestments, its collar and my fehd-or’ah ceremonial headpiece the only protection against the biting winds that seemed to want to drive me straight out of town. Gods, this city. I passed shop front after shop front, lizards doing the same damn chores same as every other day.

    Finally I looked around. My feet had taken me back to the crime scene. I tried not to look at the wall where it happened, the faint red splotches where the cleanup crew had failed to remove the last of the blood. I ducked into the doorway alongside. My nostrils we filled with earthy scents I hadn’t encountered since I left this armpit of a neighbourhood all those years ago. Pottery.

    The master of the shop sidled towards me, eyes narrowed.

    “We’re closed today. We’ve just had a terrible tragedy,” he hissed.

    “I’m sorry for your loss, pottery master…”

    “Clai. Now if you’ll just-”

    “Clai, I’m Mer-fi of the Temple PD. Would you mind answering a few questions about the tragedy in question?”

    “Priest Department, eh? Where’s your glyph?”

    I showed him the symbol on my necklace.

    “Huh. So you’re the Ghur they said was coming. Better take a seat.”

    I perched on a pottery wheel stool as he answered my questions. It was obvious this guy knew nothing. Just your average artisan skink, not a thought in his head except staying out of trouble and doing what he was told. The deceased, however, appeared not to have been such a good lizard. I was liking the poor guy more and more.

    “Tae-rown, his name was. Often finished his work late, didn’t always follow the spec to the letter, but deep down he had a heart of gold,” Clai was saying. “Towards the end he…”

    “He what, Master Clai?”

    “...Well he seemed distracted. His work really suffered. But he stayed later than anyone, worked harder than the rest of my boys put together… It was like he was working on something...of his own. Something he wasn’t telling me. Is that crazy?”

    “Not as crazy as finding his disembowlled body in the stree- oh. Forgive me. Master, will you allow me to look through the pottery discards? I remember as a kid there were all kinds of things you could find in a bowl full of broken junk.”

    “It’s not junk. All broken pottery is sacred to the great Old One Faenetxl. As such you absolutely may not-”

    “Faenetxl, of course,” I interrupted. “I completely understand. Listen, I was on my way to his temple after this. If you allow me to inspect the offerings, I will take and present them to Faenetxl personally. You would be doing a great favour to the Temple.”

    “...I suppose it would save some time…” muttered Clai, blinking unhappily.

    I stepped back into the bracing wind, a big bowl of broken shards clutched before me. Heh. Reminds me of my life, I thought. I set down the bowl and began rummaging through. Maybe if I could find what Tae-rown was working on, I might-

    And there it was, staring at me. A tiny fragment, no bigger than my palm. Chotec’s wrath, this was bad. I looked around the street frantically, soon finding the telltale signs. There, across the road, in the mouth of an alleyway where the shadows would hide it from any casual observer. The flagstones had been horribly warped. The very rock appeared to writhe like it had frozen in place, mid-boil.

    I looked down at the symbol on the shard I had found. Old Ones preserve me. A crudely painted black outline of a horribly curving tongue of flame. And at its centre, a circle around an eye. The Mark of Tzeentch.

    ***

    I stumbled into my regular dive bar. As usual it was empty because everyone in this godsdamn city are mindless reptiles who literally don’t know how to unwind. I reached behind the bar and pulled out a flask of the hard stuff, gulping it straight from the bottle. My hands were shaking and my scales were coated in a film of cold sweat. My vestments felt like a millstone where the tiny fragment of pottery weighed in my pocket.

    The hours ticked by as I slowly calmed my nerves with glass after glass of ixti concentrate. All of a sudden I heard a roar of fire and felt a terrible heat on my back. I spun around in panic, on the point of firing indiscriminate spells, visions of mutagenic blue and pink flames filling my mind. But it was a false alarm.

    “Crystal! My gods, you’re a salamander for sore eyes.”

    The stunning orange scales. The gorgeous flank that seemed to go on for miles. And topping it all, the magnificent scarlet crest. She waddled seductively through the bar door, and I was powerless to do anything but follow.

    ***

    I woke the next morning in my chambers with the mother of all hangovers. There were burn marks all over the room, but no sign of that elusive fire-breather. I shouldn’t have gone back with her, but… well I’ve always been defenseless against her wiles.

    I clutched my head as I staggered to the window and checked the sun. Chotec, only 10 minutes til the sacrifice. I grabbed my vestments and sprinted out of the door, the trusty palanquin roaring to life as I leapt onto it.

    At the Caxautn ritual amphitheater, the crowd was in full uproar. I arrived just in time to see Father Lan’tom lead a frightened-looking cold one out into the centre, where poor Tae-rown’s drained and mutilated body lay on a slab. The creature kept tugging at its leash, desperate not to get anywhere near the corpse. I watched from the back and caught Lan’tom’s eye as he intoned the funereal incantations, eventually slitting the beast’s throat and letting the blood splatter across its former victim. The crowd went wild. Caxautn would be pleased.

    But I still felt empty. Something was rotten in my city, and I needed answers fast. I was about to turn away when something in the crowd caught my eye. A figure wreathed in a shadowy cloak… and was that a glimpse of wing I saw protruding from the arm? Instinct and rage took over. I leapt into the amphitheater, running as fast as I could across the sand towards the mysterious figure. Cries of surprise and horror went up from the crowd. Father Lan’tom squeaked in terror as I vaulted over the altar, accidentally knocking Tae-rown’s body to the ground.

    Now the shadowy suspect was on the move too, pushing its way out of the stands, confirming its guilt. Gods it was hard to run with that hangover, but I pushed through it, hot on the perp’s heels as he dived out of the stands and leapt into the neighbouring alley. I tumbled over as I jumped the same low wall, flailing with one arm at the shadowy robes as they got to their feet. I managed to grasp an ankle and trip the bastard, and heard something rattle as it spilled from his cloak. Beads. There was no time to think about them, as I saw the figure turn and aim its feathered claw at me, a spout of blue fire licking out-

    Just in time I cast an Impenetrable Pelt on myself, turning my back to let the flames wash over my protected scales. When I turned back, I was just in time to see the figure leap onto a living disk and zoom into the distance. The flagstones at my feet were bubbling with chaos magic. I swore under my breath. I should have been quicker.

    ***

    There was no time to lick my wounds. As I felt Pann’s pelt fade from my shoulders, I received an incoming call. The Temple.

    15 minutes later I was back in the innermost sanctuary.

    “What the hells do you want? I’m in the middle of an investigation!” I roared as I strode in.

    The boss swivelled slowly in his huge palanquin, turning the full attention of his bald forehead towards me. High Captain Jymmo’sullin was standing a little behind, looking nervous like always in the Mage Chief’s company. And there was another skink I didn’t recognise.

    “Ah yes, Priestective Mer-fi. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to come in,” spoke the slann, verbose as ever. “I can’t help but notice that the investigation is going...less than spectacularly. Have you made any progress? Aside from profaning the sacred ritual of one our our most important cults? Mm?”

    “Of course I’ve made progress. Look, the ritual was an accident, OK, it was-”

    “Yes, I’m sure you had excellent reasons for disturbing the peace of the very corpse whose possible reptilicide you’re supposed to be be looking into. I too have excellent reasons for what I’m about to do. Mer-fi, meet priestective Yannowit’z.” The unknown skink stepped forward and removed his cap. I stared at him.

    “Oh no. If you think-”

    “Godsdammit Mer-fi, I don’t think, I know!” bellowed the Mage Chief, slamming his fist on the side of his palanquin in a rare burst of emotion. “You’re a damn fine priestective, but you’ve got to play by the rules! I’ve got the Old Ones breathing down my neck about followers in the lesser temples, I’ve got Kroak over in Itza telling me we’ve got to include more Azyr on the force. From now on, you work with a partner, and you take this case by the plaque.”

    “Sir! I’ve always worked alone, ever since-”

    “Enough. You’re dismissed. Either you work with Yannowit’z here or I give the case to Pows’ki. Who knows, you might even learn to like the guy. He came highly recommended from the academy.”

    I stared at the skink again. At least he had the grace to look at the ground.

    The slann turned back to his deliberations as we three skinks left the sanctum. I looked up at Jym.

    “Merf,” he said, tugging at the ridiculously long sleeves of his vestments. “Look, just give this a try, you might find you like having a partner-”

    I snorted and turned away down the corridor. After a few paces I looked back.

    “Common then! You dim or something, Azyr?”

    Yannowit’z snapped to attention and paced after me. I prayed I wasn’t going to regret this.

    ***

    “So where are we heading?” piped the rookie, as the buildings streamed past the palanquin. We were headed to the outskirts, and the scenery was getting ever more sparse and dilapidated.

    “Informant of mine,” I yelled back over the rushing wind. “Name of We’ezl. Works in customs - warehouse district.”

    “Tell me what you have on the case so far,” continued Yannowit’z. “Can I see the file?”

    “You’ve mistaken me for someone who gives a damn about bureaucracy. Case is classified. File’s up here.” I tapped my head.

    “You’re going to have to start trusting me if we’re going to work together.”

    “Am I now,” I remarked. “Maybe it’s you who has to make me.”

    We arrived at the particular warehouse I had in mind. Huge, drafty, dank affair that was crumbling even more ruinously than the rest. It looked empty, but the shadows were too dark to say for sure. I grinned to myself. Maybe an Azyr cop could be useful after all.

    “Go on then,” I said. “Let’s see it. Light her up.”

    Yannowit’z closed his eyes and stretched out his arms. Lightning began to flicker around him. I peered into the corners of the room. “There! Movement!”

    I slapped my ‘partner’ out of his trance and we sped towards the shape I’d seen. Good old Urannon. Soon we had him cornered.

    “Why you running, We’ezl? Ain’t you got time for a friendly chat with your old pal Mer-fi?”

    “I t-told you. I don’t want to be your snitch no more,” mewled the diminutive grey skink. “None of the other traders want to work for me, I got nothing-”

    “Like hell you got nothing. Every bit of gossip in this district comes through you. Now are you going to talk, or am I going to have to-”

    “I told you, I got nothing!”

    “Alright then.” I started muttering the words for a spell.

    “No, not the Wildform! Oh gods, anything but that! OK I’ll tell you, just hold it!” I stopped muttering. “OK...so about a week ago I get a small shipment, right? It’s marked guava fruit. Wouldn’t have given it a second glance, except for the destination on the plaque says Temple. Now I’ve never seen a crate of guava go straight to the High Temple in all my years working down here. So I have a little sniff, right. It’s definitely not guava.”

    “What the hell was it, We’ezl?”

    “Well naturally I didn’t open it. All the plaques were in order, I didn’t want to get involved in Temple business. But smelt horrible. Something bitter.”

    “Chotec,” I breathed. “Alright We’ezl. The PD appreciates your cooperation as always.”

    As we walked away, Yannowit’z piped up again. “You weren’t really going to use Wyssan’s Wildform on him, were you?”

    “Wildform’s my signature. You gotta do whatever it takes to get what you need in this business, son.”

    “But it’s against every rule in the plaque!”

    “Heh,” I chuckled. Rookies. Always the same.

    “Where next then?”

    “I think that’s enough for one day, kid. I’m hitting the hay. See you in the morning.”

    ***

    Every part of me wanted to head back to the bar. Maybe Crystal would be there again. But there was still work to be done. I dropped Yannowit’z at the temple steps and then headed up to my office. Kid didn’t need to see what I was going to do next. Instead of turning into my room, I entered the one just before it. The plaque on the door said Pows’ki.

    If there were illicit materials being funnelled up to the Temple, I was sure as hell that Azyr scumbag had something to do with it. Quietly as I could, I scuttled about the room, checking cupboards and draws, feeling the walls for any false panels. Nothing. I kept looking. Surely there had to be-

    Suddenly the room was flooded with light as the door was flung open. Chotec’s teeth. I looked up at the displeased shapes of Pows’ki, Jymmo’sullen and worst of all, the Mage Chief himself. I’d been framed.

    “Sir, this isn’t what it looks like,” I started, immediately realising how dumb I sounded.

    “I want your glyph and your dispel scroll on my desk in the next five minutes,” said the Chief, turning away grimly. “You’re suspended with immediate effect.”

    “Sir, I’ve uncovered evidence that points to a conspiracy going all the way to the top. Something in this very temple is wrong! You gotta let me keep looking!”

    “Evidence, you say? Then why hasn’t a single item or even a report been filed? You’re keeping us all in the dark - as far as I know, your investigation hasn’t turned up a godsdamn thing.”

    “Look at this, sir, please.” I reached into my pocket. My blood froze as I realised it was completely empty. Who could have- Dammit, I should have seen this. Crystal, in my room the night before. I always knew she’d be my undoing. My salamander fatale.

    “It’s been stolen from me, sir. I found a shard of pottery, made by the deceased. It had a Mark of-”

    “Enough, priestective! You’ve done good work in the past, but your methods clearly aren’t up to snuff this time. You’ve been caught breaking and entering another priestective’s office with no good reason. You’re off the force.”

    “Sir-”

    “Leave it, son,” said Jymmo’sullen. His face was ashen.

    “Yeah, leave it, you dumb Ghur. Got what was coming for you at last,” chimed in Pows’ki, whose face, by contrast, was nothing but glee.

    I glowered at them. I took off my glyph and my scroll. I placed them on the Chief’s palanquin, and looked into his eyes.

    “I may be a mav'riq, sir, but by gods I get results.”

    ***

    Next morning I got a telepathic ping from Yannowit’z asking where I am.

    “Son, I hate to do this to you, but I’m off the force. Your best bet is to have a word with Pows’ki. Spawnuvabitch is probably the one on the case now. See if you can get assigned to him.”

    I assumed I wouldn’t hear from him again, wouldn’t hear from any of them. What was the godsdamn point of it all? Why did I even care? I may as well just leave them to be devoured by daemons.

    But ten minutes later there was a knock on my door, and the young Azyr sauntered straight in. Didn’t think he had the guts. He looked at the empty bottles of ixti concentrate.

    “Look, Mer-fi,” he began. “I read your file. I know you wouldn’t have got suspended for something you didn’t think was worth doing. Your methods are unorthodox, but you’ve never let a bad lizard get away. You’re gonna crack this case. We’re going to crack it.”

    I stared at him. Then I burst out laughing. “Some speech, kid. But I don’t take advice from rookies. Besides, we’ve got nothing. My key evidence was stolen. I gotta bunch of scattered clues, no idea where it’s leading. You’re gonna have to face it, same as me. I failed.”

    “I don’t believe you, sir. Tell me what you’ve got. We can work the angles, same as always.”

    I lowered myself onto the cold flagstones. “I dunno. I got a piece of pottery with a Mark of Tzeentch. I gotta possible Herald carrying glowing beads at the funeral. I got a box full of something bitter going straight to the temple. There’s a bigger picture somewhere. Something I’m not seeing.”

    Now it was Yannowit’z who was staring. “Wait, pottery, beads, bitter- that’ll be the dried rot flower, potent stuff, stinks like hell. They’re going to perform a summoning ritual.”

    “What did you say?”

    “It’s a secret spell from Tzeentch Lore. You need a special shape of clay vessel, a string of mutate beads, the kind that constantly change their shape and colour. You need rot flower extract, for the psychosomatic interface. And the final ingredient is ...well it’s the blood of something freshly spawned.”

    “Chotec’s spleen, that’s some fancy knowledge there kid. I guess they do teach something useful at the academy after all.” I stood again and paced to the window. My mind was racing.

    “Sir, if they get hold of the final ingredient, the whole city could be swarming with horrors in minutes.”

    “That’s not going to happen, Yannowit’z. You ever been on a stakeout?”

    ***

    Rain was falling in sheets again as night fell across the spawning pools. My claws made little ripples in the puddles of reflected lamplight that collected among the cobbled streets of this sacred district. There was a sense of calm that you couldn’t get anywhere else in the city. But I knew it was false, like everything here. Something decaying and corrupt lurked not far away.

    There was a guard at the entrance as always. Damn saurus could have been outwitted by a greenskin. I flung a rock off to the right. Predictably, the guard trotted off to take a look, and I snuck through the gate.

    The dark pools seemed to churn and froth in the downpour. My vestments were soaked, rain streaking down my scales like a waterfall.

    Sticking to the deep shadows, I crouched behind a statue of Potec. I’d need his protection if I was going to get through the night. I didn’t have to wait long before things kicked off. The spawning pool began to seethe even more, as the crests of little blue skinks started to rise above the surface. Just like Tae-rown would have done a few months earlier, I thought. It was up to me to make sure these guys didn’t meet a similar fate.

    Two things happened at once. The first skink stepped out of the pool, and immediately a hooded figure glided out of the darkness. The herald from the temple of Caxautn. He reached out his claws, horribly mutated with rainbow feathers, about to throttle the innocent creature.

    “Stop right there, chaos minion. You’re under arrest for the murder of potter apprentice Tae-rown.” I was right behind the sucker, an amber spear ready to hurl. “You have the right to remain magic-free. Any spells you do cast can be used against you in a temple of law. You have the right to a sacrificial execution-”

    “Fool!” screeched the herald. “You think you can stop me?! I wield the power of Tzeentch!”

    “Any sudden moves and I’ll-”

    Something strong and limber hit me hard in the back, sending me flying into Potec’s statue. The spear shattered on the other side of the courtyard. I groaned in pain as I looked up at my assailant. My gorgeous red-crested assailant.

    “Heh,” I smiled, spitting blood, “I knew you’d be here, Crystal. Just like I know it’s you under that hood, Jym.”

    The herald screamed again, turning his attention to me as the tiny skinks heedlessly emerged from the pool and trotted off to the nursery temple in a different part of the spawning complex. “Impossible! You can’t possibly have kn-”

    “Your control of beasts is legendary, my former Ghur friend. Only you could have commanded that cold one to savage the potter to hide how he’d really been killed with warpfire. And only you could have forced my dear Crystal to betray me.” I looked deep into the salamander’s eyes, but they were dead and empty. “You redecorated your room to hide the signs of the chaos rituals you’ve been conducting there, and you’ve been wearing those silly-looking vestments to hide your new mutations.”

    “They’re gifts! Gifts from a god who actually cares about us mortals, but I wouldn’t expect a dullard like you to understand,” wailed the creature that once was Jym. “When he arrives, then you’ll know. You’ll know the true bliss of change. Or rather, you won’t,” he continued, now gliding with sinister intent towards my prone body. I braced as he raised his arms, flaring with pink and blue fire. No more energy for a protection spell. “You’ll be too dead to- arrrrgh!”

    Suddenly he was writhing with white lightning. Crystal lunged towards me in his place, her jaws open wide, but a bolt leapt from the herald into her too.

    “You forgot one important thing, Jym,” I said, staggering to my feet and looking down at the two creatures thrashing in pain. “I don’t work alone.”

    I grinned in the night. I had another one-liner for this. “And if that’s not change, I don’t know what is.”

    I looked up to Yannowit’z on the courtyard rooftop, who was still focussed on his spell. “I think that’s enough for now kid. We’ve taken all the fight out of them. Impressive lightning for a rookie - you’re off the freaking chain!”

    The last of the new skinks surfaced from the pool, cocked its head at me, and scampered away.

    ***

    The Mage Chief stormed into my office as Yannowit’z and I put the finishing touches to the plaque-work on the Tae-rown case. His bloated face simmered with fury.

    “Godsdammit, Mer-fi! What the hell were you thinking? Taking on priest work while suspended! Endangering your life and that of your partner! Violating the peace of a sacred spawning!”

    We stared at each other. Yannowit’z twitched his head from one of us to the other. After a few seconds, we both broke into irrepressible laughter.

    “Come here, you old spawnuvabitch!” he cried, putting out his hand and giving me the warmest shake I’d ever felt. “I never doubted you for a minute. The city owes you a debt of gratitude, Mer-fi. And I happen to know of a High Captain position that needs filling…”

    “Thanks Chief,” I said, looking the slann in the eye. “But I’m happiest where I am, on the beat. Cracking skulls and taking names, you know how it is. And I wouldn’t want to lose my new partner.” Yannowit’z blushed. I thought for a second. “Why don’t you give the spot to Pows’ki. He may be a filthy Azyr, but at least he’s one of the straight ones. We could do with a bit more of that around here.”

    When the Chief had gone, Yannowit’z said, “That was big of you, Mer-fi. I’m proud.”

    “Don’t get choked up, kid,” I replied. “It’ll be the death of him to know he’s been offered my seconds. Hold it a sec.” I listened as a telepathic relay came in from dispatch. “Trouble in the terradon aviary. Sounds like we’ve got a new case.”

    Yannowit’z grinned. “I’ll fire up the palanquin,” he said.
     
  2. Warden
    Slann

    Warden Tenth Spawning

    Messages:
    6,079
    Likes Received:
    17,172
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Wow. That was awesome.

    Priestectives?? The Temple City PD? Innocent Lizards knifed down in the streets?

    I think you came up with a whole new "Lizard Noir" crimefighting genre! I need to re-read this thing, it was so chock full of detail I missed most of what was actually going on!

    Especially like how he kept cursing by muttering "Chotec" or "Chotec's Teeth" under his breath.

    I will be going through this later to find my favorite quotes. Well done!
     
  3. spawning of Bob
    Skar-Veteran

    spawning of Bob Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,911
    Likes Received:
    5,614
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Did this all happen since the recent Verrick the Witch-Hunter / Sam Marlowe discussion? Your rate of quality output is impressive. (That was three days ago)

    Of all of the forums in all of the world wide web, you had to walk into this one...
     
    Bowser, thedarkfourth and Warden like this.
  4. thedarkfourth
    Kroxigor

    thedarkfourth Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    254
    Likes Received:
    854
    Trophy Points:
    93
    I can't remember which discussion it was but I saw the word "hardboiled" somewhere on here and the words just flowed out of me ;)

    Some may say I've simply taken every trope in the book and shoved them together like sardines, others that I've accidentally gone from noir to buddy cop movie halfway through. Me? I'm just a lizard doing what he loves best.
     
  5. Bowser
    Slann

    Bowser Third Spawning

    Messages:
    5,544
    Likes Received:
    8,250
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I love this kind of hardboiled writing! This was brilliant!
     
    Warden likes this.
  6. Warden
    Slann

    Warden Tenth Spawning

    Messages:
    6,079
    Likes Received:
    17,172
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Awesome turtle.png

    By Chotec! I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
     
    thedarkfourth and Bowser like this.
  7. Slanputin
    Carnasaur

    Slanputin Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,146
    Likes Received:
    1,721
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Ahh, I just reread this. It left me smiling.

    Beyond its novelty, I loved the atmosphere and world-building. Although I couldn't help but be a mixture of perturbed and humoured by the thought of Salamander-Skink relations.

    Totally called it on the identity of the perp :p
     
    thedarkfourth and Bowser like this.
  8. tom ndege
    Skar-Veteran

    tom ndege Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,568
    Likes Received:
    5,159
    Trophy Points:
    113
    That was another nice read! Really cool!
    And yes, @spawning of Bob I know, I'm late for the party. ;)
     
    thedarkfourth likes this.
  9. Otzi'mandias
    Ripperdactil

    Otzi'mandias Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    451
    Likes Received:
    760
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Nice going, @thedarkfourth. Loved the story, reminded me of most of the really old, gravelly-voiced detectives from the movies.
    Moar!
    Moar soon!
     
    Bowser likes this.
  10. tom ndege
    Skar-Veteran

    tom ndege Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,568
    Likes Received:
    5,159
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Yes! Kojak is back! But with lizards! ;)
     
    Bowser likes this.
  11. Paradoxical Pacifism
    Skink Chief

    Paradoxical Pacifism Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,624
    Likes Received:
    3,270
    Trophy Points:
    113


    Very well done story that's pretty unique :)
     
    thedarkfourth likes this.
  12. Scalenex
    Slann

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

    Messages:
    8,857
    Likes Received:
    15,819
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Words just flowed out of you.? I'm not sure if I've been more jealous since I met the Adonis-like man who was the boyfriend of my first real crush.

    I've been working on my own detective piece, Witch Hunter Verrick, for almost four years and the writer's block is horrible. I have to really buckle down just to squeeze out a few paragraphs. The closer I get to the end the harder it gets.
     
  13. Paradoxical Pacifism
    Skink Chief

    Paradoxical Pacifism Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,624
    Likes Received:
    3,270
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I usually like to listen to music and read things that are similar to the tone and feeling i'm trying to create when i write.
    Inspiration truly can drive you, but it's important to be creative and original as much as possible.
     
  14. thedarkfourth
    Kroxigor

    thedarkfourth Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    254
    Likes Received:
    854
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Thank you for reading and resurrecting this silly old thing.

    To be clear, "flowing" is not what words usually do to me. Longform prose is always a slog, even when I have a story perfectly mapped ahead of time. My book-length work rarely advances at more than 1,000 words a day, and I often skip days. But every now and again I am blessed with an idea for a short story that basically arrives fully formed in my head and I experience the joyous magic known as "just sitting down and writing for an hour or two until it's done". If I could harness this ability and make it reliable and useful, I could rule the world.

    Keep working on the witch hunter. Battling the Block is gruelling but vital. You fight in the name of us all.
     
    Paradoxical Pacifism likes this.
  15. Paradoxical Pacifism
    Skink Chief

    Paradoxical Pacifism Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,624
    Likes Received:
    3,270
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Thread Necromancy

    No one is safe

    Except if it's locked

    Oof
     

Share This Page