stylish green hat

Everything about the detective was ragged, except for her stylish green hat.

It had a purple feather.

“You know why you’re so dangerous?” she asked the Priest. Everything about the Priest was black, except for his alabaster skin. He had perfect teeth.

“No. Why?”

“You’ve moved beyond hate, but not fear.”

“Not true. I hate you.” His teeth sparkled in the darkness.

The detective knew this was false. If she failed, the Priest would not remember her a year from now.

The detective said into the silence “Don’t feel bad. I am deeply afraid of myself.”

++++++++++++++++

She watched him bumble through his first set, and she wondered, yet again, what she was doing. He only stayed with her, she knew, because of who she used to be.

For the most part she was glad to have let that go… she stopped at the thought. Is that true? she checked herself.

Yes, she finally decided. Sometimes she missed it. There were nights when she misremembered the adulation as fulfilling. But for the most part, having shed that life was the one good thing that had come from Antrich’s demise.

There she grimaced internally. Maybe that is why she kept him around. Some attempt to redeem Antrich, or to remind her of who she used to be.

Or because he was willing to do what she was not… get on stage and sing her dreadful new songs.

+++++++++++++++++++

That night, after the crowd left, he was cleaning his instrument as he asked “How did the interview go?”

She told him.

“Why do you think he let you live?”

“I have no idea.”

“You think that he’s capable of all four of these gruesome deaths”

“I’m certain of it.”

“But why?”

“I have my theories”

“You don’t even know why he doesn’t just kill you”

“Maybe he’s lonely”

+++++++++++++++++++

She struggled to look at the dead body hanging from the rafters, and see it as a person rather than just a reflection of her own failure.

“Why?” she thought. “Why does he keep murdering these people in these towns in increasingly bizarre ways?”

She stared at the body of the man, taking in the details of his life, trying to see him as more than merely a victim in this plot. But she did not know him. She did not know this town. Having just arrived, she didn’t even know if the man before her had been a petty thief or the mayors son.

… a petty thief.

“That’s it.” she said aloud more forcefully than she intended. Eldric startled.

“You have something?” he asked.

“Maybe we need to widen our view. We came here expecting to find a murder, and we found one. But why? What else has he been up to?”

++++++++++++++++++++++

Image: Scenes of murder

Image: Scenes of entrapment

Image: Looking out the window, she spies the man walking along the street. She is holding up an elaborately adorned magnifying glass. Odd protrusions. When seen through the glass, the man on the street is shown as an elegant supernatural monster.

++++++++++++++++++++++

“What you failed to realize, was that it really was all about you this whole time. Your hat, your artifact… I had to be certain.”

“And…?”

“You are resourceful, but not a threat. You get to go free and now that you’ve scared off the demon, the murders stop. The good Patriarch probably manages to win his little war, but that was likely even if I hadn’t intervened.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“Despite what you may think I don’t cause harm needlessly. You get off with a warning to be more careful. There are forces afoot.”

For the first time in a long time, she broke.“You killed over a dozen people, aided a war criminal, just to find out if I was a threat. And you call yourself a good person?”

“If you listen to me, you may never have to meet those I consider evil.”