Authors: Morgan Daimler
Murder Between the Worlds
A Between the Worlds Novel
By Morgan Daimler
All rights reserved. This book and contents may not be reproduced or transmitted by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval systems without permission in writing from Morgan Daimler. Reviewers may quote brief passages.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination; any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, locations, or incidents are entirely coincidental.
Copyright 2013 Morgan Daimler
This book is for everyone who reads the old fairy-stories and wonders, what if?
Dedicated to the Fairfield County Writers group, and especially my friend Cathy Kane, who inspired me to give this fiction novel writing a try. And to my “beta readers”: Tricia, Maya, Maddy, and Cathy, who read the draft and gave me constructive criticism and encouragement.
Table of Contents
Aliaine “Allie” McCarthy–Ah-lee-awnya–
Syndra Lyons -
Elizabeth “Liz” McCarthy–
Rick Walters -
Awareness came slowly, through a fog. Her first clear thought was that she was cold, followed immediately by the realization that she was lying flat on her back, naked, on what seemed to be a rock. The rough prickling of stone was uncomfortable on her back and she felt exposed laying out like that. Her mouth was dry and tasted strange. Her next thought was to wonder how drunk she’d gotten to end up like this and then to worry that someone had slipped something into one of her drinks. It had been a crazy party and she hadn’t known most of the people there, anything could have happened. Groaning, she tried to roll over and only then realized she couldn’t; her wrists and ankles were tied to something. Sudden panic pushed through the last of the haze and she forced her heavy eyes open.
The sky was a dark void above her, rimmed with the darker shapes of trees. She managed to move her head to the left, towards a slight shuffling sound, and was momentarily blinded by a sudden flare of light. Her mind felt as if it were working in slow motion as she realized it was a candle being lit. The flickering light illuminated a figure moving purposely around where she was lying, but the person was covered, head to toe, in what she thought was a long cloak. She couldn’t even begin to guess whether it was a man or woman and her head pounded with the effort to keep her eyes open. The figure lit a second candle closer to her feet; she tried to speak, to beg to be freed, but all that came out was a muffled groaning sound. The figure paused for moment then moved to light a third candle.
, she thought, desperately, pleadingly,
please let this be a dream. Let me really wake up now
But the cloaked figure moved on, relentlessly, to a fourth candle. She thought about her mother, warning her before she went out earlier to be careful. Telling her about the murders that had been in the newspapers, about the girls’ bodies found in parking lots…she’d blown her mother off, of course. Nothing bad was going to happen to
. She started to cry, tears making her vision a pool of light and shadow.
As the fifth candle added its glow to the circle, the figure turned towards the girl bound to the rough altar-shaped rock in the center, and the silence of the deep night was broken by screams.
A long time later, as pre-dawn began to light the eastern sky the little clearing in the woods fell silent again.
“So tell us again how you found her,” Detective Riordan pressed, trying to push without letting the suspect know he
a suspect. The whole thing was hinky as Hell, and he knew deep down he shouldn’t even be talking to the guy. Elves were out of his jurisdiction.
The suspect was sitting at one of the cheap wooden desks in the room that the department had set aside for non-humans to write down witness statements when they needed to, since that was about as much as the treaty allowed. He was tall, over 6 and a half feet, and wore jeans and a black t-shirt. Riordan couldn’t figure out why half the elves kept dressing in fancy imitations of medieval human dress, and the other half embraced modern human fashions. He’d have thought they’d have their own styles, but it seemed like it was all copies of human stuff. The guy hunched over the paperwork as if he didn’t want to be watched and that was another weird thing; in Riordan’s experience elves were usually all about getting attention.
The elf sighed, looking bored. “As I said before, I was walking from the coffee shop on East Road towards Oak.
“Down the back alley” Riordan said, wanting to make sure.
The elf gave him a long look. “Yes, heading down the alley. And I saw something that seemed, odd, out of place. I went to get a closer look…”he trailed off, then shrugged slightly.
Riordan tried not to sigh. This was another non-specific non-answer, just like every other tonight. Getting any details out of this guy was like pulling teeth. He’d practically memorized the
Law Enforcement Guide to Inter-cultural Interactions
but he still couldn’t figure elves out. They never did what you expected them to do and they took everything you said as an insult while simultaneously being a touchy-feely nightmare. Even for an elf though this one was squirrelly as hell and Riordan didn’t like it.
He tried a different tactic, “Pretty horrible thing, that poor girl getting raped and cut up like that.”
The elf gave him another long condescending look, and said nothing.
A slight tap on the door distracted him, “Listen, you keep working on that witness statement, lots of detail, I’ll be right back.”
The detective tried to act nonchalant as he left the room, carefully closing the door behind him. As he’d expected his partner, Detective Rick Walters, was waiting in the hallway.
“You’re not gonna like this, Jim.”
Riordan sighed and rubbed his eyes. “I haven’t liked anything so far tonight. Just get to the point.”
“I contacted ‘em like you asked and they pulled jurisdiction on us–sent a whole squad of their own. Said if our guy’s the killer then it’s their job to handle it.”
Walters sounded really spun up. Not too surprising since this had been their case since day one and the idea of having some pointy-eared Fairy cops waltzing in now that they finally had a suspect was pretty galling, even if he’d expected it. The Treaty was explicit in defining who had jurisdiction over which suspects. Riordan groaned inwardly though knowing that his partner was going to have a hard time not saying or doing anything to insult the Elven cops. Walters was a great cop–one of the best detectives on the force, with an almost supernatural ability to solve tough crimes–but he had a real problem dealing with the various Fairy beings, especially the elves.
Riordan shook his head and headed down the hall as Walters kept talking, “The Captain’s with them now, kissing ass…”
The two detectives rounded a corner and Riordan saw Captain Lewis standing with the four Elven Guards. It was hard to miss the elves; they stood out in the human squad room, making everything around them look cheap and bland. Of course it would be hard to go anywhere and miss a group standing at military attention, in formation, wearing swords.
At least they aren’t in armor,
it’s bad enough seeing people running around wearing swords, but the armor they wear for high security stuff makes me feel like I’ve time warped back a couple hundred years. Not that black cargo pants and medieval tunics make much sense as a uniform either, but I guess it is distinctive. So is the matching long hair in matching braids. God, elves are weird
. Riordan felt a headache coming on and wondered if he had any Tylenol in his desk.
The Captain saw them walking across the room and waved them over, “Riordan! Walters! How’s it going in there? Any progress?”
“Not yet Captain. He’s still sticking with his story, saying he was going down the alley and found her.”
“And you doubt this?” One of the elves, a tall blond, asked.
“Yeah, his whole story seems off to us. The guy just isn’t very bothered by finding a dead girl. Didn’t even want to stick around to talk to us. Something weird going on with him, for sure,” Walters said, and Riordan prayed he’d watch his mouth. He and Walters had been partners for years; they were friends outside of work. Hell, he’d even asked Walters to be his daughter’s godfather, but he knew his partner was a straight up bigot where elves were concerned and it made cases like these an even bigger pain in the ass to work than they already were.
Very familiar with Walters’s track record with non-humans, and possibly thinking the same thing, Captain Lewis stepped in.
“Detectives, this is Captain Zarethyn and his squad from the Border Outpost. They’re here to help us investigate the murders.”
Help us my ass
take over is more like it,
Riordan thought, but he smiled and extended a hand, which the tall elf shook. “I’m Jim Riordan and this is my partner Rick Walters.”
The elves all nodded and their Captain gestured at his people, starting with the closest, a slightly shorter blond. “This is Commander Jessilaen,” next a red haired woman, “Aeyliss, a gifted magical tracker…”
“What’s a magical tracker?” Walters cut in, and Riordan winced slightly knowing it was rude, and elves hated rude. This lot was either really forgiving or on orders to be nice because they ignored the faux pas and answered politely.
“I can track most spells back to their source,” the red head said, after a slight nod from her Captain, “under the right circumstances.”
“And this,” Zarethyn finished before Walters could ask anything else, gesturing at the last elf, who had dark hair and an annoyingly calm expression, “is Brynneth, our medic.”
“Captain Zarethyn and his people are going to form a joint task force with you two to get to the bottom of whatever’s been going on with these killings,” Captain Lewis said, ignoring the outraged looks from both detectives. “All the victims may be human but if the killer isn’t it’s out of our jurisdiction. This way whether the killer’s human or not we’re covered and we’ll have more people on the job working at solving this.”
An uncomfortable silence followed as Riordan and Walters fumed and the elves ignored their obvious anger.
“Perhaps now would be a good time to share what you know so far, before we question the suspect?” the other blond, Jessilaen, finally said.
Walters bristled immediately, so Riordan spoke quickly. “This is the fourth body. They’re all the same: young women between 15 and 23, raped, slashed repeatedly, methodically, then killed and dumped in parking lots. We hadn’t had any strong leads until now. This guy is smart and he covers his tracks.”
“Then why would he suddenly change his pattern and report a body himself?” the Elven Captain asked.
“Hard to say. Maybe he’s getting cocky. Maybe he’s playing with us. Maybe he even wants to get caught,” Riordan explained.
“This guy has a record,” Walters added, obviously happy about that.
The elves exchanged glances then their Captain spoke “How can he have a human criminal record?”
“Not a human one,” Walters said, “with you guys. You kicked him out.”
All the elves went very still. Zarethyn continued to speak for the group. “He is an Outcast?”
“Oh yeah,” Walters smiled.
Riordan cut in. “According to his file back in the 1960’s he was Outcast by the Guard.” He looked up and was surprised to see the cold calculation in the elves eyes now.
“Let us go question your suspect,” the Captain said, and suddenly Riordan felt bad for the guy, shifty and guilty as he seemed to be. He led the way to the small room and opened the door for the Guard to enter, as soon as they did the suspect leaped to his feet so quickly he knocked the chair over. It hit the floor with a loud bang. Riordan’s hand twitched towards his gun unconsciously; it was not hard to remember how strong elves were or how fast they could move when they got jumpy like that.
The Guard didn’t like it any better than Riordan did, moving to block the doorway. The suspect backed against the wall, his eyes shifting from one elf to the next. Riordan had a sinking feeling that the whole thing was about to go to shit, but irrelevantly found himself hoping they kept speaking English and didn’t go off in their own language, which just sounded like a lot of indecipherable vowels and mumbling to him.
The Guard Captain spoke briskly, “We are here to clarify your role in this situation.”
“My role?” the other elf said, clearly furious. “My role? Screw you.”
The Captain’s voice was cold, “Do not presume to speak to me that way-“
“I’ll speak to you however I want. I’m not part of Fairy anymore, thanks to the Guard. I’ve already told the police everything I can so you can take your presumptuous questions and shove them right up your ass,” the other elf said, still flat against the wall as if he expected a fight. Riordan was half afraid that was exactly what was going to happen.
“Keep a civil tongue, Outcast,” the second in command said, his hand grasping the hilt of his sword.
“Or what? You’ll strike me down for treating you with the respect you really deserve? Fuck you,” the other elf shot back.
The second in command’s eyes narrowed dangerously. “Perhaps I should cut your insolent tongue from your foolish mouth.”
Riordan felt a surge of panic, envisioning the reams of paperwork in his future if the Elven Guard killed or maimed someone in his custody, but before he could decide how best to diffuse the situation, the Guard Captain spoke again, “Enough. Tell us plainly if you are involved in these murders.”
The other elf looked like he wanted to spit at the Fairy cop. “Go fuck your own sword.”
“You do not deny the accusation then?” the Captain said. The Outcast elf spit, although he missed hitting anyone. Two of the Guards started to step forward, but their Captain shouted, “Hold!” and they froze. He looked at the other elf like he was trying to see through him as the seconds ticked by. No one moved. Finally he turned and walked out, his squad following him. Riordan hurried after, trying to get out before the suspect could ask to go.
Walters, standing in the hallway, looked as shocked as Riordan felt, “What the hell just happened?”