The atmosphere of Walter Vindaloo’s Bollywood was nothing short of overwhelming. The walls were covered in posters from old Bollywood movies, as well as memorabilia from said movies; ornate, golden molding slithered amongst the finery like a gaudy serpent. August, who had chosen the establishment for his date with Dr. Prabha Kholsa due to the advice of his friend Malcolm, was beginning to question the wisdom of his decision. Despite the reservations August was feeling, his date seemed extremely amused. Prabha’s wide, dark eyes glittered with excitement as she watched the wait staff perform their rendition of the opening of Gumnaam, complete with costumes and head-shaking.
August saw her wide smile and had a difficult time believing that she was the same woman that was always so serious when tending to her patients.
“Ah! I remember my mom trying to show me how to do that dance. Oh! The mess we made of the kitchen. She had been baking bread, and flour ended up everywhere. My dad was livid when he came home, but he found it funny after he got over the initial shock.” reminisced Prabha with a sweet voice flavored with nostalgia. She looked at August, seeing that he was entranced by her every word. “Thank you for taking me here; it is a lot of fun.”
“I was worried that you wouldn’t like it, but Malcolm said it was the best…” August paused. He wasn’t sure of what he should say; while he dealt with creatures of all sorts of species, he always tried to be racially sensitive. He had worried that taking an Indian woman to an Indian restaurant on a date would come off as presumptuous. Perhaps she would think that she only ate Indian food. Perhaps she would think that he thought that this was high culture for Indian people.
“Well, so far, it is certainly entertaining.” said Prabha, aware of August’s discomfort. She found his manner quite endearing. She studied his face, thinking that August looked youthful despite his strenuous job as an investigator of the supernatural. His dark, curly hair was in need of a trim, but looked stylish nonetheless. His pale skin reminded her of winter, his eyes brown as fertile soil. She became acutely aware that she was looking at August with the same entranced look that he had gazed at her with.
As the dance came to a close, a waiter in a white sports coat arrived with a platter filled with fragrant, spicy delights. The couple ate quietly, appreciative of the night off. August, looking deep in Prabha’s eyes, found himself thinking of the sliver of a goddess that lived inside of Prabha. The beauty of the goddess in her radiates out from her, he thought.
Prabha cared for victims of supernatural attacks, and as such, she and August had been seeing much of each other, due largely to a string of grisly vampire attacks that had recently been halted. August had not apprehended the vampire; Claude, a friend of his, had taken custody of the vampire and was hoping to rehabilitate him. In the wake of the vampire attacks, Prabha and August worked together to treat patients, applying mystical and scientific treatments to the victims. Having healed much of the damage the vampire had wrought, the pair found that they now had some free time.
“So, what will you do now that Sebottendorff is gone? Will you try to find him and Claude?” asked Prabha, poking at a mound of aromatic rice.
“I trust Claude; since there have been no further attacks, he must be doing something correctly. As far as what is next? Well, Minerva and I have been working as consultants for the police for a while now; between that and some smaller investigations about haunting, we’re keeping busy.” said August.
“How did Minerva and you partner up anyway?” inquired Prabha.
“Well, we met about ten years ago. We were on opposite sides of the battlefield then; she had been working with the Esoteric Order for nearly her entire life. They used her vast magical strength to break down barriers that were protecting our dimension. She had awoken a terrible thing.” August stopped talking, biting into a warm piece of naan and chewing it slowly. Prabha could see that there was much more to the story, but she also knew that she would need to be patient before he would tell her.
Minerva rubbed her tired eyes. She had been studying photographs that Karen, an archeologist friend of hers, had sent. The digital image was good quality, though there were several minute details. The picture was of a votive figure that was found within a ziggurat buried deep within a South American jungle. The figure was a vile looking thing, crafted from jade and stained with blood. On the small pedestal on which it crouched, tiny cuneiform writing spelled out the name of F’rahl Bodon. Other etchings spoke of promised rituals and sacrifices; Minerva was absorbed in her examination of the photograph. She could not help but draw some comparisons between this primitive worship of F’rahl Bodon with current cults devoted to C’thulhu and other Great Old Ones.
“Are you still obsessing over that thing?” asked Tobias, wearing blue and white striped pajamas. He was still ailing from the fight with Sebottendorff. “I thought we were supposed to be taking a break. You know, letting the batteries recharge and all that.”
“I said that you should take a break; if you don’t, I’m afraid you’ll end up on your back, unable to get up again.” said Minerva, concern shading her voice.
“I’ll be all right. There are just a few gashes, a couple of breaks, and some bruising. A few more hours, and I’ll be fine.” replied Tobias, feeling restless and agitated.
“I’d feel better if you rested for the remainder of the night. Back to the bed!” she demanded playfully, yet firmly.
“Well, if it’ll make you happy.” said Tobias, walking towards the bedroom. As he passed the telephone, it began to ring. Answering it, he immediately looked concerned. A few sharp yeses and no’s later, he was rushing to change out of his night clothes.
“What’s wrong?” asked Minerva.
“There’s been a murder at The Haven. Detective Green has asked that we go down there; he hesitated from mentioning any specifics, but it sounds like something really bad went down.” said Tobias.
“Well, I’ll get August to go there, and you are staying here. You need your rest.”
“No. What I need is to find out what happened. I spent a long time at The Haven, and I have a lot of friends there. I owe it to the community to see if there is something that the humans overlook.” growled Tobias; he was being uncharacteristically gruff with his wife, mostly due to his personal stake in the matter. The Haven was a club for were-folk, but it also became a gathering place for people that called themselves “Otherkin”. Otherkin were ordinary humans that pretended , or deluded themselves into believing, that they were something more than human. While some were just young folk dressed up in costumes, others “lived the lifestyle” by undergoing plastic surgery and implanting prosthetics.
“If one of the Otherkin have overstepped their bounds-” started Tobias.
“It is not yours to worry about right now. August will take care of everything. Tomorrow, if your wounds are healed, you can go. I won’t have you out there in this state, particularly in a place like that.” interrupted Minerva. She hoped that she didn’t sound too demanding, and that if she did, that Tobias would understand that she was doing it out of concern.
“Fine.” said Tobias unhappily.
August did not want to conclude his date with Dr. Kholsa so early in the evening. They had barely finished their meals when August received the urgent call from Minerva. Prabha offered to accompany August to The Haven, but August did not want to end his first date with her by going to examine a corpse. He drove the doctor to her home, which was on the way to The Haven.
“Are you sure you don’t need any help?” asked Prabha. “A second set of eyes would be a good thing to have.”
“No. You need to deal with this sort of thing every day. I wouldn’t want you to have to see it outside of work as well.” replied August. Prabha dropped the issue, hugging August before she walked out of the car. With a resigned sigh, he made his way to The Haven.
Entering the club was surreal; what was normally a dark and moody dance floor was a brightly lit and grisly scene. In the center of the dance floor laid a young woman wearing an ivory dress; her long, blonde hair was intricately plaited, and her skin was pallid.
“If she wasn’t dead, she’d be beautiful. Trick is, there’s no blood any where. We wondered if it was poison, but we won’t know until a tox-report gets done. We decided to call you in ’cause, well, she had no identification, and we were wondering if she could have been, you know, real.” explained Detective Green.
“The ear points could have been surgery, but the spacing on her eyes and the proportions of her face indicate that she’s actually an elf.” pronounced August after studying the body briefly. “I’d guess that she is somewhere between five-hundred to one-thousand years old.”
“Wow…” remarked the astonished detective. “They actually live that long? Wow. I couldn‘t imagine…”
“You’re not going to have much to go on until you find a cause of death. I’ll go ask around a bit and see if someone knows anything.” said August. Detective Green sneered in response, thinking that he had all ready gathered what information there was to be gathered.
“Good luck with that. When we arrived, the place was a madhouse. Most of ’em thought it was a raid and ran. The ones that stayed behind didn’t see anything. Then again, maybe you can be more persuasive, being that you’re like them and all.” said the detective, eliciting a sideways glance from August. August didn’t see himself as anything other than a human, and never thought that someone would insinuate otherwise.
As August and the detective talked, Lana, the club’s owner approached. She was lithe and tall; her skin an iridescent green with thick patches of scales on her chest and neck. Her eyes smoldered with an orange glow, and her hair was a thick, ropey, golden mass that crawled down past her waist. She carried herself with confidence as she introduced herself.
“You must be the investigator I have heard so much about. Tell me, where is your other half? I heard you always traveled in pairs.” said Lana with a seductive wave of her slender hand.
“She’s taking some time off.” replied August. “Our last case was a difficult one, and one of our friends were injured.” His manner was brief, but not impolite. Aware of Lana’s disposition, August wished to keep his interaction with her short and professional.
“I see.” responded Lana, glowering at Detective Green. “You can go now. I need to speak with this young man.” she said, shooing away the detective. Shrugging his shoulders and rolling his eyes, the detective skulked off. “You have questions to ask, yes?” she inquired of August.
“I do. Primarily, I’d like to know what has been going on here as of late. My counterpart has done some research, and informed me of what this club is. I suppose that the simplest place to start would be the interactions between the so-called ‘Otherkin’ and true supernatural creatures.”
“It is the same here as anywhere else in the States. The Otherkin want to be us, and some of us resent their imitation. To my knowledge, no one has been abnormally inclined towards violence.” her words were honey coated, and August felt that she knew more than she was saying. While not lying, she was certainly obfuscating the truth. She slinked closer to August, who did his best to not look at the cleavage that peeped out from the plunging neckline of her dress.
“What sort of super-naturals frequent this club?” asked August.
“Were-folk are our main clients, and that’s what keeps attracting the damn fursuiters.” she scowled as she said ’fursuiter’, spitting the word out like a curse. “This Elf, she’s quite the aberration. I don’t think I’ve seen any of their kind since the early seventies.”
“Any clue as to why an Elf would come here?” asked August, aware that Lana was staging an invasion of his personal space. One of her hands caressed his arm, sliding up towards his shoulder.
“You know, you have quite a reputation among us. Many are still wondering how you managed to outsmart the Queen of Autumn; perhaps this Elf was trying to find out about you and found trouble instead.” Lana smiled lustily, and August recoiled.
“If that’s the case, I need to investigate much further.” said August, excusing himself from the scene. Leaving Lana in a slump, August began to evaluate the pieces of the puzzle before him; there was an Elf where an Elf was seldom seen, and there was Lana, hiding some secret information. August resolved that he would ask Minerva to conclude the questioning of Lana, hoping that Minerva’s senses could uncover some hidden facet of Lana’s story.
Before leaving, August studied the face of the Elf. Even in death, she was startlingly beautiful, despite (or perhaps, because of) her exotic proportions. He silently made a promise to resolve the mystery…
Tobias and August arrived at the City Morgue early the next evening. Despite Minerva’s protests, Tobias decided he would join the investigation. A part of him felt that the murder was an affront to his community; any violence perpetrated near were-folk was easily blamed on were-folk. Speaking with the coroner, they discovered that her heart was the most damaged organ.
“It seemed like a single, strong thrust to her chest is what did it. From the fractures in her sternum, I’d say the attacker had an immense amount of power behind the strike. As far as strange damage, there is a burn on the heart.” announced the coroner, producing the small organ on a stainless steel dish. Looking at the light pink tissue, both August and Tobias saw a many-pointed star. It was the Star of Bodon, the symbol of King Bodon, a powerful devil. The two grimaced at each other, and each began to think of their next course of action.
“Tobias, I would like it if you accompanied Minerva to question Lana. In the meantime, have someone else to question. Tobias watched as August left. The coroner looked at Tobias, a puzzled look on his face.
“What’s going on?” asked the coroner shyly.
“It’s just a potential end of world crisis. No worries; we’ve dealt with this kind of stuff before.” said Tobias reassuringly.
I know, I know. It is supposed to be a complete story. However, rather than run more than 5 hours late, I decided to post what I have so far. After writing the outline for this story, I should have guessed that it was going to be far longer than what I’d be able to write in the time that I had.
As I get deeper into the August and Minerva world, I find myself becoming more and more happy with each passing story. As the world grows, so does my enjoyment of it…
The rest will come later in the week, likely before the end of the weekend.