Pepper was just putting the finishing touches on the breakfast spread she laid out when the Fairy Godmother and her team ambled through the door.
“What’s all this?” Irk grumbled.
“Why it’s breakfast, silly. As we all had a late night I thought it best to have a little pick me up this morning.” Pepper beamed.
She was still smarting from the tongue lashing her father gave her when he got home and knew he would be having words with her boss the first chance he got. She hoped to ingratiate herself on the team, making it more difficult for Ms. Thornhart to sack her.
Arbo lifted the lid of the porcelain teapot on the table, sniffed and wrinkled his nose. “A bit of medicinal libation would do wonders for me, pet.”
Pepper frowned. “Medicinal libation? I didn’t see anything like that on the menu. I’ll be sure to ask the cafe about it next time.”
“You’d have better luck at the local pub than the cafe, love.” Tracker chuckled and Pepper frowned, biting her lip.
Aryssa glared at the men before gracing her assistant with a smile. “Never mind, this is lovely Pepper, thank you.”
“How did everything go?” Pepper smiled,
“Slowly.” Aryssa sighed. “This case appears
to be much more complicated than I first thought.”
“Agreed,” Irk said. “I’ve taken samples of
the crime scene for ye to keek over.”
Aryssa frowned. “Was that necessary?”
The Dwarf nodded as Tracker spoke.
“The crime scene is a setup. There were bits of hair and clothing at the site but no human was present at the time of the supposed murder.”
“Supposed, do you think Princess Primrose
still lives?” Pepper asked.
Tracker shrugged and Pepper suddenly realized how worn he looked.
“You alright, mate?” Arbo asked him.
Tracker nodded. “There was a lot of magic at the scene, all of it tainted. It can take a lot out of you.”
Pepper took his arm and guided him to a chair, then scurried off to grab him some tea.
“T’was gey powerful magic, even I picked up on it.” Irk frowned. “T’was mirk an’ wrong, it’s persnickety to explain.”
“It was like concentrated death.” Tracker put in wearily. “It was nothing but decay, decay, and chicken blood.”
“Chicken blood, what could that mean?” Pepper asked, carrying Tracker’s tea.
Aryssa stopped her with a touch on the wrist. She drew a small vial of shimmering blue liquid from her sleeve and poured it into the cup before nodding toward Tracker. All the while saying,
“I have an idea but I’ll need to look at Irk’s samples to confirm it.”
“Did you have any luck at the tower?” Pepper
asked, taking a seat.
The Fairy Godmother sighed. “None whatsoever, but then it was to be expected.” “Was it?”
“The Fae ain’t exactly receptive to Fairy Godmothers.” Arbo snorted. “They fink providin’ any sort of service to humans is beneef ’em as are them who provide said service.”
“Ravenshade thought enough of the Godmother to ask for her help.” Pepper sniffed.
“Yeah well, her staff fink she’s a desperate plonker. Not that they’d say it to her face, of course.”
“Of course she’s desperate. She’s aff to be executed for a crime she dinna commit.” Irk barked.
Pepper started, choking on her tea. Arbo gave her back some hearty slaps while Irk made her raise her arms to clear the airway. Aryssa shot her a glance.
“What is it, Pepper?”
Thinking back on last night’s scolding, Pepper cringed. “I really shouldn’t say.”
Tracker slid up beside her. “What is it about the forbidden that makes it so charmingly exquisite?”
Pepper gave him a sideways look. “I see you’re feeling better, Mr. Marlowe.”
He winked at her, which gave her a funny feeling in her tummy.
“Go on, be naughty.” He murmured. “You know you want to, minx.”
Pepper ducked her head and blushed all over. “Well, the thing is, the Constabulary doesn’t exactly believe Ravenshade is the killer.”
“Don’t they?” Aryssa asked.
Pepper shook her head. “The weapon used to kill the princess isn’t a real spindle. It’s golden thread woven into the shape of a spindle but it’s stiff and strong enough to pierce flesh.”
“Golden thread? That’s impossible.” Tracker said.
“Not so, there is only one body I ken what kin weave gold,” Irk said.
Aryssa gasped as the realization hit her. “Szac Drullian, but why would he weave a spindle? Why would he want to kill the princess?”
“Hang on, that chuffin’ Beryl Fairy who seems to keep poppin’ up in us inquiries, ain’t she related to that Imp?” Arbo asked.
Aryssa closed her eyes as a bell sounded in her head followed by multiple visions of the Imp and the Beryl Fairy she saw from the palace.
“There’s a branch of Imps and Trolls on her father’s side. The side her family doesn’t like to talk about.” She answered before opening her eyes. “Szac Drullian and Beryl Fairy Merrypuff are cousins.”
“So the dark sheep of the family is an Imp.” Tracker chuckled. “That explains her winning personality.”
“So it’s possible Merrypuff commissioned Drullian to weave the spindle but why?” Aryssa tapped a finger to her cheek.
“Wait a minute.” Pepper leapt to her feet and ran to her bag. After rummaging around for a moment she pulled out a magazine and threw it on to the Fairy Godmother’s desk. “I was just reading an article about the Queen’s Ball, look!”
Beside the article that gushed about the ball was a photo featuring the plump blue Fairy smiling beside a nimble brown Imp with stubby horns peering out from the dark shaggy hair on his head and black eyes glinting above a long nose. His arm was draped casually around the shoulders of the one and only Honeypetal whose benevolent smile did not reach her eyes.
“I’m surprised you didn’t know,” Pepper said. “It was the talk of the town for weeks. No one knew who the Imp escorting Honeypetal was and he disappeared before anyone could ever find out.”
Tracker frowned. “Honeypetal could have gone with any man in the realm yet she chose Szac Drullian?”
“And I saw both Merrypuff and Honeypetal together at the palace before the Royal Mystic sent them away despite never traveling in the same circles before,” Aryssa said as everyone exchanged glances.
“It sounds like we need to pay this Imp a visit,” Irk said.