The Deadly Dressmaker

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Aryssa Thornhart’s investigative team sat anxiously in the waiting room while the door to her office remained closed. On the table was a newspaper with the headline QUEEN SASKIA ARRESTED FOR MURDER over sketches of Honeypetal and Merrypuff, who were charged with conspiracy to commit regicide, being led out of their homes in chains towards a prison wagon whose door displayed a giant shield emblazoned with the letters DODJ. There was also a blurb about an illicit love affair turning to bloodshed at Three Bears Cottage, which continued on another page.

Everyone looked especially smart in their best attire. Romulus dressed in all black, as usual, but his hair, shirt, and trousers had a sheen like the cleanest fur. It seemed impossible for him to take his eyes off of Pepper who ignored him in a long red velvet gown specially conjured by the Godmother herself for the occasion. It was trimmed with white and had a sweetheart neckline, a delicate balance between allure and modesty. Pepper decided to forego her braids, letting her hair fall loose around her shoulders. Arbo looked dashing in red and blue, the colors of the ancient Dwarf community in the Scarlet Mountains that Irk suspected were the orphan’s people.

Irk himself was a sight to behold. His hair and beard shone like fire as it was brushed and braided elaborately to suit his culture. His silver armor and helmet polished to gleaming. He wore the green and gold kilt of his clan’s tartan with knee-high fur boots that were not caked in dirt and mud for a change.

The office door opened and everyone gasped as the room filled with light. The Fairy Godmother’s gown was created by Ravenshade as a thank you and would be all the rage at the dinner the king was holding in their honor. It was made with the Dark Fairy’s special dye that turned a garment transparent to reflect its surroundings. She said she got the idea watching polar bears and noting the way their fur reflected the light.

“Oh Godmother, a Fantasma Boutique original. Now you’ll be the belle of the ball for once!” Poppy clapped. “Are the shoes the same?”

Aryssa grinned. “Better.”

She lifted her skirt and presented a pair of glass slippers.

“That’s never-” Arbo gaped.

“Well, why should Cinderella have all the fun, and at least we know Aryssa won’t lose one.” Dr. Ganso said, stepping out from behind Aryssa who she’d been assisting.

As always, Doctor G ignored the way Tracker’s eyes roamed appreciatively over her form, clad in green gauzy robes, but Pepper blushed angrily at the man’s attentions and couldn’t help elbowing him in the ribs.

Looking over the group, Rowena grinned,

“Well, don’t we all look lovely!”

“Some bloke has to fill the bloody void of fabulousness left by Honeypetal,” Arbo said, posing as if for a portrait.

“Ah, a sad business, that.” Rowena sighed.

“How did you figure out that Ravenshade an’ Queen Saskia was not just sisters but twins, eh, Godmother?” Arbo asked.

“When the Chief Inspector finally allowed me access to that so-called spindle he had in custody I discovered the magical signature of the spell was similar to the Dark Fairy’s magic but it was not she who enchanted it. Anyone not blessed with the gift of genealogia would easily miss the slight difference in signature every member of the family has. After viewing the body of the princess I discovered the magic that hid its true identity.”

“It seems wrong not to tell the king his daughter still lives,” Pepper asked.

“Princess Primrose and Prince Logan wanted everything to settle down here first before springing the truth on her father, especially the fact that she is half Fae,” Aryssa said.

“What?!” The group said.

“Saskia and Ravenshade shared the same mother who was Fae but Saskia’s father was human. When the girls grew up they vied for the affections of King Peregrine but Saskia won out and they married. However, Saskia soon discovered being half human meant she could never have children. Unfortunately for her, Ravenshade could and did bear the king a child from their last tryst before the wedding.”

“And that’s how come the queen tried to murder her?” Irk asked.

“No, Saskia begged Ravenshade for the child when she realized her sister was pregnant. She won the man but not being able to give him an heir meant the marriage could be annulled. The Dark Fairy refused at first, laughing in her face, but when Peregrine approached her she couldn’t refuse him.”

“Because she still loved him.” Pepper sighed.

“Unfortunately yes, that’s why she was so angry when she was snubbed at the naming ceremony but she would never actually harm her own daughter.” Aryssa smoothed down her skirt and glanced out the window. “Now Primrose was a constant reminder of Saskia’s perceived failure to her husband and kingdom but announcing the princess’ engagement on her 40th birthday at the ball was truly depressing and the queen became very drunk.”

“I remember, the gossip pages were full of innuendo.” Tracker said.

Pepper looked at him. “I didn’t know you read those.”

The Wolf shrugged but wouldn’t meet her eyes, which Pepper found endearing. “They’re a guilty pleasure of mine, alright.”

Aryssa continued. “Anyway, the queen was always jealous of what she could never have with her king. Her sister had his heart and his child and the bond between father and child always seemed stronger than what he had with the queen. In Saskia’s mind, if she could seduce Prince Logan she would finally have one up on Ravenshade, except he spurned her advances. In a rage, she swore at the prince and told him how his soon to be bride wouldn’t be able to bear him children because she was half human too.

When Logan professed his undying love for Primrose it was more than the queen could bear. Realizing it was only a matter of time before Saskia snapped, Hazelbite enlisted Honeypetal, the social climber that she is, to commission the spindle from Drullian. Since she wouldn’t be caught dead associating with the Imp, Honeypetal convinced Merrypuff to talk to her cousin.

As we all know, Merrypuff got the upper hand by forcing the two to appear at the ball together. So Saskia enchanted the spindle and slipped it inside the princess’ gown as she dressed. Fortunately, Primrose had already run away because of how abusive her mother had become and Ravenshade whisked her to safety at the island of Tubber Tintye and put the Faecka in her place. The queen’s spell took effect, drawing the Faecka deep into the forest where the toy attacked and killed it.”

“So much fear an’ ill will, that’s no way for a bairn to bide,” Irk grumbled. “Tis solid to hawp the Dark Fairy would do right by a’body.”

“The stench of darkness, fear, and violence is so strong at the murder site I don’t think anything will grow there ever again.” Tracker shook his head.

“Papa said the DODJ was just granted a permit to do a fire cleansing so it doesn’t spread to the rest of the woods,” Pepper said.

“It will take much for the kingdom to heal from this tragedy. The new Mystic has her work cut out for her.” Rowena said.

“Rose Fairy Petalgrace comes highly recommended by the Council. She is kind, good-natured, and quite bubbly though not irritatingly so.” Aryssa said.

“Aye, the king seemed fair taken with her,” Irk muttered.

“Oh, do you think she’ll be the next queen?” Pepper gasped.

“Absolutely not! Queen Saskia is still in good health. It’s her mind and spirit that need rest. She will be well cared for at the Flowerhill Sanatorium for the rest of her days.” Aryssa snapped, startling herself with how sharp the reply came out. “Besides, the last thing Davenmour needs is a whirlwind romance between a mortal king and his Royal Mystic. Petalgrace has a good head on her shoulders. She knows she has a job to do and must not allow the king to do anything rash in his time of grief.”

She too had noticed how smitten King Peregrine had become with the beautiful new Mystic and it worried her. Thankfully what she told her staff was true, Petalgrace was a very responsible level headed Fairy who took her duties seriously. She knew better than to take the grieving man’s overtures to heart but Aryssa offered her assistance in case the situation became too much to handle.

There was a knock on the door and when Pepper answered there was a royal sentry on the doorstep.

“The royal carriage to fetch the Fairy Godmother and entourage, ma’am.”

Irk presented his arm to Aryssa, beaming. “Shall we?

Aryssa took it with a nod. “We shall.”

Rowena watched the group pile into the carriage. As she waved them off she said to no one in particular,

“The Wheel of Life continues to turn and alas, this too shall pass. The important thing is justice has been served thanks once again to Aryssa Thornhart and her team.”

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