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Forest of faces

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The only thing the murderer left behind was a delicate web of vines woven through the headless corpse. The number kept on increasing, while fear settled in the town. Detective Lorcan tries to find the serial killer responsible for their demise and all the headless bodies sprawled all over Kalis, as the forest grows in the eerie silence of their deaths and the smell of their blood. ["I need to arrest you." was all Lorcan could manage, she aimed the revolver straight at the barber, breathing through clenched teeth, willing her lips to stop trembling. Claeg shook his head and a smile touched his face, eyes shining in the dark like emeralds. "You cannot" the grim expression on his face easing into a bitter smile. He slowly moved towards the grave, the machete gleaming in his hand, a faint stain of red smeared over it. "Don't move or I will have to shoot you" Lorcan warned, her voice firmer than before, but it seemed to fall on deaf ears, as Claeg still moved at the edge of the grave and then paused. "You cannot kill me. When people like us die, Et'hiwas spirit is passed over to another worthy person, who is then bound with the forest, a guardian gifted with incredible potential." Claeg repeated the words under his breath and then loudly, they sounded more like a parable, passed down]

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Only if it could grow a head

It was the nineteenth headless body they had found.

Amidst the open field, the decapitated body lay as if lulled to a deadly sleep, calmly lying there within the tall grass until the Guard Force surrounded it, sealing the crime scene with bright orange tape.

Walking towards the field, Detective Lorcan sighed, her eyes set on the latest victim that had fallen to a tragic end, similar to all the previous murders, the only difference remained the location and the person mercilessly slain.

She stared at the corpse, her dark eyes narrowed, compelling it to answer back, it might have, if the head wasn't missing. Same as before, a sadistic pattern was woven over the open wound, a detailed network of vines and leaves sewn carefully through the sliced neck, covering it with a beautiful but terrifying lid.

"We still haven't found the head and you glaring at the body won't make it grow one" someone near her answered the question before she could ask, Lorcan looked up at her partner, he stood there holding his worn-out notebook in a gloved hand, a grim expression set on his face.

"As if we ever find it." She frowned "It's like that one jigsaw piece you just cannot find. and it fucks up the entire thing" Lorcan reverted her eyes back to the rotting corpse that was being lifted on a stretcher, the limp body not leaving a single bloodstain on the ground or the white sheet that hid it from the flashing cameras.

"Did we find any identification?" Lorcan asked, she pulled her coat tighter around her body, a strange chill climbing up her spine even though it was a clear afternoon and the sun shone proud and bright over them.

"His name is Callar, and he was one of the investors of TeTech," Ichiro told her, handing out the business card that possibly belonged to the victim.

Lorcan studied the card, whispering the name under her breath, she turned it over, scanning the details printed on the back, details which no longer would be relevant. The deep annoyance returned, she tried to ignore it but it still made her slightly furious. If they had called her earlier to solve these cases, maybe then she could have prevented the rampant murders and fear that was slowly settling in the town of Kalis.

Her eyes drifted to the small crowd that stood beyond the flashing cameras and a flood of reporters. They quietly mumbled to each other, talking in a hushed tone, each word measured, trying not to stir the air of death around them as they discussed the latest victim that was killed by the unknown serial killer.


And amidst them stood Claeg, with unnatural stillness, his ears quietly listening to the people around him rumble, panic streaked in their voices as they made absurd theories.

It was said by the elders that Claeg was as old as the town of Kalis itself, that the Forest of Kym, where people worshipped the ancient gods, was planted by his very hands, and the spirits of the forest welcomed him as their own. And all this made him known as the oldest barber recognized by the whole town.

An odd old man who often remained silent, only answering in soft, inaudible whispers. Insanely bright green eyes filled with concern and curiosity, contrasting starkly against the resting grim expression etched on his face.

He slowly tore away from the crowd, the tall thin body going unnoticed by anyone around him. With quiet steps, he returned back to the road that snaked away from the open field towards the small shop at the corner, where his tiny potted plants and customers waited for him.

The bell at the door gave a faint chime as Claeg entered the shop, feeling at peace by the chipped cream floor, and plants clustered everywhere. He greeted the people with a slow nod, asking them how they were, a soft smile stretched across his face that never seemed to reach his eyes. Finally leaving the waiting customers at the front of his small green speckled shop, he went to the back, collecting things he needed to begin yet another day.

Metal clinked against each other as he jerked open the thick wooden drawer, the cool razor in his hand reminded him of the blade he had held last night, the way it had slid so easily and smoothly through Callars neck. Cutting the skin and tissues in a fine straight line, making its way through the bones and cartilages, slicing the head clean off before Callar could even react.

Claeg raised his head to the old rustic mirror, staring at his own eyes and the deep farfetched sadness nested within them, with the unavoidable knowledge of what the future held and what task sat on his wiry shoulders.

Someone called his name, breaking the trance. He realized that there were people impatiently waiting for a haircut or a shave, willing to gossip and exchange information in the calmness of his shop.

Claeg forced the drawer shut, forcing himself back to the present. He walked out to attend to the cluster of customers, already deep in conversation as they believed no one could hear them, forgetting the leaning plants behind them. His eyes drifted shorty at the huge glass window, observing the detectives from the Guard Force as they walked past.


Lorcan stared at the messy scribbles on the small slip of paper, she narrowed her eyes in an attempt to make out what was written on it. With a defeated grunt she crumpled the paper in her hand and shoved it down her pocket.

"You wrote that, and you can't read it yourself," Ichiro mocked her from the side, raising his eyebrows dramatically.

"I was busy listening to that Woiker guy when I was writing this down, he was concerned about TeTechs safety," Lorcan replied with an amused smile, she dodged the rolling tray of bread as they were being carried to the bakery behind them.

"Most of the people who work there are, since all of the headless victims are in one way or another related to TeTech." she added, her gaze at the fresh bread placed on the display window. She silently cursed the delicious smell and considered ditching the meeting with TeTechs chairman for a hot meat bun.

"So the killer is specifically after people who are associated with TeTech," Ichiro said out loud, less as a question and more as a statement, as he dragged her away from the street lined with food shops.

With a look of disappointment, Lorcan nodded, "19 cases, that all narrow down to one common link." A smile breaking on her face as she gestured towards the tall building standing in front of them, which currently served as the temporary headquarters of TeTech.

Against the dying purple sky, the building stood like a looming beast, with its old architectural design and shadowed gargoyles peering down at people with cemented snares. It was called Ra'Yafu by the locals of Kalis, a pillar that grew from the heart. For years it was used to hold important conferences and meetings, to give residency to people who travel through Kalis. But now it was corrupted by TeTech, allowing it to function within the city and expand its wretched factories over its lands.

Some people were in favor of this advancement and invested in it, helping it unfold over their land, but a majority of them were unamused by TeTechs plans about cutting down a big part of forest Kym in order to utilize the land, and they were loud about it.

Lorcan could hear the deafening chants from a mile away, mixed voices roaring in the air as they got close to the building. Brimming from the very entrance a huge crowd was spread in front of TeTechs headquarters, angrily chanting and demanding the head of TeTech to show up. With their makeshift tents specked all over the grounds, Lorcan knew that they would not be going away anytime sooner.

Lorcan shouldered her way through the crowd, asking them to give way or by simply pushing them, Ichiro followed the lead as they slowly made their way through the angry mob of protesters, catching bits and pieces of their conversation as they went past them.

"They have called a higher power," Ichiro said, tilting his head sideways, his ear straining to hear more about what the crowd was talking about.

"Elpini Wilderness Protection." Lorcan told him while trying to part some people aside and make way for them to reach the main gates, "They have a reputation of protecting the forests, the animals, the bugs, basically everything that is included in the wilderness."

They finally made their way through and stood in front of two huge guards, who were the only thing stopping the mob from breaking into the building and spreading havoc.

"If any organization can give TeTech a hard time, it's this one" A lopsided smile broke over her smug face before her features hardened as she handed the guard her identity card.
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