The Case For A Female Detective 2
The Dragon Detective Is Back!
Welcome back to the continuing adventure of Em and Ziffy. In our last installment the lady detectives were off to find out who had been stealing dragon eggshells, a theft most other dragons simply overlooked, but not our Emerald! Ziffy had mostly forgiven Em for the whole incident of almost killing her, and the pair got a frightening lead.
Now as they continue on with the case can the pair stand the tests the road ahead will bring? And why is Emerald changing so dramatically and behaving so strangely around Zinfandel? In honor of it being the lunar new year Em has picked up a few traits of the beneficent yet fearsome dragons of the East.
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Your Music For Tonight's Tale
On The Road Again
Emerald walked close to me as we left the next morning, heading for a distant castle where the suspected soon-to-be lich was likely working on the potion as we traveled. “Thank you.” She said quietly. “It was decent of you to cover for me.”
I shrugged. “We’re friends and partners now, right?” I asked and she brightened. “It was the least I could do. You’ve been a good partner.” She beamed at me, revealing her sharp teeth. “Besides, we got a lead on our case, our first big case.” I said and she nodded.
She could have flown naturally, but being a smaller dragon she tired easily carrying me and didn’t seem to mind walking long distances. We had no horse and no money for one so it was walk or part ways. And although she’d nearly killed me finding our one clue there was something likable about her. “Emerald, it’s really none of my business, but have you ever wanted a partner?” I asked and she shrugged.
“I’m always too busy on cases so you’re my only partner for now.” She said slyly and I gave her a friendly bat on her wing. “Thanks to for not wanting another partner when the council offered.” She said and I nodded. We’d agreed to skip reporting to the dragon council. They were like any ruling body and it could have taken years to convince anyone the threat of a dragon lich was real and by then it would have been too late. That and I didn’t like them. They’d thought I was too good for Em and the idea had angered me.
She night not have been the sharpest sword in the armory at times, but she was highly intelligent. She’d just been beaten down by so many failed cases that she no longer believed in herself. But, strangely enough, I did, even when she seemed to be unaware that although small she was still as big as a cottage and was a hazard if she bumped up against anyone in an affectionate greeting.
We stopped for lunch under a large oak, I eating the last of the dried meat I’d been given by a kindly dragon and a few pieces of dried fruit washed down with water from a nearby stream. Em had eaten something in one gulp and I didn’t bother asking what as it had been alive at the time.
By Emerald’s estimates even a very ill dragon could have wheedled or stolen enough eggshells in a few years time if they constantly traveled from breeding ground to breeding ground. “The reason it wasn’t considered a case is that we don’t keep the shells. Parents tidy the nest and make sure the shells are gone as soon as possible.” She explained.
“So, how did you even know you had a case?” I asked.
“I notice things. Too many eggshells started disappearing too quickly. A pair will see to the little ones first, cleaning them outside the nest and removing the shells from the nest only after the little dragons are fussed over. Both will have their backs to an empty nest and when they turn around the shells are gone.”
“That sounds strange. Do dragons have magic that would let them take the shells remotely?”
“I thought of that, but no. And I got the sense that perhaps the parents who would talk to me were lying. Like they knew who took the shells and were afraid to say.”
“Doubtful. We know our lich is likely ill if your dream wasn’t a total lie, but from what you described and the scale they wouldn’t look ill, merely iridescent. Most likely they were pitied and given the shells as a kindness. Maybe the parents though the dragon could barter with humans for food or something. I don’t know." She shrugged, her wings rising and falling with the action.
“Or they were being helpful. A kindly old dragon or even a young one would make you feel protective, wouldn’t they?” I asked and she nodded.
“Yes, yes the would.” She agreed, she seemed about to say something else, then lunged forward before I could react and threw her body over me. I beat on her scales, terrified she was intent on crushing me, and heard a frightening roar that vibrated through me in response. The roar was answered by a defiant screech and I managed to look out from under her to see a much larger dragon glaring at Emerald.
He sucked in his breath and blew out flames at her, the heat of which took my breath away but instead of being obliterated Emerald answered with a gust of wind that blew the flames backwards. Our attacker screeched in pain and took to the sky. Em tensed as if to leap off the ground but I grabbed at her desperately. “No, Em, it could be a trap!”
I felt her relax, then her upside down head was blocking my view. “True. Did I even mention I wanted to be a mage before becoming a detective?” She asked and gave me a toothy grin.
How To Flirt With A Dragon...And Danger
Em let me out from under her, treating me to a playful smile. “So, you let just any dragon jump on top of you, do you?” She teased.
“Only the beautiful ones.” I sassed back. “And no, you didn’t tell me you could do magic. Kind of useful, isn’t it?”
“It is, I’ll admit that. I just wanted more out of life than books and scrolls. Oh, sorry.” She said gently when I winced. “But you see? That’s why I need you. You like research. I used to, but-”
“But you stopped believing in yourself. Enough people told you you were stupid and you gave up, right?” I asked and she nodded. “Em, I never completed my studies I’m not a real scholar, not a learned one at any rate.”
“The same reason you quit. Enough of the elders told me I’d never amount to anything so I gave up. I found a small town where they didn’t know any better and took over the library. Nobody there could read so how would they know any better? I’m not proud of it, but then again some of them thought I used magic to read, they didn’t believe a woman could learn.”
Em growled softly on my behalf. “I could burn their homes to the ground. Joking, joking.” She chuffed softly, a sign I knew meant she was nervous. She’d been doing it a lot lately. I didn’t know why, but eye contact made her nervous, but there was something about her eyes. Emerald looked away. “Please, don’t.” She shrugged off my hand.
“What’s the matter?”
“You never noticed me. I tried my hardest, I wanted so badly to become friends and you never noticed me.” She said brokenly.
“I don’t understand.” I said, but even as I did I remembered where I’d seen those eyes before. There had been a woman with raven hair that had often visited the library, dressed in a dark green robe bordered with sigils. I’d assumed she was a mage and left her in peace but had often felt her staring at me.
“That was you?” I asked, the described the woman. “Em, I love you as a friend, understand that, but among humans staring is a threatening gesture.”
“Why? Dragons love attention. We find staring a measure of friendship, the longer you stare the greater you admire your friend.. Explains all the nonsense in the books on dragons. You humans seem to think we’re little better than animals.” She seemed ready for a fight and I wasn’t sure why.
I took her muzzle in my hands. “Now you look at me. I never thought that. A lot of humans think other humans are no better than animals. That’s what I could’t stand about the scholars. The truth is I got sent away. I broke the rules and tried to teach poor children to read, OK?”
“That would do it.” Em agreed softly. She gave a pleased rumble and her eyes went dreamy as I held her muzzle. She made a sound I couldn’t define then stood up on her rear legs and posed dramatically, her wings outspread. Em opened her jaws wide and smiled happily at me, her bright eyes flashing and tail thumping on the ground. “You just solved the case!”
“I what now?” I asked, confused.
“Well, we knew who did the thefts, our lich, but I couldn’t figure out who precisely. Oh, Ziffy, you are a treasure!” She cuddled me close. “Don’t you see, it all fits! The statue, the eggs, the passing of Onyx. A dragon never leaves her mate, not even in passing. She’d have stayed in spirit and there was no dragon spirit in that statue or anywhere, or even a grave. Onyx is alive, Ziffy, and Onyx is our lich!”
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Well! Looks like the ladies solved who, what, when and where but do they really have why? You’ll have to stay tuned to find out. As always our girls could use your help. But voting and commenting you let me know you are enjoying the series and their adventures should continue.
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