Fantasy Mystery Speculative

The snow fell on the sidewalk, covering the stone paths and adding layers to the snowmen that children spent the day putting together outside of the shops. It was half an hour until midnight. The moon was full and the sky was hazy from winter clouds that made it difficult to see the stars. Rayne Baum made her way down the street. She's a sophisticated woman and well-known in social circles for being outspoken, brazen, and diving into the darker elements of Victorian London. Her personality would have seen her ostracized from upper society but with the number of supernatural occurrences that happen in the city, the upper crest was the first to call for her help. She wore a long coat that was elegantly matched with her white blouse with the ruffle trim on the collar and leather pants. She looked at her reflection in the boutique window and adjusted her wide rim gray hat.

She loved this time of year. Looking at the holiday arrangements in the windows of mannequins posing as a happy family. Rayne and her brother had an unusual upbringing. They had everything they could ever want. An estate with multiple bedrooms and a ballroom. Maids to clean up after them. A butler to serve them. What they didn’t have - and what Rayne yearned for the most - was parents. Their parents were barely home even before they died. The closest thing they had to a real guardian was the various relatives that would drop in to check on them. Their favorite was cousin Batty who would bring fudge squares, hot tea, and her roommate who also happened to be a ghost - or so she claimed. In all the years, she spent coming to their house, Rayne and her brother never saw a ghost. At least they never did when they were kids.

Nighttime in London was Rayne’s favorite time. The cold from the recent winter storm left a chill hanging in the air and felt like small icicles in her lungs whenever she breathed in too deep. It was also the time when all the supernatural beings came out with hidden shops underground opening. It was a strange world residing within the mundane existence of daytime London residents. Some of her favorite people would be labeled as unusual. Rayne made her way down the main street, nodding hello to various shop keepers opening up who respond with their own fangy smiles. 

She walked past the various estates of her neighbors whose windows were darkened for the night. Most normal - as they consider themselves - people called it a night a few hours ago and wouldn’t be caught dead out around midnight. The Baum estate stood out on the street with lit windows and was the only one surrounded by an iron fence. People often walked faster when they came to the gate thanks to the intimidating gargoyles that stood on brick thrones on either side of the gate. Rayne always found them comforting, the only thing at the estate that truly felt at home. The house was built in the classic Victorian style with a Gothic flair with a wide front porch framed by iron pillars. The second story had a mini balcony that jutted out from the bedroom that she took as her own and had stairs that led up into the attic space that she converted into an office. On the side of the house was a tower which her brother took the second floor of to turn into his bedroom with the top attic space converted into his personal library and study. It was extravagant with far too many bedrooms even with one being transformed into her private bathroom. That left three other bedrooms and an extra bathroom on the end that led into her brother’s tower space.  

The butler took her coat when she entered the house before disappearing through the parlor into the kitchen. The maids had already cleaned house though the Baum siblings made it easy by keeping to their respective. She rarely saw her brother except for the odd occurrence when he came down into the sunroom at the base of the tower and off the sitting room. She made her way to the second floor where she paused at the entrance to her brother’s space to see if it was open before making her way up to her office. She tosses her hat onto her desk and sat on the edge to stare down the vast board that took up the wall space and held sections for each of her cases. Currently, one of the most important cases - and most secret - in London fell in her lap. The blind daughter of the sophisticated and rich Wolfe family went missing. The family was known for their skills at bragging about money and their relation to the royal family. They claimed that their daughter Esmerée was taken by the magicians that worked for their last party. The trap leading to the tower opened and Elysium Gray emerged.

Elysium Gray was a rare gem. She ran between two social circles. The upper crest of society and the hidden supernatural one. She found success in a double identity as an heiress and a vampire. In the latter identity, she worked as a private investigator with her partner Muse Gallows and often aided Rayne with her cases. “You look good in red,” Rayne says, glancing at her friend as she practically floated across the floor.

“I look good in every color,” Elysium says with a smirk. She delicately removes her gloves and tosses them onto Rayne’s desk. 

“Have you found anything?” Rayne asks.

“We have a lead on the location of the magicians - frauds I believe - but Muse is chasing that down. They would be foolish to not answer her questions,” Elysium says with a proud smile. “I just haven’t understood why Esmerée was taken. There are far more influential families. They’re not even a favorite of the royal family.”

“If they’re after money then they don’t care where it comes from. Maybe they thought her being blind made it easier to keep her? And she can’t identify them. I’m sure that was a perk.” Rayne gets a sketch of the girl off the board and stared at it.  

A loud thump catches their attention. They move out of the way just as a bundle came flying down the opening, hitting each step with a loud clang. Rayne could make out a pair of curved horns protruding from the man’s forehead and a tail that swished with a flick at the end. The demon had blue skin that was freckled with flickers of gold. He sat up with rope latched around them and a rag tied around their mouth. Their eyes move from the bound man on the floor to a pair of boots that emerged from the tower entrance. Muse Gallows had a natural sophistication about her that was captivating and drew all eyes to her. She took her time down the steps. She pauses at the person she threw down to the floor and yanks them up by the arm. “I found our girl.” 

“And the demon did it?” Rayne asks. She puts her hands behind her back and hovers in front of them. 

“No, but those magicians were more than two-bit hustlers. They were hired to work at the party and put on a show with a little help of our little demon friends.” Muse pats the demon on the end. She draws the rag down under his chin. “Meet Chaos Dyrk.” 

“Chaos? Really?” Elysium leans against the desk. She smooths out her skirt and carefully crosses her legs. 

“I didn’t choose it,” Chaos mumbles. He swishes his tail, flicking the tip.

“Sorry,” Rayne says. “But I don’t care. I only care about one thing.” She leans forward to meet his eyes. “Where is Esmerée Wolfe?”

Muse flicks the side of his head. “Tell them what you told me.”

“They have the girl down by Miller’s Pond.” Chaos cuts his eyes at Muse then looks back to Rayne and Elysium. “We demons received a letter of opportunity for a job. All we had to do was help some hustlers pass as magicians at a party for the upper class. We didn’t know it was a ploy for kidnapping.”

“You need to take better care of who you take jobs from,” Rayne says. She crosses the room and grabs a dagger. “Let’s get us a royal heiress back.”


Rayne watches as Esmerée’s parents embrace their daughter. Without the demons, the con artists were sad excuses for magicians. Rayne had seen several human magicians perform better on the streets than these did. She barely had to threaten them to get them to break down into hysterics. It did give them enough time to refuse to tell them who hired them, even when Elysium and Muse got a little bite-happy with their threats. Rayne took charge of returning Esmerée to her parents, thanks to the pesky sunrise keeping her vampire colleagues from walking in the sunlight. The Wolfe estate was the opposite of the one she grew up in with cheerful white pillars instead of iron gates and gargoyles. The three shared happy tears and wide relieved grins as they embraced each other tightly. Rayne’s heart had a sharp ache at the sight of them. Loving parents that are happy to see their daughter safe. Something Rayne never had growing up. The closest her parents came were loving letters and presents sent for them to open on Christmas day. She takes one more look before slipping away before they had a chance to see her disappear. She would go home, check on her brother, take a long nap, and then take on her next case which will take her deep into the trenches of London.

November 17, 2021 22:48

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