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Aug 21, 2019 4:03 AM
Veron Chandler and Harry Dresden
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They descend into a room of numerous wonders. These wonders include: a plastic tub full of iron filings, a shelf of carefully labeled samples of human hair, a small bag with an uncanny resemblance to the scrotum of a lion, and an intricately carved human skull, the last of which Harry taps ungently with his staff.

The skull's eye sockets flare with orange light. "I'm awake, dickhead! I just didn't want to reveal myself in case today's random weirdo isn't in the know. Speaking of which, hi!"

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Veron looks around the room, at all of the wondrous weirdness present in it, then at the talking skull. He wonders how his life got here instead of something more sensible, like, 'Holy Tymora there is a talking skull.' Instead he gives the talking skull a friendly smile and a little incline of his head.

"Hey. Veron Chandler, professional lost person, pleasure to make your acquaintance."

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"No freakout? Nice. Classy. I kind of get it, though. Anybody with that many shadows in them has to have seen weirder. Speaking of which, what are you? I don't get stumped a lot."

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Harry looks askance at Veron. "Um."

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"Um," agrees Veron. He shifts his stance a little, uncomfortable. Yeah, fair enough, they should probably know. "That's honestly kind of a complicated answer. I was human, then I fell into the Plane of Shadow for over a year and it, uh. Made some renovations. And then some weirder stuff happened. I'm still me, though, no jibbering about murder or bloodlust or anything."

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"And then you were very, very cold," the skull comments, its eye-flames narrowing. "And... you know something. Something that's making you more than you were." His eyes flicker blue for a second. "Lightbringer," he diagnoses.

The flames go back to normal. "And I'm Bob, nice to meet you."

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Were Veron's eyes always that shade of ice blue? They certainly look it now. Glimmering in the low light, almost glowing. He swallows at the phrase lightbringer. He does not deny it.

"... yeah. Nice to meet you too," he says, shifting his weight again. He grasps desperately for a change of subject. "So you're Harry's, uh... roommate?"

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"For a given value of 'roommate', yeah," Harry interjects. "Bob, that is at least the third-creepiest I have ever seen you."

"I live for the uncomfortable silences, Boss."

"We're trying to figure out what just tried to murder us. Looked like some kind of... man-goat? Goat-man?"

"Hmmm." Bob ponders for a long second. "Could be satyrs. How big were their dicks?"

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"Why. Why is that the first one you go for."

"One, personal taste. Two, because I know you were looking."

 

Harry pinches the bridge of his nose. "Large, but flaccid; satyrs, as you very well know, are constantly erect."

He pauses. "Also, they didn't have human faces. So. That too."

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Veron is not sure why this is a real conversation that is happening! He expresses this emotion to his toes, in the sacred language of emotive eyebrow motions.

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Bob snickers. "Anyway. No human face... weregoats?"

"I don't even want to acknowledge that you said that. But no, they were fae of some kind."

The flames flicker with surprise. "Fae?"

"Yeah. Burned by iron, all that."

 "...could be gruffs."

"Gruffs," Harry says blankly. "Like-"

"Like the three billy goats ditto, yes," Bob says impatiently. "They're high-powered fae mercenaries. This isn't out-of-character for them. Except... they're Summer. Not Winter."

"I'm still a little stuck on the fact that a nursery rhyme just tried to murder my best friend's kids," Harry admits.

"Can we please, for one second, focus."

"Yes, sorry. So, they're Summer? Why would the Summer Court be after me? I just screwed with Winter, they should be baking me a cake!"

"You did brutally murder Titania's daughter, you know."

"By proxy. And she was trying to end the world," Harry attempts. "It was only reasonable."

"Somehow I doubt she sees it that way."

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... Yep. Definitely as good at making friends as he is.

"So you're likely to have both sides after your head," clarifies Veron. "When before they were fighting each other?"

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"Oh, they're still fighting each other," Bob snorts. "They'll always be fighting each other. But yeah, I'd say Titania and Mab would both like Harry's head on a silver platter. Either head, really."

Harry winces. "I just don't get why Titania would go after me now. It's been years."

"That's faeries for you," Bob opines. "Logic isn't really their game."

"This has to have something to do with Arctis Tor," Harry says thoughtfully. "I must have done something that hurt Summer, somehow. Or helped Winter... Bob-"

There is an abrupt ringing sound.

"Hold that thought."

He picks up a device and holds it to the side of his face. It makes faint, crackling sounds like speech. "Sergeant? - Thank you, but I don't think. - Oh. Okay. Where?" He jots down a note, then clicks the device back down onto its pedestal.

He turns to Veron. "Um. Local constabulary. It sounds like they found a body. They want me to help investigate in my capacity as a wizard. Do you want to come?"

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"Sure, seems smart to stick together in case of weirdness. But I might stick out a bit as 'not from around here.' Do we want people to know I'm there?"

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"Um. Good point. Are you able to not let people know you're there? Because if so, there's only one person who I really need to know you're there, and I can just, you know, tell her."

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"Yeah. As long as no one's got any magic true sight or something it won't even be hard. I kind of specialize in this sort of thing."

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"None of the cops are going to have the Sight, no. - Uh, by the way, most people don't... know that magic exists? Kind of just realized nobody actually told you that. It's not a huge secret, but."

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"Oh. All right. I will not do anything magic related in front of people, then. Thanks for the heads up, that might have been awkward."

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"Might have."

Harry starts toward the ladder. Bob clears a nonexistent throat.

"Oh, yeah." Harry pulls a trade paperback from the interior of his coat. On the cover, a bedraggled-looking woman in an unreasonably tight bodice clings to the muscular torso of a larger woman with a sword and a breastplate uncomfortably reminiscent of the Valsharess'. He tosses the book toward Bob, who telekinetically seizes it and begins to read intensely.

"We should probably get going," Harry says. "He's gonna start heckling the fictional lesbians in a minute."

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"Yep, let's go," he agrees, and then there is a flicker of shadow and he is up the ladder and waiting on the floor above, because nope.

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Harry's not far behind him.

"The crime scene's not far from here, we can walk," he says. "Or you can, uh, shadowport, probably, but then you'd get there before me."

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Snort. "Shadowstepping actually still involves walking, from my perspective. Or running. It's like a faster way to walk to where I'm going instead of actual proper teleportation."

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"Ah. Fair enough, then."

They start out the door. True to Harry's word, it's only a few minutes before they come to the crime scene.

Harry assumed wrong. There's no corpse, unless you count the slag heap in front of them. It's surrounded by pristine office buildings, none the worse for wear apart from a couple of broken windows from flying bricks. It looks like a giant came out of nowhere and stepped on it, then flew away.

"Hell's bells," Harry whispers.

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"Huh. Weird," says Veron, eyeing this. "Well, I'd better go be sneaky before we get any closer. I'll keep an eye out for weirdness and let you know if I find anything."

And then he casually turns and disappears down a nearby street.

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