Petals of the Rose
Monday passes uneventfully for each of them. In contrast to their weekends, each attends his or her job normally and tries to pretend that they aren’t investigating a murder for a community of superhuman faeries.
That night, the boys all meet Shika back at Pioneer Square. She takes them up to St. Johns, a neighborhood inside Autumn’s territory on the northern tip of the Portland metro hub where the Willamette river joins into the Columbia. The Autumn Court maintains its public headquarters out of a yoga and tai chi studio owned by one of its members. They park and walk up a set of stairs to the second floor. The building is dark and quiet. Their only company is the fur coat on the coat rack and the shadows in the corners of the room and the rafters.
Shika says nothing, but walks across the room and lights a lamp, then sits quietly. The guys murmur questions to each other, but eventually they all end up sitting against the wall with her. After a minute, a beast man takes the fur coat off, a darkling stands up out of the corner, and an ogre witch lowers herself out of the rafters. The non-Autumn changelings are unnerved but not truly frightened. The caretakers confirm that they are the motley of investigators and then direct them to go back outside and down to the basement.
Downstairs, an Autumn fairest lets them into a dingy basement that looks to have been part of a meat packing business at some point. It has a large walk-in freezer. Right as they come in, Saline comes clicking down the stairs behind them and joins them. She’s got a case of equipment to simulate a lab environment and allow her to do some forensic testing on the body. Together, they go to the freezer and open it.
It appears that this room is still functioning. Racks of meat hang from hooks. Slightly disgusted, except for Dim who just looks hungry, they avoid the beef slabs and go to the back. On their way, they pass a snowskin who is busily exhaling clouds of cold into the room to keep things nice and chilly. At the back of the room, laid out with clinical precision is the body of Demetrius. It looks sterile compared to the bloody scene of his death. It also looks less like a thing that was ever a person than ever.
Saline approaches the body and begins to study it. She tells them that they might want to come and go for a while, because autopsies take more than a couple minutes. Waconda gives Saline his jacket before they head back out to wait in the basement.
After a thorough examination, Saline is able to tell them that the wounds were inflicted by something relatively blunt but strong, and that there were fibers embedded in the wounds. Unless she is gravely mistaken, they are wood fibers from tree bark. She gives them a more thorough report of the state of the body, but they learn no other facts of interest.
Saline thanks Waconda for the use of his coat and then they all go home for the night.