Petals of the Rose
The Scene of the Crime
Needing to know more, the motley immediately proceeds to the scene of the murder. They find that two Autumn motleys are guarding either entrance to the alley the park is in, waiting for someone to be dispatched to deal with the scene.
On their way in, the motley exchanges barbed words with a group known as the Jackal Pack, five beasts that get off on hunting people down to pick on. The leader, a short but vicious looking man with remnants of a Hispanic ethnicity still visible in his animal visage, criticizes Shika for associating with the dregs of other Courts.
But when all is said and done, the Pack moves aside, allowing the appointed investigators to investigate the scene.
Demetrius’ body is craggy and stone-like in places, which may have lead to Oleg’s trouble in describing the scene of his death. His body seems to have been gouged at from many angles in haphazard gashes, like blunt claws or dull blades did the damage. Jacob notes that the wounds are not aligned with each other, so these wounds appear not to have been inflicted from something that has claws on a hand.
Looking around the ground, Shika observes a couple kinds of prints in the blood. One of them seems to be partial shoe prints, but the others are large, blobby prints; too wide for human prints and all wrong. Following them, Shika and Waconda exit the alley out the other side past the other motley of Autumn courtiers and down the road. They follow the traces of bloody print until they reach 2nd and Burnside and then stop. This seems to match what Oleg said about running away from something hairy in the alley.
As they return to the alley, Jacob and Dim have noticed that the larger prints also go out the alley the other direction. Whatever thing made those prints, it may have returned to the scene and then left again in another direction. Following the traces, the motley passes the Jackal Pack again and ends up in another alley.
The prints disappear here. Looking around, the motley is becoming frustrated until Waconda notices a man on a fire escape overlooking the alley. He’s rumpled and unkempt, with messy brown hair and a ragged leather jacket, and is smoking a cigarette.
Having no other leads, Jacob calls up to the man, asking him how long he’s been hanging around this alley. The man tells them he’s been there all afternoon. Jacob follows with a question of if he has seen anything unusual pass through. The man hints that he might know something interesting if they make it worth his while.
Jacob offers the man $20, at which the man descends the fire escape to receive payment for his information. He describes a dingy man, tall, with brown hair and torn jeans and says that the man ran through the alley a few hours back. Shika is suspicious and steps forward, trying to press for more information despite her small stature.
The man grows aggressive, telling her to back off and mind her own business. He also questions what four people who don’t look anything alike are doing asking questions in an alley at midnight. Dim takes a dislike to his tone, “Hey, asshole, stop bothering the lady.”
“Don’t think I won’t. Now she asked you a question. You gonna be polite and answer her?” Dim’s growing more than a little suspicious about this guy. He notices that the description given seems a little too close to the way that this guy looks, himself.
“I don’t think so.”
Growing upset, Dim shoves the man hard against the ladder of the fire escape. Bouncing off, the man throws a punch and then he and Dim begin to clinch. The man proves far tougher than he seemed. After the scuffle persists for a few seconds, Waconda leaps up on the man’s back, throwing an arm around his neck.
Shika steps back lightly, pulling a single hair off of her golden-red mane and blowing it at the man. It turns into a cloud of magic that settles on him, afflicting his luck. He attempts to throw Waconda off of himself but the fouled luck manifests, causing his grip to slip and Waconda remains attached to his neck by an arm.
A woman appears at the mouth of the alley and yells, “Moon! No!!” Before anyone can react, she launches herself down the alley and tackles Waconda off of the man’s back. Waconda regains his feet, and Dim and the man start to trade blows again now that they are squared off again. Dim ends the exchange by driving his shoulder into the scruffy man’s midsection, driving him back into the fire escape ladder yet again and down to his knees.
Waconda regains his feet and pulls a lighter out of his pocket, flicking it open to use it somehow. Before he can, the woman shoots to her feet. She grows rapidly, her skin sprouting light gray fur, her face distorting into a muzzle, and her stature approaching eight feet tall. She pins Waconda against a wall. His lighter is knocked from his hand.
In the moment before she strikes him down, the scruffy man has time to gauge the reactions of the four. His compatriot has exhibited a dramatic transformation and all of these people seem confused but not terrified. Just in time, he calls out, “No, Scars! No! Let him go!” He interposes himself between the beastly thing that was a woman and Waconda.
The woman shrinks down to the shape of a lithe blonde. She steps away from Waconda and keeps her distance from the others. The man stands in front of her. “I am Eats-the-Moon. You’ve seen what we are, what we can do. What are you? Why aren’t you pissing yourselves and running? Are you with that gang hanging around by the alley back there?”
Jacob speaks up. “What do you know about them?”
“They’ve been hanging around that alley all afternoon. I know there’s a dead guy in there. What are you? Why haven’t you all called the police?”
Dim snorts. “We’re more bad-ass than you, apparently.”
Shika follows, “Who we are isn’t your concern. You know there’s a body there. How? Did you kill him?”
“No. I scented blood. I tracked it down, and when I found him, there was this pale guy standing over him. I chased him down to Burnside and then he and his scent disappeared. So I backtracked to check out the body. But I found another smell on him and followed it back here. It stopped at that doorway back there.” He points to a nondescript door at the back of the alley.
Waconda senses innately that this doorway has been used as a gateway to the Hedge. He reserves comment for now since the motley is still not alone. Jacob speaks up again, “So you found the body, chased a man away, and then found a trail that led here? I think you’ve earned your twenty bucks. You should go and let us handle this.”
Dim says “We’re on top of it. But can we find you again if we have more questions?”
Eats-the-Moon shrugs noncommittally. “I hang around this neighborhood. Maybe you can find me around here again.” Unnerved, he and the woman he called Scars climb up the fire escape to the top of the building and disappear.