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Kyo

Grimoire (Private)

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Edinburgh was always a city known for it’s rich culture and history. Recognised as Scotland’s capital from at least as far back as the 15th Century, it had become the home to nearly half a million residents. I was long known as a great institution for Education, primarily in Medicine, Law, and Literature. It could also be said that it was a somewhat peculiar place. Most cities were built up, cramped and difficult to navigate, but having been built on vast slopes, Edinburgh’s streets all seemed to be at different heights from one another, and no matter where you stood it was a simple task to see where you were going, and also what lay behind you.

It was also a place of significant landmarks, with the busy Princes Street and it’s long, beautiful garden that stood in between the high street and Edinburgh Castle, stood proud atop a Volcanic Plug high over the city. There was also the Scot’s Monument, St. Giles Cathedral, and in the lower regions was the Scottish Parliament Building and Holyrood Palace, connected to the castle by the famous Royal Mile. A rare cultural treasure, the city always bustled with tourists in the summer and winter alike. Even it’s terrible history was no source of mystery, as the city celebrated it’s past, with various tours and trips that took tourist down into the winding closes, in hopes of spotting a ghost of the old city that lay under the ground.

Tourists were the bane of those who lived in Edinburgh. They were everywhere, especially on a warm morning in the early summer months. Vincent particularly loathed tourists, which was odd as he had been one once, not so many years ago. He had travelled from his home in London 5 summers ago, but he had quickly picked up the local’s disdained for the international visitors that seemed to litter the place. To this end, Vincent had found himself hidden away in a lesser known café, Broughton Delicatessen, tucked away on Barony Street, far enough from the high street to avoid the curious eyes of tourists.

He liked Broughton Deli for a few reasons. First of all, they made good, proper coffee just how he liked it. Black as the abyss, and rich and bitter to the taste. Secondly the Deli was housed in the Broughton barony, once upon a time famous for the practice of Witchcraft. Nowadays it was home to a number of specialty shops including quaint coffee shops, kitschy bars and even a shop where the owner made peculiar, alternative fashionwear out of real leather and fur. It was mostly frequented by unassuming hipsters, writers, and hipster writers. All of which were vastly more tolerable than the bloody tourists, or at least Vincent thought so.

The third reason he liked the Broughton Deli was because they sold brunch up until 3pm, and Vincent could not recall ever waking before noon and not cursing the day. So he sat in the small café, sipping his coffee and picking at the remains of the chipotle pepper scrambled eggs he had ordered. All the while he was reading from a rather old, leather-bound book that was sat on the table in front of him. He seemed transfixed on it’s contents and, upon hearing the screeching wail of another patron’s baby, he winced from the sudden din that rang in his ears. He let out an irritated sigh and turned back to his book, frantically flicking through it’s pages.

At last he happened upon the knowledge he required, and he focused himself. His mind turned to thoughts of tranquility, and peacefulness. He dreamt of secrecy, darkness and summoned the desire for quiet. He held on to that desire dearly, letting it ebb through his body, swirling within his mind, body, and soul. Then, at last, he pictured himself covered by a transparent bubble, and he loosed his will outward around him. Suddenly, and quite spectacularly, silence fell. Vincent glanced to the table where the mother and child sat, only to see that the bairn was still bawling, yet not a peep escaped it’s mouth. He allowed himself a smirk of satisfaction and went back to his reading.

Vincent Hallow, or to use his full name; Vincent Gideon, Firstborn of Elias Emerich, of the Noble House of Hallow, was not any ordinary man. He was, in fact, a wizard. A warlock, conjurer, sorcerer, sage, magus, enchanter, thaumaturge. All terms were correct, but wizard was the more general term and the one he was most comfortable with. All Hallows were wizards, and notable ones at that. Yet Vincent was somewhat of a black sheep, and to look at him you would never think him of noble stock. The man was taller than most at just over 6ft, and he was skinny, pale, with a thin, scruffy beard from having not shaved in a few days. His hair was jet black, a little greasy, and tied back in a ponytail reaching just past his shoulders. He was dressed in a light grey shirt, with a slate waistcoat buttoned over it, a pair of pale blue jeans and scuffed, brown shoes.

A light brown, long coat was draped over the back of the chair he sat on. All of his clothes were worn, wrinkled, and looked old and in need of replacing. Perhaps the only distinct thing about Vincent was his emerald green eyes, a characteristic trait of his noble House. After a while he lifted his arm and looked at the intricate timepiece on his wrist. The silver watch was, unlike the rest of him, quite pristine and looked incredibly valuable. As well as the typical hands telling him the time of days, there were also a number of smaller hands ticking away, apparently telling him of a variety of other unknown things.

It was now two thirty in the afternoon, and he had an appointment to meet at three. With a sigh he reluctantly closed his book. The tome was quite thick, and the black leather bindings was etched with a vast array of complex runic symbols and knots. He clipped the latch around the front of the book, and gently ran his thumb over it, and the locking mechanism clicked shut at his touch. The book, much like his watch, was pristine and well-looked after, which perhaps alluded to how important it was to him. Wizards come to know a great many things, and as they tend to live longer than most ordinary folk do, usually around a century and a half, it has long been a tradition that they carry with them a record of their knowledge, both as their legacy and also for their own reference. Even with a longer life, the human mind is particularly good at forgetting the intricacies of knowledge. This book was known as a Grimoire.

Vincent stood up from the table and walked away, and as he passed through his bubble he was suddenly greeted with the sudden wave of ambient noise that accompanied folks almost anywhere. He went to the counter at the front and paid his bill, and then left the café. He moved hastily up the steep streets of Broughton, his long legs making him swifter than most. When he reached the top of the street he reached a main road, where a Tram was waiting, bound for the airport on the outskirts of the city. He dutifully ignored it and crossed the road, deciding, as he always did, to make his journey on foot. He walked past the church and on to the stretch of land commonly referred as the “Top of the Walk” by locals.

At the top of that street he finally began to reach tourist town, signaled by the distinct sound of a Peruvian flute band playing further ahead. Rather than head towards Princes Street he turned left and walked up the North Bridge towards the Royal Mile. The street was incredibly busy, and already beginning to fill up with bloody jugglers and dance troupes preparing for the Edinburgh Festival which was a whole two months away. As he ventured into the crowd Vincent tucked his Grimoire inside his coat, fastening it to his belt so that it bounced at his hip when he walked. He cut straight through the Royal Mile and made his way down a dark and quieter street near the Cowgate. It was here that he found the flat of the person who had requested his services. He walked up the front steps, inspected the buzzer for a moment, and then cautiously pressed on the number 7. A few moments passed before a voice crackled over the intercom.

“Hello?” came a light female voice. She sounded local, and in her mid 30’s, much the same age as Vincent.
“Hi.” Vincent replied, his tone was lower. “It’s Vincent Hallow, we spoke yesterday on the phone?” His voice betrayed his early years spent in Private School, one of the few remnants of his noble stock. He had managed to drop the accent slightly over the years, mixing in slang in a desperate attempt to sound even slightly more ordinary.
“Oh, aye.” The female voice replied. “Come on up!” She added, followed by a loud buzzing noise and a click. Vincent pushed open the door and ascended the steps until he reached door number eight. The door opened just before he had reached it, and he was greeted by a mousy-looking woman dressed in slippers, pajama trousers, and a thick dressing gown. He smiled as politely as he could muster.

“So…ghost problems, eh?” He asked. The woman looked around the stairwell nervously, searching for nosey neighbours that might have overheard. She opened the door further and ushered him inside. Once she had closed the door again, she turned back to him.
“Aye, it’s like I said on the phone.” She said a little frantically. “Things keep moving about. Every time I leave my keys on the mantle they end up on the hook. I go to bed, and when I get up the dishes are done and stacked up neatly on the rack. It’s driving me mad!”
“Doesn’t sound too bad to me.” Vincent said with a smirk. “You’ve got a poltergeist cleaning up after you, what’s the problem? Has he asked for a wage or something?”

“It’s not funny!” The woman replied, looking worried. “I…so what do you do? I don’t need to sacrifice a goat or anything, do I?”
“Can if you want.” Vincent replied with a shrug. “It won’t do anything but hey, whatever makes you feel good.”
“N-no…I just meant-“
“It’s a joke, love.” Vincent said, frowning. “Lighten up, let’s see if I can sort this out.”

Vincent stepped further in to the small flat. Nothing seemed overly to be out of the ordinary. He noted that there was a slight chill. Sure enough, this was one of the signs of a spirit within a dwelling, but equally he had found in his experience it was the sign of a tight-fisted scots woman who couldn’t bring herself to put the heating on. He decided to try something different. He closed his eyes and gently ran his thumb and index finger over his eyes once. He imagined putting on a pair of glasses, and conjured mental images of light, then summoned his desire for revelation. He allowed the spell to manifest, and when he opened his eyes once more he had activated his true sight.

The flat appeared, mostly, to not have changed. Yet as he looked around his sharpened senses focused on the new information that had been revealed to him. Marks on the wall glowed in a hazy, blue aura through his eyes. He knew this to be residual signs of ectoplasm, a material left by ghosts and spirits, usually unseen by the naked eye. Each marking represented points where the spirit had moved between the walls, it’s form not limited by any physical barriers. “Well there’s definitely some sort of spook in here.” Vincent said out loud. “Free reign, too. That means it’s not tied to any particular object or artefact.”

“Eh…artewhat?” The mousy woman asked.
“Artefact.” Vincent said again. “Ghosts can sometimes be tied by strong emotions from their passing. They get tied to objects that were important to them. Not always though, this one seems to come and go as he or she pleases.”
“So it’s real, then?” She asked. “You’re not just taking the piss?”
“I’d hardly charge 200 quid just to fool narrow-minded, unsuspecting…” Vincent stopped when he heard what he was saying. “No…I’m not taking the piss.”
“Well good…so can you er…get rid of it? Like send it to heaven or whatever?”

“Not sure about that.” Vincent replied. “Heaven’s not really my jurisdiction. But I can hopefully get it to leave the house.” Vincent cautiously stepped down the hall and pushed open the doorway to the living room. Ghosts weren’t always troublesome, but he had known a few that were quite volatile, and were prone to throwing him about the place. He had since learned to exercise caution. Yet on this occasion he soon learned he need do no such thing. For the ghost was sat on the sofa in the livingroom, it’s transluscent, incorporeal form rippled ever so slightly.

The ghost, a thin looking man in what looked to be his late 40’s, turned to look at Vincent when he entered, and looked surprised to see Vincent staring directly back at him. “…Do you remember who you are?” Vincent asked calmly. “Do you know what calls you here, spirit?”
“Nobody calls me any more.” The spirit replied with a soft chuckle. “I’m a bit dead so I can see why.”
“Right…well I’m afraid you’ll have to leave.” Vincent said. “Your invading in this woman’s home.”
“I lived here first!” The ghost replied hautily. “Still had 6 months left on my lease. Might as well use it.”
“Uh…okay.” Vincent said, scratching his head. “But you’re scaring the current tenant in her own home. She say’s you’ve been moving things around without her permission.”

“Not my fault she’s a midden.” The Ghost replied, folding his arms. “This place would be a tip if not for me!”
“So…wait you really have been tidying up after her?” Vincent asked, raising his brow with a soft smirk.
“What!?” The mousy woman shrieked behind him. “What did you say!?”
“Oh I just…well the ghost said-“ Vincent began, turning back to the woman.
“You are taking the piss, aren’t you?” The woman said crossly. “Who the hell are you to judge how I keep my flat? Eh!?”
“No, it’s not like that-“ Vincent continued, holding his hands up in protest.

“Get out! Ya bloody piss-taker!” The woman yelled as she tugged at Vincent, moving him back towards the front door.
“Fanny.” He heard the ghost say, chuckling softly. Then Vincent was back out in the stairwell, and the woman’s door slammed shut behind him. He let out a soft sigh and looked around at the scabby walls of the old tenement flat he stood in and sighed in frustration. Another opportunity ripped from his grasp. If he didn’t make money soon he was going to miss his rent payment.
“…Fuck.” He cursed to himself as he slowly made his way back down the stairs. He had made the trip for nothing. Yet there was now nothing else for him in the town. He decided to head back to his flat in Leith, where he could at least keep away from the bloody tourists.

 

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Edinburgh is a city like any other. It has a bustling shopping district, where tourists find dime-a-dozen knick-knacks to send to their loved ones. It has bars and nightclubs in the hundreds, almost enough to support it's busy night life. And it has an active supernatural community that the world at large is mostly unaware of, with a few notable exceptions. The world of the supernatural is often not so different from that of the human world. The creatures, spirits and oddities of the supernatural have jobs, pay taxes and sit down with their families at the end of a hard day just like humans do. Unfortunately, just like humans, not everyone gets along. That's where Fixers come in. Freelancers who will take on any job if the pay is right. They say if you need something doing, all you have to do is blood summon, begin a séance or simply turn to 'F' in the Yellow Pages. After all, in a world without structured law, you have to be able to turn to someone for help, even if it does cost you an arm and a leg, sometimes literally...

The dull resonating footsteps echoed through the hallway as the woman dressed in black ascended the stairs of the small apartment complex. Her pale hand reached into her pocket and pulled out a smartphone, careful not to scratch the screen with her long black nails, she slid her finger across the screen to unlock it, then read the message aloud.
"Please help, my room-mate is getting violent, I need a mediator! Apartment 6..." She had lived in the west for several years now, but she had yet to lose her Japanese accent in it's entirety. She put her phone back in her pocket as she reached the top of the stairs and turned down the corridor. At the end, she saw a red door with a small metal '6' on the front. Her almond-shaped eyes narrowed as a toothy smile spread across her face. As she approached the front door, she could hear yelling coming from inside. Two people were arguing passionately about something. She knocked. The arguing continued. She knocked again, and then suddenly there was a deathly silence.

A moment later, the door swung open and before she could introduce herself, an enormous hand grabbed hold of her and pulled her into the room. The arguing quickly resumed.
"How dare you pull her in like that! She's our guest, and that was rude!!" A woman with feathery emerald green hair yelled, pacing back and forth. She had plumage coming out from the corners of her cheeks, and there was definitely something avian about the way she moved. She was a harpy. 
"Oh that's just like you! Putting me down, how am I supposed to feel? You didn't even give me any notice!!" The man roared, and when he spoke he drowned out all other noise. He was a Minotaur, that much was obvious. He was twice the size of either of them, far taller, and he had the head of a bull.
"Look, i'm sorry about this--" The harpy began.
"My name's Ryoko, you--" 
"You're not listening to me!!" The Minotaur yelled.
"Inside voices, please!" Ryoko asked sternly.

Both tenants stopped arguing for a moment and turned to look at her. At last, she had their attention. "Okay," She nodded, "Please explain exactly what the problem is..." 
"He won't leave, and i've asked him several times already, I want my boyfriend to move in and he's being difficult!" The harpy explained.
"Alright, what's your name?" Ryoko asked.
"Cynthia." 
"Alright, Cynthia, you're being unreasonable--"
"Unreasonable! That's what I said!!" The minotaur roared, shoving a sofa across the room with a single push. 
"And what's all this yelling and throwing your weight around, Mr...?" Ryoko asked, waiting with a raised eyebrow.
"Philip, you can call me Philip." 
"Philip," Ryoko continued with an exasperated sigh, "Cynthia is only going to be unhappy for the next month, if you stay. She wants to be with her boyfriend, do you really want to get between them?" She asked, reaching up to put her hand on his shoulder as he slumped down onto the sofa.
"No, I suppose not... but I paid a whole month and--" 
"Can't you just give him back his rent so he can move out?" Ryoko asked, turning to Cynthia.

"He signed an agreement! I don't have to give him anything!!" Cynthia replied, turning her nose up at the idea.
"But he's calmed down, he's not being violent, and--" 
Silence fell upon the room once more. Ryoko frowned, there had been a sudden shift in the tone of the room, but she wasn't sure why. She looked over to the Minotaur, Philip, and saw a look of panic on his face. Then it dawned on her. Cynthia was not her client at all, it was Philip who had sent the message.
"You told her I was being violent?!" Cynthia roared, descending on Philip. Ryoko quickly darted between them, but Cynthia was not stopping. Enraged, she grabbed Ryoko and threw her at the window with all the force she could muster. Ryoko saw the room go hurtling past her and a sharp sting as she crashed into the window, and then she was falling. She fell down three stories before she slowed her fall with the use of levitation and lay suspended a foot above the ground. The people walking by had stopped to gawp at the scene unfolding before them. Ryoko brushed the broken glass off her clothes and straightened her long black leather jacket before reaching up to her face, where she felt a piece of glass had punctured her cheek. As she pulled the long shard out, an old witch paused and looked at her.

"Oh those two again, always fighting..." She muttered, and waddled off down the street. The moment of excitement had passed, and everyone quickly resumed their own business as Ryoko righted herself, licked the blood from the shard of glass before casting it off, and then quickly rose back up to the broken window and stepped through back into the apartment as the open wound in her cheek slowly sealed shut. 
"Please, don't do that again..." Ryoko asked, as her phone vibrated in her pocket. Cynthia and Philip began arguing again, as Philip apologised profusely. Ryoko looked at the message on her phone, and read it silently. It didn't make a lot of sense. It looked as though it had been written in haste. 

'Pls hlp wmn drivn me crezy, I cant lv lik ths'

"Okay, Philip!!" Ryoko yelled over the both of them, replacing her phone in her pocket. "You signed an agreement, Cynthia doesnt have to give you anything, but Cynthia is a reasonable harpy, so she's going to give you half of your rent, and you're going to move out at the end of the week, that way you have enough time to find somewhere else to live, and Cynthia's boyfriend can move in early, happy?" 
"No," Cynthia muttered.
"Not really." Philip sighed.
"Good. That's called a compromise. Pay me." Ryoko held out her hand.

As she stepped back out onto the street, Ryoko pocketed her pay and sent a message back to her new client saying she was on her way, but had to cross from Brookback street, which was one of the hidden supernatural streets in Edinburgh, and cross half the city to the address he had provided. This was just what she needed, she thought sarcastically. Two domestics in one day. Whatever happened to kittens lost up trees and broken drains full of goblin hair? She missed those days. She crossed the street and walked down a back alley that ended in a brick wall. She studied it for a moment, pressed her hand against the cool stone, and then stepped through the wall as if it wasn't even there. She stepped into darkness, and it was a little disorienting for a moment. Furs surrounded her, then a t-shirt pulled across her face and suddenly she felt something hard in front of her and she pushed it open and stepped out into the middle of a quiet living room. That was the downside with using the convenient doorways that connected the human world to the supernatural, sometimes their connections left something to be desired. It seemed this one had put her in the middle of someone's house.
"Oi, where the fuck'd you come from?!" Shouted a man who dropped his cup of tea in surprise. The cup had barely smashed as Ryoko apologised profusely and ran for the front door, leaving an extremely confused human searching his closet. 
The regular and the supernatural were often scarily similar. In her 500 years as a Vampire, Ryoko had seen a great many strange and wonderful things. She had learnt a great many things, but none of them were more true than this. It didn't matter if you were a King or a pauper, a human or a hobbit. It was life. We all go through it, and some have a harder ride than others. She'd stop by her apartment before she went on to the next job, she had to feed her cat. Mr. Jangles. A surly, black Tom cat that liked to scratch the arms of her chairs and silently judge her. This was her life - an ungrateful pet, a judgemental family, a disagreeable habit, a thankless job and a tiny apartment. Maybe she needed to call a Fixer?

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The bathroom in Vincent’s 1 bedroom flat on Dickson Street was. He was quite certain, once upon a time nothing but a fair sized cupboard. He had left the door to the tiny bathroom open and grungy rock music blared from somewhere within the flat, muddling itself with the hissing rush of the water coming from his shower head. “Whoa-oh, heaven knows! We belong way down below-oh!” He sang, off key, into the shower head, using it like a makeshift microphone. It took him another few minutes before he finally began to notice the rhythmic thumping that was travelling through his flat. He turned the shower off and stepped out, grabbing a towel to dry himself. 
The thumping continued as he left the bathroom and went down his hall, and into his spacious livingroom/kitchen, the only reasonably sized room in his flat. He turned off the beaten up, old CD player that he had apparently recovered from some point in the early 90’s. He listened to the silence for another moment, and then came the thumping again. Someone was banging on his front door. He wrapped the towel around his waist and went back into the hall, making his way to the front door. On his way he grabbed a pack of cigarettes from the small table in his hall, and with only the slightest consideration of intense warmth, and passion, the end of the cigarette lit all by itself. He took a drag as he answered the door and blew smoke out into the hall, where two figures were standing. 
Standing in front of him was a man who very nearly reached his own height. He was of a wider build than Vincent, a healthy man with what looked like natural weight and muscle. He had short, brown hair, cut neatly, with a tidy, trimmed beard. He was dressed in a simple, navy blue suit with the jacket open, a thin blue tie and a white shirt. He looked more than a little irritated by Vincent’s presence, yet he did not react. Clearly he was a patient man. 
Behind him was a shorter woman dressed in a similar suit ensemble, but with no tie and a blouse instead of a shirt. She had short, blonde hair and looked decidedly more approachable than her partner. The man looked to be in his late 40’s, while the woman was a good ten years younger than that. Vincent couldn’t help but notice her briefly lower her gaze towards the towel at his waist, and then back up. 
“Mister Hallow?” The man asked. 
“Vincent, yes.” Vincent replied, raising his brow. “Can I help you?”
“Detective Inspector Argent.” The man said. “And this is my Detective Inspector Evans. We’d like to ask you a few questions.”
“Oh come on, the music wasn’t that loud.” Vincent replied, frowning. 
“We are not here about a noise complaint, I assure you.” Detective Argent said. “May we come in?”
Vincent paused a moment, taking another drag of his cigarette as he considered the request. His nostrils flared and expelled smoke as he relented, then he stepped aside to allow them passage. “Yes, of course.” He said, smiling quite falsely. They nodded and entered, and Vincent closed the door and led them to his living room. He made his way to the small kitchen area as the two officers examined the room. Detective Argent took particular interest in the large bookcase on the far wall. It was crammed full of books. Most of them were nothing he had ever seen before, but he recognized the books that dedicated one section of the top shelf. Copies of various religious texts including the Bible, The Torah, The Quran, and various Sutras and Vedas. 
“Religious, are you?” Vincent asked, noticing his stare. Argent turned and gave a soft smile. 
“Just your average Catholic boy.” He admitted. “What about you? Trying to pick one or something?”
“Well, why pick one?” Vincent replied, genuinely a little baffled by the question. “Anyway, can I get you a cup of coffee or something?”
“No, thank you.” Detective Evans said with a polite smile. “We’re here on an investigation. If you don’t mind we’d like to confirm some details before we begin.”
“Sure, fire away.” Vincent said as he leaned back against the kitchen counter. 
“Firstly, you are Vincent Hallow, correct?” She asked. 
“Yes.” He said with a nod. 
“35 years old, you’ve been residing in Edinburgh for almost 5 years now. Your occupation is a…psychic?” She asked. 
“Oh no.” Vincent shook his head. “Charlatans, the lot of them. No, no…I’m a wizard.” 
“I wasn’t aware there was a difference.” Detective Argent chimed in. “Let’s just say you’re a…self employed freelance agent, shall we?”
“If it makes you feel better.” Vincent said, rolling his eyes. He finished his cigarette and extinguished it in his kitchen sink. “So is there a point to all of this?”
“Were you at the residence of a Miss Rachel Yates yesterday afternoon? Around 3 O’Clock?” Evans asked. 
“Yes. She had a ghost problem. Well, still has actually. She decided against utilizing my services.” Vincent replied. 
“Uh, right…” Evans said as she scribbled the details down on her little electronic tablet. “So you admit you were at her flat at 3PM yesterday afternoon?”
“Well, yes.” Vincent said, frowning. “What’s going on?”
“I’m afraid Miss Yates is dead, Mister Hallow.” Argent said. “Strangled. Nasty stuff.”
“But…” Vincent’s frown deepened. “She was fine when I saw her. She lived alone, well, more or less.”
“Indeed. And no one has been seen entering her premises since then. Which means, Mister Hallow, that you are our sole suspect.”
“Me?” Vincent smirked. “Why would I do that? I don’t even know the woman.”
“It’ll be up to the prosecution to figure that out, I’m afraid.” Argent said. “Vincent Hallow you are under arrest for suspicion of the murder of Rachel Yates. You have the right to remain silent, however anything you do say may…” Argent continued reading his rights, but Vincent wasn’t listening. It didn’t make any sense, the police were making a mistake. He hadn’t killed that woman, but who had? What if it had been the ghost he had seen? He didn’t seem the type, sure enough, but he had shown himself capable of moving physical objects. It was, at least, possible that he could strangle the woman. Not that the police would ever believe such a thing, of course. 
“Uh, names and badge number please.” Vincent said, cutting Argent off. “Oh and since I am not resisting arrest, I do hope you’ll allow me to put some clothes on before you haul me out.”
“Abigail Evans.” The woman said. “367. And yes, you can put some clothes on. David will monitor you.”
“David?” Vincent asked, turning to Detective Argent. “David Argent, then?”
“Indeed.” David replied. “Come along now, get dressed.” 
David escorted Vincent to his room where he got dressed in the same clothes he had been wearing the day before. He took care to put on his watch and grab his Grimoire, fastening it to his belt. When he was done he walked into the hall with David and they rejoined Abigail, and together they made their way to the front door. 
“Oh, can I go for a pee?” Vincent asked, nodding towards the bathroom. David walked to the bathroom and took a look inside. It was a small room with no windows. 
“Fine, quickly.” He said. Vincent nodded and made his way to the bathroom door. He went to go in, but then paused and turned, closing the bathroom door shut. 
“Oh, I did mean to say. While I’m not resisting arrest, I would like to point out that I’m denying the charges. I didn’t do it, you see.” As he spoke he pressed his fingers against the door, delicately feeling his way over the painted wood. 
“If you are innocent then that will no doubt come out in the process.” David said. “I’ll take note of your lack of resistance, and if you truly are innocent I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough.”
“Well, thank you very much.” Vincent said with a nod. “I’ll only be a moment.” He turned and opened the door, stepped inside and closed it behind him. The two inspectors waited outside for a couple of minutes. After the fourth minute passed David wrapped on the door of the bathroom. 
“Mister Hallow?” He called. There was no reply. “Mister Hallow, I’m coming in.” He said a moment later. He turned the knob and entered, only to find himself staring at the same empty bathroom, sans Vincent. His eyes widened in utter bemusement. “Abby, put a call out. I want every officer looking for him!” He said frantically. 
“He’s gone!?” Abigail replied, peering into the bathroom. “But…but how? There’s no way out!”
“I…I don’t know.” David said as he knelt down on the bathroom floor, feeling for a lose floorboard, or some sort of secret escape hatch. There was nothing. “Something isn’t right…we need to find him. He could be extremely dangerous.”



Doors are strange things. Most ordinary, non-magical folks, Mundanes Vincent liked to call them. Well Mundanes never really seemed to consider the concept of doors. They were points of entry and exit. Thresholds between one space and the next. Thresholds held a great deal of power. Now, Mundanes open doors and they always lead to the same place, day in and day out. Yet for those in the know, doors can reach multiple places. The world was not as simple and linear as people like to believe. A threshold, be it a door, a gate, an arch, or whatever else, is a portal between point A and point B. Yet sometimes, in certain places, there exists multiple point Bs. If Vincent’s bathroom was point B1, then with a little trickery and know-how, why could the door not lead him to another point B, a point B2? 
Multiple locations operating within the same space, resonating on different frequencies. It was about as close as Vincent could ever explain the concept to a Mundane, at least. However the point was that while he had entered his bathroom door, he had not passed through in to the tiny room with a shower, a sink and a toilet all crammed together. He had arrived in a different place entirely. Yet even the universe is not beyond a sense of humour. For Vincent had arrived in a bathroom, of sorts. 
He was standing in a steam-filled bath house. The walls were a beige-coloured marble, and before him lay a great pool of hot, steaming water. The occupants were far more colourful than the Mundanes he normally surrounded himself with. A couple were human, but there was also a man covered in horrible pustules, and another with scales for flesh. On the far side was a non-corporeal creature, hovering above the pool with only the vaguest shape of a form, and a pair of glowing orbs for eyes. Vincent had never seen a Djinn visit a bath house before, and wasn’t entirely sure why they would bother. 
Yet he had no time nor desire to think more on it. He made his way out of the bath house and found himself on the hidden streets of Leith. While the overworld of Leith had become a somewhat rundown yet surprisingly multicultural burgh, it was also a waterside burgh. The Leith he stood in now, was one of the few areas not owned by man or beast. This was due to the river that ran through it that reached the Firth of Forth at the shore. The Water of Leith was a source of great power, so much so that it had manifested itself into an entity capable of consciousness. Thus Leith fell into the area where the great river spirit joined with the ocean, and it was here that his power and influence were strongest. 
Vincent made his way up the Walk, the long road that led away from the shore. Where the overworld buildings consisted of pubs, chip shops, hairdressers and half a dozen polish and Chinese supermarkets, this version had stayed true to it’s roots. On either side of the road were hundreds of stalls selling various sea and river-related products. There was fish, and seaweed vendors, and a sudden warmth in the air indicated that glass-blowers were in the area, harvesting the sand to create vials and decorative ornaments. 
Vincent had no time to stop and look around, however. In half an hour he had travelled across the nether-city of Edinburgh until he found himself at the Cowgate. The streets grew darker and more menacing. The residents began to turn more ugly, dirty and dangerous. Cowgate and the Grassmarket were considered the domain of the lower classes. It was where the more affordable housing was located, under the control of Baron Igithal, a man Vincent had never met, but by his rather bloody reputation, he was certain he had no desire to. 
Therefore, as soon as he was able, Vincent found himself a door. He pressed his hand against it before opening it, once again delicately feeling the wood and weaving his will through it. He pushed it open and stepped through it, finding himself stepping out of a bathroom stall. He closed the door behind him and left the bathroom, to find himself in a busy pub. He knew it to be The Tron, a pub across the street from where Rachel Yates’ flat was. He exited the pub and made his way across the street of the over-city, and stopped outside Rachel’s flat. 
He observed on the road nearby that two police cars were stationed outside. The investigation was still ongoing. Yet he had to get inside. Getting in would be easy, but the police might have been tipped off about him, and besides which they would never allow him to set foot on a crime scene. “…What a mess.” He said, sighing to himself. It was at this point that a sudden wave of dread rippled over his body. He felt the hairs on the back of his neck go rigid, a primal reaction he had little control over. He turned, sensing something off approaching. Something that was not often seen in the world of the mundane. It was a woman, and to any passing observer she looked perfectly ordinary, even quite attractive. Yet Vincent could see her for what she was, and the realization made him frown. 
“Don’t see vampires in Edinburgh very much.” He said to the woman as she reached the door he was standing at on the street. His tone was suspicious. Why would a vampire be going in to Rachel’s building? 

Ryoko's bright blue eyes looked the man up and down as a lop-sided smile spread across her face. "More's the pity." She retorted, looking over at the police stationed just outside the building before her gaze wandered over the man's grimoire, "So what's a wizard doing here then? Don't tell me you're a necromancer...?"
“More like a jack of all trades.” Vincent replied, giving the police a nervous glance. “Are…” He wondered if it was okay to divulge his information, but at present he was disappointingly shy of allies, and considering where she was going, the woman was likely already involved. “Are you here because of the murder? The Mundanes have got me muddled up in all of this. I need to get in and find out what happened up there, but it’ll be tricky with all the police around.”
"You say that humans have you muddled up in the crime," Ryoko nodded ahead, "Yet you wish to involve yourself further? Have you ever heard the phrase, 'cut and run'? As for me, I need to get inside that building, it won't be difficult..."
“I already did the cut and run part, you just missed it.” Vincent replied. “Now I’m doing the part where I find out who’s responsible and make sure they fess up, so I can get on with my life. Which would be somewhat difficult from behind bars.” Vincent pressed his hand up against the buzzer and allowed his will to filter out into the wiring underneath. There was a buzz and a distinct click of the door unlocking, and he pushed it open. “After you, then.” He said. 
Ryoko stepped through and looked around, the hall was quiet but she could hear voices upstairs. The police were likely in the apartment itself. "I could remove the police from the situation, that might be best..." She mused, as she started up the stairs.
“You do your thing.” Vincent said as he followed her. He began to concentrate on the image of himself slowly fading away. He clung to uncomfortable thoughts, ones of fear, and the desire to hide. “I’m just gonna stand back and keep my mouth shut.” He added. Becoming invisible was tricky. There were so many senses to account for, that it usually required layers upon layers of magic, and most importantly the time to prepare. Vincent didn’t have those things so he settled for what he could do. With luck, while the officers would see him, if he kept quiet and didn’t do anything to attract their attention, they would find him to be quite insignificant. If he stayed quiet, he would be no more to them than a random passerby on the street. 
"That might be best, if they saw you here, you wouldn't have much of an argument in, 'I came to prove my innocence'." Ryoko chuckled and as she reached the top of the stairs she clocked one of the police. She began checking her pockets as she approached, and the nearest officer paid her little attention. She pulled a set of keys from her pocket and turned to face the door to the adjacent apartment. As the officer turned his attention back to the inside of the apartment, Ryoko darted towards him and was on him in mere moments. She grabbed him from behind, clamping her hand over his mouth as she bit into his neck and began to drink. She took long, deep, ravenous gulps of blood. After a few seconds, she released him, licking his wounds which quickly healed leaving behind two small white dots for scars. When she laid him down in the hall, it was clear he was alive, but asleep. She stepped inside and there was a dull thud as the second officer collapsed to the floor, "You can come in now. This one is sleeping also."
“I thought you were going to distract them, not eat them.” Vincent said with a scowl, and as he spoke his minor illusion shattered. He stepped inside the house and once again placed his fingers across his eyelids, as he had done the previous time, and he looked around for the ghost. “Something tells me you’ve done this sort of thing before. You’re a fixer, right?”
"I was hungry, and they were an obstacle. I removed them from our path, sated my hunger and removed any chance that they might injure us, or we them." Ryoko looked around the room, spotting a phone in the centre of the floor, "If your intent is to chastise me for my actions, might I suggest you do so once you have finished snooping around the crime scene for which you are being investigated in connection with."
“I’m not your mother, I was just…caught a little off guard.” Vincent replied, rolling his eyes. “Not everyone lives the high octane life of kicking arse and taking names. I just want to get back to making rent money.” Vincent looked around the room but the ghost was nowhere to be seen. He sighed. “Excuse me…hey…Mister Sheen!” He called out. “Get out here or I’m going to wipe my dirty shoes on this nice cream carpet.”
“NoooOOOooo!” A ghostly wail reverberated around the room. Suddenly the ghost from before passed through the wall, a look of panic on his face. “Don’t you dare!”
“Well that was easy.” Vincent said with a smirk. “Now, what the hell happened here? I hear your roommate was killed.”
“Oh, tell me about it!” The ghost sighed. “It’s been a nightmare! I thought she was bad enough when she was alive, but ugh! Now she can see me and she just won’t shut up. She’s driving me crazy!”
“Uh, that’s not what I-“ The ghost cut him off. 
“You!” He said, pointing at Ryoko. “Are…are you the Fixer? It’s about time you showed up!”
“Since when do ghosts hire Fixers?” Vincent asked, raising and eyebrow. 
"They don't." Ryoko turned and made for the door, "How is a ghost going to pay me?" She asked, letting out an audible sigh. "You're not the only one with bills to pay, Wizard."
“Oh, no, no, no…” The ghost protested, and he shot forward, whizzing past Ryoko and floating in front of her. “Please! You have to help get her out of here! She’s driving me nuts. She won’t stop crying, I just…there must be something I can give you. Anything!”
“Wait, who’s crying?” Vincent asked. “Rachel? She’s here?”
“Well who else?” the ghost replied. “She’s in her bedroom. Poor thing is having trouble accepting what happened…but that’s not my problem! I am NOT a shoulder to be cried on!”
"She's having trouble accepting what happened?" Ryoko asked the ghost, she glanced at the wizard before turning back to the ghost, "This Rachel... she was the one who was killed?"
“Yes.” Vincent replied, for the first time feeling a little sad for the victim. “I don’t know much about her. Just a client, well, she hired me then fired me without payment so whatever that is, I guess.”
"She hired you, and then refused you payment, and now she's dead. Yes, I can see how that might look..." Ryoko couldn't help but smile despite the grim nature of their surroundings, "So now the important question - you're here to find the killer, but why? To clear your name, or to catch the killer?"
“Catching killers is a job for a police officer, or whoever runs this fiefdom, or, well, you I suppose.” Vincent replied. “Me, on the other hand, I just do the odd exorcism and lift curses. That’s on a good day. Most of the time I’m rejecting requests for love potions and playing tourists out of their cash with card tricks. I’m a scholar, I study magic. I don’t use it to thwart the evils of either world.”
"What a waste." Ryoko replied, "If you have the ability to do some good, why not do that? Who says that catching a killer is the sole work of a police officer? A bunch of humans who have never caught anything but a raise." Ryoko turned back to face the ghost, "You've both lived here at one point or another, you either learn to live with one another, or you move. You could start by showing some compassion, as I am for you, spirit." Ryoko then looked to the wizard, "I'm Ryoko, what's your name, wizard?"
“Vincent Hallow.” Vincent replied. “Full name, Vincent, did not ask for a lecture, Hallow. So you’re some righteous do-gooder, well that’s just great for you. Fantastic. You go girl. I, on the other hand, am a grumpy, selfish man who just wants his life back. Now, Hajimemashite, dozo yoroshiku and all that jazz, I’m going to go speak to the recently departed.” Vincent walked away from Ryoko and went through the hall and into the bedroom. 
There on the bed, the incorporeal form of Rachel Yates was sat quietly sobbing to herself. When he entered she looked up, a little shocked, and then stood up from the bed, still hovering a few feet in the air. “You!?” She said angrily. “G-go away.”
“I’m not going to do that.” Vincent said calmly. He took a step inside the room. “I want to talk to you Rachel…I’m…sorry for what happened to you.”
“I don’t care if you’re sorry! It’s none of your business.” She said, sobbing once more. Vincent let out a short sigh but tried to keep his expression neutral. It would do no good to mount his problems on her in the state she was in. It wasn’t going to get him anywhere. 
“Rachel…let me help you through this.” Vincent said as he reached the foot of the bed. “It might be difficult but you have to accept this one, simple fact. You are dead. Nothing is going to change that.”
“That’s your idea of helping!?” Rachel yelled at him, ghostly tears streaming down her transparent cheeks. “Do you think that makes me feel better!?”
“No, of course not.” Vincent said. “But accepting things will. Now, your…house mate. He’s what we call a poltergeist. He’s haunting this house, and he seems quite happy with that. You, on the other hand. You’re tied to this place much like he is…but you don’t have to be. There are other places for the dead, better places.”
“What…” Rachel sniffed. “You mean like Heaven?”
“I…I don’t know for sure. It’s not for the living to know. However, I know there are demons, and I know there are angels. Seems likely that there’s some sort of God out there. What I do know, from experience, is that those who leave this world through acceptance, often do so with peace.”
“But…I don’t want to leave my life.” Rachel said, shaking. 
“I know…but perhaps you need to look at this another way.” Vincent said. “Have you ever been on holiday? Do you like travelling?”
“I do but…I haven’t done it much.” Rachel said. “It’s quite expensive and I don’t make a lot. I went to Spain a couple of times.”
“Well…now you can go wherever you like. Great thing about being dead is the free travel. And…now you have all the time in the world. You could go explore to your hearts content, or you could even go explore somewhere that you never could before.” Vincent smirked. “The next life. Whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll be an experience like never before. If you could I’d even ask you to send me a postcard, and tell me what it’s like.”
“I…I never thought about that.” Rachel said. “But…my family.”
“You can see them whenever you like, too.” Vincent replied. “Or, if it’s what you really want, you can stay here with the clean freak.”
“Oh…God.” Rachel said, shivering at the thought. “…I’m scared though.”
“So you should be.” Vincent said, now coming closer and standing next to her. “Big adventure like this, you’d be a fool not to be. Whatever you do now is your choice, Rachel. You are truly free. That being said…if I can, I might ask something of you.”
“What?” Rachel asked, her eyes suspicious. 
“The police believe that I killed you.” Vincent said. “If I can, I want to make sure the person who did this to you gets the punishment they deserve. Do you think you could help me with that?”
“I…” Rachel looked terrified. Reflexively she touched her own neck. “I don’t know…I just…someone came out of my bathroom. Like they just appeared out of nowhere. It was…It wasn’t human. It…I don’t think it meant to be here, it looked confused it first. But when it saw me it…it just came at me and…all I can remember afterwards is darkness, and just being so scared…and then I was like this.”
“I…I see.” Vincent said, nodding. “This creature, can you describe it for me?”
“It…it had horns on it’s head…and it’s body was furry. It was filthy, caked in dirt. I…I can’t remember. Except…” She paused. “It’s eyes…they were bright yellow…piercing and fierce. Eyes like snakes.”
Vincent tried to think of who or what she could be describing. With the little info he had gotten, it could have been any number of things. Yet he had at least confirmed a few things. The killer had entered through the bathroom door, and it was unlikely it had crawled through her window. A door was a strange thing, but he knew how it worked. So now he had a lead.
“Thank you, Rachel.” Vincent said finally. “Would you like me to come back and check on you later?”
“I…you don’t have to but…” She gave the softest hint of a smile. “You’re much kinder than I remember.”
“Don’t tell anyone.” He said with a smirk. “I have a reputation to uphold, after all.” He made his way out of the room. “I’ll come back in a few days, okay?”
“Okay…thanks.” Rachel replied, and then he left her alone again. 
When Vincent re-entered the main room, Ryoko was in the centre of the room, with her legs crossed, and her hands on her knees. She would have been sitting on the floor, had she not been floating two feet from it. Several other objects were floating around her as though she had some kind of gravitational pull. Her eyes were closed, but her sensitive hearing caught his approach.
"So, a furry, horned thing, then?" She asked, raising an eyebrow while keeping her eyes closed. Then she stood up, still floating in the air, and as she turned to face him she landed back on the floor and the objects floating around her dropped to the ground.
“Yes, Master Yoda.” Vincent replied, smirking. “What do you care anyway?”
"I'm going to catch the killer." Ryoko replied, ignoring Vincent's comment. "You're welcome to come along, if you like. You are, after all, the primary suspect."
“Thought you had bills to pay?” Vincent asked. “And besides, I think the folks at Lothian & Borders might have a hard time arresting a furry goat or whatever this thing is. Time to face facts, I’m pretty much screwed.”
"She didn't say anything about goat. You shouldn't paint a picture in your mind with anything but the words she used to describe the creature. It had horns on it's head, had a furry body, so it was naked, at least from the waist up. It was covered in dirt... and it had yellow, snake-like eyes." Ryoko mused on the facts they'd collected so far, "I have bills to pay, but I will make do. Anyway..." Ryoko turned and started to leave, "I never said anything about arresting it."
“Great, well I know where you can start.” Vincent said. He walked up to the bathroom door, pressed his hand up against the wood, infused it with his will, and then pulled it open. “Since nobody saw a scary horned thing rocking down Cowgate I’m going to guess that it left the way it came in. Have fun with that.”
"Alright, thank you." Ryoko bowed slightly to Vincent, as she stepped through the doorway without hesitation, leaving Rachel's bathroom behind, entering the unknown.
Vincent grabbed hold of the door and went to close it as Ryoko left. However just as it was about to close, another door opened. The front door of the flat swung open and a familiar face stepped through it in the form of Inspector David Argent. “You!” David yelled as he caught sight of Vincent. There were sounds of more people, likely police, ascending up the stairs. 
“Ah, shhh-“
“Come here!” David roared at him and suddenly the burly Scottish detective was coming at him with surprising speed and athleticism. Vincent turned in the only direction he could, he swung open the bathroom door and ran through after Ryoko. He pulled the door shut behind him, but was surprised when David squeezed through the gap and tackled him, sending them both crashing to the hard, cobbled floor. The door closed shut behind them. 

“What in the-“ David gasped as he got up, grabbing Vincent and cuffing him with his hands behind his back. “How…you’re coming with me!” He said, and he opened the door again. However what he found on the other side was an old storage cupboard full of brooms. His mouth fell open, and he began to take stock of where he was. They were outside on the street now, and it was no street that the Inspector would likely recognize. The ground was filthy and cobbled, like something from the distant pass. They were in a wide alleyway, on the side of some as yet unknown street. “What is going on!?” David snarled at Vincent. 
“That is…well…” Vincent paused for a moment. He had allowed a Mundane to venture into the nether-city. “…This is bad.”

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She took a deep breath, and exhaled with relief. Ryoko felt far more comfortable in Edinburgh's 'other' city. The Undercity, the Nether-city, the Otherland. There were many names for it, but it was the place where the weird and wonderful - and sometimes dangerous - lived and worked. The air was musty with the smell of strange spices, the cobbled streets were caked with the dirt of a thousand years, and a hundred different species of creatures, ghouls, spirits, monsters and many others walked together in a bustling street. Ryoko heard yelling behind her and turned around to see Vincent step through the door, and then to her surprise, a human followed him into the city of the supernatural.
"You... idiot." Ryoko growled, and marched up to them as Vincent was hand-cuffed by the detective.
"You're right, he is!" Vincent replied, smirking to hide his annoyance. 
"That's enough from you." David said as he fastened Vincent's cuffs so that his hands were tied behind him. "You're under arrest." He added as he marched Vincent back towards the door. He pulled it open and paused, momentarily dumbstruck as he found himself facing a dirty, old utility closet. He frowned, closed the door, then opened it again. He stepped inside the closet to find that it was, in fact, very real and not a trick. It was black with dust and soot, and contained only a few old brooms, a carriage wheel that looked like it was not from this century, and three sacks full of rubbish. "Wh-what is this?"
"It's a cupboard, Inspector." Vincent replied.

"Yes I see that!" David snapped. "This is where we came out though, wasn't it?"
"Well, yes." Vincent replied with a nod. "And no. It's not easy to explain to the likes of you."
"So some sort of trick, then." David grumbled, searching for some sort of panel, perhaps the room was an elevator that lead to the flat they had come from. Yet when he looked up he realised that there was not tall flats above. This was a single storey building, what looked to be the side of an old factory, and certainly not a place familiar to the Cowgate he knew. 
"I think he's starting to understand." Vincent said to Ryoko. 
"...This is a dream." David said to himself. 
"Or not." Vincent added, smirking again.
"He cannot stay here." Ryoko looked David up and down, then she grabbed Vincent's hand-cuffs and tore them apart with her bare hands. She turned her attention to David and grabbed him by the throat, "I do not want to kill you, but I..." She paused, looking to Vincent, "Here. You're a wizard. He's your problem, fix it. Make him forget or something, and send him back through the way we came."

"I could have taken them off myself, you know." Vincent said as he rubbed his wrists. He placed his hand on Ryoko's wrist gently. "Let him go. There's no need to be violent. I'll just open the door and he can go back where he came from." Vincent moved away and placed his hand over the door for a moment, and then he opened it again to reveal that it once again led to Rachel's flat. "See? No problem." He said, as Ryoko began to move David towards to the door. Before she had reached, however, Vincent closed it shut once more. "However... now that I think about it. This could be a good thing."
"You're annoying me." Ryoko squeezed on David's throat reflexively and he let out a choked cry, "Oh..." She loosened her grip slightly on David then looked back to Vincent, "He's a human, do you honestly think he can understand this world, let alone keep it a secret?" She threw David into Vincent and crossed her arms.

Vincent struggled to stop himself toppling over as the much larger man hit him. He pushed David off of him and dusted himself off, sighing. "Look, he probably can't and I'll have to deal with that at some point, somehow, but for now having him here could be valuable. Nobody is going to believe anything about this world, let alone the police. If I show him the real culprit, I can at least prove my innocence." Just then the sound of a radio crackle sounded. 
"This is Detective Inspector David Argent. I need all available units at..." He paused for a moment. "At Cowgate, I'm not sure where but-"
"That won't work." Vincent cut him off. "The frequency won't reach this place, trust me."
"What do you mean this place!?" David yelled back at him. 
"Just take a look around, Inspector." Vincent replied, throwing his arms out. For the first time David really examined the nearby street, and his eyes widened as he realized the passers by were not all human. There were little people, the size of mice, scampering along in small groups, and there were fur-covered men and women of all shapes and sizes. Across the road in a shop window, three old crones were cackling madly as they each took turns in stirring a large, steaming cauldron. 
"I... are they witches?" David asked. 
"Absolutely." Vincent nodded. "But they are also cooks." He added. He stepped out on to the street and pointed to the sign above the door to their shop. It read; The Three Sisters Soup Kitchen. 
"Soup Kitchen?" David asked. "They are making soup?"
"Oxtail judging by the smell." Vincent replied. "Look, Inspector. You're a man of God, right? If you believe in a celestial sky fairy, then why does this seem so unbelievable. What you've just stumbled upon is a truth as old as time. There is the world above, where you reside, and then there is the world below." He cast his hand out over the area. 
"So... like Hell then?" David asked. 
"Oh no, no, no." Vincent said with a chuckle. "That's below the below. Way, way below. This is just where we all go to keep out of sight of you lot. Quite necessary, I'm afraid, what with your penchant for burning and drowning witches. And those nasty tales in your story books don't help. Bram Stoker has a lot to answer for, wouldn't you say, Ryoko?"

Ryoko raised her eyebrow at Vincent before turning her attention to David, "I suppose it is unlikely that anyone from your world would believe anything you see here, but as Vincent has so... astutely pointed out, those who see our world may also have a profound impact on it. They can also impact your own. Bram Stoker was very ill as a child, one of our race, a Vampire who belonged to the Healing Caste, took pity on the boy, and healed him. He never suffered from illness to the end of his life, but betrayed the trust and generosity of one of my kind, by writing slanderous and fancifully wild tales that you know as 'Dracula'. Do not make me suffer the same fate as she did."
"And you just expect me to believe all of that?" David said, folding his arms. 
"You can believe what you want but it won't change anything." Vincent said. "We are here to find Rachel's killer, her real killer. Now, without our help you can't get back to your side of the fence. So, come with us and see how this plays out. If you still want to arrest me afterwards then I'll come willingly."
"The last time you said you'd come willingly you did a little disappearing act." David said, frowning.
"I expect you gave him no choice, as you were labouring under the delusion that he was the culprit. He's an idiot. Do you think him so capable of that crime? He walked right back into the crime scene while it was full of police. He knows, however, that when we find the real killer, you will have no reason to arrest him, so there is no reason for him to worry. Assuming we find the killer..." Ryoko turned her attention onto the main street, "Besides, detective, do you think your eyes betray you?" She indicated the streets that laid out before them, then indicated herself.

"The devil is said to use illusion and trickery. How can I be expected to trust this is not his doing?"
"Because the devil runs a night club in Los Angeles, he's a very busy man." Vincent said with an impish grin, and David wasn't entirely sure if he was joking or serious. 
"I can't just conduct an investigation with our main suspect. That's not how the law works." David said. 
"Well that wold matter on the up side, but you're in the nether, where the laws are different. Someone from this side has killed a mortal, and so they should pay the price your laws dictate. I can help you do that, but not from inside a cell. Understand?" 
"I don't." David replied, before sighing. "But... I suppose I don't have much of a choice."
"Maybe he can learn." Ryoko grinned and walked out onto the main street, "Can you do anything to narrow our search?" She asked, looking to Vincent. The throngs of the supernatural went about their daily lives as Vincent and David followed her out. As David stepped out into the street he almost stepped on what looked like a mouse walking on it's hind legs.
"Hey i'm walkin' here!!" The mouse barked up at David, then scampered on.
"You should be as careful with your walk, as with your eyes, detective. There are things here that are just as likely to squash you were they so careless." And as if to punctuate her statement, a heavy thud shook the street and a shadow cast over them for a second. An enormous, scale-covered paw rushed over the houses, forcing a wind to rush through the street. A second heavy boom as it landed somewhere in the next street, and then it was gone. Just a distant rumbling.

"The best bet is to just ask around." Vincent said. "This street is pretty busy, someone probably saw something. There's nothing I can do with magic until we find something more substantial. An object or piece of fur carried by the killer would do. Until then though, let's just take a look around and speak to some people."
"Local shop owners are normally the best source. They are here most hours of the day, they also come to recognize regulars, and those who are unusual or acting strangely." David said. 
"See, Inspector, you can be useful." Vincent replied. "So how about some soup then?"

The door to The Three Sisters opened with a jingle as Ryoko, Vincent and David stepped inside. The room was expansive, and dimly lit by candles dotting the room and tables of the patrons who ate and talked amongst themselves. As Ryoko stepped up to the front desk a wisp of black smoke shot across the room and expanded over the desk and took form. The smoke coalesced into one of the three sisters, a witch. She had long, greasy black hair and a long hook-nose, and yet she was otherwise quite shapely and attractive.
"Customers!" She cooed, clapping her hands together, "Welcome to our fine establishment, i'm Priscilla, your hostess with the most-est! We'd love to have you for dinner." She laughed maniacally and her laugh echoed as two more wisps of black smoke surrounded them and formed the other two witches of the trio of sisters. The second witch ushered them towards a table. She was tall and lanky, and had a prominent chin and short scruffy straw-like hair that stuck out at every angle from beneath her pointed hat.
"I'm Helena, i'll be your waitress today!" She looked to David, and flashed him a wink as she seated them. The third and final sister thumped her palm down on the table, and pulled her hand across the air, as a quill formed in her hand and she began writing in mid-air. The words being formed looked like nonsense but she seemed to understand her own writing. 
"I'm Teresa! I'll be your chef," She was a plump woman, with piercing eyes and a mop of dark brown hair, "We have Oxtail soup, Black Eye soup, or Chef's special and..." She trailed off as she looked at the three of them, "My my, a Vampire... from the Religious-- no... from the Warrior caste, how rare... and a wizard, and not just any wizard..."
"No sister, that's a Hallow!" Priscilla chimed in.
"Lovely..." Helena added.
"And a mundane..." Teresa rolled her eyes and started to turn away.
"Not so mundane," Noted Helena.

"Do you know these women?" David asked
"Not at all." Vincent replied. "But it's not uncommon for some witches to be prescient. Especially triplets."
"Not uncommon among the uncommon, some might say that's rare young man." Helena said with a scrutinizing stare. "Don't be selling us too short, hm?"
"Aye, well some are shorter than others, dear sister." Teresa added. 
"What you have in height, I have in beauty." Helena said haughtily.
"Now now, sisters," Priscilla squeezed in between them and the three sisters loomed over the seated trio, "So you'll have the Oxtail," She indicated David, "You'll have the Chef's special," She nodded at Vincent, "And you'd like a Bloody Mary?" Ryoko couldn't help but smile at Priscilla as she seemed to know what they wanted from the outset. 
"Heeey..." Helena pushed Priscilla out of the way, "I'm the waitress, remember!"
"So what am I doing with this?!" Teresa threw the quill into the air and stormed into the kitchen. Priscilla and Helena both grabbed at the quill and eventually Helena wrestled it out of the air, and Priscilla huffed, returning to the front desk as Helena licked the tip of the quill, and finished writing. Then she swept her hand across the floating golden text, and it whirled into smoke and shot into the kitchen. There was a loud clatter of falling pots and pans.
"Not so bloody fast!!" Teresa's shout carried out from the kitchen.

They waited for their food in relative silence. Occasionally David would pinch himself, or mutter the odd prayer to God, but was always disappointed to find himself still sitting in a strange little inn run by three old crones. Vincent eventually turned to his Grimoire, searching through what appeared to be completely blank pages, until eventually their meals arrived. David was given a bowl of dark brown broth with chunks of meat, the Oxtail. Ryoko was given a tall glass of dark red liquid, and Vincent was given a golden coloured broth with strange looking lumps of vegetables and herbs that David had never seen before. Vincent took a spoonful of the soup and nodded to show it was good. David tried his own tentatively, but was pleasantly surprised to find it tasted quite delicious.
Grabbing the bloody Mary, Ryoko pulled the celery stick from the glass and sucked the liquid from it before setting it to one side. She took a long gulp of her drink, licking her ruby lips afterwards. Placing the drink on the table, she called for Priscilla. The witch finished writing at the front desk and stood before them in an instant. "Yes, dearie?" She asked.
"Priscilla, you see a lot of customers come through here, do you ever remember seeing one with horns on it's head? It would have had a furry body, caked with dirt, and yellow eyes, like those of a snake. Does that ring any bells?" Ryoko asked, smiling patiently. 
"W-well, we do see a lot of customers, but uh... no... no I-I don't think that really rings, I mean, it's so hard to remember so many." She quickly turned to leave.

"A little nervous?" Vincent asked, not looking up from his Grimoire. "A moment ago you were forthcoming and confident, and now you hesitate. Are you quite sure that you saw nothing at all unusual?"
"Surely you didn't forget someone like that?" Ryoko rubbed the side of her glass thoughtfully, "I mean, we all forget things, the older we get, and some of us are very old. But someone like that? Surely, you wouldn't forget them..." Ryoko looked up and locked eyes with Priscilla. For a long while, they stared each other down. Then, if only for a split-second, Priscilla's eyes darted to her right. Ryoko quickly looked to the left and saw a bathroom. She stood and quickly marched towards it, unsure of what she'd find inside, or who. "Do your job, detective!" Ryoko called over her shoulder, as she walked into the bathroom.
Vincent snapped his Grimoire shut and it clicked as the lock on the front activated. He re-attached it to his belt as he stood up from the table. "I suppose we better follow." He said as David rose with him. "You first, Inspector. Can't say I'm too good with hostile situations."
"Nor was it expected of you." David said as he marched forward with Ryoko.

Pressing her ear to the bathroom door, Ryoko could hear nothing but silence. She waited until David and Vincent were behind her, then she quickly pushed open the door and rushed into the bathroom. For a moment, it seemed they had missed their target. It looked as though a hurricane had been through the bathroom. Muddy water covered the ground, and hand prints on the sinks and doors. Then she saw the tip of a long tail sticking out from underneath a cubicle door. Ryoko quickly marched up to the cubicle, took a step back and kicked the door in, breaking the lock. A shrill noise made everyone in the room cover their ears in discomfort. After being dazed by the cry, Ryoko looked into the stall to see a creature sat on the toilet. It was furry and still wet from having cleaned itself using the bathroom sinks. It had bright yellow eyes, like a snake's and curved horns atop it's head. It's face was elongated, with a long muzzle. She had never seen anything like it. 
"Get out of there!!" Ryoko growled. The creature shrieked once more in terror. "Hey, HEY!!" Ryoko yelled and the creature eventually stopped shrieking.

"Please don't hurt me!!" It's voice was deep and throaty. "I'll do whatever you want!!" 
Ryoko frowned and shared a look with Vincent, "You're not a killer..." 
"No!" The creature recoiled, stung by her words.
"Well do you mind explaining why you were in an apartment with a dead body?" Ryoko asked.
"No of course not... but..." The creature remained sat on the toilet, looking back at them with expectation. 
"Right, fine." Ryoko, David and Vincent walked back out. A few minutes later, the creature walked out of the bathroom. Priscilla chided him both for having ruined their bathroom and for not having run the moment he saw them coming into the café. According to Gort - as that was his name - he had intended to travel back into the human realm, as he was an Earth spirit, specifically he was the spirit of Arthur's Seat, the main peak of of a group of hills. Gort explained that when normally he travelled back to his peak, something had struck him as he passed through the doorway. Instead of arriving in the hills, he was in Rachel's apartment, covered in blood. He panicked, and retreated to The Three Sisters as they were friends, and he sought their advice. That was when Ryoko, Vincent and David had arrived.
Ryoko rubbed her temples as she tried to piece everything together, "So, you say you're not the killer. The killer bumped into you, when the doorways crossed for some reason, and it left you in Rachel's apartment. You scared Rachel, she scared you, and you ran. And you were on the toilet because...?
"Well..." Gort scratched the back of his head and laughed nervously, "I was terrified, and--"
"--alright!" Ryoko held her hand up, swallowing slowly, "Any thoughts?" She asked, turning to Vincent and David.

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Vincent was silent for a long moment. He stared at the space in between Ryoko and Gort from his chair by the table they had been eating at. Then he leant forward and pressed his fingers together. "Gort..." He said, "Gort...Gort?" He shook his head. He took his Grimoire from his belt and laid it on the table, thumbing through the apparently blank pages. 
"Are you just taking this...creature at face value?" David asked. "He could be lying. Criminals do that, you know."
"Hush," Vincent said, his attention on his book. "And Spirits don't lie, Inspector. There'd hardly be any point in it."
"How so?" David asked. Vincent sighed and closed his book closed again, his expression one of irritation. 

"Because they are eternal." He explained. "We can hurt him, imprison him, do all sorts of horrible things but ultimately, he will always return to his mountain. This is a being that has existed for...well, forever. In some form or another anyway. As the landscape changes, and the impressions mortals have also change, so too does a spirit. However, it is a slow, natural process. They do not fear it, and they certainly do not fear any repercussion we can deal it to the point where it feels it should lie." Vincent opened his grimoire once more and continued thumbing through it. "Lies are the thing of mortals, David. We can trust Gort's word."

"Or so says spirits..." Ryoko muttered with a growl. "I do not trust anything that cannot die."
"Whatever," Vincent replied. He continued looking through his book until he found what was apparently the exact blank page he was looking for. "Here we go." He said and he pressed his fingers across the page. Ink shot out of the paper and swirled across the page, slowly taking the shape of various scribbling drawings and notations. The images were rough but were clearly drawings of Gort. "You see?" He said, pointing at the page. "This just doesn't make any sense!" His finger indicated the blank gaps in the notations. "I've researched most of the main spirits of Edinburgh. I couldn't quite remember the name of this one, but it's not Gort."
"I don't understand," David said. "You said Spirits don't lie."
"They don't...it's just I know it's not his name. Not his true name, it's been taken away from him. From...from all memory and record. These gaps on the page are where I wrote his name."

"What does it matter?" David asked. 
"It matters a great deal," Vincent replied. "If you take a Spirit's name, change it, then you change the spirit. I mean, come on, who ever heard of a cowardly mountain spirit? Gort is the spirit of Arthur's Seat. It's a landmark, it's a tourist attraction, a conservation site, hell it's a long extinct volcano! All of those things give it power, and yet." He gestured to the cowardly creature in front of them. "My writings describe a proud and just creature, bold and fearless. A real protector. Gort is nothing like that." He turned to the creature. "Uh, no offence."
"N-none taken..." Gort muttered.
"Coward!" Ryoko snarled at the spirit, and he recoiled, further disgusting her. "But you say that this is not his true form? So how would a person take a spirit's name?"

"I have no bloody idea," Vincent said with a defeated sigh. "More importantly, I don't know why anyone would do that. Not to mention the door. Switching the door's location is, well, something considerably easier, but still not exactly simple magic. That's a lot of work simply to cause some chaos. If you take what we know so far, there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason for it."
"Yes, there is," David said. "He's a patsy. They pin the murder on Gort, and if they've erased his...true name, or whatever. Well then people's memories of him are muddled, his identity is even fabricated. Essentially they've made him a stooge with which authorities will focus their attention on, trying to get to the bottom of things. What's more the person they have set up is no longer a potential threat to them, and is unlikely to offer anything useful to the culprit's pursuers." Vincent glared at David for a moment, then he bobbed his head in begrudging agreement. 
"You finally say something sensible, Inspector." Vincent said with a smirk. 

"Does he?" Ryoko raised an eyebrow, "Gort, or whatever he's called, is a spirit. Do you think they would pin a human murder on a spirit and expect human police officers to accept a mountain spirit as their primary suspect?"
"Someone playing with magic like that probably isn't concerned with mundanes." Vincent replied. "Which means they are worried about intervention from our side. Like a Fixer, perhaps? Or maybe one of the Lords or Barons? Cowgate is Igithal's fiefdom. Don't know much about him but he seems like the kind of person you don't cross. At any rate, while we don't have any real law enforcement, there's plenty of denizens of this town who aren't afraid to do a little enforcing of their own" 
"Then they have killed for no reason," Ryoko stood from the table, "I am a Fixer, and I am going to find them, and kill them. Ryoko left through the front door and stepped back onto the main street and remained motionless, thinking to herself. What was her next move?

The door opened again behind her and Vincent emerged with David following closely behind him. 
"How about we try something different?" Vincent suggested. "You go do your thing and come find me in an hour or so. In the meantime I'll babysit the Inspector here, and work a spell. Its going to take some time, and it might not turn up anything. On the other hand it might turn up something crucial. Sound good?"
"Do as you wish." Ryoko replied, "But keep an eye on him." She added, looking between David and Vincent so that it was unclear whether she meant for Vincent to watch David, or the reverse. "I will speak to a broker of information."
"Excellent." Vincent said with a nod. "We can meet back her in a couple of hours." 

He nodded for David to follow him and the two left Ryoko alone. They crossed the street and returned to the alley where they had first entered the Otherworld. 
"Did she mean what she said? I she really going to kill our culprit?" David asked. 
"Who knows." Vincent replied. "But she doesn't seem like the type to make jokes. A word of advice, Inspector. That woman is a vampire, likely with several centuries on you or I. They are an honourable lot, but they are incredibly dangerous. They have their own code of ethics which they follow, and they don't care if you don't agree with it. If you try to stop her from doing her duty, then she will kill you."

"If she did then she would find herself in breach of the law. Judging by what she has said, she is likely already a dangerous criminal." David replied. 
"That would matter if she was in your jurisdiction, Inspector, but she isn't." Vincent said as he began to observe the alley. "You don't have authority here, you have to accept that."
"I'm not sure I'd want to have authority over this godless realm." David said, contempt in his tone. 
"Oh there are gods." Vincent replied with a smirk. "And unlike your one, the big old capital G, these ones walk the earth."
"There is only one God." David replied frankly. 
"David, gods are beings born of faith. They exist because people believe they do. Faith is a very powerful and mysterious magic, it's one of the forces at play that are beyond the understanding of even wizards. Just take comfort in the fact that your God exists, and focus on the task at hand."

"Which is?" David asked. 
"Forensics, essentially." Vincent said. He sat himself down on the ground and crossed his legs lotus style, and opened his Grimoire on his lap. "Lesson one," He said as he revealed the inky pages of the Grimoire. The image across the page was a series of overlapping circle. "There are only three true boundaries between worlds. We are in the mortal realm, and so we can travel within all the worlds within that sphere of influence. So there's this place, the Otherworld we call it. Then there's your world, where all the mundanes live. There is also Faerie, where the Fae live. If you think this place is weird, well..." Vincent shook his head. "Anyway. There's also Limbo, which is a little different. Limbo is the plane where ghosts live, and while we can see it, we cannot exist within it, unless we die."

"What of Heaven and Hell?" David asked. 
"Well, that's where the boundaries are. Those that are alive are not supposed to travel to these realms. Hell works much like our own realm, it has several worlds contained within it. Tartarus, Gehenna, The Underworld, that sort of thing. Then there is the above. Heaven, Nirvana, whatever else. I don't really know. Only the dead can travel to these places."
"Why are you telling me this?" David asked. 
"Just a little context." Vincent explained. "Each door that exists can take people to one location within each of our worlds. Sometimes the doors and locations move, and sometimes powerful practitioners can move them. Doing so leaves evidence, not the kind you can see with your eyes or with a machine. It's something more...insubstantial. Call it aetherial energies, leylines, or something akin to that."
"And you're going to look for this evidence?" David asked, raising his eyebrow. 
"We are, actually. Now try to keep calm. This is going to feel quite...strange."

Vincent closed his eyes when he was finished speaking. Meditation was a common way to achieve extreme levels of focus and calm. It was something that took a lot of practice, but Vincent had been doing it his whole life. It took mere moments for him to have shut out all of the ambient noise that surrounded him. He focused on his breathing, of the weight his body carried. He focused on the stillness he had brought upon himself, and silenced the wandering thoughts in his mind. Then he allowed his mind to venture out from himself. He searched for the subtle, tingling energies that were always present around him, the flow of energy that pulsed around the world like a beating heart. When he located it, he grabbed hold of it in his mind and locked it there. Then he began to project. 

A transluscent, nebulous bubble began to expand out from him. David flinched as the strange energy moved towards him. He began to back away. 
"Stay still." Vincent said firmly. "It won't hurt you." David stopped hesitantly, and tensed his body as the energy washed over him. The sensation was rather like being wrapped in clingfilm. The bubble grew larger and larger until the whole alley was covered by it. Finally Vincent opened his eyes. The alley looked much the same, if a litle darker. However the ground and walls were pulsing with a network of eerie, green lights. Like veins that were rooted deep within all things. Shadows shifted and rippled, the forms of people came into being, and then disappeared, as if maintaining solidity for only a moment was all they could muster. 

"By God..." David whispered, staring wildly around him. "What is this?"
"Reflections...imprints....patterns." Vincent replied calmly. "Just be still and let me concentrate."
"I don't think..." David said frantically, "This is crazy!" He added as he turns to leave the confines of the spell. 
"Don't!" Vincent said sharply. "Your mind has been exceptionally slowed. That's the only way you can perceive this sort of thing. Think of every second in this field as being a minute outside of it. If you leave it without me slowly removing the spell, you could suffer brain damage."
"You're lying." David said fearfully. "This is a trick!"
"It's not a trick." Vincent replied. "Look at yourself, look around you. Really observe."

David lifted his hand and only then he noticed the thin layer of white light that buzzed around his skin, like a fuzzy static. "What...what is it?"
"Power." Vincent replied. "Your power."
"My...power?" David asked. 
"Faith." Vincent said. "You are a man of God, and so he blesses you with his power."
"I..." Was all David could say before he fell silent once more. After a time he said; "Why are you showing me this?"
"Because I'm not a detective." Vincent said. "You might see something don't. Just keep watching, if you see anything strange just point it out."
"This is all strange." David replied. 

"True." Vincent said, a thin smile appearing on his face. "Just watch and have faith. You'll know what it is when you see it."
"Right..." David said, he breathed slowly, trying to calm himself. He looked over the dark, jumbled energies that shifted in and out of being around him. He wondered, for the first time, if he would have been better off going with the deadly assassin vampire. He was quite sure this was going to give him nightmares for years. But he swallowed, braced himself, and started pacing around, watching and listening. 

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