In the edges of New Berest, there was a building; more of a shop than a store. It has a big glass window, and painted on it in bright green and blue letters was, "Fallen Arches, we like to help and will do anything to make life easier. Miracles for those in need." Inside it looks more like a dress shop or an antique store than a place anyone would go for help, but if you had even the slightest magic talent you would feel the power radiating from the shop. It would draw in those who are depressed and in need of someone to lend a friendly ear and listen to their problems, and inside the owner had two such ears to spare.
"I know that we agreed that the price for the dress would be two hundred and you've already made the dress and fitted my daughter for it, but I'm afraid I just don't have the money right now. I'm good for it I promise you, but it's just that with the recession going on I haven't gotten so many hours at the plant lately as I had hoped. So I can only pay you half for now, I promise that I'll have the rest eventually, but I'll need more time. If you would just allow it to slide this once I'll owe you a favor; anything you ask, you have my word." A large man by the name of James McNally pleaded to a smaller man who stood at a mannequin putting pins into a dress.
The young man took a pin out of his mouth and stuck another one into the dress, "Mr. McNally," he said finally turning towards the older man, "what you're telling me is that you don't have the money at this time." James could only nod almost in tears at the younger man's detached tone.
McNally was normally a well to do man, he was a supervisor at one of the more successful power plants in the city of four hundred million and normally money was no problem, but with all the economic turmoil lately the plant hadn't needed him as often and cut his wages slightly. It was enough for him and his family to get by normally, but with his eldest daughter Martha getting married it had turned out to be an expensive ordeal. He had heard from his less well to do contacts about this man who made the most beautiful dresses in the city for cheap. However they had failed to mention what the man had looked like when informing him of his skills.
McNally eyed the young man before him who turned away from the dress he was making, he really looked more like a boy than a young man; eighteen at most but more likely sixteen. How he had come to own a shop by himself was beyond James who at the time didn't care after the man had shown off his skills. Now however when he owed the man money for a dress that was already made and delivered he noticed just how menacing the young man could look. He had long black hair that had been pulled back into a pony tail without a hair out of place that James quite a large man in his own right had to look up since the boy was almost seven feet tall. It was the boy's eyes that made him worry the most even more than his size; they were startlingly blue and almost buzzed with power. James had seen men like that around the plant when one of the directors had a gambling debt and one of the local mafia bosses sent dangerous men to collect. It was like looking a hawk or some other predator in the eye.
"I had to buy the materials with my own money since we agreed that you would pay me when you received the dress. The dress came to be one of my greatest creations yet; it should have given the amount of hours I put into it; even though you messed up your daughter's measurements at first so I had to refit the dress to fit her again. While I did the task she kept telling me about the wedding you know, about how she was so happy that her entire family would be there and how happy she was to be walking down the aisle. And especially about her fiancé; she would go on and on about him, how great he was, how kind he was, how smart he was. Do you know how it felt to hear all about that after already making a beautiful dress and then have to refit it?" The young man stood over Mr. McNally without the hint of emotion seeping through and James almost fainted when he looked up into the boy's hawk like eyes. "I actually enjoyed it a lot," he said quickly and he turned around so fast that James almost fainted, but the boy continued regardless, "there is honestly nothing better to hear when making a wedding dress about someone who truly loves the one they'll marry."
"Please, I swear I'll have the money by next week and I'll owe you a favor no matter what it is, just don't take the dress away. My daughter and her mother love the dress; I couldn't bear to tell them that I would have to take it back." McNally pleaded with the boy no matter how much the boy scared him for the sake of his children's happiness he would sell the devil his soul.
The boy pondered this for a moment before placing his hand on the older man's shoulder, "calm down my friend," he said, "I'm not going to take the dress away; I never have and never will. You say you'll pay me the rest in a week then I'll believe you; weddings are a time for family, happiness, and love. Don't worry about the money. Though, if it's too much to ask for I would like an invitation to the wedding, I always do like to see my creations fulfill their intended purposes." The boy smiled so big that he had to close his eyes to do so; James was so surprised that the smile seemed to fit so naturally on his face he didn't realize that he was smiling and crying as well.
"Thank you sir, thank you so much for this. Of course you're invited to the wedding; bring a date if you want too," James said pumping the boy's hand up and down vigorously. The boy just clapped the man on the back as he left the shop without saying anything else.
The boy moved to the back of the shop after the door closed and sat at a desk that he used as an office. He fell into the chair exhaling loudly; as much as he was happy that he could make the McNally family happy he was glad that the task was over. Even though his shop looked like a dress shop he considered himself more of a detective; he had passed the exam and was certified, but due to his age and the ad he had placed in the phonebook most people called him to do menial labor or find lost items. He actually was a good detective and he had news clippings of the cases that he helped the police with all over the walls of the backroom. The dress shop was much more profitable even though at the antiques that he also sold made some people wary of his credentials.
He placed his foot on the desk and leaned back trying to get into the hardboiled mindset that he believed detectives were always in. Suddenly the front door was opened and startled him enough to make him fall out of his chair. When he got to his feet and brushed himself off he called to the front of the shop trying to sound tough and jaded, "Hello, if you have business with me then I'm in the back." He didn't worry about anyone stealing anything from him; he had placed a unique antitheft charm on each the item himself, it would take at least ten human class certified wizards to steal anything from the shop.
"Oh I'm sorry; um I think I'm in the wrong place. I'm looking for, Fallen Arches, and the detective who helps the police with solving those weird cases in the newspaper, not a dress shop," A girl's voice called from the front.
"No, no, that's me, I do a bit of both, but it was my ad," he raced to the front not wanting to lose a customer. He raced to the front and tripped at the end of the hallway on the small step that he always forgot and fell in the main room on his face.
"Are you alright," a sort of neutral female voice, though it didn't sound like she was that worried. The boy looked up and saw a strange girl looking down at him in disbelief and maybe even a little disgust.
"Sure I am, my name is Daniel Arches and I'm here to help with whatever you need," he said with his enormous smile and sticking out his hand.
The girl eyed him up and asked, "your Daniel Arches, seriously, are you sure you're not his coffee boy?"
Daniel looked at her with less of a smile but kept it up because he didn't want to lose a customer; people on this planet were rude sometimes and he had grown to accept it. "That's what's stitched into my underwear, if not then there's another guy looking for me." He tried to joke but it didn't seem to have any effect on the girl. She was very pretty and dressed very Goth, black hair dyed with blue and dark green strands, pierced ears with silver ornaments, a spiked chocker, and what seemed to be a perpetual frown, it wasn't unusual to see on a teenager, but still looked funny to Daniel regardless.
"I'm sorry, this was a mistake," she said quickly and turned to leave the shop extremely fast.
"Wait, wait," Daniel said grabbing her wrist to only prick himself on her bracelets that matched her chocker. "Ow, sorry, I know this doesn't' look very professional, but I'm actually pretty good at what I do. Please just give me a chance." He pleaded with her.
She let out a sigh and walked back to where he stood and tried to get into his face; she failed because she was much shorter than he was but ignored the set back, "fine, give you one chance to help me, if you fail I'm going to the police no matter how ridiculous it sounds." She said aggressively trying to make Daniel back down.
It didn't work however since Daniel had tangled with creatures and beings much worse than a wannabe Goth girl that didn't even get passed his chest. However ever so polite he pretended to go along with her, "of course, I won't waste your time, but if its detective work than its better to talk about this in the back in my office," he looked around the dress maker studio that he kept in the front and it only had a few stools that he kept in case of long jobs that he couldn't stand long enough for. The girl just nodded and waited to follow him into the back. "Watch out for the step, it's easy to trip over," he said pointing out the step that he tripped over, but the girl just walked over it without it hindering her, but she had a smug look on her face when she looked at him afterwards. "peace and patients Daniel, remember peace and patients," he whispered to himself under his breath.
They reached the backroom and Daniel walked around his desk to his comfy chair while the girl remained standing, "please sit down, trust me; the chairs are quite comfortable," he said baying her too sit down, which she did grudgingly. "Now, why don't we talk about what you need?" he asked pleasantly.
"Fine, "the girl said still aggressively, "my name is Kate Heart, and it's my real name before you make any more stupid jokes." She said the last part almost daring him to make a joke. Daniel thought of quite a few but decided to remain silent to not antagonize the angry girl; it was hard though having this aggressive Goth girl's last name be Heart. "And my boyfriend Jeremy Dalice has been acting very strange lately, and for the past week he's been missing."
"I'm sorry to hear that," Daniel said truthfully, he knew that when you were young boyfriend and girlfriend relationships were very important. "However, a missing person would probably be more in the police's neighborhood rather than a private detective like me." He said.
"I know that," she snapped before relenting a bit, "it's just that lately Jeremy has been falling into some pretty rough people, like guys that work for the Sandman rough. There's a lot of weird stuff that goes on when that guy gets his fingers into businesses, you know how it is, there's rumors that you've tangled with him a few times and lived, that he's even scared of you." when she said that Daniel's eyes shot open. He had, had some encounters with Percival, "the Sandman," Dare the most powerful mob boss and one of the most powerful creatures in the city. He had made Daniel may offers to work for him or look the other way when something supernatural came up, but Daniel never took them. Percival was a different breed of mobster; he had come to the city only fifteen years ago, but in that short amount of time he had taken power from all the other bosses. Jeremy was something different, he didn't do violent wars that spread out into the street, he cared about the common people; which is stranger for a creature like him than it was for a mob boss. They had clashed a few times when there was a common interest to fight over, but there was also a respect between the two of them; even if the other organizations considered him weak for letting a small nobody detective dressmaker like Daniel even the time of day. For the past year or so they had an unspoken truce between the two and Daniel didn't want to be the one to break it, but a job was a job, and a person in trouble was someone in need. "if I go to the police and something bad went down they'll arrest him or even just ignore me and call him a scumbag who just left me, please you could be my only chance to find him." She pleaded with him and if there was anything that he couldn't resist it was a cry for help from a girl no matter how sexist that sounds.
"Alright Kate, I'll look into it, but just having him be seen around some of the Sandman's thugs isn't much to go on. Does he have any hang outs that he goes to regularly, any friends that he could be staying with, or maybe you could tell me where you saw him talking to these strange men? Anything you give me would be helpful." He asked gently not wanting to aggravate the girl any further, inside her harsh shell she was just another person who was worried about someone they cared about.
"Well, all of our friends are the same, we kind of hang with the same crowd and anyone who had seen him would have told me. The place that he was talking to those strange guys was called the Nightmare House, it's a Goth club that the Sandman owns, we weren't normally allowed in because we were minors, but Jeremy said he had connections and was able to get us in. are normal hangouts are the same way, we go to the same places, the mall, a few clubs that would allow us in," she said shaking her head frantically trying to think of anything else. "Oh yeah," she said suddenly, "we also would go to the comic shop downtown, Vampire Moon. Jeremy and the other guys would laugh at the owner and the workers about how they dressed up like poser vampires and stuff, but they were always nice to me whenever I asked them about comics or games. I don't think that they did anything but it may be a good place to check out."
"Vampire Moon," Daniel asked not believing what he had heard, he knew the owners; they were old friends of his and they played a weekly game of Dungeons and Dragons, they were also creatures of the dark, but he doubted they would have done anything to a stupid kid. Now Daniel realized where he had seen Kate before; he had helped out for a few nights there when her posse of wannabe Goths made fun of him for dressing like a vampire. "I know the owners actually, they're good friends of mine, I have a feeling that they are innocent, but I was planning on going there tonight anyway; I don't see anything wrong with asking them a few questions while I'm there."
"Now about my fee," he said when he came to the worst part; most people didn't want to talk about money at all at least not to promise it to some crackpot to make all of their problems go away. "Normally, I charge around twenty five to fifty dollars an hour, but a young girl like you probably can't afford that. "
"It's alright, my parents are helping me pay for it, even if they think that I'm overreacting, its fine, but I have a strange request," she asked kind of shyly incredibly different from the girl that she first came in as. "I don't want to be at home worrying if you found him or not, please let me come with you?"
"I don't think that's a good idea Kate," Daniel said trying to dissuade her; he didn't work many cases, but the ones that he worked normally ended up more disgusting that not.
"Please, I'm worried about him and if I'm forced to just stay at home and wait for you to call me if you found him or not then I'll just go crazy and start to look for him myself anyway." She said pleading, but with determination behind her eyes that told him that she really would.
He let out a sigh and agreed, "fine, I'll call you when I start my investigation, but you do what I say when I say it, if something gets dangerous and I tell you to run I expect you to be gone before I finish, understood." Even if the kid was involved with the Sandman, Percival wouldn't hurt kids or even make them do anything dangerous. It was a good idea however to make sure that Kate would be safe if she went along with him and if she decided to make her own decisions when something dangerous occurred that she could get hurt or worst and Daniel couldn't have that on his conscience.
She nodded frantically, happy that she would be allowed along and that someone actually believed her, Daniel could tell that her attitude at the beginning was just teen angst, having people not believe you could be damaging to a kid her age. "Alright, do you want to come with me to the Vampire Moon, most likely there isn't going to be anything going on, but it's your call." He asked her.
"I'll go," she said excited to actually be doing something instead of just asking for help.
"Fine," he said as he tossed her a helmet, "you have to wear that, or the police will pull me over," he said walking out the door after getting a light jacket.
"They're going to pull your car over if you passengers don't wear helmets?" she asked wondering if she should just get the friend that dropped her off to bring her instead.
"I don't have a car," he said simply and walked over to a nice blue and black motorcycle, "and the laws states that I and anyone riding with me needs to wear a helmet."
She cautiously took the helmet and got on the bike, she had never been on a motorcycle before and before she could get used to it Daniel started the bike and took off.
Kate held on to Daniel's coat for dear life. She wondered if this was how she was going to die; clinging to the back of the strange motorcycle riding detective, who most people thought was a crackpot for believing in magic and monsters, who she hired to find her jerk of a boyfriend.