Stephanie Meyer provided the Target, Kouta Hirano, Jim Butcher, Joss Whedon, Bram Stoker, Mike Mignola, Marv Wolfman, Robert E Howard, Type-Moon, Simon R. Green, Niel Gaiman and no shortage of other people created the Means and I created the End. But this does not entitle me to 33%.
Tolkien was not involved in any way, shape or form. You should totally read his books anyway.
This is not simple Twilight bashing. I could never write that, it would be wasting everyone's time. What I am doing is extending the philosophies and concepts in all of these works to see how they work in concert, while expressing a certain interest in writing interactions between certain characterizations and archetypes. Yes, Twilight characters die, but this is not hate. This is a kind of hard love. Enjoy it.
This takes place around the end of the second Twilight Book, set in 1998. Or something like that. You don't have to be familiar with all those people to read this, but it helps.
I was up in my office, a small room in a rundown five blocks up and smaller then my bedroom, desperately trying to put some order in the piles of bills, pamphlets and those damned catalogs the electronic stores persisted in sending me. Being a Warden means I won't starve anytime soon, but that's about it. I live cheaper than the tightest Scotsman.
Mouse, looking as he usually does—a small gray hill covered in fur- suddenly sat up and let out a confused bark. Someone he didn't recognize and had yet to form an opinion on was coming. I put the forms aside with more than a little relief, and straightened a few things on my desk, achieving nothing. It's still an untidy sprawl. I can't even say I know where everything is, and regularly find myself desperately digging through piles looking for something or another. Making another soon to be forgotten mental note to get ordered at some point, I straighten my clothes and generally try to make myself somewhat presentable.
The doorbell made a choking sound and went dead despite someone audibly pushing the button. Whoever was on the other side didn't seem to care; they simply stopped pressing the button and began a heavy bashing that went on for six knocks. A small trickle of dust trickled down from the ceiling. Sighing, I opened the door to reveal an old man.
His features were craggy; he had a sharp nose and one deep-set eyes under a heavy brows, a glass eye brooding in one socket. His equally heavy jaw was covered in a thick grey beard like twisted wire, slightly untidy and cut short. He positively oozed charisma and raw confidence, put him in a crowd and you'd notice his face first. Every time.
He wasn't particularly big, but he did take up a lot of space. He was wearing a patternless light charcoal suit, with a darker tie, almost black, and a silver tie-pin in the shape of tree. It was well cared for, but more than slightly ruffled. He had slept in it, or worn it for several days consecutively.
I'm no stranger to that look myself. But there was something more...
Usually I can read people, even without looking into their souls. It's a talent that comes in handy in both my lines of work. Besides, people who want to employ me are usually pretty obvious. They're either nervous or a tad embarrassed, they think it's all a big joke but are curious despite themselves, or more superstitious then they should be. Or they're desperate. You get more then a few desperates who don't have anywhere else to go. Some of them are cautious, and most of them won't meet my eyes.
As first impressions go, this one was far from informative. Big, important looking, and a hell of a poker face.
So I start with my all-purpose introduction. "Harry Dresden, Wizard." I begin.
"I know who you are." He replied gruffly, shouldering past me, hanging his coat on the corner of a shelf and taking a seat. He sits down on the one chair in the room. The one I was sitting on a moment ago. The one behind my desk. My chair. Now, I'm not particularly possessive about my things. Doesn't pay to be, given that the wear on them from my lifestyle insures that anything I do work up a sentimental attachment too is kindling within a year. But there are certain protocols and unspoken rules that form the basis of interaction and communication, as well as basic politeness.
He just ignored pretty much all of them. He's clearly a total bastard. Still, if he wants to play it that way...
"Then you want something?" I say curtly.
"And are you going to keep being cagey? Because if you are, this is going on your bill."
"Right." He was really starting to annoy me, but showing the sort of restraint that has been hammered into me by years of training and self-control, I kept quiet. But it was starting to be a close thing. Very close.
"Got anything to drink? Anything with alcohol, I mean."
That was it. The straw that broke the camel's back. "Clearly you don't know me as well as you think. The sign on the door says 'Wizard'. Not 'Cafe', or 'pub'. I solve problems of a supernatural nature. I do not serve drinks."
"Well, if wizard you are, I have a job for you."
"Which would be?"
"You're in the business of investigation, Dresden. Well, what do you do when you have to cross the line to save a life?"
"I don't. Some lines shouldn't be crossed. Sometime I have to kill, but I never enjoy it, and only when I have no other options. I'm not prepared to go out looking for a fight. I'm not a murderer."
"A narrow distinction."
"I'm not going to kill someone for you. Every day, I wake up, walk into my bathroom, take out my razor, and shave. And when I do, I can look at the man in the reflection, and smile. A few disappointments, but nothing to make me contemplate using the razor on myself. And that pleasure is worth more then any money you can pay me. I'm not selling my conscience."
"I'm not asking you to. What I'm asking is, you go to the town of Fawkes, and 'investigate'. Shake the tree until something falls out. And when you do find a nest of the strangest vampires you will ever meet, you act as you see fit, and remember there is a war going on. And since becoming a warden, you're a soldier."
Wait a second. How the hell does he know about that? No customer saunters in, just happening to know all that. I blink, and look at him again. He doesn't look like one of the fey, and besides, they tend not to be so subtle. He's definitely not a vampire himself, but he clearly knows quite a bit the supernatural. And more than that, he's calm about it. I feel like a contractor being asked to develop a property. Not what I'm used to at all.
"I also do children's parties. Now who are you?" I ask, trying to figure that out for myself. Now that I think about it, he looks a bit like a stereotypical wizard, or at least the public's idea of a stereotypical wizard, what with the beard, but he doesn't act like a second-rater. But if he does have power of his own, what's he need me for? I'm good, hell, I'm the best most people can reasonably expect to meet, but if you need supernatural firepower there are plenty of easier channels to go through. For a generally better standard of service, too.
"Call me...Wednesday." He replies, as though that's an answer. I don't think I've ever heard such an obvious pseudonym, and I can count the number of customers who are frank with me on one hand. And yet it does ring the faintest of bells. Then the entire cathedrals.
I'd blame all the sleepless nights I've been getting, except I've actually been getting plenty of rest so that won't cut it. Maybe I'm just getting lazy. I mean, it's something I should have seen through far faster. No, it's something I should have seen through straight away. But then, you don't expect this sort of person to just step into your office and ask you to do a job. You expect him to send a flunky, or leave you one of those brown packages with a list of cryptic instructions and more money then I see in a year. Or appear with a blast of frosty air, the Aurora Borealis shining in the background, and try to use their obvious power to coerce me. Mab, for example, is extremely fond of variations of that one. So I wasn't thinking in the direction I should have.
Before I have time to give it any more thought, he reaches a grizzled paw into the sleek lining of his suit and removes a fat wallet from his inside pocket. Big fingers open it and remove a stack of neat, crisp bills. That's a lot of Benjamin Franklins. He takes the merest fraction out, and straightens them. "I'm the man about the give you two thousand in cash. Plus expenses. That should tell you all you need to know about me."
"If you think I'm so easily bribed..."
"Bribery? This is me hiring a professional to perform a specific role. I'm not trying to buy you, or your conscience, Mr. Dresden. My reasons for bringing you into the picture are my own. If you don't trust me, I can't stop you from investigating me in your own time if you are that curious. You won't find anything of course." He gets to his feet, and leaves the money right there. Which makes it mine. "But I don't trust you with my name, anymore then I trust you with anything of mine. And that's my decision to make. Don't try to get into contact with me, I'll show up when I need it done and give you whatever else you need." He replaces the bowler hat I don't remember seeing him take off, and the coat.
"You are going to Forks. Washington. The people you want to investigate call themselves Cullens." He says, then leaves unobtrusively. That was already my favorite bit of his visit.
Usually I'm pretty straightforward. It's one of my better qualities, though plenty would tell you different. I take a job, or not, no skin off my nose. But I had to think long and hard about this. I didn't like my employer, and one of the wonderful things about being self-employed is if that's the case, there is nothing to stop me sticking up my middle finger and not do the work. That said, eating is nice to, and work's been slow. And while I didn't like him, he offered me a legitimate job that doesn't mean compromising my integrity. Unlike Marcone. Criminal scumbag. And I do like having money to spend.
He didn't say when to begin the job, but it's not like I have anything better to do. Besides, I'll be doing this one alone. My apprentice is away, Michael taking the entire tribe to Europe for their Summer Break, Thomas was... a complicated issue, but I don't hate him enough to involve him in this sort of thing. And while I was the official regional Warden commander for North America, Ramirez and the other North American Wardens were helping the Fellowship in Brazil, and Murphy had enough on her plate, with two serial killers on the loose (ordinary serial killers. You don't need to be supernatural to be a psychopath, but it helps). That left me, with no backup to speak of, possibly taking on an entire vampire clan. And the worse part is I'm not even surprised anymore. When you live my life, these things are to be expected. And yet I never plan for them.
And besides. working for Odin would definitely be interesting.