The Smallest Detective
It was a dark and stormy night. Wasn't it always? Levy suspected that the weather knew more than the mere mortal humans that walked beneath it and tried to warn them of the wrong doings going on. She stood before the windows of her modest office, staring out at that sky. No, there was foul play afoot in London tonight. She could smell it. She laughed and shook her head. Perhaps she did read too much.
There was a brief knock at the door, and her house-servant, Mrs Mira Strauss entered, carrying a tray with her nightcap on it.
"Here is your warm cocoa, Detective-Inspector," Mira said with a small smile as she placed the cup on Levy's desk. The title did amuse her slightly. How on earth was this tiny thing a member of Scotland Yard? She may be small, but Levy had a sharp mind and had graduated from every form of education years ahead of the curve. Perhaps it did not help that as a huge proponent of literature that she insisted on dressing a bit like Sherlock Holmes. Mira did think that a lovely dress would suit the petite girl much more.
"Mrs Strauss, I am constantly involved in crimes of the most brutal nature. I believe that I am old enough for a proper nightcap," Levy replied with disapproval, already knowing that it would not possibly work on the strong woman before her.
"Not while you are seventeen and I am in your father's employ, I am afraid," Mira replied easily. She knew how frustrated Levy became with the way the world saw her. She was smart enough to become the leading authority in her discipline, but no one took her seriously, since she appeared to be a twelve year old girl.
"Very well," Levy relented, glad to have the warm beverage none the less. She eyed the row upon row of books that lined her walls. What would be good reading this night? Yes, she should discard her unhappy premonitions based on the weather and retire to her bedchambers. London would still be here in the morning.
He called himself the Slayer, since he could not remember his real name.
It was an appropriate name, for slaying is what he did.
Dark alleyways of London town were his territory. He stalked through the night as if he was born of it. A long, ragged black cloak shrouded his entire form; save for the mess of long black hair that crowned his head and the evil red eyes that glowed in the darkness.
He was driven by a need this night. It was different than before, but it was always different. Sometimes it was pure violence. Sometimes it was the need to eat, to drink. Tonight, he was looking for his mother.
"Mother? Is that you?" He called as he saw a woman hurrying down an adjacent alleyway. The brunette heard the voice and pressed on faster, drawing her coat tighter. No! She would get away! The Slayer ran after her, heavy feet pounding the cobbles. His swift movements easily caught up to her and he bowled her over onto the hard cobblestones. A bottle of bourbon skittered away across the ground.
"Mother!" The Slayer chastised in a voice laced with insanity. "You shouldn't be abroad at night in such a dangerous place! There are all sorts of scum and murderers here!"
"I am not your mother!" The woman replied hotly, reactions dulled by a certain state of inebriation clear in her rosy cheeks and attempted to scream. The Slayer clamped his hand over her mouth.
"You're…not my mother?" The Slayer seemed confused by this information. Why was mother lying to him? Had he been bad? Was she angry with him? He became angry in return. He was a good boy! He never lied, unlike his mother! Silver flashed in his hands and blood began to flow. He cut and cut and cut and the release felt so good. At last, he was done, the woman's blood pooling for over a metre across.
He stood and turned to leave, having quite forgotten about the brunette.
"Mother?" He called into the night. "Are you there, mother?"
Levy retreated to her office the following morning. The sun drearily poured through the window, hazy with the fog of grey hanging in the air. The clouds had gone, but this pall remained, she thought. Did the weather linger, urging her that events of the night still had consequences in the morning?
She shook her head, removing herself from her childish flight of fantasy.
The door flew open. It was her partner in crime, so to speak, Dr Jetson. The man, despite being only a year older than her was substantially taller, which led people to assume that he was the boss in their duo.
"Detective-Inspector! There has been a murder!" He shouted, bringing weight to his words. "It is not far from here, so they have called for us!"
"Excellent, my dear Jetson!" Levy beamed, trying not to sound too happy at a murder. "We must take this chance to prove ourselves! We shall forge a name for ourselves!"
The hurried the short distance to the site of the murder. Policemen barred the way of the inquisitive public. It took a minute to convince them that she was the Inspector, but they made their way through. Levy tried not to gag as she entered the alleyway. There was blood everywhere.
"Greetings there," said a policeman, tipping his hat. "I am Constable Macao Conbolt. I'm afraid we have terrible business here. Frightful stuff indeed."
"Unfortunately, the criminal element is not too concerned with the enormity of their crimes," Levy noted wryly.
"Well said Ma'am, but they are not. We have identified the woman as a Miss Cana Alberona. She is well known to the tavern owners in these parts. Was well known."
"Hmm, then one of the first things we'll have to do is question them if they know of anyone with a motive to kill her," Levy said, Jetson scribbling her decrees in a notepad furiously. One of the reasons Levy used him is that no one could write faster than him. Maybe it was not well written, but no one beat Jetson in speed.
"But Ma'am, we do have a lead. The murder weapon was left at the scene of the crime. Perhaps he dropped it in the violence of the moment." He gestured to short dagger left where it had fallen. Levy looked closer and saw what he had meant. The artisan's mark.
The Redfox mark.
Gajeel Redfox was a blacksmith working in his shop, Redfox Smithing. He stood at an anvil, striking his latest creation over and over again with a hammer, trying to bring shape to it. It was a sword, ordered for show by some rich nob. He wore a heavy leather apron to guard against the heat and his long black hair was drawn back to protect it from errant sparks.
"Excuse me, Mr Redfox?" Asked a small voice. He glanced over to look at the woman who had entered his shop. He thought that she looked vaguely like a child who had dressed up as Sherlock Holmes. Then again, Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle's fictional detective was popular these days. Perhaps that was not so shocking. She looked at the wares in his store with more than a passing curiosity. Good. He did good work, after all.
"What can I do for you, little missy?" He asked dismissively, returning to his work.
"That is 'Detective-Inspector McGarden', not 'little missy'," she replied curtly. He didn't seem interested. How trying, Levy thought. "I am here on the business of a recent murder."
"Over in the alley a few streets away? Aye, I heard of it in passing. Terrible business these days."
"Terrible business. Interesting choice of words, since it seems like you have received business from said murder." An eyebrow rose and Levy pressed on. "The murder weapon was one of your works." A moment passed in which only Gajeel's hammering broke the silence. "Have you no response to that?"
"You haven't asked me a question yet," Gajeel replied, his mouth splitting into a toothy grin.
"Then what say you to the accusation that you committed the murder?" Levy demanded, fire in her eyes. To her surprise, he laughed, an unusual chuckle reverberating from his shoulders.
"I make half the sharp pointy things in this district. I would have guessed that they've been used in murders before." He looked at Levy challengingly. She had known that. Records had shown that Gajeel had been questioned by the police on previous murders and she was just testing him, to see if he would lie or be honest.
"Blacksmithing," she pondered. "A business on the decline, no?"
"It is true that the foundries hurt an honest businessman like myself, but as long as horses need shoes and kitchens need knives, Redfox Smithing will have a place. You just don't get that feel with tempered steel. Iron needs love in it, to be crafted into shape by strong hands. Those knives will always be sharper than those factory produced garbage."
"'Smithing' is not a word," Levy said quickly.
"Your name. Redfox Smithing. 'Smithing' is not a word. You can be a smith or a blacksmith, and you can be blacksmithing, but you cannot be smithing."
"You're a wordy little runt, aren't you?" He asked disinterestedly. "But I'd wager that illiterate blacksmiths are ten a penny. Midget detectives on the other hand, strike me as a rarity."
"I am not…you are a very trying man," Levy huffed. "I demand the respect of my station."
"Fuck you, I'm not giving it to you," he replied laconically. "I've met a lot of coppers in my time, and I don't particularly care for your jumped-up breed."
Levy sighed deeply unused to such profanity in her life. "Do you keep records? Could we trace who you sold this knife to?"
"Not one for that bookkeeping stuff," Gajeel said with a shrug. "Can't read or write, save for my own name."
"How sad," Levy replied earnestly. The next second, the sword Gajeel had been working on was pointed at her throat.
"If you want to see a murder, try patronising me again," he growled.
"You threaten a member of Scotland Yard with murder? Then you are a fool," Levy replied coolly, holding his gaze. He made an annoyed tut and returned to his hammering. "Well, if I have any more questions, I will return."
"You're going out there to hunt a murderer?" Gajeel asked sceptically.
"Don't think badly of me because I'm a woman. Have you forgotten that we live under a queen?"
"Old lady Vic's never had to fight a murderer. You're awfully small. Here, take this." Levy managed to catch the object that he threw at her. It was a heavy metal cane, common among the higher classes.
"I don't understand," she said.
"It's a cane sword. If you twist the top, it comes free and there is a blade inside. It might help you if you get ambushed. And I don't know about you, but if I was going to murder someone, that'd be my weapon of choice instead of some poxy knife. Concealed in plain view until the last moment."
"Do you often consider murder attempts?" Levy asked with a smirk.
"In these parts, knowing how to kill someone might come in handy. Remember, Inspector, if you corner your quarry, he isn't going to come quietly. That sword might be the difference between life and death."
"Thank you, Mr Redfox. I shall carry it with me. Good day."
"So, what did you make of him, Levy?" Jetson asked, casting a scowl through the window of the shop. Redfox looked a bit too much like the worst sort of ruffian to him.
"I'm not sure," Levy replied honestly with a deep frown. The man was perplexing and frustrating, to say the least. "But he at least seemed truthful in his speech. I imagine that he felt in control enough to speak his mind. Nonetheless, we must keep an eye on him, for he is our only lead for the moment."
The need was different this night. Animalistic male pride rose inside the Slayer. These were his alleys! No one else's! He needed to defend them, patrol them. No one else was going to get in. There were footsteps, heavy breath, heartbeats.
"Oi Rogue!" A male voice shouted. The Slayer thundered down to the corner, peering around. There was a young man there with short spiky blonde hair. He walked with the confident swagger of a man who knew how to handle himself. How dare this fool defy his turf? Didn't he know who was boss, who was the alpha male around here? He would learn his lesson the hard way.
Sting swung around at the last possible moment, and just before iron slipped under his ribs and into his heart he caught a glimpse of his assailant. Red eyes and black hair. Just like…
"Rogue!" He screamed again, the last word to ever escape his lungs as blood forged up after the escaping air, filling his respiratory system. On dry land, Sting had time to drown.
"Oh no!" Constable Macao shouted, reefing through the papers on his desk madly. "Don't tell me that it's true!"
"What is it?" Constable Wakaba asked, clearly thinking that his partner had been working too hard.
"The woman who was murdered last night…it seems like Alberona might not be her real name. Her mother separated from her husband and used her maiden name." He shuddered. "It might have been…Cana Clive."
"Clive!?" Wakaba exclaimed, his pipe falling from his gaping mouth. "You don't mean…"
"My daughter is dead?" Gildartz Clive asked, his voice taut. The man's broad shoulders were draped in a heavy fur cloak, made of white tiger hide from Siberia, speaking of his wealth and influence. He lowered his head into his hands, his expression grave.
"I'm very sorry, boss," Laxus Dreyar said quietly. "I can't change what happened…but me and the boys, we're willing to do what needs to be done."
"Yes," Gildartz replied, voice curling in rage. His eyes glared at Laxus, the younger man feeling a rare moment of fear. Very few things scared Laxus, but the old man was one of them. There was one sick son of a bitch loose in London, and he just happened to kill the daughter of the most powerful man in the underworld. "I want the city turned upside down to find this scum, and I want him naked and prostrate before me so I may kill him in whatever manner so pleases me."
"Can do, boss. But what about the coppers?" Laxus asked.
"In this matter, kill anyone who gets in your way. I will have my revenge."