“‘Follow that man!’,” Calandra read the flyer aloud after breakfast the next day. “‘Learn to be a detective in your spare time! Earn up to 900,000 golds a week! Glamor! Excitement! Official badge with first lesson! Galdredan National Detective Academy, Box 14…Southern Resort District, Drelda Forest, Northern Continent, Over-realm!’ Ones, help me, my mother’s so gullible!” Andwayla arched an eyebrow. “Mother, this is a gyp outfit, straight from the Fae Republic!”
“Oh no, it’s not!” protested Andwayla. “That’s where I have you, Calandra. They sent me this official detective kit!” She opened up the case in her hands and revealed all sorts of “detective” equipment. “See? Here’s my fingerprinting equipment, my magnifying glass, and these,” she pulled out handcuffs, “are what is commonly known in the trade as ‘restraining cuffs’.” The chain linking the two cuffs together then broke. “…Well, it doesn’t matter. They didn’t send me the key.”
“And what’s this?” Calandra pulled out a small booklet. “A Drelda callbook?”
“No, it’s my easy lesson booklet.” Andwayla opened the book. “Here’s a chapter on how to follow Elf men, here’s a chapter on how to follow Minotaur women, here’s a chapter on how to follow Minotaur men disguised as Elf women, there you have it! I AM a detective!”
“Okay, fine, good, you’re a detective, Mother. What now?”
“What now? Now I surrender my tedious job to you and pursue the highest rewards that come with a career in law enforcement.”
“…NOW?!” Calandra was about to panic; her plans were about to be upended! “Mother, you said you’d pass on the crown AFTER I married Elmar and he retired from Realmfleet!”
“Oh, that’s still the plan.” Calandra released a breath of relief at her mother’s statement. “I still need more experience, Calandra. That’s why I’ve been staying out late at night for the past week; I’ve been practicing my shadowing skills.” While Calandra’s head was turned, Andwayla maneuvered herself behind Calandra’s back. They circled for a bit until Andwayla lost sight of Calandra. “…Calandra?”
“Right here.” Calandra was sitting on a stool. “Mother, not only are you going to make a fool of yourself with this whole idea, not only will the police get mad, but, if you keep shadowing people, you will receive what is commonly known in the trade as a BELT IN THE MOUTH!”
“Scoff if you want, Calandra, but I am on the verge of a career in law enforcement! Besides, I’ve already sent in my application to the Mino Bros. Detective Agency near the castle…and they said they’d write me.”
“…You sure about that?”
“That’s what they said. ‘Don’t write us, we’ll write you.’”
“Mother, that’s never a guarantee…” an owl then flew through the window and deposited a letter to Andwayla’s hands. “…Oh no!” Calandra’s face went paler than usual. Andwayla opened the letter with a look of triumph on her face…which promptly turned into one of stark surprise the instant she read the letter. “…Mother?” Calandra wave her hand in front of her mom’s face. She then took the letter and read it aloud. “‘Your Gracious Majesty, we regret to inform you that your application has been rejected. The Galdredan National Detective Academy does not, has never, and never will exist, nor is any local school for detectives based in any part of the Over-realm, much less the Drelda forest. We’re sorry, but we have no need for your services at the present time. Regards, the Minos Bros. Detective Agency.’ I told you this was a gyp outfit! How much money did you give them?!”
“…8,000 golds,” whimpered Andwayla before she started falling backwards. Calandra caught her before she hit the floor.
“Mother, I love you,” Calandra grumbled as she pulled Andwayla to a chair, “but it’s this exact kind of thing that makes you a laughingstock!”
Let’s turn to some ACTUAL law enforcement, shall we? Tornoth was at the garage with Torolai and a Realmfleet Sector 1 Officer, a male Lamia named Dwasnay. The plan was simple, Torolai and Dwasnay would hide as Tuurk and Talair would talk to Tornoth and give him his next job. “I don’t like this!” snorted Tornoth.
“You’re well protected, Sir,” assured Dwasnay. “Torolai and I will be covering the doors, ready to cut them off at a moment’s notice.”
“I mean I don’t like that I’M the bait!” snarled Tornoth. “Why couldn’t you get one of their flunkies to do this?!”
“You became one of their flunkies,” replied Torolai, “the instant you accepted. You could have said ‘no’, Tornoth. You could have refused to do their dirty work. Instead, you said ‘yes’, meaning that you accept the responsibilities that accompany a life of lawlessness and must suffer the consequences that go with such a life.”
“You two have a stick up your respective asses, you know that?” grunted Tornoth.
“That stick keeps us on the straight and narrow,” replied Torolai. “They should be coming soon. We’ll get into position. Keep them talking and don’t let on that we’re here.”
“I won’t, I won’t,” grumbled Tornoth as the two law enforcers scuttled off into their hiding spots. “I’ll never do them a favor again!”
“Oh, Mr. Steelhorn!” called Tuurk’s voice as the two financiers entered the garage. “Mr. Steelhorn, there you are! We heard a ghastly rumor concerning you, didn’t we, Mr. Talair?”
“Indeed, Mr. Tuurk,” replied Talair. “We heard you sang like a Harpy about our…arrangements.”
“Yeah, well, those are unfounded rumors,” snorted Tornoth.
“Glad to hear,” praised Talair.
“So, what job have you got for me?” pressed Tornoth.
“You have a shipment of taxanite fuel rods meant for the shipyards, yes?” asked Tuurk.
“Yep, where do you want me to have an issue?” asked Tornoth.
“A public place of your discretion,” answered Talair. “The rods would clearly interfere with your horseless carriage’s engine, wouldn’t they, Mr. Tuurk?”
“Oh, yes, Mr. Talair,” agreed Tuurk.
“Too bad that delivery will go uninterrupted!” called Torolai as she and Dwasnay sprung from their hiding places and leveled their wands at the two crooks.
“What the?!” yelped Tuurk.
“You two,” announced Dwasnay, “are under arrest for industrial sabotage to discredit Realmfleet!”
“You DID sing!” shouted Talair as he pointed at Tornoth.
“You’re quick!” scoffed Tornoth. Tuurk and Talair then pulled out concealed wands from their canes and fired a levitation spell on Dwasnay before throwing him onto Torolai. They then fired a magic blast at the scaffolding above Tornoth and ran out the door as it tumbled down. Tornoth got out of the way and looked out the door to see them fire a magic blast at a Minotaur woman, knocking her to the ground. That did it! That Minotaur woman was Tornoth’s wife and he was VERY protective of his family! He charged out the door and slammed the two crooks to the ground, holding them until Torolai and Dwasnay came out. Dwasnay took over holding the two men as Tornoth and Torolai checked his wife over. She gave her statement as to what happened and Tornoth confirmed her relation to him. Torolai then turned to Tuurk and Talair.
“Now we’re adding assault on a witness’ family to your rap sheet!” she snarled. “Any other laws you want to break?” The two men said nothing. “Silence, huh? Smart.”
With the two men facing criminal charges and a reliable witness, Tuurk and Talair were found guilty of sabotage of essential resources, bribing citizens, resisting arrest, and assaulting a witness’ family member. The instant the judge proclaimed them guilty, their spouses divorced them on the spot. Their wands were confiscated and destroyed, and they lost their jobs. They were sentenced to life in prison and so they remained. Throughout the trial, they swore fierce revenge against those who double-crossed them.
As for Tornoth, he got off lighter. He was fined an amount equal to the money he had accepted from the two crooks. His boss then ordered that he was to have a partner on his deliveries, no matter what. His partner was a strict by-the-book person, which grated on him, but he couldn’t say too much for fear of losing his job. He wasn’t divorced, thankfully, but he was going to be sleeping on the couch for a long time.
Realmfleet replaced Tuurk and Talair with a pair of more reliable financiers, a husband duo by the family name of Ralnath. They argued for giving the Mechanicas all the overhauls needed until they expire and, now that they were in a higher position, Mechanicas were given as many overhauls as needed. Many a Realmfleet Captain, including Arsha, blessed the two men to the highest of the Heights for giving people like Endea a new lease on life. With her mind settled and her troubles over, Arsha took a walk through the streets of the Galdredan Kingdom, taking in the sights. “Funny how something can look different with a new mindset,” she mused.
“You seem cheerful,” chuckled a voice. Arsha whirled around to see Elmpam.
“Your Majesty!” greeted Arsha. Her future mother-in-law then gave her the signature ten-armed embrace as her tail wagged.
“How’s life treating you so far?” asked Elmpam once the hug broke off.
“A lot better now,” answered Arsha. “The Endeavor’s getting a much-needed overhaul and it’s sticking to the original time-table. I’m just taking in the sights.”
“And your mental health?”
“You’re rather terrible at hiding your emotions.”
“Yeah, I am.”
“Arsha, I ask this as someone who loves you, are you doing all right?”
“I’m actually in a better place, mentally. Falnii helped me via her dream-weaving and I managed to confront my inner demons. However, I did something I don’t think many people do.”
“I promised them that I would use them if and when I fight Oyed.”
“…Actually, that’s something most people in the Under-realm do to keep their dark passions in check.”
“Really? I guess Malnar and Gorfanth rubbed off on me. …That’s what helped me against my inner demons, all of my fiancés rubbed off on me.”
“Well, it’s good that you’re drawing on other sources of strength. So, what do you intend to do?”
“…I think I’ll help set up the Festival.”
“There’s a lot of work to do.”
“My crew and I can do anything!”
“That’s the way! Come on, I could use some help for the stage.”
“Lead on!” Arsha followed Elmpam down the street with a new outlook on the future.