It was nice to finally be back in regular clothes. My midnight blue duster still fit like a glove, and Talon provided me with a pair of black leather boots, jeans, and a sleeveless turtleneck. Once again, I stepped out of Matthew's car, this time at a crime scene. Two squad cars blocked off the road on either side of the scene, and red police tape blocked off about a 50-foot radius from where the carnage lay.
Well, destruction would probably be more accurate for a description. There was blood everywhere; on the trees, on the pieces of corpse strewn all over the place, on the road, on the grass... it almost looked more like somebody just dumped buckets of blood all over the place, after the crime had been committed.
"Hells," Matthew said as we walked up. I could tell from his constant head movements that he was observing every little detail. "This is..."
"This is recent," I replied. I could smell the drying blood, though much of it was still so fresh as to be wet.
"Excuse me, sirs," a man said, strolling up to us in an immaculate suit. He had a rather chiseled face, almost more like a model or a statue, and the gray pinstripes made him look rather large and intimidating. Add that to his close-cut brown hair and dark brown eyes, and he looked... well, like the kind of person you don't want to meet.
"I take it you were the agents sent?" the man continued, giving a suspicious stare to Matthew and myself. Matthew nodded in response.
"Matthew Whitemoon and Frost Midwinter."
"Good," the man responded, extended a bulky hand. "I'm Detective Mark Graves."
I couldn't help but laugh at the irony.
"Something funny?" he growled, hand still extended.
"Yes, actually," I said, eventually regaining my composure. "A homicide detective with a name like 'Mark Graves?' I would have strongly considered a different line of work, having been born with a name like that."
"Let's just get this over with," Graves snapped, turning on his heel and walking back toward the crime scene. I looked over to Matthew, who just shook his head at me before following the detective.
"I thought it was funny," I mumbled as I followed suit.
Aside from the ridiculous amount of blood, the scene was gruesome; I picked out two torsos, several flaps of flesh that I could only assume were limbs, various bones thrown every direction possible, and a disembodied woman's head, mouth hanging open as if screaming.
The most interesting part is that it looked like they were all cut with near-surgical precision.
"Looks like a werewolf attack," Graves said, pulling out a pair of latex gloves for each of us. "This type of carnage is usually lycans."
"Actually," I responded, "this couldn't be a lycan attack."
"And how are you so certain?" Graves snapped back at me.
"Look." I knelt and pointed at a boneless leg propped up against a tree. "I don't think anybody would wear leg-warmers in this weather. This is part of a sock."
"And?" Graves was obviously growing more and more irritated with me the more I spoke.
"And," I continued, growing rather tired of the Detective's know-it-all attitude, "last I checked, werewolves rip their victims apart. There is no evidence of stretched skin or muscle. These are cutting wounds, not tears from being pulled."
"Then how do you explain the teeth?"
Graves motioned for me to follow him. We stopped at a decapitated torso, which looked like it belonged to the body-less woman's head. Two incisions under the right collarbone looked more like someone had tried to bury a couple of razor blades under this woman's flesh. Kneeling before the torso, I twinged a little as I inserted a finger into one of the wounds.
"These are incisions, from some sort of thin blade like a razor, about three inches deep," I told Graves. "Werewolf fangs are about half an inch long and usually about the same in diameter in the gums. Not to mention, if this had been a werewolf bite, there would have been a chunk of flesh missing from this poor woman's torso."
I couldn't help but roll my eyes as Graves started visibly shaking.
"This is the work of a psychopath, presumably with a blade at least two feet long, like a sword."
"All right, Mister Perfection," Graves growled. He really did not approve of me being better at his job than he was. "We'll keep that in mind. Thank you for your... assistance."
"Any time, Detective," I said, giving him a mocking smirk as he turned and walked away.
Matthew and I made our way back to his car shortly thereafter, but instead of just getting in the driver's seat, he stopped at the trunk. I paused a few feet behind him as he turned to face me.
"You know we weren't alone there," he said.
"Yeah. Our killing was watching us. Still is, actually."
"We need to confront them."
He reached into the trunk and drew two English long-swords. Interesting choice, I thought, considering they were the weapons of crusaders.
"No, Matthew," I told him, still reaching for the sword he handed me. "You return to Talon and report what's going on. I will entertain our stalker."
He did not appear to approve of my decision, but didn't say anything as he handed off the sword and returned to the car.
As he drove off, I turned to face the presence watching me.
"There is no sense in hiding stranger," I called to the darkness. "I know you're here."