Inspector Tenuk and his men could hear the pounding drums and shrill pipes from outside the warehouse. The aged wooden planks that framed the structure did nothing to contain the wall of noise that rolled out. The tribes who left their forests and mountains behind to live in the city brought their music with them. The wild rhythm drew in the younger residents of Haven, gathering them together in the remote sections of the city for their so-called "revels." There they danced with reckless abandon, imbibed illicit substances, and rutted like animals. The revelers claimed they embraced life in its simplest, rawest form. Others thought the kids just did it to piss off their parents.
The inspector hid in the shadow of a tenement building. The tattered clothing he bundled himself in gave him the appearance of a vagrant. The soot and dirt spread over his scales added to that image and muted his skin's scarlet sheen. In neighboring buildings, other constables also lurked in disguise.
The revel on its own did not bring Inspector Tenuk to this sparsely populated part of town. Instead, Tenuk waited patiently from his viewpoint for a goblin pimp named Silky. The Empire had licensed brothels, but some vices fell outside of even those generous boundaries. These forbidden fruits resulted in a business opportunity for creatures like Silky. The revels had a tendency to attract the darker aspects of the city, and Silky in particular liked to come there and recruit young people who were too wasted to understand what they were getting themselves into.
The constables had been there for hours. Tenuk's forked tongue darted between his lips occasionally, tasting the air. Even from across the street, the air reeked with the musky smell of sweat and sex, the spicy scent of opium and qat, and the sharp acidic tang of vomit and urine.
An anxious note entered the reckless sounds rolling across the street, a tremulous murmur that slowly ate away at the joyous noise. The music faltered, screams of terror swelled. Soon revelers poured out of the warehouse, stepping on one another in their efforts to escape the building.
The inspector signaled his men and went wading in through the mob. He and his fellow constables formed a disciplined wedge driving through the waves of terrified youths, stepping over the crushed bodies of fallen revelers. Five years prior someone had summoned a demon at a revel because they thought it would be "fun," and Tenuk had lost a lot of men beating that thing back into the abyss. If this was a repeat, it was best that they act fast.
By the time they got inside, most of the revelers were gone. What few remained were too injured, stunned, or drugged to flee. Tenuk's gaze quickly landed on the source of all the terror. He and his men slowly approached the prone form sprawled out on the bare earth floor.
The young man lying face down in the dirt looked like an angel, even though Tenuk knew that this was not the case. Pale skin, golden hair, fashionably clad in expensive clothes thrown on with little care. Wings came out of the young man's back through his specially tailored clothing, the downy white feathers contrasting sharply with the blood they soaked in. From beneath the young man's body, a pool of red slowly spread out over the dirt, seeping out from a wound concealed from view. The smell of flowers filled the air around the body.
Tenuk took a deep breath and slowly released it as he cursed, "Shit."
The sun rose up over the city as Sir Donaliel approached the warehouse. Agents of the constabulary swarmed over the area: guards keeping the curious away, sketch artists recording every detail they could, forensic thaumaturges huddled together in some sort of discussion. Bunches of flowers were arranged nearby, as people began to mark the passing of a royal.
The crowd did not hinder Sir Donaliel at all. Bystanders parted before him as they stared in mute awe. Even with more open borders and trade between neighboring realms, the fae were still not a common presence in the city.
The knight flashed his Imperial writ at one of the guards as he lifted his long legs over the rope barrier. Inside the warehouse, incense burned as more thaumaturges chanted to bring out any latent evidence that might help with the case. The knight pursed his lips in disgust at the dried signs of blood, vomit, and other bodily fluids soaked into the hard packed dirt. Sir Donaliel was able to quickly identify the responding officer, Inspector Tenuk, talking with some other constables in low tones. Most of the constables on duty were human, with goblins, trolls, and gnomes mixed in. Tenuk was the only drakin. His red scales and fanged maw stood in sharp contrast to his peers.
A chalk outline next to the cluster of constables indicated where Prince Aleatoire's body had been, the ground bleached white where the prince's blood had spilled. Imperial princes had died in the past, but never so ignobly.
The constables looked up as Sir Donaliel approached. None offered any greeting.
"Good morning," the knight said. "Sir Donaliel of the Sun Guard, here on behalf of His Imperial Majesty to investigate the death of his son. You must be Inspector Tenuk."
"Must be," the drakin grunted.
"Is the investigation proceeding well?" Sir Donaliel continued, not allowing the curt tone to ruffle him.
"It'll all be in the report," the inspector mumbled, indicating that he was done with the conversation by beginning to turn away.
"Inspector," the knight said sharply to regain Tenuk's attention. "I realize that there exists a certain obligatory animosity from the constabulary toward the higher ranking organizations in the Empire." Tenuk's orange eyes narrowed at the use of the phrase "higher ranking organizations," but Sir Donaliel did not let it slow him as he continued. "And I understand that there is often resentment when other agencies take a case out from under the constables. But let me assure you that in this situation we recognize that the constabulary is better suited to carry it out. Murder is not something the Sun Guard is well suited to investigate. I am only here to represent the will of the Imperial Crown, not take your work away from you."
"Well," Tenuk said dryly, "My concerns are dispelled. At least I don't have one of the Moon Watch here instead, or else I might have a dagger in my ribs."
An awkward silence settled between them as both regarded the other quietly. Sir Donaliel finally broke the dead air that hung there.
"What have you discovered?"