Sitting at a crowded intersection where Glittergold Ave and Dathos St meet, there is a small building. The building is about five floors and on each floor, there are twelve small offices. If one were to wander down the right-hand side hallway of the second floor, they would eventually find themselves standing in front of a door. This door would have inscribed on its frosted glass window the following epitaph.
Althis Sarren: Private Investigator
Behind that door, one might discover a lean and sickly-looking elf in an oversized suit. He would probably be smoking his pipe of tobacco, scanning over some photograph or obscure legal document. The particular legal document that he was perusing at this moment was noteworthy. Its noteworthiness came from the red typeface at the top of the document that read simply: Eviction.
Althis sat at his desk and read over the notice, getting it dirty with the ash from his pipe. He looked across the desk at the soot-black cat perched in a corner of the desk.
‘We’re going to find a good case, and fast,’ he confided.
‘You’re going to have to find a case, you mean,’ the cat responded in a gruff voice. ‘My name’s not on the lease’
At that moment, a fortuitous knock rapped on the frosted glass.
‘It’s open,’ Althis yelled out.
The door slowly opened to reveal a stocky dwarf, stuffed into a vested suit. His red-brown hair was well-groomed and his wild beard was braided tightly. He smiled as he approached the desk.
‘Althis,’ the dwarf greeted, extending a hand.
‘Bolgar,’ the elf returned warmly, meeting his hand. ‘What brings you to my humble abode?’
Bolgar’s expression soured.
‘Nothing good, I’m afraid,’ Bolgar divulged.
‘Marital problems?’ Althis guessed.
Rumours had been spread across newsprint of the Police Chief’s wayward wife. She had been spotted in The Diminutive Soul, a halfling dive bar.
‘Nothing like that,’ Bolgar explained. ‘Ashilde and I have an understanding,’
The emphasis that Bolgar placed on understanding suggested that Bolgar was not quite as buttoned down as he had first guessed. Polyamory wasn’t unheard of Althis’ line of work.
‘Business, then?’ Althis offered. ‘Isn’t that what’s the police department is for?’
‘Typically, yes. However, in more sensitive matters, we outsource,’ Bolgar explained. ‘You’re an outsider, Althis. The police department is mostly dwarves and humans, couple orcs here and there. If one of us were to wander into the Silver Quarter …’
‘The Silver Quarter?’ Althis asked. ‘Why would the Deepwood Police Department be interested in the activities of the high elves?’
‘Times are changing, Althis,’ Bolgar explained. ‘The elves can’t continue to self-police. There are rumours. Gangs of elven youths running riot in Halfling-borough, even as far out as Ironforge. Some are talking about the failure of the melting pot. You’ve seen that orcish politician, calling for border walls and thuggish federal agencies. He wants us to live like we used to. A country for Dwarves, a country for Elves.’
‘Even in the old days it wasn’t like that. My elderfather used to speak of anti-immigration rhetoric when he was a lad, and that was two thousand years ago,’ Althis told his old friend, likely speaking to the choir.
‘That’s the problem with humans and orcs. Memories as short as their lives.’ Bolgar agreed. ‘Now, will you help us or not?’
‘You never did explain what I was doing? You mentioned the Silver Quarter, then we got distracted,’ Althis told him.
‘It’s all related. Go to the Silver Quarter. Ask some questions. Find out about these elven gangs. Rumour is that they’re being led by one of those rich kid elves. The mayor’s office will pay for your daily expenses.’
Althis made his way to the Silver Quarter later that night. The Silver Quarter was the oldest part of the city. The buildings were built with the oldest of silver-trees. The silver-trees possessed wood as strong as stone. The newer parts of the city were oak and stone. Althis brought along his trusty camera. As he got closer to the Silver Quarter, he began to spot symbols painted on small halfling houses. Touching the paint, he suspected that whoever did this couldn’t be further than a block away.
Althis bolted. Hunting for the vandal. He hunted down every street. He stopped in an alley. As he turned, he noticed something. Five hooded figures blocked his exit. One lowered his hood. He was young. His features soft, even for an elf.
‘Going somewhere, old man?’ the de-cowled fellow said.
Old? Althis was a spritely one hundred and twenty years of age.
‘Who? Me? Just going for a stroll. I do adore the night time,’ he excused. ‘My mother often mentioned how she thought I was an albino drow …’
‘Shut up,’ came the voice of another.
He quickly silenced himself. The hooded figures began to twist their fingers, spawning elements of destruction in their palms. Oh, phooey. Things were worse than he imagined.
‘Trust you folks to be the first sorcerers in a dozen generations,’ he commented.
As they raised their hands to launch their bolts of fire, lightning, and ice, something happened. Time seemed to slow. Althis felt himself being pulled backwards. With one forceful tug, his waist disappeared first through the wall behind him, followed by the rest of his body. With that, all Althis could see was darkness. All he could feel was the sense that he had got himself in too deep.
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