“It’s a right bloody mess, that’s what it is,” opined Detective Inspector Goodfellow, surveying the scene. The morning light cast shadows of tree trunks over the site, like prison bars.
“Verily,” agreed Detective Constable Selkie. “Although there is more to do with dust than blood.”
“That’s what you get,” Goodfellow held a handkerchief to his mouth. “With the fairy folk. Kill them and they turn to dust. Like something you’d find under your bed.”
“So many… It looks like the whole of Oberon’s court.”
“A bloodbath – a dust bath.” Goodfellow’s toe struck something shiny. He stooped and retrieved it with his pencil. It was a tiny, intricate thing, glistening in the sunlight, bejewelled with dew. “Oberon’s crown…” Goodfellow marvelled.
Selkie shook her head. “The King is dead. Long live… Who? Who stands to sit on the throne now?”
Goodfellow shrugged. “Titania’s diadem. Over there. Mustardseed’s wings… Someone really went to town on this bunch of fairies.”
“Our job to find out. Duke Theseus is keen to keep this thing under wraps. Swift resolution before the rest of the Underworld finds out. Last thing we need is that lot waging supernatural war against Athens.”
Selkie nodded. “Those youngsters who were messing about in the forest.”
Goodfellow shook his head. “Already questioned. They were all off their tits on love potion. Courtesy of…” he dropped into a crouch, “this little chap here.”
Selkie held her breath lest she blow away the dusty form of Puck.
“He had form. Now he is formless.” Goodfellow grimaced bitterly at his own humour.
“I don’t get it. All those lives, snuffed out. It makes no sense. Who could possibly have a grudge against the fairy folk?”
Goodfellow held up a hand to silence his partner. He took stealthy strides toward a thicket. Selkie followed, taking care not to step on any dusty corpses.
A child was sobbing on the ground, hugging his knees, his turban askew.
“Oh, you poor thing,” cooed Selkie. “He must have hidden in here to escape the carnage.” She beckoned to the boy, telling him everything was going to be all right, no one was going to hurt him.
The boy looked up, warily. He gave a wet sniff and surrendered himself to Selkie’s arms.
“A changeling…” Goodfellow realised. “Oberon snatched him from India, it looks like. Poor little chap.”
“We’ll get him down the station and have social services have a look at him.”
Selkie headed back to the car. The boy watched Goodfellow over her shoulder, his eyes expressionless and unblinking.
Too late Goodfellow noticed the dusty handprints the boy was leaving on Selkie’s back.