This started out as something else, but it appears like in addition, it wants to be a murder mystery. Fae apoc, pre-apoc era, possibly 2010.
Senga didn’t believe it until she saw the body. Ellehemaei did not die very often, and they almost never died of natural causes; until she did a very quiet Working on the body itself, she was still working under the assumption that this was some trick of her Great-Aunt Mirabella’s.
The confirmation that it was real took her breath away. She walked past the body again, looking at what her diagnosis told her more than the corpse. Natural causes? Well, hawthorn was natural, she supposed, and her aunt was chock full of it.
“Miss Attenoin? Do please come to my office at noon. There’s the will reading.” The suited man stank of lawyer, and his suit stank of money. No surprise, considering her great-aunt. But…
“The will?” Senga frowned. “Great-Aunt Mirabella and I weren’t all that close…”
“Nevertheless, she has listed you in the will. Noon. It’s quite important that you be there on time.”
He was a pushy little man. Senga gave him her best eats-bullets-for-breakfast smile. “I’ll be there. Now, if you’ll excuse me… my aunt is dead.”
“Yes, yes, of course.”
He scurried off, presumably to bother someone else. Senga stared at the body. At least she’d worn black, and something respectful, at that. There’d been this urge to wear something flamboyant, just to show Great-Aunt Mirabella that she wasn’t bothered by all the spectacle.
Some part of her still thought it was a farce of some sort. She muttered the diagnostic again, just to see if she’d missed something. A fake-death working? It would be hard to pull off with all that hawthorn in the blood. But, then again, the hawthorn would mask it.
“It’s real.” The voice came from above her left ear. She looked up nonchalantly to find that one of the other mourners had moved close to her. He’d snuck up on her. It offended her professional pride. “I didn’t believe it either.” And he seemed entirely unaware that he shouldn’t have been able to sneak up on her.
She looked him up and down — with a good deal of up. He was wearing still-black black jeans, a white button-down, and a black vest. Everything looked as if he’d bought it new, everything except the (also black) cowboy boots. His face was so clean-shaven he had to have used a Working for it, and his hair looked like it wasn’t used to being so freshly washed or so tightly ponytailed.
He looked her down in turn. One eyebrow quirked as his gaze slid over her hip — had he noticed the sheath there? if he had, had he noticed the other two? She was fairly confident about the one at the small of her back, at least.
He was wearing — she looked again — at least two weapons.
“It’s real?” she parroted back at him.
“Her. She’s really gone.” He frowned. “I thought she’d outlive us all.”
Senga stepped away from the coffin, tilting her head to invite him to do the same. “You knew her well?” Great-Aunt Mirabella had run a tidy, if stealthy, empire of businesses, many of them legal. Many people had thought that they knew her.
“I did some work for her, now and then.” He followed her invitation towards a corner of the room, and their place at the coffin was replaced by other funeral attendees — Senga hesitated to call them mourners. She was not here to mourn and she doubted this tall man was, either. “And what about you? Were you one of her associates?”
She chose to ignore the suggestion that she might have been one of Mirabella’s employees. “She’s — she was — my father’s aunt. She outlived him, his mother, and their parents.” By having at least one of them killed. Senga had never been sure about the others.
“Ah. Family.” His expression changed. His whole body language changed. He didn’t quite take a step back, but his hand did drop towards his hip.
Senga smirked. “I don’t suppose you’d believe I was the white sheep?” She kept her own hands where they were, holding her ridiculous clutch purse.
He relaxed infinitesimally. “That would explain why I’d never met you.”
“Ah, so you’ve met some of the other family members, then?” As if on cue, her cousin Muirgen entered the room, with entourage, sobbing loudly and unconvincingly.
He winced. “Yes. DId some work for some of them, too.”
“Great-Aunt Mirabella must have been paying you very well.” There were things she could say that he couldn’t, even now. There were things she could say that, as far as she knew, nobody else could. That had been her condolence prize for her father’s untimely death.
“Something like that, yeah.” He shifted his weight. “Damnit, if it weren’t for that will-reading…”
“You must have done very good work for her.” A glance around the funeral home told Senga that about a third of of the mourners were family; she recognized about a quarter of the rest of them as staff, friends of the family, and important people in the city, including two local newscasters and one woman who ran the highest-class brothel in the city out of her East Ave Mansion. There was the chief of police, and there was the current CEO of the Gleason Steel Works.
“I’m the best at what I do. And I go way back with Mirabella. Been working for her since —” He noted the people standing close enough to overhear and modified his original sentence. “—we were both up-and-coming.”
Hundreds of years, then. Senga hopes her own nerves didn’t show on her face. “I see. So you’ve done a lot of work for her.”
“I—” He was cut off by a wail from cousin Eavan.
“I can’t believe she’s really gone! She can’t be! It’s a lie. You’re making this up to get her money, you bastard law-breaker, you no good half-blood!”
She was swinging her designer purse at an exquisitely dressed person — their back was to Senga, but the cut of the suit was impeccable — with a braid of black hair that reached their thighs. The hair, and the specific (and inappropriate for the setting) insults Eavean was throwing told her who it was.
“Alencaustel,” she breathed softly. “This family reunion just got interesting.”
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