Hans Grimm, a Kobold fairy, sat in his office above the Cafe der Klabauterman. The cafe was inside an old, ceramic coffee pot and Hans rented one of the rooms on the second floor for his private detective business.
There was a knock on the door. "Who is it?" Hans asked.
"Brought you up a cup of coffee, Stumpy." said Axel Bender as he walked into the office carrying a cup of coffee. Axel was a fairy like Hans, except he had the head of dog.
"Why you gotta call me Stumpy?" asked Hans, looking irritated. "Bad enough I have to limp everywhere I go."
"Oh come on, an old war buddy like me gets to call you that, no one else would dare." reasoned Axel as he set the cup of coffee on Hans desk. "Besides, at least no one calls you a Bottom."
"I'd never call you that word. Did someone call you that?" Hans asked as he grabbed his coffee.
"Not to my face," Axel said. "I get those looks sometimes."
Axel ran the Cafe der Klabauterman, he was a hard worker and an intellectual. He was born a Child of Cersi, a fairy with animal qualities. In his case, he had the head of a dog. Bottom was the derogatory term applied to the Children of Cersi, a reference to Nicholaus Bottom, the famous donkey headed consort of Queen Titania.
Axel Bender looked at a battle wand mounted on the wall, with the inscription underneath it reading 'Go Forth, Childe, to Learn Fear.'
"To think, I defended these people in the First War of Dreams," Axel stated. "And they treat me like some.."
"We both defended the Garden of Wodan Nation. You were the best damn Wand Runner I ever seen." Hans said, as he got up and put his arm on Axel's shoulder. "Don't let any body make you feel bad about yourself. I wouldn't have made it without you."
Axel smiled at his friend. "You couldn't have run with that bum leg, Stumpy." Hans rolled his eyes and sat back at his desk. Axel continued. "You were a damn good shot with those battle wands though."
"I don't understand why every one calls it the First War of Dreams." Hans said. "There's only been one."
"They say the Second War of Dreams is well on it's way." Axel replied as he grabbed Hans empty coffee cup and made his way out. "Oh, I almost forgot. You have a client. She's waiting downstairs."
"Yeah?" Hans asked. "She a looker?"
"You'll like her." Axel winked.
"Send her up." Hans replied.
A beautiful, dark haired, long legged, female Kobold walked into Hans' office. Hans sat behind his desk.
"Hans Grimm, private eye." Hans introduced himself. "How can I help you."
"My name is Gruschenka Mirovich," the lady began. "I'm worried about my brother, Rauber. He's involved with a nationalist political party, the Wilde Jaeger. They're an offshoot of Wodan's Army.."
"I heard of them." Hans said. He knew all about these people. They were Kobold nationalists, many of whom had racist sentiments, especially towards 'bottoms' like Axel. Hans always tried to stay politically neutral but even he didn't like Wilde Jaeger's.
Gruschenka recognized the look in Hans eyes.
"Regardless of what you might think, my brother is a good man." she defended. "He has his political views, you might not like them but I still love my brother."
"I'm not judging." Hans replied. "I don't care about politics. I get hired to do a job, I do it to the best of my abilities. Now, go on. You said you were worried about him."
"Well, he's been making enemies ever since he joined Wodan's Army five years ago. He started rising through the ranks of membership, becoming their main speaker, until he started challenging General Guder's leadership." Gruschenka explained. "Eventually General Guder tried to ban Rauber from Wodan's Army. So Rauber and his friends split off from the party and created Wilde Jaeger."
"So you're worried Guder has it in for your brother?" asked Hans.
"It's not just Guder I'm worried about," she answered. "Rauber has been giving speeches all over the Garden of Wodan, usually at bars and cafes. He's a passionate speaker, riling up the working class. Wilde Jaeger's ranks have been rising dramatically due to Rauber's speeches. With his rise in popularity and fame, more and more enemies are coming out of the wood work. He's been getting death threats from Children of Cersi, the Red Cap Guild and even fellow Kobolds."
"Doesn't Wilde Jaeger have it's own security?" he asked. "I'm not sure why you need me."
"They might keep him safe from outside sources but I don't fully trust them," Gruschenka said as she stood up and put her hands on the desk. "I need an outside eye, a detective, looking into this."
"There's a lot to go on." Hans said. "I'm not sure where to start."
"Rauber is giving a speech this afternoon," Gruschenka said. "He'll be at the Cursed Leg at two. Just go and find out what you can. I want to keep my brother safe. I'll pay you a hundred Oberon coins."
Hans gulped. He usually got paid in Wodan coins, which were less valuable.
"Alright. I'll take the job."
The Cursed Leg was an old huntsman's boot which had been converted into a bar, frequented by Kobold's and other, 'respectable' faeries. There was a sign on the window that read 'NO Bottoms!'
The entire bar was full. Hans stood at the back as he listened to Rauber Mirovich's speech.
"The Garden of Wodan is our country. Kobold country. We are the faeries of Germany. We will join the Wilde Hunt into the afterlife and beyond," Rauber spoke loud and with passion. "The lesser faeries want to make us weaker but we are strong. Don't listen to the bottom lovers or the Red Caps. They want to take what is rightfully ours. The Red Caps plot to steal from us while Bottoms feed themselves off of our hard work.."
Hans couldn't take it anymore. Everyone around him cheered at the hateful rhetoric, while he stood in silence. He walked out of the Cursed Leg.
"Hans Grimm? That you, old Stumpy?"
Hans recognized the voice. He turned to see the familiar face of Arnim Kant, who he had fought with in the War of Dreams. Arnim was wearing his police captain's uniform.
"Hello, Arnim." Hans said, extending his hand. Arnim grabbed it and shook it with gusto.
"Good to see you here," Arnim said. "Are you a Wilde Jaeger too?"
"Just here on a job." Hans answered. "Seems Rauber's been getting death threats. His sister hired me."
"Ah. Good. I'll be glad to get your help on that." Armin said. "Boy, he's quite the speaker, isn't he? I always get excited by him. I think with luck he might replace that fat, old, corrupt Chancellor Caremon, in the upcoming election."
Hans grunted as he lit up a pixie cigarette. "What do you know about these death threats?"
"Well, some people think old General Guder has it out for Rauber but I talked to him, Kobold to Kobold." Armin explained. "He's a good old boy. I think he's fine. Just a little ticked off at Rauber's popularity. He won't harm the 'Dark Prince' of Kobolds. That's what they're calling Rauber these days."
Hans blew a ring of blue smoke. "Who do you suspect?"
"Well, quite a few faeries actually. There's a lot of bottoms that want him dead." Arnim began. "You still keep in touch with dog faced Axel?"
"Yeah!" Hans said, looking Arnim in the eye.
"Well, he was always a good one, I suppose." Arnim said. "Anyway, I've got a dozen wanted bottoms on my list. I'm also worried about the Red Cap Guild. Dangerous bunch of goblins. On the top of my list is that bottom terrorist, Attercroppe, the snake man."
Hans thought about it. It made sense, Attercroppe would want Rauber dead. The snake man was wanted in several nations for fire bombing Kobold business's on behalf of Children of Cersi's rights.
"You think he's in the Garden of Wodan?" Hans asked.
"He was last spotted in the Lost Toy's Woods." Arnim answered. "Between you and me, I'm setting up a raid there tomorrow." Hans finished his pixie cigarette and flicked it into the snow.
"I'll look into it myself, you don't mind?" Hans said.
"Be my guest. Just don't repeat what I said." Arnim answered.
"Of course." Hans shook Arnim's hand again. "Good talking to you."
Hans Grimm walked through the dark woods with his battle wand at his side. Axel had offered to accompany him, since this was a Children of Cersi ghetto but Hans couldn't stomach letting Axel help him with this particular case. Plus, he didn't trust Arnim Kant. He said the raid would take place tomorrow but the police captain was known to jump the gun early. He didn't want Axel getting caught in the crossfire.
The woods were littered with old toys, jack in the boxes, dolls, army commandos, toy cars and trains. Many of the toys were used by the Children of Cersi as buildings and houses.
There were goat headed fairies drinking ale at the Failed Jester, a jack in the box turned bar. Multiple mice fairies ran around the neighborhood, fast little pickpockets who darted into random holes.
Hans walked cautiously towards a spider web strewn neighborhood.
He came upon a wood carved toy shark, some sailor must have made for his boy. It was covered in spider webs. This was the home of Arachne, the spider woman fairy. She was considered the matriarch leader of Lost Toy's Woods. If anyone knew where Attercroppe was hiding, it was her.
He walked up to the wooden shark's teeth.
"You are a brave fairy, Hans Grimm," came a dark, feminine voice from inside the shark's mouth. "Not many Kobolds would dare come this close to the mouth of oblivion."
"You know me?" Hans asked. "Course you do. They say you can see beyond the limits of the eye, that you can look into the future. Then you should know that I've braved worse than this. When you're fighting a horde of griffon riding skeletons while standing atop a zeppelin or riding a tinkercycle headlong into battle against a minotaur's tank, you learn what fear really is."
"Go forth, childe, to learn fear." Arachne said. "The First War of Dreams."
"First and hopefully last." Hans said.
A scratching sound came from the sharks mouth. Two, long, spindly legs emerged, followed by the rest of Arachne. She had the lower torso of a spider, while her upper body was that of a beautiful, red haired, purple eyed woman.
"You are far more optimistic than I would have believed." She observed. "I like that. So, why are you here?"
"I think you know," Hans said. "I'm looking for Attercroppe. He's wanted by the police for terrorism."
"You think I know where he is?" she asked.
"Like I said before, you know things." Hans said. "You can see beyond your eyes."
"Yes, I can." she replied. "Why should I help you? The Kobolds have treated the Children of Cersi as their lesser's. They call us 'bottoms' because they think we are beneath them. You want me to betray my own kind? For what?"
"Not all Kobolds share that sentiment." Hans said. "Attercroppe is not doing you any good. He makes the Children of Cersi look like.."
"Like what?" she asked. "Like terrorists? Like murderers? Wodan's Army has terrorized us for decades. Now the Wilde Jaeger's have risen in power and they're worse. Don't think I don't know who hired you, Hans. Gruschenka isn't as innocent as you think. You work for the sister of the man who will try to bring destruction to my people."
"Listen, you need to tell me where Attercroppe is." Hans explained. "There's going to be a raid on this neighborhood. Soon. I can stop it if I bring Attercroppe in before that."
"I foresaw this." Arachne said. "There have been raids here before and many to follow once Rauber becomes dictator."
"The police will burn this place to the ground in search of Attercroppe." Hans warned. "This doesn't need to happen."
"Let them come." said a hissing voice from inside the shark's gullet. "I will poison their eyes and burn them alive. Along with you."
Hans ducked as a wad of venom flew over his head. He grabbed his battle wand and pushed Arachne out of the way.
Attercroppe the snake man came running out of the darkness of the shark's gullet towards Hans. He also carried a battle wand and the two exchanged spells. Hans was clearly the more experienced wand slinger. Attercroppe reared his head back.
Arachne grabbed Hans from behind, who dropped down just as Attercroppe spat another wad of venom at him, which hit Arachne in the eyes.
"Guess you didn't see that coming." Hans said as Arachne reeled backwards.
Attercroppe pulled a dagger from his belt and tackled Hans to the ground. They wrestled in the mouth of the toy shark. Finally Attercroppe pinned Hans' neck in between two shark's teeth while he struggled to push the dagger towards Hans' throat.
"This dagger is called the Cruel Truth," Attercroppe said. "A poke from this and the poison will kill you slowly."
Hans held the dagger at bay with his left arm while grabbing his battle wand with his right. He pointed the wand behind Attercroppe and fired an explosive spell. It hit the support beams holding the sharks jaw open, which slammed down on Attercroppe's head, impaling him from the brain through the throat.
Hans shot out the teeth holding his neck with his wand. As he crawled out he looked back at Attercroppe, blood spreading out, his hand still clutched the dagger Cruel Truth.
"Take it." said Arachne from behind him. "It's yours now. You'll know when to use it."
Hans grabbed the Cruel Truth, then looked back at Arachne, whose eyes were swollen shut.
"I have to take you in." he said, then looked at Attercroppe. "Him too. There doesn't need to be a raid."
"The police are preoccupied. There will be no raid tonight or tomorrow." she informed him. "You should head back to town. As fast you can with that leg. Go to the Cafe der Klabauterman. Your friend Axel is in trouble."
The police surrounded the ceramic coffee pot turned cafe as crowds gathered round.
Hans ran up to the police line. He saw Armin Kant and yelled. "Armin. Let me in."
"No can do, Hans." Armin said. "You're too close to this."
"I just caught Attercroppe. He's dead." Hans yelled.
Armin stopped, looked at Hans, then said to his cops. "Alright, let him in. I need to talk to him."
Hans walked through the police line, up to Armin. "What's going on?" he asked.
Armin looked at the blue blood on Hans trench coat. "You did kill Attercroppe. Good job!" looking at Hans' inquisitive eyes he added. "You're not going to like this. Your friend Axel killed a Kobold lady. The one who hired you. Gruschenka Mirovich. Rauber's sister."
Hans didn't believe it. No way could Axel kill her.
Armin continued. "Rauber found her. She was in Axel's bed. Strangled to death."
Armin pointed at a young, handsome, angry Kobold standing and shaking, while talking to the police. It was Rauber.
"What was he doing here?" Hans asked.
"I told him that she hired you to investigate his death threats." Armin explained. "He said he came here to tell her not to hire outside people. I told him he could trust you but he wasn't having it. Anyway, he walked into Axel's room and saw that damn bottom raping and killing her.. Here he comes now."
The crowd started booing and yelling death threats as the police escorted Axel Bender to the police carriage.
Rauber's eyes lit up, he pointed at Axel and started screaming. "He's the one. He raped and killed my sister. That dirty, rotten Bottom. They all need to pay for this."
Hans walked up to Axel, who started crying. "It's not true, Hans. Me and Gruschenka, we've been lovers for the past few weeks. I told her to hire you but I didn't tell you.. or anyone about us. I knew this would happen if he found out. He killed her. Rauber!"
"That's enough!" Arnim yelled as he punched Axel in the gut. "Don't listen to him, Stumpy. It's bottom lies. You'll hang for this, you bottom scum."
The cops hauled Axel into the carriage. The crowd surrounded the carriage. The cops didn't seem to mind.
Hans realized Axel would likely not make it to court, as Rauber's screams for vengeance grew louder and mob rule seemed imminent.
Arachne came to mind. Then without thinking, Hans walked casually up to Rauber, stuck the dagger Cruel Truth into his side, then quickly pulled it out and walked away.
In his rage, Rauber didn't seem to notice. His screams grew louder. The poison acted quickly. What Hans did not realize was the poison in the dagger acted as a truth serum.
"He made love to my sister," Rauber screamed. "And she enjoyed it. That's why I killed her. She made love to a dirty bottom. I found her in his bed. I watched them make love through the door and when he got up to get them coffee, I confronted her. She tried to defend herself but I strangled her. I did it to protect the Mirovich name. She was a dirty bottom lover and.."
The crowd looked confused. Their anger at Axel died down. The police didn't know what to do.
Armin tried to silence Rauber but he wouldn't stop. The crowd began demanding that Rauber be arrested.
Armin looked at Hans, who shrugged. "Looks like you should take him in."
The police arrested Rauber.
Both Rauber and Axel were brought into custody but only Rauber stood trial, as he continued to confess to the crime.
Hans sat in his office. There was a knock on his door.
"Come in." he said.
Axel walked in with a cup of coffee and a paper.
"Seems Rauber Mirovich died in jail. Heart failure." Axel said, as he plopped the paper on Hans desk.
Hans looked at it. The poison must have finally reached his heart.
He read further. General Guder took control of Wilde Jaeger and merged them back with the Wodan's Army.
There was a story about Hans capturing and killing Attercroppe. Meanwhile, Arachne had escaped and was still wanted.
"The Second War of Dreams has been prevented, for now." Axel said as he walked to the door, then stopped and looked back at Hans. "Thanks again, friend."
Hans looked at his friend. "What for? Rauber confessed on his own."
Axel smiled. "Yeah, I guess so." He paused, then added. "I really loved her, you know?"
"I know, pal." Hans said, trying to comfort his friend but failing to come up with comforting words.
Axel walked out.
Hans leaned back in his chair as he sipped his coffee, looking at the inscription under his battle wand.
'Go Forth, Childe, to Learn Fear.'