PART FOUR: FUTURE MEMORIES
Following the success of his daughter’s wedding, Leal resumed his work duties and found his wise-cracking partner Acwulf as eager as ever to get back to Dodona City in Denary, B-3 although Leal was certain his partner was more excited to get back to a certain well-loved elixir serving establishment rather than actually looking forward to solving the seemingly unsolvable case of the mysterious disappearance of Mariposa Esposito.
No stone had remained unturned and they seemed not to be getting any closer to finding Mariposa’s whereabouts nor those of her equally unlucky partner, Abasi Awaya. The investigation that had garnered a lot of steam following Leal and his partner’s discovery of an underground ring of human trafficking dryads and the joint mission with the Serjs had uncovered quite a number of secrets but they had come to a dead-end without any further leads.
“Man, this broad sure is hard to find, right? It was easier finding and charming my mate and that’s really saying something considering how out of my league she was and still is,” Acwulf quipped idly.
“What are we missing? We have spent so many hours pouring over every detail of the case and nothing new has come up,” Leal stated despairingly.
“Something will turn up. I mean, it was a stroke of pure genius that you thought to dig up the garden, right? I am sure we will luck out eventually. Don’t be too hard on yourself, Captain Chestnut. That pretty face of yours won’t be so handsome with wrinkles littering all over it. Look, let’s go to Wes Tavern tonight and have some of their elixirs. There’s a new one called Leprechaun’s Gold that is said to induce good luck,”
Leal sighed but nodded, going along with his partner to Wes Tavern that night, enjoying the golden-colored Elixir that had become an instant crowd favorite in the local town. The drink instantly warmed up the body and made Leal feel lucky for a period of time. By the time the elixir’s effects wore off, however, Leal did not feel as lucky and he experienced quite a number of unlucky effects for roughly an hour and a half.
He happily turned in for the night after approving some of the additional changes Aurora had made to the dream home they were still designing via a virtual application and he thought of her as he stared off into space eventually succumbing to the fatigue he felt that day.
Leal ended up having a vivid dream wherein he saw himself staring at a plague inscribed with Mariposa’s name and date of death- June 28th 2021. The name and inscription stunned Leal but what was even stranger was the fact that he realized that he was looking at the possible future event through the eyes of a doppelganger rather than through his own eyes.
He realized then that he had somehow performed another consciousness jump into the mind of another doppelganger bitterly regretting not having made it to Mariposa in time to save her but unlike his previous experiences, his doppelganger did not fully lose consciousness.
Terrified by the sudden jump into his doppelganger’s consciousness, Leal attempted to return to his own mind but was unable to and instead, was strung along in his doppelganger’s mind that had become intertwined with his own, towards the latter’s own home who went through the Mariposa case file yet again.
After several days of not seeing the elusive orchid blue colored butterfly in his own respective Timeline, Leal was stunned to suddenly observe it as it settled on the Communicator pad page his doppelganger was staring blankly at.
Leal paid closer attention and saw that the page his doppelganger was agonizing over was of a certain novelty bar and restaurant that had interviewed Mariposa in the previous year. The owner had been highly cooperative with the Blues and had stated that Mariposa had even been selected to join them as an amateur chef. When Mariposa had failed to report to work on her appointed day, the owner had gone so far as to contact the Blues and his suspicions had in fact led to the initial welfare check the Blues had conducted shortly afterwards.
Through reviewing the memories of his older doppelganger, Leal could tell that the earlier regretted his interview with the owner of the establishment having not yielded any results, a strange regret to have considering the owner of the novelty bar and restaurant had also been investigated and cleared by the Blues.
Only after going through his doppelganger’s bitter memories could Leal return to his own mind and he woke up in a blind panic, checking the clock to see that it was about 3 O’clock in the morning. He went through the case files again and hovered over the details of the owner of the novelty bar and restaurant and found nothing incriminating towards him.
Leal purposefully went back to sleep in the hopes of learning more details about the owner by consciously going through his doppelgangers’ memories and found that his doppelganger had gone to speak to the owner in person and through his gift for seeing through lies, he had found the owner somehow connected to Mariposa’s death although he had no way of proving his theory.
He carefully went through the case files in his doppelganger’s C-pad including how the Blues had finally managed to find her corpse. It was alleged that she had at one point been captured and released under some kind of sedated state. Mariposa had then been killed by a Werewolf who had torn her body to shreds in his greed to feast upon her Witch’s element.
It was later speculated that the kidnappers had realized that Mariposa was far too difficult to keep locked up since the Blues had been sniffing around and had come very close to discovering them so they had let her and several others go mercilessly sedated on a night with the full Moon no less when Werewolves were least controlling of their primal urges.
Further, it stood to reason that Mariposa had been aimlessly wandering in the forest when she had unluckily met the werewolf that would kill her. Under the conditions she was subjected to, her chances for survival would have been slim to none. The Blues and Golden Knights had closed their joint investigation but Leal’s doppelganger was still unsatisfied with the final conclusion of the case for some reason he couldn’t quite put his finger on.
Leal, on the other hand, woke up from his slumber and a few hours later, he and Acwulf were standing right outside the Vermont Novelty Bar and Restaurant in neighboring city, Kalpa City that bordered Denary’s Capital city, Drywood.
Leal looked up and spotted a bunch of moths circling a light source above them and then spotted the orchid blue butterfly flying among the moths before it separated itself from the moths and passed through the solid door. Taking this as a clear sign that he was on the right path, he ushered himself into the establishment with Acwulf following behind him in apparent confusion.
TO BE CONTINUED…
What connection does the Vermont Novelty Bar and Restaurant and its owner have to the disappearance of Mariposa? What new leads shall the fate butterfly lead Leal to find? Stay tuned to find out! Links to previous parts are listed below: