PART EIGHT: MORAL SUPPORT
As the days raced by, Leal’s ever present anxiety at having not resolved the mysterious disappearance of Mariposa Esposito increased. He and Acwulf had been relegated to resolving more standard cases following the confrontation that had taken place between Leal and Mr. Herman Hallman, the owner of Vermont Novelty bar and restaurant and the subsequent disciplinary hearings they had been subjected to as a result of dragging the Golden Knights’ Agency’s name through the mud.
Miss Edouard had been especially disappointed with Leal stating that she had expected that he would have done better on his first real case given his impeccable record in detective work that had been part of the reason she had hired him. Disappointing her expectations had been a big blow to Leal which made his eagerness to resolve the case the more pressing and anxiety-inducing.
Leal turned to his daughter’s doppelganger, Protector Avery Alison, to further investigate Glare Glass, a company specializing in the production of enchanted glass and a variety of other enchanted glass products including enchanted elixir jars, something he knew had something to do with Mariposa’s disappearance in one way or another. After several weeks of searching, Avery presented her findings to her father in person.
“Dad, you had one hell of a hunch. On the surface, Glare Glass is just your typical Enchanted Glass company but I dug deeper and used our underground connections in B-3 and found that there is more than meets the eye about them…”
“As suspected, they have a dedicated unit that caters to a more niche market- one that demands for Fairy jars. I had no idea those were still a thing but through our underground agents, we found that they have been creating such dark objects for their clientele that pay a pretty penny for it,”
“Is Herman Hallman part of that niche market?”
“That’s just the thing- Glare Glass went to great lengths to cover up the true identities of everyone involved in the production, distribution and even purchase of fairy jars. Given the gravity of this situation, it is small wonder why the clientele names are well hidden. I am having a few friends look deeper into it, of course,”
“I can almost guarantee you that they’ll find Herman Hallman is connected to it somehow,”
“What makes you so sure, dad? How did you know about Glare Glass’ less than honorable dealings with the criminal underworld?”
Leal sighed but then openly admitted, “When I began this case, I had a vision of Mariposa Esposito tending to the witch hazels in her garden. I had very little to go on but that and not to mention hadn’t the slightest clue what it was that I had seen but at this point I am certain that I am somewhat able to jump into the consciousness of my doppelgangers…”
“I don’t fully understand how I am able to do it- I mean I have faithfully stuck to my meds and all but… I have been following leads based on the experiences of doppelgangers that have worked the case before. It is completely random and out of my control but I am certain that I somehow have acquired the ability to do so,”
Avery was stunned at her father’s admission of his new found ability. “Have you discussed this development with mom?”
Leal hung his head low and admitted that he hadn’t confessed to Aurora yet. “I have been making such steady progress with her… I don’t want all the progress I’ve made to be for naught,”
“Dad, it will be worse if she finds out some other way. It is better that you just come clean with her,”
Leal sighed. “I know. I’ll tell her but we are running out of time, Avery. If we don’t resolve this by next month, Mariposa is going to die,”
“Did you receive a vision about that?” Avery asked her father stunned by his revelation.
Leal nodded. “On June 28th, I saw myself staring at the plaque inscribed with her name,”
“Well, do you think that your visions can reveal more clues?”
“The last clue I received was about the elixir jars and something to do with barrels stored at the Vermont Novelty Bar and Restaurant,”
“Given what we now know about Glare Glass and how fairy jars operate, isn’t it safe to assume that somehow, they managed to entrap Mariposa in one of them? I have never heard of any other race being entrapped in fairy jars but isn’t it possible that they have some type of compression magic that they can use on other races and then entrap them in the enchanted jars?”
“Isn’t that a bit of a stretch, Avery?”
“You yourself said we don’t have a lot to go on and June is almost here. Why don’t we take a leap of faith and accept this crazy theory for now,”
“Okay, assuming you are right that somehow they managed to shrink Mariposa and trap her in a compressed state, how do we know for certain that she is still at the Vermont? And even if she is there, how do we get to her?”
“Oh, you leave that to me, dad. If Mariposa is still at the Vermont, I am going to get to her so brace yourself, this fight is far from over,”
Leal thanked Avery and stayed in her home for a while longer before heading home himself. Once the kids were safely tucked into bed, he turned towards the guest room which had been his room since moving into their new home.
“Leal?” Aurora asked him worriedly.
He turned around to face her and responded, “Yes, Aurora.”
“Are you okay?”
“Sure, Aurora. Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Leal, we share a Protector’s Bond, you know? So I can tell if you are not alright. What’s wrong?”
Leal sighed. “Just work… I’m sorry for worrying you-“
“Don’t you trust me, Leal?”
He shook his head. “I do trust you, Aurora,”
“Then tell me the truth,”
“I am scared you’ll hate me if I do, or else get mad at me. I don’t want to ruin what we have now,”
Aurora was stunned to silence. Leal turned to face his door and was about to walk right in when Aurora placed her arms on his shoulders and stated, “Leal, what we have now is the bare minimum, don’t you think? I am sorry that I have made you feel that you cannot trust me with the truth and I am even more regretful about your having to walk on eggshells to maintain this sham of a relationship.”
“Aurora-” he stated turning back to face her. She had tears in her eyes that she let freely flow down her face, as she despairingly clung onto Leal. Leal held her protectively in his arms and appreciated the gesture.
“Aurora, it’s going to be okay. I promise I will tell you the truth-“
“Leal, I love you. I’m sorry I am so difficult to love. You shouldn’t have to hide things from me just because you are scared to hurt and disappoint me. Whatever it is that you’re going through, even if it hurts me, I want to know it. From now on, you don’t have to hide things from me. I will try and change for you- for us- for our kids- I will try. I won’t get mad, okay? Just tell me,”
Leal was stunned and he held onto her a while longer before letting her go and then inviting her into his room and sitting down with her and telling her everything he had encountered since working the Mariposa case. He kept looking at her for her non-verbal cues and it became evident that she was stunned by everything he revealed. She was hurt that he had approached Avery first but she did not say a word until he was through recounting everything he had encountered.
She hugged him tightly and then wiped more tears off her face.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner-“
“Leal, you don’t have to apologize for that. I am sorry you carried this burden all alone for so long. I swear to you, I will help you as best I can in understanding your new ability. I will also do everything in my power to help you resolve this case,”
“That is… unnecessary, Aurora. Don’t worry yourself over it. Besides, I am already off the case, I have left the rest to Avery. I can’t do anything more for Mariposa,”
Aurora shook her head. “It isn’t over. I am certain Avery will find a way to get you back on the case, directly or indirectly. We are going to save Mariposa, Leal. You are not alone, my love. You have us on your corner now,”
Leal felt the flame of hope that had been dwindling since the dead ends they had encountered since the beginning of the case burn bright for the first time in a very long time. Reinvigorated to continue working the case even from the sidelines, he once more reaffirmed his commitment to finding Mariposa Esposito, no matter what the cost.
TO BE CONTINUED…
With this newly acquired support from his family members, shall Leal prove victorious in resolving Mariposa’s disappearance once and for all? Stay tuned to find out. Links to previous parts are listed below. Enjoy!
It goes without saying that this has been a tough year for all us so thank you, Elenaverse Elites and Enthusiasts, for all the love and support you have shown the Elenaverse in 2020. Look forward to greater stuff in this coming year and Happy Holidays.
~With love, Fantasy Story Fairy.