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    There shouldn’t have been a staircase under the floor of the girls’s room. I had searched the palace plans for them, but the only place they could have gone was straight through the kitchen. That would have given the servants down there something to talk about. This reeked of magic, or a lazy planner who had some uncomfortable questions to answer.

    But whether it should have been there or not, my partner and I were sneaking our way down, careful not to make too much noise or fall off either side. There were no rails and it was too dark to see how far the drop was.

    My partner dug his hand into the scruff of my neck. It was all I could do not to give him a warning bite. If I did that, he might shriek. Then the girls would hear us and all our work would be for nothing.

    “Mister Wolf,” Prince Justin said.

    “Inspector.” A shudder of irritation ran down my frame. I’d been through too much to earn that title.

    “I was just wondering. I haven’t been of very much use to you so far. Why do you need me here?”

    A valid question. So far I’d asked all the questions, dug up all the leads, sniffed out all the clues. Up until now he had just tagged along and kept quiet. I missed that now.

    “Try to keep up with me on this.”

    I felt his hand tightening in my fur. “Don’t worry. I haven’t gone anywhere.”

    It was a good thing this boy was rich, pretty, and royal. Otherwise he would have had a much rougher life. “These girls came down here under their own power. At least, as far as we know. We watched them go. Now they could be sneaking off to some fairy ballroom to have a good time, or maybe they’re being forced by something mean and scary.”

    That was a risk. I felt Justin tense up, and he nearly tore out a fistful of fur. If he had, it would have been a very bad night for us both. But he didn’t whimper or run or ask to go back, so I figured I was in the clear.

    “Whatever the reason, they’re not down here expecting to see a big shaggy wolf, all fangs and paws and howling at the moon. If I show up to question them, they’ll panic and faint or run away. Nothing gets solved. Are you with me?”

    “I haven’t gone anywhere, Mister Wolf.”

    “Inspector. Anyway, these girls aren’t going to want to see a wolf showing up out of nowhere. What they do want is a gallant, handsome prince who shows up to save the day and whisk them away to safety. Or to talk some sense into them. Either way, I need a pretty face, and you’ve definitely got that.”

    It was too dark to see, but I was pretty sure he blushed. “I’m flattered, Mister Wolf, but I’m afraid you’re not my type.”

    I spent the rest of the trip down the stairs reminding myself that I needed him in one piece and in good spirits. Maybe I could bite him later and make it look like an accident.

    “Well, this can’t be right.”

    The stairs opened out into a cavern that managed to hold an orchard. And not just any orchard. These trees were gold and silver and diamond. The girls’ trail ran straight through. “Hey. Make yourself useful and get me some leaves. One of each type if you can manage.”

    By this point Justin had let go of my fur and took to exploring the trees. If he went too far I’d lose him, which shouldn’t have been possible in an impossible underground orchard. “Why can’t you do it?” he called back.

    “Because you’re tall, Justin. And you have thumbs and pockets.”

    He stopped moving, and I breathed a sigh of relief at that. “But why do we need them?”

    “You think the king is going to believe us without proof? Hurry up. We don’t have a lot of time before sunrise.”

    He fell in line, but he sulked all the way through the orchard. When we got to the impossible lake, he perked up again. “This place just gets more and more interesting.”

    The trail stopped at the water’s edge. A series of drag marks on the shore told me they must have taken boats across the water. Lucky for us, an extra lay in the shrubbery nearby. “Come on, give me a hand with this.”

    Together we wrestled the boat into the water. I let Justin get in first so he wouldn’t have to worry about mussing his fancy pants, and then I shouldered the craft into the water.

    While he rowed, I lay low enough that I could just put my head up over the edge of the boat and watch for trouble. Just because we hadn’t run into trouble yet didn’t mean trouble wasn’t going to find us.

    Nothing bothered us, and it made sense since the girls got through so easily. But I was still paranoid. Shouldn’t there be guards to stop anyone from going after them too early? To keep them from turning back?

    The boats were all lined neatly along the opposite shore. Beyond them, a tunnel led into the darkness. We followed it into a giant, candlelit ballroom. At this point the tunnel could have opened out to a frozen pond on the moon and I wouldn’t have been surprised.

    “Wow,” said Justin as he came up behind me. I had left him to pull the boat ashore while I scouted ahead. He must have had to swim out after it, because I could hear the wet squish of his clothes from all the way up the tunnel. No doubt our revelers could, too. “They’re all so graceful."

    “Yeah,” I said. “And they’re all asleep.”

    From across the ballroom a voice boomed out. “You can come out now, Inspector. I’ve known you were coming for a while now.”

    I padded out onto the floor, careful to avoid the dancing girls and their strange-looking partners. The speaker lounged on a huge golden throne, chalice of fine wine in hand. From the fabric and embroidery on his robes I figured he was a sorcerer. “What’s the matter? No one wanted you at their parties, so you decided to throw your own? Ensorcelling a royal with intent to kidnap is a class three capital offense,” I bared my fangs for emphasis, “punishable by death.”

    The sorcerer spread his arms wide. “You’re welcome to try, cur. But you’ll have to go through my bodyguards first.”

    Twelve girls hit the floor as twelve prince simulacrums drew their swords. I ignored them all. The real quarry was slipping backward into the shadows. Facing his puppets would mean death, but if I cut the strings...

    I skirted the ballroom, leaving Justin to deal with the sword fighters. He was better equipped to face them anyway. Opposable thumbs were a big advantage. The sorcerer turned to run when he saw me coming, but it was too late. I barreled into him at full speed, tumbling us both into the nearest wall. He recovered first, but I caught his robes in my teeth. He hit the ground hard. I leapt at him and closed my teeth around his throat. A quick twist of my head finished him.

    Back in the ballroom, the princesses were recovering from their spell stricken state. Justin was a great comfort to them, judging from the way they took turns clinging to him and weeping into lace handkerchiefs. The simulacrums littered the ballroom floor like sacks of flour. I waited for him to lead them to their boats. They didn’t need to see their kidnapper in the state I’d left him in. Something told me the king would be happy to see the body of the leech who had been stealing his daughters’ life energy every night for the last week. And I would be happy to collect the reward for turning him over.

    “Come on, asshole.” I took his cloak up in my teeth and pulled him back toward the lake. “We’ve got a boat to catch.”
Written for Week Three of theWrittenRevolution's Frankengenre event. Inspector Wolf is back, and this time he has some (questionable) help.

Edit 4/21: Oh, my goodness. Thanks so much to BeccaJS for the DD! Hello to all you new readers out there. If you enjoyed this story, you might enjoy these Inspector Wolf stories as well: Inspector Wolf, Inspector Wolf and the House of Hay, Inspector Wolf and the Missing Name, Inspector Wolf and the Fancy Feline, and Inspector Wolf and the Unlicensed Solicitor

For those of you who are already familiar with the good inspector, he'll be appearing in the upcoming anthology Unearthly Sleuths. In that story, you can find out just how "Mister Wolf" became an inspector.

Have a great day, everyone! Thank you for reading. :)
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Daily Deviation

Given 2017-04-21
:iconsalyssong:
salyssong Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
Tonight alone you're riding
Onto the other side
Your might untold and waiting
Boy you'll be the final light
Your mother fought the demons
Your brother saw the light
And now we pray the unborn
You and I can't stay alive

Son of a wolf
When the fight is calling
Son of a wolf
And the night has come
Son of a wolf
Can you hear me calling
Haleluja

Take you another liar
Then never do this sign
When you are undertaken
Boy you see the night ally

Forever to the brave men
When times were hard and wild
You are the new messiah
Born a wolf of human kind

Son of a wolf
When the fight is calling
Son of a wolf
And the night has come
Son of a wolf
Can you hear me calling
Haleluja
Son of a wolf
Can you see him dying
Son of a wolf
When the night is dark
Son of a wolf
Can you hear them calling
Haleluja

Agnus dei in tempestis
Ignarus et animus
Sanctus iesu in tormentis
Romulus in misera
Agnus dei in tempestis
Ignarus et animus
Sanctus iesu in tormentis
Romulus in misera

Son of a wolf
When the fight is calling
Son of a wolf
When the night is dark
Son of a wolf
Can you hear me calling
Haleluja
Son of a wolf
Can you see him dying
Son of a wolf
When the night is dark
Son of a wolf
Can you hear them calling
Son of a wolf

"Son Of A Wolf"-Powerwolf
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:iconglowworm56:
glowworm56 Featured By Owner 5 days ago
Nice! You got another DD for an Inspector Wolf story. I love these things. They're brilliant and have some really good spins on the classic fairy tales.
Also, Prince Justin is actually a pretty decent partner. The last line was awesome!
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:iconlostgryphin:
LostGryphin Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Hobbyist Photographer
Amazing work! Congrats on the DD.
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:icontobaeus:
Tobaeus Featured By Owner 5 days ago   Writer
Thank you very much! I'm glad you enjoyed it.
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:iconbluefiregrl:
Bluefiregrl Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Congratulations on your DD!
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:icontobaeus:
Tobaeus Featured By Owner 5 days ago   Writer
Thanks! :aww:
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:iconxlntwtch:
xlntwtch Featured By Owner 5 days ago   Writer
Congrats on the DD. A very enjoyable story with fascinating characters. Great job.
Reply
:icontobaeus:
Tobaeus Featured By Owner 5 days ago   Writer
Thank you! :aww:
Reply
:iconxlntwtch:
xlntwtch Featured By Owner 5 days ago   Writer
:heart:
Reply
:iconc-a-harland:
C-A-Harland Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2016  Student Writer
It's great to see Inspector Wolf again, and I loved your prince charming. Great adaptation of the story.
Reply
:icontobaeus:
Tobaeus Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2016   Writer
Thanks! It's great to write him again. :D So don't worry. There's going to be quite a bit more of him in the coming months.
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:iconrieal-dragonsbane:
Rieal-Dragonsbane Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
I've never read the original fairytale, but I really liked this version. Inspector Wolf is a pretty cool character and it's interesting that he chose a prince as his partner on this case. I liked his reasoning for it too. The recovering princesses seemed a bit silly, but I guess you were just adding humour there, lol.

Fun story. :D
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:icontobaeus:
Tobaeus Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2016   Writer
Thanks. :) From the research I did, it seems the princesses are typically portrayed as selfish and uncaring that people are being executed over their nightly outings. I chose the "under a magic spell" route to make them less offputting. Thanks for reading. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :aww:
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:iconhawkheart29:
Hawkheart29 Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
The 12 Dancing Princesses has always been one of my favorite stories.
Reply
:icontobaeus:
Tobaeus Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2016   Writer
I think the first time I ran into the fairy tale was watching David the Gnome. I really like how many variations there are for this story. Lots of wiggle room for interpretation. :)
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:iconhawkheart29:
Hawkheart29 Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
I know; I've been working on my own version (although I've misplaced my notes for it ^^;) combining various elements that I loved from different adaptations of the story.
One of my favorites is a loose adaptation called Wildwood Dancing. It combines elements of the Dancing Princesses with the Frog Prince, Fairy Courts, and Vampire lore (although they aren't called vampires in the novel; they're treated as a dark type of fey. I didn't even realize they were vampires until about half way through the book). 
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:icontobaeus:
Tobaeus Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2016   Writer
Oh, that sounds really neat. Will you be posting your version here?
Reply
:iconhawkheart29:
Hawkheart29 Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
If I ever find my notes and finish it. ^^;
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November 6, 2016
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