THE DRAGON OF FALCONER by Taylen Carver
Harley Firebird 1.0
Urban Fantasy Novelette
Here be dragons…
Harley von Canmore is a firebird–a rare breed, even among the Old Races. She is also the Chief of Police of Falconer, a tiny town in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. Falconer is different, just as Harley is. Everyone in the town is either one of the Old Races—orcs, fae, salamanders, and more—or they are human and waiting for their time to transform.
When a dead body is reported, Harley meets Campbell von Havre—the town’s only dragon and her superior, for they are both of the fire element. Only Harley’s twenty years experience as a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer tells her that Campbell is hiding something. When she investigates, what she learns about Campbell puts her in a quandary…
The Dragon of Falconer is part of the Harley Firebird urban fantasy series of novelettes, which is set in the same world as Taylen Carver’s Magorian & Jones series.
Urban Fantasy Novelette
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EXCERPT FROM THE DRAGON OF FALCONER
COPYRIGHT © TAYLEN CARVER 2021
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
The receptionist was very young and very nervous when she saw what Harley had under her cloak, when she took it off. “Please, have a seat. I’ll call Mr. von Havre…” She picked up her phone.
Harley moved away from the desk and took in the fresh paint, the motivational posters on the wall and the tall palm tree in the corner, which was real, as far as she could tell. At least it was warm in here.
Bohdan plucked his shirt away from his chest. “Phew.”
“Is it always like this?” Harley asked, thinking of the dead body somewhere inside.
“Ideal growing conditions, I suppose,” Bohdan murmured. He tapped the wall, which sounded hollow and thin. “The heat in there bleeds into here.”
Harley nodded. “This is your first official body. Let me do the talking, okay? Got a notepad?”
He patted at his breast pocket, testing it. Then his back pocket. He pulled out a thin coil bound notebook and yanked a pen out of the coil.
“First, write the time and date it is right now,” she told him and he wrote swiftly.
He checked his watch.
“Then, you record every name of every single person we see or speak to. You can ask them to repeat their names if you don’t catch them, and ask them to spell them if you don’t know how. Also, anyone who speaks to us, you get their phone number or email address, or both. Then, whatever anyone says that is a fact—dates, times, locations, events—you write that down, too. You’ll have to figure out a shorthand for yourself, and learn to listen while you’re writing.”
Bohdan nodded, writing fast.
The inner door opened and a man stepped through, around five ten, with thick honey blond hair and keen blue eyes. He looked to be in his late thirties, with a day’s growth on his chin, and a straight nose. Over his brows were the same reducing dots of horny growth, following the line of his brows. His gaze was direct and he came over to Harley with his hand already thrust forward, the sleeve of his very expensive grey business suit sliding back to reveal a white shirt and strong wrist. “Chief Canmore…or do you prefer von Canmore?”
“Canmore is fine,” Harley said, startled. She hadn’t realized she had a choice. And just Canmore sounded more human.
He shook her hand, and nodded hello to Bohdan.
Only now did Harley feel the tug of Campbell’s presence. She had been warned that those of the fire element could sense each other, but this was more than detecting a nearby presence, the way humans could “feel” someone standing behind them. She could feel herself being pulled toward him and the need to pay attention to every word he said, and obey.
It was a little like standing in the same room with the Commissioner of the RCMP, as she had when she had received her commendation. But this was more physical than the simple awe she’d felt then. Campbell was an elemental.
Harley mentally shook herself. She kept her tone firm as she said, “I believe you have come across a body, Mr. von Havre.”
“Campbell,” he corrected her. His smile was warm. “Was your hair always red, Chief Canmore? Or did it change when you did?”
She blinked. “I…um…I was strawberry blonde.” And she could feel her cheeks heating. He was disarming.
“A lovely change.” He stepped back. “This way.” He pushed the inner door open and held it for her.
Harley moved through, with the little swivel that let her wings through without the edges tangling with the frame, for this was a standard two-foot wide door.
It was even hotter on the other side of the door and Harley could feel herself relaxing even more. Campbell raised his brow, watching her. “It is pleasant, isn’t it?” He looked cool and comfortable, while Bohdan’s temples were already glistening with sweat, and he swiftly shrugged out of his heavy dark peacoat.
“Doesn’t it cost you a fortune to heat such a big room to this level?” she asked, for the former hockey rink was an enormous cavern, with the banks of seating and the rink removed, leaving a flat expanse of concrete.
“All part of the cost of doing business,” Campbell said, striding toward the first bank of towers. The towers were everywhere in the room, climbing up thirty feet or more. Iron stairs on wheels rolled between them, allowing staff to tend to the plants.
Each tower was a support structure for dozens of square white trays, each a meter per side. A few inches above each tray was a square pad emitting bright light—grow lights. The trays on the nearest tower held soil and immature marijuana plants, about a dozen per tray.
“As the plants mature, we replant them in deeper trays, and raise the lights over them,” Campbell said. “This is the nursery area.”
There had to be more than a hundred towers in the old arena, and Harley could see at least twenty people moving along the lanes between them, climbing the stairs, inspecting the soil and plants and making notes on clipboards. Everyone wore white lab coats and those with long hair had it pinned or tied back and held under nets.
It was all very clinical and efficient, yet the thick, cloying and musty smell of marijuana gripped her throat and triggered old instincts. She had arrested people for standing in rooms like this.