How to be a Detective in a Magical Town

Tilly Brier can't see the future, but she has an eye on Unseelie Fae. The famous (fictional) reporter shares advice on how to follow a story.



Clues are closer than you think, if you know how to look for them.

Being a reporter isn't easy. In a town of magical people, it's even harder. Magic tends to cover up stories and leave no trace for human eyes to see. But any good reporter is, at heart, a good detective. And clues are closer than you think, if you know how to look for them.


So, here's how to sleuth with supernatural suspects: 

1 Know Your Magical People

The first step in being a detective in a magical town is to know your elves from your sidhe, your leprechauns from your gnomes, and your trolls from your tylwyth tegs. A general knowledge of who is who helps for making fae friends. Knowing your magical neighbors means gaining faerie informants who can give you information about the magical world. It also means gaining a familiarity with their temperaments, with their relationships with each other, with their community secrets, and with their magical practices.


2 Know your magical spells

It's a lot of toil and trouble for those who don't know their magical spells when the residents of a town are using incantations to change their situations. Different types of faeries have differing magical abilities, and they put those abilities to many uses. Here are few.


Among the residents of Moss Hill and Vale, brownie magic mostly consists of the power to move things with the mind. Leprechauns have the ability to work quickly. Elfkin, or Rhys Dwfen, can disappear from sight. Changeling magic binds others, whether physically, emotionally, or mentally. Elf magic is often referred to as elf light, because elves using magic tend to glow and their magic is used both to energize - which means anything from controlling temperature to movement to speed. Sidhe magic, generally considered to be the most powerful, is much more diverse. Like druids, they can use verbal incantations and instruments like wands, to manipulate the environment in big ways, sometimes even including in the weather. Little creatures, like tiny winged nature faeries, use faerie dust to very temporarily affect objects and people. If they work together, they can change larger things, like flowers and other objects of nature.


It's good to keep in mind that all these different types of magic can be used for different purposes. There's healing magic, seelie (good) magic, and regular, everyday magic that faerie people use to feel better, help their neighbors and get their chores done. So, if you see someone using magic, it doesn't necessarily mean they're up to no good.


That being said, there is also unseelie magic, or magic used by faeries gone bad. These include all the same abilities listed above, but an unseelie fae would use this magic to harm others. When spells fly through the air with mal intent, a faerie's magic can do a lot of damage.


3 Know your magical ingredients

Sometimes, magic isn't just in the air. It can be in the food. That's why its vital to know your witch hazel from wolfsbane.  While witch hazel is harmless, wolfsbane is a killer, and the most deadly of all magical plants is arguably nightshade. When working on a case, if I'm in doubt about which plants are harmful and which are helpful, I use resources like our local, natural pharmacy, The Seelie Tree Apothecary.


According to the apothecary, Carissa Shae, regardless of the ingredient, mistletoe can make any spell twice as effective. Many druids and sidhe will also use hazel rod wands to increase their magical power, for good or ill.  Traces of both of these items can usually still be found on whatever food or item they used for their crime or on the victim - or even the culprit - themselves.


4 Know your crime-solving clues

Means, motive, and opportunity: these are the three factors in crime-solving. Look for clues about the ways in which the crime may have been done (the means). Of course, they have to have a motive, or a reason why they'd want to commit a certain crime and if they also have the opportunity to do so, then you have a suspect worth investigating.


The best way to find means, motive, and opportunity, is to be an active member of your community. Knowing your neighbors well provides insight into their personalities, their problems, and their perspectives on things like greed and revenge. This doesn't mean you have to be a gossip, but you might keep an ear open to the town buzz. Don't swat away ideas either. Sometimes the most implausible suspect is the very one to watch.


With magic, things like opportunity can be tricky. After all, a person doesn't necessarily have to be in the same location if they have a magical means of travel or if they can control someone else to actually commit the crime. Instead of focusing on when and where, it's easier to focus on whether the person suspected has the magical ability and/or the knowledge of how the magic works. From there, you can investigate whether they had the opportunity to perform that magic on the victim.


Use some magic of your own

However you solve crimes, it helps to charm your way to a confession. If you can find a way to get the person to confess, out of guilt, anger or any other emotion, then you have a solid solution. Without a confession, you can still prove your case with the right kind of evidence. Find the incantation and/or the ingredients used, uncover which person knows the kind of magic involved, had a reason for using it, and had an opportunity to use it, and you have your supernatural criminal.


When all is said and done, a peaceful life is restored. You'll feel like one smart sleuth. Best of all, the friendship, unity, and love among neighbors will return to the town. And that is the best magic of all.


~ Piece written by Moss Hill reporter, Tilly Brier

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