St. Paul Grimoire is a weekly serial that updates on Mondays. Each month will cover a self-contained story told over four parts.
It will not be overly edited, and character arcs and plotlines could be adjusted with your feedback! PLEASE let me know what you think!
Dakotah barely dared set foot inside. Gold—coins, bars, blocks, jewelry, inscribed with many languages. Precious stones—in jewelry, crowns, scepters, clothing. Paper money from every country and in every color. Stacks of other paper he glanced at and saw stocks and bonds and other banking terms he did not really understand.
But what took his breath away was the center of the room. Many huge spars of purple quartz shot like swords from the ground, higher than his head and, at the base, as thick as his body.
It was not just the center of the room, he knew. It was the heart of the House.
Dakotah passed the riches and put his hands onto the cool quartz. Without overthinking or questioning, the thought, Lock down the House.
The response was immediate. His hands burned as the House’s attention focused on him, swept through him. He felt it recognize him, all the days he had spent there, and Ike’s approval. He saw Ike in his mind’s eye—not a stooped shop owner but a Guardian, one who controlled all aspects of this House and had decided that Dakotah was his Heir Apparent.
If Dakotah wanted it.
But Dakotah did not have to answer that question now. The House blazed with magic, then settled, and he knew he was now in a safe zone.
He met the others in the front of the shop.
“Where were you?”
“The House is locked down?” Michael asked.
The gargoyle looked much the worse for wear. He had long scrapes down his face. His human clothing was torn and bloodied. Not to mention whatever his original wounds had been.
Phin, Valene, and Pete were pale and shaken. Valene had claw marks on her right arm and Pete had a bruise over her eye.
Dakotah pulled up a collection of chairs for them.
“It’s locked,” he said to Michael. The others sank deep into their chairs but Dakotah sat perched on the edge of his. “What the fuck’s been happening.”
“This House,” the gargoyle waved a hand at the general area, “is a Sanctuary for magical beings. Icarus was a Guardian. He kept this place safe for all who needed it. When he passed, some thought it might be their chance to seize the House and its magic while it is weak.”
“So those things we saw tonight?” asked Phin.
“I fear we have meet most of Dakotah’s enemies tonight.” He turned his gaze to Dakotah. “You will have to learn fast, to protect this place.”
Pete asked, “Weren’t you bringing Ike a message? Before we were attacked, I mean.”
“No need to worry about that now,” Michael said. “We have other problems. Tonight the Heir Apparent returned to the House for the first time since the old Guardian’s death. By now all creatures will know of the shift. We will need Dakotah to Ascend as soon as possible.”
“What does that mean?” asked Dakotah, but Michael interrupted him by standing.
“I will go immediately and begin the proper preparations. You will be contacted soon, I am sure.” He looked carefully at Dakotah. “Be careful who you trust.”
The gargoyle was gone before Dakotah had time to marshal his many questions.
“So,” said Valene after a moment of silence. “What’s our, like, plan?”
Dakotah laughed sharply, making the others jump. Then he pulled from his pockets two stacks of crisp green hundred dollar bills. He threw the stacks on the ground in the middle of their circle of chairs.
“We’re having a funeral,” he said.
Many people came. The weather was rainy and blustery and they hid under scarves and raincoats. They said nothing.
Some were St. Paul fixtures, older people who had known Ike for many, many years. They gave many speeches, told many tales. Dakotah was not surprised at all to hear of Ike’s wit, or bravery.
Others were a different kind of St. Paul resident. They hid their faces and said nothing. They glanced too frequently at Dakotah.
November wrapped her arm around Dakotah as they walked to the car. “You did great, D. Finding Ike’s safe and haggling with the lawyer over the will. We would’ve missed out on such a beautiful funeral.”
“Everyone helped,” Dakotah mumbled. He’d be happy when that lie passed, it was too hard to make up details about the legal proceedings that had supposedly produced the money to pay for Ike’s funeral.
“Now we just have to think about selling the shop.”
“What?” said Dakotah harshly. He pulled away from his mother. “Sell? But we paid for the funeral!”
November’s dark brows raised. “Dakotah, I don’t get why you want it so much! It’s a huge responsibility and I’m not even sure the legality of a sixteen-year-old running an antique shop. Ike never should have left it to you. I don’t know why he thought you could handle it alone!”
Dakotah turned away from her and strode quickly in the the other direction. If he walked fast, Phin could give him a ride.
He sat alone in Ike’s chair, his legs thrown up on the counter. He stared blankly at the shelves of stuff that packed the small rooms of the House’s ground floor.
Nothing strange had happened to him in the past week. He longed to call for Michael, or to cross the lake, or do something.
The bell jingled as the door swung open.
Dakotah sat up. He heard approaching sounds and muttering, but no person emerged.
Standing, Dakotah peered over the counter. On the other side stood two—somethings—each about three feet high. They had pointed ears and gnarled skin the color and appearance of rock. They wore ties.
One of the things cleared its throat. “Are you Dakotah, Heir Apparent to the Guardian of the Midwest Sanctuary, theretofore known as the ‘House’?”
“Mr. Dakotah,” said the same little monster, “will you be intending to Ascend to the rank of full Guardian, accepting all duties commensurate with this position, including but not limited to: care of the House and surrounding properties, keeping secret the doings of the fey world from the human world, and protection and defense of all creatures—physical and metaphysical—who come to you for aid?”
“I am—Yes, I intend to Ascend.”
The second little monster checked a few boxes off of his clipboard.
“And will you be registering any Class A confidants?” The first monster sounded bored now.
Dakotah stared at them.
The second monster spoke quickly, like it wasn’t used to being allowed to talk. “Anyone you want to tell about the true nature of the shop? Humans are allowed a few confidants, five or fewer.”
“Oh. Well, Phin, Pete and Valene already know.”
“Full names,” said the first monster boredly.
“Valene Vang, Phoenix Abe and…” Dakotah hesitated. “Pete Abe.” It wasn’t her real name but the monsters didn’t really need to know that, Dakotah was sure.
The second monster’s pen scritched and scratched.
“Well, that’s all we have for now, sir,” said the first. “We’ll begin the necessary steps to convince the human world there’s no problem with you owning a shop. Any problems from human authorities can be relayed straight to our offices. Please do not attempt to convince human authorities on your own. As always, Guardian taxes and other fees go through us. We’ll be in touch after you Ascend. If you don’t Ascend, you won’t be allowed back onto the premises, but as of the Human-Fey Act of 1832, your memories will not be wiped.”
“Wait, wait,” Dakotah cut in. “What do you mean, ‘if I don’t Ascend’? I said I would.”
The first monster extended a hand behind him and the second gave him the clipboard. “Your test date is…” He flipped through it. “Halloween night. If I were you, I’d start studying. Here’s our card.”
He set a business card primly on the counter and the two were gone with a jingle of the bell.
Dakotah stared at the door. “Studying what?”