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’s leg bounced. He stared down the clock, willing the bell to ring.
When it did, he shot out of his seat.
“Where you going?”
Dakotah spun in the hall, almost running Phin over.
“Oh. Hey, man. I can’t stay here. I’m gonna go crazy.”
Phin lowered his voice. “Going to the shop won’t help. You’ll just get in trouble if you cut school.”
“I’ve wasted two weeks,” Dakotah snapped. “I still have no idea what I’m supposed to be studying! I still have no idea what the Guardianship test is even like!”
“There’s still a whole month to Halloween.”
“One month! What if I have to know literally everything about the fey world in just one month? What if it’s a Scantron asking me about the Human-Fey Act of whenever?”
Phin smirked. “I doubt the fey use Scantron tests.”
“Then what do they use? ‘Fight a fucking Minotaur and then you can be Guardian, Dakotah. Oh, you DIDN’T read how to defeat a Minotaur?'”
Phin laughed. Dakotah did not.
“Get to class, guys,” called Mr. Shakes as he passed by them.
“We’ll walk to the shop after school,” said Phin. Dakotah saw he was getting antsy; Phin was never late to class. “Ok? Just don’t get in trouble now, or we’ll have way more problems.”
Dakotah stayed in school, but only because he didn’t even know what he’d do if he left.
He’d spent two weeks tearing the shop apart. Two weeks trying to shift into the empty Other Saint Paul, to contact literally anyone.
The whole shop, the street at night, the basement, were silent. Sometimes he went into the treasure room in the basement of the House and looked at the money and the huge quartz heart, just so that he knew it was real. It was dumb to think it wasn’t real. Valene still had the scratches on her arm from the harpy attack.
Dakotah wondered why nothing tried to attack him again. Was he being protected? Or did no one think he was worth the trouble?
If he couldn’t Ascend, it would be a waste of their time to kill him anyway.
At 11 p.m. he sat in the shop alone, in a pile of junk he’d been searching through.
The bell jingled, and Pete entered the shop.
“Hey,” he said morosely. He wasn’t surprised to see her. The Abes had a new baby, and Pete hated it. She never said as much, but she found any excuse to get out of the house when it cried.
Dakotah wondered what it’d be like to have siblings at all.
“Phin said you might need help,” she explained. Pete’s hair was in its usual post-track-practice ponytail. She and Phin both had smooth black hair like their dad. Their mom had the riot of inky ringlets, and it looked like the baby would, too.
He shrugged. “I don’t really know what else to try, so…” He trailed off.
“Plus, my mom thinks she can hold the shop over my head now.”
“What do you mean?” Pete picked up a statement necklace made of gold and emeralds. At the time the necklace had been made, the statement had probably been, “I’m the boss bitch.”
“Are these real emeralds?”
Dakotah shrugged. “My mom got a letter from my accountants.”
“Kindred and Cloak, yeah. It told her all this legal bullshit she didn’t even get, but she asked for a bunch more shit, like old profit and loss reports. She’s still not sure I should keep the shop.”
“Sucks, dude.” She held up the necklace to her neck. She didn’t have a mirror but she could feel its weight. She never wore jewelry, but something about this necklace called to her.
“Anyway, none of this will matter in a month if I don’t figure out this stupid Ascension test. Also, I might be hunted down and killed by monsters.”
Pete straightened. “Hey, I don’t know about your whole Ascension studying-slash-potential death thing, but if you need information on your business, why don’t you just ask your accountants to figure something out for you?”
She saw his eyes light up. “I’m an idiot,” he said, leaning forward to snatch up the receiver of a very old telephone sitting on the counter. It was covered in a layer of dust, like most things inside the shop. Dakotah made no move to dial, he just said into the phone, “Kindred and Cloak, please.”
His accountants had left him a card the first time they’d met, and the back of the card had read, “Lift receiver, ask for us.” Dakotah had no idea if it would work on his cell.
“Griphook,” a gravelly voice came from the other end of the telephone.
“What?” said Dakotah.
“Sorry, goblin humor. Dakotah, right? This is Kindred.”
He remembered Kindred. He was the smaller goblin, the one who had stood behind the one doing all the talking. He was the one who’d looked at Dakotah with pity.
“Hey, yeah, it’s me.” He gave Pete a look. She’d put on the necklace and leaned over the counter. She smiled encouragingly. The green looked good against her dark skin and hair.
“I… need, like, accounting stuff?” He sounded like an idiot. In another life, he’d been the tough guy, taking no shit. Now even when he kept his head down, trouble’d found him. “Like, my mom wants quarterly profit and loss statements, earnings reports…” He tried to remember other phrases his mom had thrown at him just to confuse him. “Merchandise records…”
Kindred was silent for a minute. Dakotah heard the tapping of a computer. Did goblins use computers? “Ok, be right there.”
The line went dead.
Dakotah looked at the receiver in surprise. He hung up the phone.
“What happened?” asked Pete.
Before he could explain, the bell jingled and Kindred came walking in. The three-foot-tall goblin wore a tie and nothing else. In his arms was a stack of paper.
“Evening, sir, miss” he said, slapping the stack onto the counter that was taller than him. A loose sheaf drifted from the pile, and Pete reached out an snatched it from the air.
“Now, this is all last quarter, so it’s all Ike’s information, but I think I covered everything you might need. I’ll send you one every quarter.”
“Awesome, thanks,” said Dakotah.
“It’s well within the scope of my responsibilities to you,” Kindred demurred. He spoke clearly about accounting-related things, but became awkward when the conversation took a personal turn,
“Here’s your entire inventory,” the goblin lifted the edge of a long sheet of fax paper. It clearly went on for several folds. “And here,” he gestured to a manila folder, “is your actual inventory.”
Dakotah stood and pulled both lists toward him.
On one sheet were entries like: “paperweight; child’s knight costume; garlic.” On the other were entries like: “crystal ball; suit of armor; talismans, digestible.”
“They’re the same,” Pete said, reading the same lists as Dakotah. “What the real world calls it, and what the fey world calls it.”
“The fey world is the real world,” Kindred corrected. “But you are right. And a sharp guesser, too. Let me guess, you’re Hero Class, aren’t you?”
“I’m what?” Pete frowned.
“Hero Class. You know the type,” Kindred looked from Dakotah to Pete. “They’re easily recognized because they’re so damn annoying, pardon my language. Straight A’s, gifted at every sport or instrument they lay a hand on, good-looking, funny, quick reflexes in dangerous situations…basically naturally better at everything than everyone else.”
“Yeah, that’s Pete,” Dakotah confirmed before Pete could respond. “And Phin.”
“Phin a relation?” Kindred asked.
The goblin nodded sagely. “No uncommon a thing to run in families. You get two Heroes…or two Villains, you know how it goes.”
“But…” Dakotah frowned. “Where is all of this stuff? I haven’t seen a suit of armor.”
“It’s in front of your eyes, boy,” Kindred laughed. “Look at her necklace.”
Dakotah did so. “Okay?”
“You’re not really looking, if I may say so, sir. Relax. Try again.”
Dakotah took a frustrated breath and let it out in a long sigh. He looked at the necklace. For a moment, it was the same dusty piece of ornamentation of unclear origins, with grimy joints blackened by age.
And then. The double vision hit him, just like the night he and the others had met the gargoyle Michael and fled the strange monsters. And then he blinked, and in the dirty necklace’s place was a new one. There was no doubt the precious stones set into the wrought gold were real, they certainly were. They blazed brighter than normal emeralds, throwing light onto Pete’s face.
“Weeeird,” said Pete, touching the glowing stones with a fingernail.
“You just have to get the hang of it, but once you Ascend it’ll obviously be easier.”
“Actually,” Pete said, “it isn’t obvious. We don’t know anything about being a Guardian. Doesn’t Dakotah have a test to study for? What does he have to do for it?”
Dakotah wanted to reach over the counter and hug her. Of course his fey accountant would know about the fey world!
“Ah, yes,” said Kindred uncomfortably. “The untimely passing of your predecessor. Surely he left you some information…” The goblin trailed off at the looks on their faces. “Quite. Well, unfortunately only Guardians know the secrets you are looking for. All I know is that Ascension will allow you to come into your full powers. They will be necessary once this House is a functioning Sanctuary once more. Who knows what trouble—” The goblin seemed to realize he’d said too much and clammed up.
“You know who could help?” Kindred went on. “Another Guardian.”
“Another Guardian?” asked Dakotah, leaning forward. “How can I talk to them?”
“Guardians are a rare breed. Your next-closest kinsperson is located in—” Kindred thought. “Belfast.”
“Belfast?” asked Dakotah the same time Pete said, “In Ireland?”
“Technically Northern Ireland, these days.”
“How am I going to get there?” Dakotah despaired.
Kindred shrugged. “You’re a Guardian. You can take the Lake to Everywhere.”
The image rose in Dakotah’s memory, of a raft and a long paddle through quiet mist.
“What’s the Lake to Everywhere?” Pete asked.
Dakotah smiled. “I’ll show you. You can come with.”