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!
The weather had turned a freakish 70 degrees. Pete spread her arms in the sun and basked for a moment. She actually loved winter, but a break in the chill wasn’t a problem either.
She set off for home at a slow pace. Val was busy today so Pete couldn’t do her homework over there.
Though she was used to Leal’s presence by now, the baby still bothered her. Why did her parents even need another kid?
Val’s house wasn’t much better. She had an older brother, too, and three younger siblings—the youngest two years old. Val didn’t think anything of it, though. Why did it bother Pete so much?
She had a thought, and her footsteps changed direction, down a few blocks and up a few more, bringing her to Dakotah’s shop. Here she could do her homework in peace.
Dakotah was standing with his back to the door. At the sound of her footsteps on the porch, he half-turned.
“Hey,” he said, unsmiling. That was a typical look for him. Dakotah had long black hair that he worn straight and loose. He was part Native American, she knew, which was easy to see in the combination of high nose, brown skin, and that hair. His mom looked practically the same, too.
“What’s up?” she asked.
“Well, they’re coming to fix the window today, I have to clean literally everything and figure out the cash register, find my missing cat and start advertising, write reports for my mom so she doesn’t get suspicious about the shop, do my homework, go see another Guardian, and now this guy’s here.”
Pete leaned around to see where Dakotah was gesturing.
Seated on the floor was an angel. He was a gaunt man with sharp dark features, like a Lord of the Rings elf. Tall and broad-shouldered, she didn’t think he was handsome. No, he was beautiful. The beauty shone out of his face and body like rays of sun. It lit his wings, defining every white feather.
The angel was playing with a windup soldier, a clockwork toy that Pete had seen before in Dakotah’s shop.
When the angel saw her, he beamed. “A heroine,” he said.
Pete couldn’t help but beam back. “At your service,” she said. She never minded when the fey pointed out her apparently innate heroic qualities. “What’s your name?”
The angel didn’t respond. He set his toy loose and let it march around.
“I think…” Dakotah said carefully, “he’s got, like, mental…problems. He doesn’t really talk or act right.”
She could see that. The angel had fixated on the toy and apparently forgotten their existence. His smile had been like Leal’s—completely authentic.
“What does he want?”
Dakotah shrugged. “The House accepted him last night. I could feel it so I went to see what was going on.” Dakotah rubbed his eyes. “He was freezing and scared but I got him up to bed and gave him that toy.”
“He seems pretty relaxed now,” Pete observed. “Good job, Guardian.”
Dakotah didn’t smile. “Someone is chasing him.”
Phin arrived half an hour later, and by then Pete had offered to sit with the angel while he and Dakotah went to see the other Guardian.
“I’ll owe you, Pete, thanks. Be careful”
She waved them off a little sourly. She wanted another chance on the Lake to Everywhere, especially once she realized where they were going: Mexico City. Phin was going to help translate.
Instead, she watched as they climbed into a canoe, and then wicked out of sight, like the curtain of the real world dropping down over the lake.
She looked at the angel. They had half an hour before the window fixer came, so she sat by the angel’s side, in the small space before the rows of shelves.
“What’s your name?” she asked. At first it seemed like he wouldn’t answer, but then he said, “Oceanus.”
“That’s a beautiful name,” she said. “Mine is Pete.”
He looked at her matter-of-factly. “No it’s not.” Then he went back to playing with his toy.
“Well, you can call me Pete.” She formed her next sentences carefully, like talking to a child. “My friend Dakotah said you were scared last night. Were you scared?”
Oceanus nodded. He never made eye contact.
“Well, you don’t have to be afraid anymore. Dakotah and I will take care of you.”
She couldn’t tell if he was comforted or not.
A clanging at the gate drew her attention. Must be the window people, she thought.
She got up and went out the shop door. Coming off the porch, she saw a tall, gaunt man, beauty radiating from his pure skin. He stood just outside the gate. As she approached, she sometimes saw his wings, sometimes not. It was that weird double vision she got now, where she could sometimes see through the fey glamour. He wore equally pure white robes.
“Can I help you?” she called, wondering why he didn’t approach.
“Yes, hello, heroine. I am called Pratum. I have been informed by brother Oceanus has taken Sanctuary here. I am an old acquaintance of Icarus, you see, and still have friends in this area. Anyway, I am here to collect my brother, if I may.”
Perfect! Thought Pete. By the time Dakotah got back, she’d have solved his angel problem.
“Really?” she asked. “That’s great. You…I mean, you know Ike…”
“Has passed from Earth, yes. What a tragedy.” The angel’s voice was monotone. Pete frowned. “May I enter and see my brother now.”
He didn’t even say it like a question. Hesitantly, Pete said, “Okay, yeah, I guess so.”
His face changed as his calm regard dropped away and a hungry look took its place.
The angel took a step forward, but as his foot started to pass the gate he yelled in shock and stumbled back.
Pete jumped at the sound. Before she could recover Pratum was back at the edge of the property line, his face a mask of anger.
“You’re not the new Guardian,” he snarled.
She took a half-step back. “I never said I was! Dak—What do you even want?” she hastily caught herself from giving Dakotah away.
“Bring me my brother,” he roared.
“The House won’t let you in,” she realized. Then she straightened. “Good. Get the hell out of here, you’re not getting to Oceanus.”
Pratum leaned as close as he dared to the boundary of the yard. “I’ll be back, heroine.”